Bryant COBB (M)
b. 6 July 1795, d. 21 August 1881
Bryant COBB was Farmer, JP. He Bryant Cobb was born on July 6, 1795.1 His father, David Cobb, was from North Carolina, and his brother, Williamson Robert Winfield Cobb, was born in Rhea County, Tennessee on June 8, 1807.2 The family settled in Madison County, Alabama around 1809.3
Bryant grew up on a triangular piece of land that was purchased by his father, David Cobb, from the government on March 9, 1810. The land was located along the western boundary of the Creek Indian lands. On May 12, 1837 the land was given to Bryant; it's also where the "Cobb Cemetery" is located today.4
Shortly after Bryant's 18th birthday, he started the first of two enlistments in the Mississippi Militia, serving in Captain James Hamilton's and Captain William Johnson's companies during the war of 1812. His first enlistment was from 22 September until 13 November 1813; his second was from 29 September 1814 - 25 April 1815.5,6 Because he was listed as "absent sick" for a period of time during his second enlistment7, the pension office in 1851 only granted him 80 of the 160 acres of bounty land that Bryant felt he was entitled to.8 Although Bryant provided a letter signed by a 1st Lieutenant E. Byram on 29 December 1818 claiming that Bryant "serve[ed] out the balance of the time" between 2 December 1814 and 25 April 1815 as a private, and that the officers keeping the records were ignorant and inexperienced in such matters7, the pension office did not approve Bryant's land petition until he reapplied in 1871-1872.6
During Bryant Cobb's first enlistment, he served in a company that was part of General Jackson's army, which was engaged in a war with the Creek Indians. Although tensions between settlers and Indians had been growing for some time, those tensions grew dramatically following Tecumseh's call for Indians throughout the United States to unite and destroy the American nation. They reached a boiling point on August 30, 1813, when Red Sticks -- radical Creeks who heeded Tecumseh's call -- attacked and massacred between 250 and 275 white settlers, friendly Indians and mixed-bloods at Fort Mims, about 40 miles north of Mobile. According to the few survivors, fearful shrieks from women and children echoed through the fort, as they were "butchered in the quickest manner…children were seized by the legs, and killed by batting their heads against the stockading. The women were scalped, and those that were pregnant were opened, while they were alive…" It was one of the most appalling massacres in frontier history, and the mood of the settlers towards the Creek Indians, which was already very ominous, turned even darker.9
The Fort Mims massacre prompted Tennessee Governor William Blount to call out the militia and authorized General Jackson to raise an army of 5,000 men for a period of 3 months.10 All over the countryside militias were mobilized. Bryant Cobb joined Captain James Hamilton's Company of Rangers, Battalion 7 Regiment (Perkins') Mississippi Militia, in Huntsville on September 22, 1813.5. Huntsville was the center of the growing army, and Jackson arrived at the camp with his Tennessee militia towards the end of the month. When the army broke camp, it headed southeast, deep into Creek territory.
In a deposition written later in his life, Bryant Cobb testified that he joined the Army of General Jackson on their line of march at the Tennessee River at a place called Ditto’s Landing in Madison County. He accompanied the army on its march into Indian Territory and helped to build a set of Block Houses at a place known as Camp Coffee (near present day Laceys Spring), which was on the supply line between Huntsville and Fort Deposit, a major supply base on the southernmost tip of the Tennessee River. Bryant's unit was given the mission of reconnoitering the country and guarding the frontier until General Jackson’s army reached Fort Strother, a second base on the Coosa River approximately 13 miles east of the hostile Red Stick village of Tallushatchee.
In early November, General Jackson's army engaged the Indians on two separate occasions. The first occurred on 3 November 3, when General Jackson sent Brigadier General John Coffee's cavalry brigade to attack Indians at Tallushatchee, where they surrounded the village and systematically slaughtered most of the warriors in a quick, bloody, and, by some accounts, gruesome assault. The second occurred on 9 November near Taledega, about 30 miles south of Fort Strother. General Jackson planned to have part of his force of 1200 infantry and 800 cavalry advance to close quarters with the Indians, then retreat back to the main line where the pursuing Indians would be enveloped by cavalry on both flanks. The plan was working perfectly until three militia companies, frightened by screams of the charging Indians, broke and ran. The plan almost failed, but Jackson quickly ordered his reserves into the gap created by the fleeing militia, which then rallied. It was a resounding victory that resulted in the deaths of over 300 Red Sticks; Jackson's casualties amounted to 15 dead and 85 wounded, of which two later died of their wounds. 9
Although there is no way of knowing with certainty whether Bryant Cobb participated in these battles, the available evidence seems to suggest that he did not. While he claimed in one of his depositions that he participated in the Battle for Pensacola, no where did he claim to have participated in the battles of Tallushatchee or Taledega, which seems to be an uncharacteristic omission should he have really participated. Moreover, during this period he testified that he and others volunteered their services to forward provisions to Jackson's army, and that he remained through the fall and winter of that campaign as a volunteer soldier and forwarding agent.
Nevertheless, Bryant's first enlistment was in no way a cake walk. He was part of an army that was very short on supplies and was suffering from poor morale. In his deposition, Bryant testified that he was "on the point of starvation." In fact, by late November most of the troops in Jackson's army were starving and growing restless and angry. By the time Bryant was discharged on 13 November, matters had not yet come to a head, but Bryant was almost certainly disenchanted with his experience and probably very relieved to be heading home. A few days after Bryant's departure, Jackson's brigade of militia was in a mutinous mood and decamped without orders; only the presence of Jackson and a few loyal companies prevented the militia from heading back to Tennessee.9
So ended Bryant Cobb's first enlistment. He had begun his service as a private, and had been promoted to sergeant by the time he was discharged. He began his second enlistment as a sergeant on September 22, 1814, just in time for Jackson's Florida Campaign.7
The war with the Creek Indians essentially came to an end with the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814, but was not formally concluded until the Treaty of Fort Jackson on August 9, 1814. Consequently, Jackson's campaign during the fall of 1814 was aimed at the British, who were trying to establish an Indian buffer along the Gulf Coast to block further expansion by the United States and protect their Spanish allies in Florida. In May, the British sent two naval vessels, a small force of 100 troops, and a supply of arms and ammunition to Pensacola in Spanish Florida. They armed more than 4,000 Creek and Seminole warriors, and promised them that if the Indians would once again join the fight against the Americans, the King of England would protect their interests after the war.9
After Bryant Cobb enlisted for the second time in Huntsville on September 22, 1814, he marched to Fort Deposit (south of Huntsville at the southernmost bend of the Tennessee River), to Fort Strother (at the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers), to Fort Williams (on the Coosa River at Cedar Creek near Talladega Springs), to Fort Jackson (near Montgomery, three miles south of Wetumpka), to Fort Claiborne (in what is now Monroe County), to Fort Montgomery (near Tensaw, two miles from Fort Mims and opposite the Alabama River "cutoff"). He remained at Fort Montgomery until the Battle of Pensacola, when he was assigned to the invasion force.6
On the morning of 7 November 1814, without waiting for permission from federal authorities, Jackson invaded and temporarily seized Pensacola. His army was a smaller version of the variety of forces he later commanded at New Orleans: detachments of U.S. Regulars (the 3rd, 39th, and 44th Infantry); Tennessee militia and mounted men; Mississippi Territory dragoons; and a party of Choctaw Indians. Jackson feigned an attack on the west side of the town while taking the bulk of his army to the eastern side. Spanish resistance was feeble and the British declined to get involved, leaving the port in several warships. Losses were minimal -- five Americans killed and ten wounded -- but the effect was enormous. With one stroke, Jackson all but eliminated the threat of British intrigue in Florida and scattered the remnants of the Red Sticks. At the same time, he made impossible future Spanish and British cooperation. He accomplished all of this without the sanction of the United States government, which did not want to provoke hostilities with neutral Spain (Spain, although England's ally, had never declared war on the United States). Jackson was now ready for his final destination of the War of 1812 -- New Orleans.10
Although the Battle of Pensacola significantly impacted British strategy in the Gulf Coast region, it did not deter them from planning an invasion. Jackson was aware that the British still intended an invasion, and thought the most likely location was Mobile. A significant number of troops, including Bryant, who was at Camp Mandaville, were stationed near Mobile. In his pension application, Bryant claimed that he served as a quartermaster and was honorably discharged from Camp Mandeville on or about 14 February 1815.8 His company muster rolls also show that he resigned on 2 December 1814, and in his deposition, 1st Lieutenant E. Byram indicated that Bryant served until 25 April 1815. Although the truth may never be known for sure, something clearly happened in December, since Lieutenant Ebenezer Byram wrote that Bryant served out the remainder of his time as a private, even though he originally enlisted as a sergeant.7
POST WAR LIFE
Shortly after Bryant Cobb returned from military duty, he married Mary (Polly) Grayson (also listed as Gracem in some records). The marriage took place at Shilo Church on 19 (Wednesday) July 1815.6 Like his father-in-law, John C. Grayson, Bryant became a Justice of the Peace, signing many marriage licenses and land deeds.11
Bryant Cobb, like his father and father-in-law, was active in the business of land speculation. He appears to have bought or acquired several tracts of land in Madison and Marshall Counties 12. His earliest land acquisition may have been on February 12, 1818. 13
In 1830, the Bryant Cobb household consisted of him and his wife (at that time both between 30 and 40 years old), one female and one male between 10 and 15 years old (one of these would have been Alexander), two males between five and ten years old, and three males under five. He also had one female slave between 24 and 36 years old and one male slave between 10 and 15 years old.14
In 1834 Bryant was appointed to supervise elections in Big Cove.15 In 1842 he served as a postmaster at Cobb's Store.11
Bryant's wife, Mary, died on April 25, 1846, when she was 50 years old. Bryant, who was 52 at the time, was remarried to 26-year-old Amanda Camper on Thursday, December 23, 1847. He and Amanda had three girls.
Bryant Cobb died on August 21, 1881, at the age of 86. An obituary published by the Huntsville Independent indicates that he died at 3 P.M. on Sunday, and that he lived near Berkley in Madison County. It also indicated that he was a brother of Congressman Williamson R. W. Cobb, and that he left a family of grown children, who like their father, were highly esteemed and honored.16
In his will, Bryant Cobb bequeathed a picture of his brother W.R.W. Cobb to his son Alexander, his London watch to his son Joseph, and his family bible to his daughter Arminnie. Of the family bible, Bryant stated, "I wish her [Arminnie Kilgore] to keep [it] as and for a family record...."17 The whereabouts of the picture, watch, and bible are unknown today.
Bryant is buried in "Cobb Cemetery" in Madison County near the Flint River bridge on the old Highway 431 leading from Big Cove towards Owens Crossroads. As of June 1994, the graveyard was in a copse of trees surrounded by a cornfield. The graveyard was in very poor shape and the headstones were broken and weathered; however, Bryant Cobb's headstone was still fairly legible and, with some imagination, one could still make out Catherine' and Williamson Cobb's headstones. The size and layout of the graveyard suggests that additional people are also buried there -- more than likely David and Martha Cobb.18 He was born on 6 July 1795 at North Carolina; Bryant Cobb was born on July 6, 1795, 19 probably in North Carolina 20. He was the son of David COBB and Martha BRYANT. Bryant COBB married Mary (Polly) GRAYSON, daughter of John Clan GRAYSON and Sarah "Sally" CARTER, on 19 July 1815 at Shilo Church, Madison County, Alabama; According an entry in the "Alabama Soldiers Of The Revolution, War Of 1812, and Indian Wars," the marriage between Bryant Cobb and Polly Gracem (Grayson) took place on 22 July 1815 21.6 Bryant COBB married Amanda M. CAMPER on 23 December 1847 at Madison County, Alabama. Bryant COBB died on 21 August 1881 at Cave Spring, Madison County, Alabama, at age 86. He was buried circa 24 August 1881 at Cobb Cemetery, Madison County, Alabama.
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