Synopses & Reviews
Private James Coble, a Confederate soldier, died alone on a dark, cold night during a skirmish with Union troops. He fell beside a railroad trestle in South Madison County, near Jackson, Tenn., on Dec. 19, 1862 during the Civil War. With this military action long forgotten, in March 1914, a Union captain named David Harts Sr., formerly of the 106th Illinois Infantry, wrote a letter on his deathbed to The Jackson Sun expressing hope that someone in Jackson might search for the soldier's body which had been given a hasty burial. The captain hoped to bring comfort to the soldier's family and to assure them that the young husband and father had died the "Good Death," an honorable death in war. The 106th Illinois Infantry's first duty assignment was to protect the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, which traversed Tennessee between Columbus, Kentucky, and Corinth, Mississippi, running through Union City, Humboldt, and Jackson. President Abraham Lincoln well understood the importance of controlling the railroads. The United States Congress authorized Lincoln to seize control of the railroads and telegraph for military use in January 1862 and established the U.S. Military Railroad (USMRR) as a separate agency to operate any rail lines seized. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest posed a very real threat to Union-controlled railroads. Private Coble died helping Forrest in his successful "Christmas Raid" on Union supply lines. The Christmas Raid has passed into legend as an example of "lightning" warfare, based upon improvisation and willingness to take calculated risks. Since the soldier fought for Forrest's partisan Southern cavalry, Harts' action exemplifies Christian redemption and reconciliation between North and South. Not only was Private Coble's body found and buried, a monument was erected in the field where his remains were located. In 2015, author Charles Cox, M.D., descendant of Private James Coble, moved the remains from that lonely site to Salem Cemetery in Madison County on the Civil War Trail where his sacrifice is honored. Dr. Charles Cox, author, has created a trust so that proceeds from "Monument to Healing," will go to historic preservation. "The story of Private Coble and the Coble monument is one of the most compelling tales of the Civil War, both in what it tells us about the little battles and skirmishes that defined the conflict across Tennessee but also in what it tells us about the efforts toward reconciliation and commemoration in the early 20th century South," writes Dr. Carroll Van West, Tennessee State Historian. "Dr. Charles Cox's accounting of these significant stories make for required reading for those who enjoy Tennessee history and Civil War history."
About the Author
Charles Cox, M.D. is retired from his ENT practice in Jackson, Tenn. where he has volunteered ENT surgical care to the Tennessee Crippled Children Services for years. He was a board member of West Tennessee Speech and Hearing Center and helped create the West Tennessee School for the Deaf. He's a graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville and the UT College of Medicine in Memphis. He served on the UT College of Medicine Alumni Advisory Board and is the President of the Tennessee Academy of Otolaryngology and Physicians Healthcare Alliance Group. He's a founding member of the Tennessee Board of Audiology and Speech Pathology. Named in 1977 as one of the Best Doctors in America, Dr. Cox was chosen for the 2014 Ralph A. Johnson Humanitarian of the Year award. Dr. Cox has been married for 55 years to Betsy Buckley Cox of Martin, Tennessee. They have four sons and eight grandchildren. Historian and humanitarian, he is active in historic preservation of Civil War sites in Tennessee. His interest in history was greatly encouraged by listening to family stories. He grew up in Union City, Tennessee, across the street from his great-grandmother, Lucy Whiteside Coble, the widow of J. A. Coble. Lucy Coble had lost her father, Captain Samuel A. Whiteside, Forty-Eighth Tennessee Infantry, and her father-in-law, Private James Coble, during "The War Between the States." Author Charles Cox was told the story of Private James Coble on many occasions. He always wondered what motivated Union Captain David Harts, 106th Illinois Infantry, to write a letter that appeared in The Jackson Sun in 1914 outlining Coble's death. When Dr. Cox began the journey some years ago to discover and write the story of his ancestor's death in a little known Civil War skirmish south of Jackson, Tennessee, little did he know what roads of history he would travel, resulting in his book "Monument to Healing." He has established a trust so proceeds of his book go toward historic preservation.