United States Congressman from Georgia
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Governor of Georgia
United States Secretary of the Treasury
Very strong candidate for president of the Confederacy!
Presiding officer at the 1861 Montgomery, Alabama Confederate secession convention
President of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States
Confederate battlefield general
(1815-68) One of the most prominent figures in Confederate history! Born in Jefferson County, Ga., he graduated from the University of Georgia in 1834, and was admitted to the bar two years later. He served in the U.S. Congress from 1843 to 1851, and was Speaker of the House from 1849 to 1851, when he was overwhelmingly elected governor of Georgia. He returned to Congress in 1855, and was appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President James Buchanan in 1857. Upon the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States in 1860, Howell Cobb advocated immediate secession. He was probably best known as one of the founders of the Confederacy being a leader of the secession movement. Delegates of the Southern states declared that they had seceded from the United States and created the Confederate States of America. He was a strong candidate for president of the Confederacy, and was the presiding officer at the Montgomery, Alabama secession convention held on February 4, 1861. He served as President of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States, and when the war erupted he took to the field as a soldier, being appointed Colonel of the 16th Georgia Infantry. On February 12, 1862, he was commissioned brigadier general and was assigned command of a brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia. During the months of February through June of 1862, he represented the Confederate authorities in their negotiations with Federal authorities trying to reach an agreement for the exchange of prisoners of war. General Cobb saw action in the 1862 Virginia Peninsula campaign and in the Seven Days battles. His brigade played a key role in the fighting during the battle of South Mountain, Maryland, especially at Crampton's Gap. Cobb’s brigade arrived at a critical moment and were able to delay the Union army’s advance through the gap which came at a very bloody cost. His men also fought in the single bloodiest day in American military history at the Battle of Sharpsburg, [Antietam] Md., on September 17, 1862. He was promoted to major general on September 9, 1863, and placed in command of the District of Georgia and Florida. He suggested the construction of a prisoner of war camp in southern Georgia, a location thought to be safe from Union invaders, and thus the notorious Andersonville prison, known as the "Hell Hole" was created. When Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's armies entered Georgia during the 1864 Atlanta campaign, and its subsequent March to the Sea, Cobb commanded the Georgia Reserve Corps. General Sherman’s army camped one night near Cobb's plantation. When Sherman discovered that the house he planned to stay in for the night belonged to Cobb, whom Sherman described as "one of the leading rebels of the South, then a general in the Southern army," he dined in Cobb's slave quarters, confiscated Cobb's property and burned the plantation, instructing his subordinates to "spare nothing." In the spring of 1865, with the Confederacy clearly on their last breath, General Howell Cobb and his troops were sent to Columbus to help in the opposition of General James Wilson's raid, and he led the hopeless Confederate resistance in the battle of Columbus, Georgia, on Easter Sunday, April 16, 1865. General Cobb surrendered 4 days later at Macon, Georgia. After the war he returned home and resumed his law practice. Despite pressure from his former constituents and soldiers, he refused to make any public statements about President Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction policy until he received a full presidential pardon. He received his pardon in early 1868, and then began vigorously opposing the "Reconstruction Acts," and made a series of speeches that bitterly denounced its policies. On October 9, 1868, at the age of 53, while vacationing in New York City, he died of a heart attack. His body was returned to Athens, Georgia, and was buried in Oconee Hill Cemetery.
Signature with Place: 3 1/2 x 1 3/4, in ink, "Howell Cobb, Athens, Georgia." Circa 1859-1861. Scattered staining, some age toning, and light wear. Large bold autograph. Very desirable Confederate historical figure.
Cobb Family Trivia:
The Cobb family included many prominent Georgians from before and after the War Between the States.
Cobb's uncle and namesake, also Howell Cobb, was a United States Congressman from 1807–1812, and served as an officer in the War of 1812.
Cobb's younger brother, Thomas R.R. Cobb, was a politician and soldier. He served as a Confederate General and was killed in the battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia on December 13, 1862.
Thomas Willis Cobb, a member of the United States Congress and namesake of Georgia's Cobb County, was his cousin.
His niece Mildred Lewis, "Miss Millie" Rutherford, was a prominent educator and leader in the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Howell Cobb's daughter, Mrs. Alexander S. (Mary Ann Lamar Cobb) Erwin, was responsible for creating the United Daughters of the Confederacy's Southern Cross of Honor in 1899, which was awarded to Confederate Veterans.