Thaddeus and Mary Ann Cox

(Pasquotank County)

Featured Characters – Divided Allegiances

Thaddeus and Mary Ann Cox

Thaddeus and Mary Ann Cox

Courtesy of Joyce Corbett Reitz and James Thadius Palmer 

Pasquotank County resident Lieutenant Thaddeus Cox and his pregnant wife Mary Ann were killed as a result of guerilla activity. Cox had been a common school teacher before the war and had enlisted into the 1st North Carolina Union Volunteers as second lieutenant.  Cox’s company spent the winter of 1862-1863 in Pasquotank County, recruiting more soldiers and protecting local Unionists.  The armed Union sympathizers quickly attracted the attention of Confederate guerrillas.  On January 5, 1863, rebel partisans shot and killed Cox’s first lieutenant, Nathaniel Sanders.  Promoted to fill Sanders’s position, Cox worried about his personal safety and the safety of his family.  Warned by local Unionist B.F. Keaton of a possible threat against him, Cox decided to move his family into Elizabeth City.  On February 9, 1863, escorted by four members of his regiment and ten armed black men, Cox loaded his wife and two children into a wagon and set out for safe haven fourteen miles away.  Unfortunately for the Union officer, Willis B. Sanderlin’s Confederate guerillas knew about Cox’s movements.  As the Union party passed over the bridge at Newbegun Creek, the guerillas opened fire. Cox and his four-year-old daughter Martha fell from the cart and died immediately while Mary Ann was mortally hit in the shoulder by a bullet. The horses ran off with the cart towards Bayside Plantation, where the buggy was reined in. Only seven-year-old Mary Elizabeth was found inside, unharmed.