November 13, 1843 – July 21, 1861
Private Charles M. McCook died from a wound received at the Battle of Bull Run I, making him the first member of the famed "Fighting McCook's" to die during the Civil War.
Charles Morris McCook was born at Carrollton, Ohio, on November 13 (sometimes reported as November 15), 1843. He was the eighth son of Daniel McCook and Martha Latimer (McCook). McCook was a seventeen-year-old freshman at Kenyon College when the American Civil War began. Reportedly, he refused an offer from his family’s friend, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, to be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the regular army. Instead, McCook enlisted as a private in Company I of the 2nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
McCook died from a wound received at the Battle of Bull Run I, which occurred on July 21, 1861. McCook’s father, Daniel, was present at the battle and, at times, picked up a musket and engaged Confederate forces. According to his father’s account, Charles was assigned to guard duty at a field hospital during the battle. Near the end of the battle, Confederate cavalry overran the hospital. Charles attempted to rejoin the 2nd Ohio, but a Confederate trooper intercepted him. The Southerner ordered Charles to surrender, and the Union soldier replied, "No! Never to a Rebel.” The Confederate shot Charles in his back and again demanded that the Northerner surrender. Charles replied, "No, never." The Rebel began striking the Northerner with the flat of his sword. At that point, Daniel McCook arrived on the scene and raised his gun to shoot the Confederate, but another Union soldier shot and killed the Southerner.
Daniel McCook found a surgeon to tend to Charles. The surgeon concluded that the wound was not fatal. Daniel placed Charles in a carriage and took his son to Fairfax Court House, where another surgeon removed the bullet. This surgeon concluded that the wound was fatal, as the bullet had destroyed the patient's rectum, bladder, and intestines. Daniel remained with his son, laying with him on a cot until the soldier died at 2:30 a.m. on July 22, 1861. Shortly before his death, Charles asked his father to tell his mother that, "Tell her that I refused to surrender, that I am not afraid of death, that I am glad to die for my country."
The elder McCook moved his son's body to his residence, Mrs. Paris's boardinghouse on Pennsylvania Avenue, in Washington, DC. Charles McCook initially was buried at the Congressional Cemetery at Washington, but the McCook family eventually moved the soldier's body to Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Charles McCook was a member of the “Fighting McCooks,” fifteen family members who served the Union during the Civil War. McCook’s father, Daniel McCook, and his eight sons who served in the war were known as the “Tribe of Dan.” McCook’s uncle, John McCook, and five of his sons who served in the war were known as the “Tribe of John.” Charles McCook was the first of the Fighting McCooks to die in the Civil War. Daniel McCook, along with three of his other sons (Latimer, Daniel Jr., and Robert), also died from wounds received during the Civil War.