Valley of the Shadow
The Eve of War
Fall 1859–Spring 1861

Letters & Diaries


Cochran Family (1860-1861)

John H. Cochran, a native of Augusta County, Virginia, watched the secession crisis from Richmond. When Virginia seceded from the Union, John, at the age of twenty-two, enlisted as a private in Company A of the 46th Virginia Infantry. He died of wounds received in battle in Petersburg in July 1864. His brother, Benjamin F. Cochran, enlisted in Waynesboro as a private in Company E of the 1st Virginia Cavalry. After the war, Benjamin farmed near Fishersville in Augusta County.

The following links provide access to the most likely matches in the Valley of the Shadow databases:

John H. Cochran

Benjamin F. Cochran

In the midst of the secession crisis, John H. Cochran wrote this eloquent series of letters to his mother about the debate in Virginia. Cochran shares his pro-secession views and describes the division of Virginians over the issue. This collection also includes one letter from the Cochrans’ cousin, A.G. Guskins, who writes about the situation in South Carolina.