Scenes from The Fighting McCooks

By Barbara and Charles Whalen
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2009, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: The ‘scenes’ that make up this article were excerpted from The Fighting McCooks – America’s Famous Fighting Family by Barbara and Charles Whalen and appear here through the courtesy of the authors.

It was the winter of 1860-61 in the Ohio Valley. On a wind-swept bank of the Ohio River, the western border between free and slave states, a bellicose doctor named John McCook stood beside a little brass cannon. Soon a steamboat hove into view on the broad bosom of the winding river. Downbound, it was rumored to be carrying munitions from the Pittsburgh arsenal to the arming South. When the boat came into range, Dr. McCook fired his cannon furiously, and the startled deckhands dove for cover. Folklore in the Ohio Valley says it was these artillery salvos, and not those fired a few months later at Fort Sumter, that were the opening shots of the Civil War.

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