Joseph Jarvis Cook, planter and Confederate officer, was born in Craven County, North Carolina, on December 1, 1826. He was the son of Major and Mary W. Cook. Cook was raised in both North Carolina and Alabama. In the late 1840s he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. On November 24, 1851, Cook married Melissa Dew in Fairfield, Pickens County, Alabama. This couple had one daughter. Around this time, Cook owned and operated a plantation in Fairfield. In 1861 he was in Harrisburg, Texas, and in June, with a Federal blockade of the Texas coast imminent, Cook enlisted as a lieutenant colonel and raised an artillery company, the Active Company of Dixie Grays, for service in the Confederacy. This unit spent time at Fort Hebert and was incorporated into the Third Texas Artillery Battalion in July, with Cook given command of the battalion. In July Federal ships arrived off Galveston, and Cook and his battalion were dispatched to assist in the defense of the city. Cook served in the Galveston area throughout the war. After sporadic engagement with Union ships during the summer of 1861, Cook received promotion to major on September 13 and to lieutenant colonel on December 7, 1861. On April 28, 1862, the Third Artillery Battalion was reinforced and renamed the First Texas Heavy Artillery Regiment. Cook was promoted to colonel and given command of this unit. He participated in the battle of Galveston in October 1862, the New Year’s Eve attempt to retake Galveston, and the repulse of Union forces at the battle of Sabine Pass on September 8, 1863. Cook was away from his unit on medical leave following a surgery for much of 1864. On June 2, 1865, Cook and his unit were surrendered. After receiving his parole on August 8, 1865, at Columbus, Texas, Cook returned to his plantation in Alabama. Cook died under mysterious circumstances on January 31, 1869, and was buried at Cook Cemetery in Pickensville, Pickens County, Alabama.
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Alabama D Queries (Dew), Ancestry.com (http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~willcutt/2000/9105/dquery.htm), accessed March 8, 2011. Alwyn Barr, "Texas Coastal Defense, 1861-1865," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, 65 (July 1961). Edward T. Cotham, Jr., Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998). Field Officers Serving in Texas Confederate Regiments (http://history-sites.com/~kjones/txoffs.html), accessed March 8, 2011. James A. Mundie, Jr., with Bruce S. Allardice, Dean E. Letzring, and John H. Luckey, Texas Burial Sites of Civil War Notables: A Biographical and Pictorial Field Guide (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill College Press, 2002).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Aragorn Storm Miller,
“Cook, Joseph Jarvis,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 27, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
March 29, 2011
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: