Few probably know the name of Samuel Cooper, but he was the South’s highest-ranking general, and his work for the Confederate States of America was critically important. On May 15 at 7:30 p.m., at the historic Lloyd House, in Alexandria, Va., Cooper’s great-great-granddaughter, Marion Dawson will discuss her relative’s personal life and service in the United States and Confederate armies.

Cooper, a resident of Alexandria when the war began, resigned his command as Adjutant General of the U.S. Army and volunteered to serve in the Confederate army. He was named adjutant general and the inspector general, reporting directly to his old friend, President Jefferson Davis. Initially appointed a brigadier general, he was quickly promoted to full general, the first man to hold that position and thereby outranking all others who later made full general, including Robert E. Lee.

Historians have Cooper to thank for protecting the records of the Confederate government, which he took with him when Richmond fell. He was captured in North Carolina, where he turned over to the Union wagons full of documents. Those documents are now in the National Archives.

The lecture is a part of an ongoing series of talks on Alexandria’s Civil War Sesquicentennial and is open to the public at no charge.