This metal snuff box contains a .58 caliber Minie ball removed from the shoulder of Confederate Colonel Jeremiah Vardeman Cockrell.
Born in May 1832 near Warrensburg, Missouri, Jeremiah Cockrell joined the Missouri State Guard when the Civil War began and served as an officer in the 8th Division at the battles of Carthage, Wilson’s Creek, and Lexington. He was commissioned a captain in the 5th Missouri Battalion in early 1862 but retired when that unit was reorganized. Appointed a colonel of a partisan ranger regiment, Cockrell led his men at the fierce Battle of Lone Jack, Missouri, in August 1862 but was not reelected when that unit reorganized. He then recruited Confederate soldiers and accompanied General Sterling Price on his raid through Missouri in 1864. Cockrell was wounded in the arm during a skirmish in Jasper County, Missouri. Following the war, he moved to Texas but was unable to use his arm for years until the Minie ball was finally removed. He then kept the bullet in the snuff box as a souvenir until his death on March 18, 1915.
Snuff boxes were made from a wide variety of materials, including precious metals. Elaborate snuff boxes indicated either the owner’s high rank in society or the high regard in which a presenter held the recipient.
Since tobacco had a tendency to dry out, the boxes were designed to hold generally a one-day supply of finely ground tobacco, which, depending on moisture content, could be either sniffed or put between the lip and gum.
Contributing Institution: Wilson's Creek National Battlefield
Accession Number: WICR 30122 & 30123
Copy Request: Contact Wilson's Creek National Battlefield at: (417)-732-2662; 6424 West Farm Road 182 Republic, MO 65738.
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Photographer: Steve Ross