General Robert Sanders Northcott

Murfreesboro Telegraph.

The Winchester Home Journal., September 12, 1857
(Winchester, Tenn)

Gen. R. S. Northcott Portrait

Mr. W. T. T. OTT has retired from his connection with this paper, as publisher, leaving R. S. NORTHCOTT its sole editor and proprietor. Mr. Northcott is a spirited writer, and for his past energetic labors in behalf of the American Party, deserves a liberal support at its hands.— The cares of a printing office being removed from the mind of our friend Ott, he has availed himself of the opportunity and paid us a visit, for which we feel truly grateful, although it is justly due us. We think he could find no better place than Winchester, with its mountain scenery, in which to while away the dull hours of a summer day.

It does really seem to us that when once in Winchester, it ought to take no trivial inducement to make one leave its quiet loveliness. Here we have no marshes from which disease can arise–no rough and barren bluffs picturesquely worth nothing for the plow–not yet have we dead levels, where the sun beats down with intolerable hotness in the summer noon, when the highland wards off the refreshing breeze, but on every side is the romantic picture of grassy hollow and gentle acclivity, blending the charm of variety with the perfection of utility.

In all the world we don’t believe there can be found better water, and this fact, combined with the salubrity of its air, makes our town a desirable resort for invalids, and if our friend is in want of a large amount: of that invaluable blessing–health–we would appeal to him to remain with us a long time, at least, till the departure of the warm days, during which time we also open the doors of our office and its pleasure-affording facilities to his disposal.

The Murfreesboro Telegraph.

The Home Journal., November 18, 1858

Advertisement for Gen. R. S. Northcott's newspaper

Friend Northcott, editor and proprietor of the Murfreesboro Telegraph, has a hard time with his subscribers. We assert it as a fact, (but if wrong will submit to be corrected) that every number of his paper for twelve months past has contained a dun for money from his subscribers.

He’s always talking about hard times, and the indifference of his subscribers to pay up. Now, friend Northcott, you are older than us, but will venture some good advice. If you will never dun your subscribers but once a year they’ll pay up ten times better. Now, we know you have a good subscription, unless it has fallen off greatly since we worked with you a few years since as a Journeyman printer.

Well, if that subscription list pays punctually, you can make money, but never will they pay as long as you forever dun them; and more, you will loose many good subscribers. Why, sir, the subscribers to the Home Journal never are dunned one fifth as often as you dun yours. If we have a name on our book that we regard as doubtful, we take it off. And we firmly believe a man who will not pay without being dunned through the paper will not pay at all–therefore, would it not be better to scratch his name off and not harass your good-paying subscribers with stuff that is not intended for them, and the sight of which must be loathsome?

Take our advice..
Wreath of White Lilies and White Roses

Look at the thing in this way, and take our advice and everything will work better. Now we have many names on our books, but not one that we consider as doubtful, if we did off it should come. Of course we have some subscribers from whom we expect nothing and never will. We furnish them the paper with a foreknowledge that they will never pay, and we feel compensated by knowing we show a kindness and that the kindness is appreciated. But we are determined not to dun through the paper.

It will pay much better to not do it. Just make out bad accounts, friend Northcott, and put them in the hands of an officer. But don’t dun through your paper so much. We tell you, the world hates to hear of one’s misfortunes and will never assist a man in want half as quick and as liberally as it will a man perfectly independent. And if it does assist a needing man, it does so with a pompous air that, to us, is awfully disgusting. And the world regards a penny to a poor, needy man as equal to ten pennies to a rich one, and will pay in the latter case ten times as quick.

Excuse us, Mr. Northcott, for we could but make these remarks when our eyes see a dun in your paper every week.

The Voice of Old Rutherford.


February 11th, 1861.

County Map of Rutherford County where Gen. R. S. Northcott lived


Last Saturday, the 9th inst., was a glorious day here in old Rutherford for the Union loving and Constitution sustaining men. The fires of true patriotism are en-kindled here, and the lovers of our country, our whole country, and nothing else but our country, are awake to the plots of conspirators to “involve us all in a common ruin,” and are determined, God being our helper, with the assistance of patriotic, Union loving men of other portions of the State, to stand by the flag of our country in the darkest hour of her peril.

That flag, “the stars and stripes,” was on the morning of that day–Saturday–hoisted on the top of the dome of our newly-erected, beautiful Court House, and now “waves over the land of the free and the homes of the brave.” May it there ever wave as an emblem of our national strength and glory, and as a souvenir of the patriotism of our people. Ah! Sir,

“Shall children of the same glorious mother
The bonds of affection forget;
Shall brother rise up against brother,
Who ne’er but in amity met!
Avert it! Avert, kind Heaven,
And may this glorious Union ever stand,
And Liberty’s flag, never riven,
Wave forever o’er an undivided land.”

After the Flag
Flag commemorating WV statehood

After the flag had been hoisted, three salutes were fired in honor of it, and some our b’hoys so exuberant with the good old patriotic feelings that embelm of our national glory used to inspire, that they were not content with merely firing salutes in honor of it on the ground, but actually got out on top of the tin covered dome and, standing up immediately under the flag, there fired a salute.

God grant that our country may be filled with such patriotic hearts. The day, which you will recollect was election day, impressed with the importance of his vote. Our old friend R. S. Northcott was elected by something over two hundred votes, defeating his distinguished opponent Col. E. A. Keeble. This shows the confidence our people have in Northcott’s love for the Union and our rights in the Union.

Some, I have learned, misunderstood Northcott’s position, or else he might have gotten more votes than he did. They thought he was for the Union without an “if,” or without the Constitution, which was an entire mistake or misapprehension. He was for the Union with the Constitution, which was an entire mistake or misapprehension. He was for the Union with the Constitution as expounded by the Supreme Court of the United States, and clearly so expressed himself in the speech he made in this place on the Monday previous to the election.


From Clarksburg, Va.—
Letter from Col. Northcott.

(Correspondence of the Nashville Union.)

March 20th, 1864.

I have just been liberated after nine months incarceration in that notorious Southern bastile yelept Libby.” During my entire stay I enjoyed tolerable health, but since my liberation I have been very ill, and have now to write you through an amanuensis.

I have no doubt but that you have heard much of the sufferings of Union men in Richmond. Nor do I have time to enter into details, but I will assure you that none of the reports which have been published in the newspapers, were exaggerated, but I might truthfully adopt the language of the Queen of Sheba, and say “that the half has not been told.” I am happy to inform you that the exchange has commenced, and I think that our suffering officers and soldiers will soon be released.

Tennessee Union Officers

The following officers from Tennessee Federal Regiments are now confined in the Libby.

List of officers from Tennessee Federal Regiments captive at Libby

These officers are all placed on the same footing as other Federal officers in prison; that is, they are treated as prisoners of war–as well as the rebels treat prisoners of war.

When I recover my health I will write to you more fully concerning matters and things in general.

Most respectfully, your friend,

R. S. NORTHCOTT, Lt. Col. 12th W. Va. Vol

Lt. Col. R. S. Northcott.

The Nashville Daily Union., April 08, 1864

We find the following communication in the Wheeling, West Virginia, Intelligencer of the 30th ult:

CUMBERLAND, March 28, 1864.

The Colonel greatly endeared himself to his regiment, by his soldierly conduct in the battle of Winchester; June 13-15; where he it was his misfortune to be made a prisoner of war. This capture and subsequent confinemnet in Libby, had created much anxiety and regret. The first intimations of his release, were hailed with joy; for no man commands greater respect and esteem, than Col. R. S. Northcott in his regiment. His kind, affable manners, have made the boys not only to respect, but love him.

The 26th

On the evening of the 26th, it was announced by telegraph that he would arrive on the 10 o’clock train, in the city.

Preparations were immediately made for his reception, Col. Curtis, Major Brown, Capt. Pritchard and Capt. Briston, were appointed a committee to meet him at the platform and escort him to the Barnum Hotel where preparations were made for a suitable repast.

Stock image of steam engine

It afforded much pleasure to see the Colonel, lately exhumed, as it were, from a traitor’s prison, so cheerful.

At a late hour the party retired, leaving the Colonel to rest and sleep.

Yesterday evening the Colonel made his appearance at dress parade and after the usual routine of such occasions, the regiment was formed in mass when the Colonel made about the following remarks:


Fellow officers and soldiers of the 12th. It affords me great pleasure, thus to renew the associations of the past. In the disastrous battle of Winchester, it was my misfortune to be made a prisoner of war. But as you well know, it was fault of mine. I tried to do my duty. After nine long months spent within the gloomy walls of a military prison I am happy thus to meet you and renew my former association. I am still a prisoner, but as soon as exchanged, will renew my position among you. If it be the lot of the 12th W. Va., to meet our common enemy again in battle, I hope to share the danger with you. We are soldiers for our country, doing battle for the best government the sun ever shone upon.

It is my purpose to remain a resident of West Virginia. I hope to win an honorable citizenship. I now tender my thanks to the officers and men of this regiment for the kind and endearing reception given me. These expressions of friendship I value more than the highest earthly honors. Fellow-soldiers, receive my kindest regards.

Battles that the 12th WV fought in

Col. Curtis then replied in a few appropriate remarks, welcoming the Colonel to our midst again, at which, the entire regiment united in three hearty cheers for our Lieut. Colonel, which I know did him good. Maj. Gen. Sigel, being present, made a few commendatory remarks, and pledged himself to the defense of our little State. The flash of his eye shows he is of the right metal.

We are proud of our little Dutchman and shall claim his as our own. He is one of the strolling geniuses of liberty escaped from the tyrant’s grasp; and now on a foreign shore, battling for the rights of man. We like him as a soldier, and shall fight under him, trusting his skill “We fight mit Sigel!”

Yours, &c                    D—–

The Nashville Daily Union., February 19, 1865

Col. R. S. Northcott having resigned his position in the army, on account of bad health, the result of long confinement in Libby Prison, has resumed his duties as editor of the Clarksburg (Va.) Telegraph. He has our best wishes for his restoration to health, and abundant pecuniary success. In a word, we hope he may “strike ile”

A Libby Order.

The Nashville Daily Union., May 11, 1865

Col. Northcott, of the Clarksburg Telegraph, publishes the following order issued by the commander of Libby Prison, Richmond:


RICHMOND, Va., Feb. 1, 1864.

No Federal officer will be permitted to write no letter to his family or friends in the so called U. S. containing more than six lines, and but one letter each week. All letters must be delivered on Monday at roll call and no other day. By order of

Captain Commanding

The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer., November 05, 1867
Image of Stock certificate of Gen. R. S. Northcott's Company

INCORPORATED.– A certificate of incorporation was issued by the Secretary of State, yesterday, to the Harrison County Gold and Silver Mining Company. The capital stock at present is $300, with power to increase it to $500,000 in shares of $10. The principal office is to be located at Clarksburg. The charter is to expire on the 1st of January, 1887. Robert S. Northcott, Angus W. Johnson, John Fouse and John Conwell are the corporators, and measures will be taken to commence operatons without delay.


The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer., May 16, 1898, page 4

To the Grand Army of the Republic
and Other Military Organizations

To the Editor of the Intelligencer.

SIR:–I wish to speak through your columns to the members of the G. A. R. and other organizations composed of soldiers of the late war. These organizations have been useful in keeping up friendship and associations formed during the war of the rebellion, and as benevolent associations have done much to alleviate the condition of destitute comrades, their widows and orphans. They have also been a source of great pleasure to the members of thereof in cultivating and strengthening the ties of friendship formed in hours of danger.

I have experienced no greater pleasure than attending the meeting of the Grand Army of the Republic.

G. A. R.

The G. A. R. has prospered for a third of a century and has become a power in the land, but circumstances have arisen which in my humble estimation render it advisable to abolish the organization in its present form. The ritual is such that it brings to the minds of our Confederate friends matters which are disagreeable. So far as I am capable of observing our country is entirely united All are ready, not to build castles in Spain, but to blow up her castles which are floating on the high seas, and apparently the people are of one mind with regard to the American Union.

Our Confederate friends are willing to stand shoulder to shoulder in defense of “Old Glory.” It is a good time now to obliterate every bitter feeling that was engendered by the war of the rebellion. Now, and in the future, we should have no organizations indicating that there had ever been strife between us and should as far as possible forget there ever had been any. We are now a nation without conflicting interests; in fact there is complete unity and community among our 70,000,000 of people.

The G. A. R. could so revise its ritual as to enable it to admit to membership comrades of the Confederate army, and the Confederates should also abandon their associations, the rituals of which are objectionable to comrades of the Federal army.

Postcard Image of Libby Prison where Gen. R. S. Northcott was a prisoner
Abandon Its Societies

Let each party abandon its societies, fight the Spanish War to a successful issue and then we can establish something in imitation of the old society of the “Cincinnati,” composed of Federals, Confederates and soldiers of the Spanish-American war. The W. R. C. can adapt their ritual to the changed situation. The writer, a humble member of the G. A. R., has no desire to be a leader in this movement, but throws out these suggestions hoping that others will see the propriety of them and assist in carrying out the good work.

We have great cause for thankfulness that this beautiful unanimity of feeling prevails–even politics are in abeyance, “United we stand, divided we fall.” God grant that we may never again “fall” by division. In regard to our American Union, I would say in the language of the patriot of Venice, “Esto perpetua.”

Clarksburg, W. Va., May 12.


Believed He Would Not Survive the Night But Has Rallied Very Much and May Recover

The Daily Telegram., July 26, 1904
The Clarksburg Telegram., July 29, 1904

General Robert S. Northcott lies in critical condition at his home on Locust street. He has been in rather poor health some time and Monday evening he was seized with something in the nature of a paralytic stroke. His condition grew very serious and it was thought to be impossible for him to survive the night. But Tuesday morning he had raillied sufficiently as to be able to sit up in bed and to take some nourishment. Responding to telegrams his sons, Senator G. A. and Elliot Northcott and Mrs. Naomi Everett, arrived from Huntington on the early train Tuesday morning and are now at his bedside.

Another son, Hon. William A. Northcott, is expected to arrive from Illinois tonight. The improvement in his condition goves hopes that he will regain his health fully. General Northcott is 86 years of age and this fact is against him in his sickness.


The Daily Telegram., January 19, 1906

Piedmont, W. Va., Jan. 19–On the 4th of August, 1863, Mr. J. F. Harrison and thirteen members of the Ringgold Cavalry, Pa. Vols., were taken prisoners of war at what is now known as Williamsport in Grant County, this state. A number were wounded in the fight with Capt. Jesse McNeil, and his whole company. Mr. Harrison was taken to Libby Prison and held as a hostage under sentence of death in retaliation for Mr. Sprigg S. Lynn, who was a member of McNeil’s company. Incidentally, Mr. Lynn and Mr. Harrison were law students in the office of the late Geo. A. Pearre, of Cumberland.

In the room above where Mr. Harrison was confined in Libby Prison was a fellow prisoner, Col. Robert S. Northcott, of the 12th West Va. Vol. infantry, and a warm personal friend of the Harrison family. During the holiday season just passed Mr. Harrison wrote a letter to Col. Northcott, who is now a resident of Clarksburg, this state, and who was breveted a brigadier general by President Lincoln for gallant services rendered.

The letter below was received from General Northcott yesterday.

“Clarksburg, W. Va., Jan. 12, 1906. “Hon. J. F. Harrison, Piedmont, W. Va.

“Dear Comrade and Friend: Your brotherly letter of the 27th ultimo was received, most enjoyably read and appreciated. Those of us who, as I have done, have lived eighty-seven years, love attentions from their juniors. They feel that they are mates in youth and heart, even if separated by a score and a half of years.

In Libby you were such a boy, a child in years, but of superior mentality, which enabled you to satisfactorily hold the command which you did, and with great skill. I loved your father, one of West Virginia’s state makers, but more his son, who so early in life was willing to relinquish that life, that his country might be saved. All honor to you, and if the wretched prison fare of “raw potatoes and onions,” dropped through the opening in the floor of the “sky parlor,” helped you physically I was honored in having them to sustain you to survive the awful war and to fill your present position, I am glad you and my youngest son, “Hon. Elliott Northcott) are friends.

Success to you in all honest political dealings. I am ill, my disease being the incurable one of old age.

“If we not meet again on earth, may we clasp hands in the Elysian Fields, after we have crossed the “river of return-less tides.”

“Good bye, your comrade friend,

The Fairmont West Virginian., January 23, 1906, page 4

In the death of General Robert S. Northcott, at Clarksburg, Sunday afternoon, the State loses one of its most distinguished citizens. General Northcott is survived by five children all of whom hold honorable and responsible positions, namely, William A. Northcott, twice lieutenant governor of Illinois, and now United States attorney of that State; Robert H. Northcott, president and cashier of the Acron Bank of Acron, Col.; Senator G. A. Northcott, a prominent merchant at Huntington, who is district attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, and Mrs. Naomi Everett, teacher in Marshall College at Huntington.

The Daily Telegram., January 23, 1906

Mrs. Naomi Everett, of Huntington, arrived here Monday night to attend the funeral of her father, General Robert S. Northcott.


The Clarksburg Telegram., January 26, 1906

Inscription of Robert Sanders Northcott

General Robert S. Northcott died at his home on Locust Street at 2 o’clock Sunday afternoon of the infirmities of old age. The announcement of his demise took the community by surprise and threw his many friends into sudden grief.

Though quite infirm the past two or three years, his death was not expected, yet so enfeebled had he become that such an announcement was not wholly a surprise to those most intimately associated with him.

Early Life

General Northcott was born in Rutherford County, Tenn., ten miles northeast of Murfreesboro, September 30, 1818, and was in his 88th year. He was reared on a farm, occasionally attending the “old field schools” in his neighborhood, until he was 21 years age. Having, by close occupation, become qualified to teach school, he commenced life as a teacher. He followed this business several years, going to school occasionally until he became a fair Latin scholar and proficient in some of the higher mathematics. In December, 1843, he was united in marriage to Miss Mary Cunningham, a young lady of South Carolina parentage, with whom he lived happily until August, 1881, when she died.

While General Northcott was engaged in teaching he pursued a course of legal studies, but never practiced. In 1850 he entered the mercantile business in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and continued in the same until 1855, when he abandoned it and became editor of the Rutherford Telegraph, a newspaper published in Murfreesboro. He continued as editor of that paper until November, 1860. In 1856 his paper advocated the election of Fillmore to the Presidency and of John Bell in 1860, that nominated Bell and Everett. In 1860, while secession was firing the Southern heart, his paper took an active part in favor of the Union.

On January 7, 1861, Governor (later Senator) Isham G. Harris, called the legislature of Tennessee in extra session to consider the relation of the State to the Federal Union. On January 21 that legislature consummated an act providing for a convention of delegates to assemble at the State capital February —

Image of Clarksburg

General Northcott became a candidate to represent his county of Rutherford in that convention, and ——-rs and in speeches, took abs——-nd unconditional Union grounds, and was elected by a large majority, but the act of the legislature, authorizing the people to elect delegates to a convention also provided that they should vote at the same poll to determine whether they should have a convention.

The people of the State were so well satisfied with the Federal Union that they were not willing that their relations with it should be disturbed. But after the firing upon Fort Sumter, the State was virtually drummed and fifed out of the Union, and the legislature, called together for the purpose, passed an act of secession.


General Northcott remained in Tennessee until July 11, 1861, when he and his family went Vevay, Indiana. In December of that year, he, in connection with Hon. John S. Carlisle, now deceased, commenced the publication of the National Telegraph, a Union paper, now the Clarksburg Telegram, in Clarksburg, W. Va. He continued to edit this paper until August, 1862, when Mr. Carlisle made a new departure in politics; General Northcott withdrew from the paper, and accepted the commission of lieutenant-colonel of the Twelfth West Virginia Infantry Volunteers.

During his term of service he was in a number of engagements. On June 15, 1863, he was captured at Winchester, Va., and remained a prisoner of war until March, 1864, when he was paroled for exchange. After his exchange he participated in Sheridan’s campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. His confinement in Libby prison and fatiguing service in the summer of 1864, seriously impaired his health and he was compelled to resign on that account which he did January 5, 1865. He was subsequently brevetted Brigadier General, by President Johnson.

After the War Closed

After the war closed he resumed editorial charge of the National Telegraph here and continued to conduct this paper until the latter part of the year 1874. In 1866 he was appointed postmaster at Clarksburg. He continued in office only eight months when President Johnson removed him, because he would not endorse the Restoration policy of the President. In 1867 Chief Justice Chase appointed him registrar in bankruptcy upon the recommendation of Judge John J. Jackson and others.

General Northcott’s life was one of great activity, and he made himself extensively acquainted with literature. His range of reading was wide, embracing theology, law, romance and science. He never was neutral in anything and most of his life was an active politician. His father was an active politician. His father was a Federalist and carefully instructed him in the doctrines of that party. Before he had arrived at voting age, the Whig Party was organized and he became an active member of it, and so continued until it disbanded. He then voted with the Opposition until war when he became a Republican.

Image of the Whig Party which Gen. R. S. Northcott

The deceased served several terms as mayor of Clarksburg and at the age of 70 years was still a justice of the peace. General Northcott was also a Knight Templar for many years, virtually the major portion of his life.

By his first wife eleven children were born to him, four of whom died in Tennessee, and one, Miss Ada, here 19 years ago. The surviving children are Mrs. Naomi Everett, of Huntington, of the faculty of Marshall College; William A. Northcott, of Springfield, Ill., ex-lieutenant governor of that state, and United States district attorney for that state now; Gus A. Northcott, of Huntington, merchant and president of the West Virginia State senate; Robert H. Northcott, of Acron, Colo., cashier of the Acron Bank; and Elliott Northcott, of Huntington, United States district attorney for the Southern district of West Virginia, and chairman of the Republican State committee.


September 15, 1885, General Northcott married Miss Elizabeth Albin, of Concord, N. H., an educated, highly cultured and amiable lady, with whom he lived happily up to the time of his death. She survives him.

Gen. R. S. Northcott was a member of the Knights Templar

The funeral of General Robert S. Northcott was held at 2:30 o’clock Tuesday afternoon. The obsequies were conducted at Christ Episcopal church in the presence of relatives and a large number of friends. Rev. J. F. Plummer, rector of the church, officiated, paying a feeling tribute to the deceased, and Clarksburg Commandery of Knights Templars had charge of the last sad rites. The interment was at the Odd Fellows’ cemetery.

The pall bearers were John B. Smith, F. G. Bland, L. K. Richards, C. W. Furbee, Carl Hornor and S. F. Reed, members of the Commandery.

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