"I owe Virginia little; my country much."
Washington Daily National Intelligencer, June 21, 1861.
Born in Loudoun County in northeastern Virginia, Philip St. George Cooke was a career officer in the United States Army and served in many places in the West. He criticized Northerners who obstructed recovery of runaway slaves and also the conduct of political leaders in South Carolina. When he wrote his letter on June 6, 1861, explaining his decision to remain in the United States Army, Cooke did not yet know that a majority of Virginia's voters had ratified the Ordinance of Secession on May 23. Nevertheless, he wrote, "I owe Virginia little; my country much. She has entrusted me with a distant command; and I shall remain under her flag as long as it waves the sign of the National Constitutional Government." Cooke served ably as a brigadier general in the United States Army throughout the Civil War; his son, John Rogers Cooke, served ably as a brigadier general in the Confederate army throughout much of the Civil War.