Frank Wheaton – Major General, United States Army


The son-in-law of the ranking General of the Confederacy, Samuel Cooper, he was born May 8, 1833 at Providence, Rhode Island. He left Brown University at the age of 17 in order to take a position with Mexican-American Boundary Commission, where he worked for 5 years.

In 1855 he was commissioned directly into the 1st United States Cavalry (now the Fourth Cavalry) as a First Lieutenant and saw service on the Indian frontier.

The outbreak of Civil War found family impossibly divided in sentiment: his father-in-law, a native of Dutchess County, New York, was Adjutant General of the army; his mother-in-law was a sister of Senator James Murray Mason of Virginia, who as Confederate Commissioner would become even more celebrated as Mason of the Mason and Slidell affair which brought England and the US to the brink of war. Cooper sided with his wife's family; his daughter sided with her husband. The die being cast, he became Lieutenant Colonel of the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry which fought at 1st Manassas and lost its Colonel, Wheaton succeeding to command as of July 21, 1861.

In the campaign on the Virginia Peninsula, the 2nd Rhode Island was in Keyes' IV Corps; at Williamsburg, was commended for his conduct. On November 29, 1862, he was promoted Brigadier General of Volunteers and assigned to a Brigade of VI Corps with which he was connected until the war's end. He was present at Fredericksburg in December 1862 and again following May when John Sedgwick carried Marye's Heights during Chancellorsville Campaign. He remained in command of the Brigade while U. S. Grant slugged his way through the Wilderness to the defenses of Petersburg, and then, in command of a Division, he was hurried to Wash, DC to help repel the attack of Jubal Early's raiders on the capital. During the ensuing operations in the Shenandoah under Philip Sheridan and after the return of VI Corps to Petersburg front, he earned the Brevet of Major General in both the Volunteer and Regular services.

He was mustered out of the Volunteers in 1866, becoming Lieutenant Colonel of the 39th U.S. Infantry the same year. In 1873 he commanded the expedition against Modocs in the Lava Beds of northern California. This expedition resulted in assassination of General Edward R. S. Canby, who had gone there to negotiate with them. He was then appointed Colonel of the 2nd U.S. Infantry in 1874, he was subsequently promoted to Brigadier General in 1892, and Major General 1897.

He died at Washington, DC, June 18, 1903 and was buried in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery.

His wife, Maria B. Wheaton, Born at Utica, New York, August 4, 1846 and who died at Denver, Colorado, August 21, 1924 is buried with him.

The only child of General Wheaton and his beautiful and universally lamented wife was a daughter named for her mother. She married a young army officer who gave his life for the old flag at San Juan Hill, Captain Rowell. His widow survives with a lovely family, Frank Ashley, Charles, and Maria.

Charles Walter Rowell of New York.
Appointed from New York, Cadet, United States Military Academy, 1 July 1870 (21)
Commissioned Second Lieutenant, 2nd United States Infantry, 17 June 1874
Promoted to First Lieutenant, 16 September 1881
Regimental Adjutant, 14 May 1878 to 8 March 1887
Promoted To Captain, 29 May 1896
Killed in action at Santiago, Cuba, 10 July 1898

NOTE: The city of Wheaton, Maryland, is named for Frank Wheaton.


‘The Belles, Beaux, and Brains of the 60's”
by T.C. DeLeon, published in 1907 contains the following References to the Coopers.

“Of vital important at all times of war, and most of all in a young country just forming its army, is the adjutant-general. The secretary of war is helpless without a just, experienced, and reliable guide to the fitness and records of new appointees. “The Confederacy was peculiarly fortunate in this regard. General Samuel Cooper was a veteran of two wars, thoroughly familiar with the personnel of both armies, clear-headed, and without prejudice. A West Pointer of the class of 1815, he had served with Harney in Florida, and on both the Scott and Taylor lines in Mexico.* When he succeeded General Roger Jones as adjutant-general of the United States Army, he had already learned the men whom he was to handle later, and those whom they were to meet, two points invaluable in making assignments and determining fields of duty.

He resigned and was among the earliest to tender his service at Montgomery, and there and at Richmond he was a trusted and capable adviser to his chief to the bitter end. General Cooper was a Northern man, having been born at Hackensack, N.Y., June 12, 1798. He was the son of Samuel Cooper and Mary Horton, sterling people of the little state. In the early 30's he married Miss Sarah Maria Mason, granddaughter of George a son of Gunston Hall. Naturally, when promoted to adjutant general of the old army, the family moved to the national capital.

Mrs. Cooper was the daughter of a race noted for the strength, helpfulness, and
gentleness of its women. Prior to the war her quiet home in Washington had been a favorite resort of the best of official and social people, drawn thither by the beauties of person and character of her young lady daughter, Maria. One of the prettiest and best remembered weddings of the capital was when this universally loved girl married dashing Lieutenant Frank Wheaton, and Fitshugh Lee, then of slender rank, was best man.

Eheu Fegaces! The bride has been dead decades, but lives still in the memory of loyal friends, and in her charming and tried daughter and her children. His native state, Rhode Island, has only lately reared a stately monument to Major General Frank Wheaton, and still later, paeans and sobs mingled about the bier of his lifelong friend, Fitz Lee. The only child of General Wheaton and his beautiful and universally lamented wife was a daughter named for her mother. She married a young army officer who gave his life for the old flag at San Juan Hill, Captain Rowell. His widow survives with a lovely family, Frank Ashley, Charles, and Maria.

In Richmond the young lady of the house was Miss Jennie Cooper, a sunny natured, bright, frank woman of strong character. Never having had the society craze, she did not topple her home in the swin, but free and genial hospitality met all who crossed its threshold, and their number was legion. Captain Samuel Cooper was the only  one. He was a quiet, easy-going fellow, always ready to do his duty, but not finding it, as a general think, in the social rush of the 60's. He and his sister were the sole survivors of his family. He never married and lived with her at “Cameron,” where he died two years ago.

Popular with both sexes, Miss Cooper probably had more “reports” about her in war days and close thereafter than most women: many of them, doubtless, with basis. She married Nicholas Dawson, a merchant of Baltimore, but a citizen of Virginia. The old family seat, “Cameron,” near Alexandria, has been their home; their three children making the fourth generation its venerable walls have sheltered. Mrs. Dawson still resides there with her second son, Philip, of the Riggs Bank, Washington. Cooper, the eldest child, recently married Miss Edna Horner, daughter of Major Horner of the Confederate army. He has built a new home on the Cameron domain to be near his mother, going into Alexandria for business. The only daughter, Miss Maria Mason Dawson, still more recently married Rev. William Gibson Pendleton, grandnephew of General Pendleton of Confederate artillery fame. His father is Colonel William Nelson Pendleton, of the old and noted line.

*Not confirmed. He was an Assistant Adjutant General during the Mexican War.

On January 14, 1867, he married his third wife, Maria Bleecker Miller.  She was born in Utica, New York, August 4, 1846, the daughter of Brigadier General Morris Smith Miller and grand daughter of General Alexander Macomb.  Of the Wheaton’s seven children, only two girls survived to adulthood and bore them no descendants.  Maria died on August 21, 1924 and is buried with him.


  • DATE OF DEATH: 06/18/1903


  • DATE OF DEATH: 08/19/1924





Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment