Young General Distinguished Himself
Robert Frederick Hoke was born in Lincolnton, N.C., to Michael Hoke and Frances Burton on May 27, 1837. On Jan. 19, 1863, at the age of 26, he was promoted to brigadier general. (He later became a major general.) Robert was wounded at Chancellorsville and therefore missed the Gettysburg campaign. In April of 1864 Gen. Hoke captured the Federal garrison at Plymouth, N.C., with 7,000 troops and the assistance of the ironclad CSS Albemarle. According to him, the taking of Plymouth was the proudest day of his life. Gen. Robert E. Lee ordered Robert to Wilmington to protect Fort Fisher but, unfortunately, he reported to Gen. Braxton Bragg. During the Fort Fisher fight in January 1865, Gen. Hoke’s division was at Sugarloaf and could not save the fort. Gen. Hoke surrendered in Greensboro on May 1, 1865. After the Civil War, at age 50, Robert was diagnosed with Bright’s disease. He was told to drink Lithia water, found at Lithia Springs approximately 1-1/2 miles west of Lincolnton. He built a hotel and created the Lithia Water Company to sell water to the public. He married Lydia Van Wyck, and they had six children. Being a modest man, he disliked the limelight, did not write his memoirs, and never held a political office. It was said that in his later years, he resembled Gen. Lee. Robert died on July 3, 1912, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh. Hoke County was named for him during his lifetime. Ironically, Fort Bragg, which was named for Braxton Bragg, lies partly in Hoke County. Gen. Hoke is my second cousin, fourth generation removed.