Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Feeding Cox’s Army


By Frank Leslie’s magazine – Library of Congress, Public Domain

A few years back Pam Moore told me about a saying I had never heard. Recently I heard someone else use the saying.

Pam also explained the meaning behind the saying, here’s what she said:

“My mom would always say that we had “enough food to feed Cox’s army”. I asked her who Cox was and she said she didn’t know, it was just something that her parents said. I did some research and found out that there were two Coxs. During the Depression, in 1932, a priest named Cox led a march on Washington, DC consisting of unemployed men from Pennsylvania. In 1894, another depression year, Jacob Coxey led a protest march into Washington, DC to ask that jobs be created. I thought it was interesting that there were two “Cox’s armies”.


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  • Reply
    Carole (Cox) C Bacon
    May 31, 2021 at 9:05 am

    My grandfather was a Cox,and the “enuf to feed an army” was heard and quoted by many. I don’t know if my dna is related to J.S. Coxey, but it’s an interesting piece of history for a Cox descendent.
    I plan to search more on this name. Was Coxey the same as Cox is my first search subject.

  • Reply
    Tamara Henderson
    February 18, 2021 at 5:47 pm

    My mom said that all the time. We are from WV

    • Reply
      Shirley Whipple
      October 11, 2021 at 2:26 pm

      Me too. From WV and always heard that saying.

  • Reply
    Annie Kelley
    January 21, 2021 at 6:28 pm

    I came online looking for a history of this expression. I come from a big midwestern family, and my mom (a Depression baby) used to say she cooked”enough to feed Cox’s Army”. An expression I use all the time without knowing anything about it. lol Thanks for the info. I’m sure it came from HER mom.

  • Reply
    January 21, 2021 at 9:46 am

    My great great grandfather called his son’s large family Cox’s Army, so I know it was not the depression era Cox he referred to.

  • Reply
    Billy Campbell
    March 26, 2020 at 11:03 pm

    Here in Northeast Tennessee the saying “enough to feed Cox’s Army” or “it would take Cox’s army to do so and so” referd in the Confederate officer who occupied a camp in present dat Johnson City, TN.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2018 at 11:13 pm

    I’ve heard and used “enough to feed an army” plenty of times but never heard the “Cox’s” or “Coxey’s” name associated with the saying.
    A gentleman from our church was a cook during the Korean War (er, Conflict) and he recently donated his recipe box to our local group that puts out meals for 200 plus each weekend with servings big enough to last folks 2 to 4 meals. The “head honcho” especially likes his recipes because when they talk about servings, they are planning for large servings to feed hard working service men and women instead of, as she says, those “prissy” servings counted in most cookbooks for 50 or more. Guess you could say she and her volunteers serve up “enough to feed Cox’s Army” every weekend.

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan
    June 21, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    Thank you so much Tipper for educating us out here. You make life so very interesting. I love seeing your post every day. It is something I do look forward to for so many wonderful reasons.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    June 21, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    I called and ask Donna Lynn to announce The Pressley Girls tomorrow night at 7:00 pm at the Festival Barn at the John C. Campbell Folk School and if it rains, it’ll be at the Keith House. Then I ask her to play “If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again”. She played another by the Pressley Girls and “Shepherd of my Soul” by Paul and Pap. Those are Favorites or mine. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    June 21, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    My mother said it, too! And I never knew until this day the source for the saying! Thanks, Tipper!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    June 21, 2018 at 11:25 am

    I use to know some Coxes that started the Tom’s Peanut Business. They lived just below my shop and I knew Tony and Jerry. After the dad died Tony moved his part of the business to Pennsylvania. I still see Tom’s brands in local stores all over the place, but I never heard Pam Moore’s version of the Coxes feeding an Army. I guess we didn’t have enough left over to feed an Army. …Ken

  • Reply
    June 21, 2018 at 10:08 am

    I’ve heard “Enough to feed an army!” all my life but didn’t know the army had a name. The army depicted in the photo looks fairly well off with their parasols and shiny carriages. They must be fighting in someone else’s behalf. Something like a modern million man march.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2018 at 9:23 am

    My grandparents frequently used the expression and, to a lesser extent, my parents did as well. To a young child the operative portion of the expression was ‘Army’. That was a lot of people. I didn’t really understand the possible origins of the phrase until much later. I wonder if there was a generational evolution of the phrase. My grandparents may have heard ‘Coxey’s Army’ as a reference to the 1894 demonstration and my parents perceived that as ‘Cox’s Army’, the Depression Era event that they were aware of. The phrase was colloquial and vernacular and more often spoken than written. It would take a discerning ear to distinguish them and skillful enunciation to provide the distinction. Whew! Now I’m might nigh wore out jest thinkin’ about it. Better git another cup o’ coffee.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    June 21, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Mama used to say this so I eventually looked it up–a bad time to live through.

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    June 21, 2018 at 8:44 am

    Oh my goodness, my Mom used to say that all the time! I too, never heard the story behind it.

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    June 21, 2018 at 8:27 am

    I have heard that phrase as long as I can remember but never questioned it’s origin. It is good to know where it came from. Larry

  • Reply
    Sheryl A. Paule
    June 21, 2018 at 8:24 am

    Never heard that one. Maybe enough to feed an army is a variation

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    June 21, 2018 at 7:56 am

    I have heard it but it was years ago and I thought it was an army from the civil war.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 21, 2018 at 7:53 am

    Yep, reference to Cox’s Army was standard at our house, one of my Mom’s sayings. There also was a community of Cox folks in the county. I don’t recall now whether I ever thought they were the army, but they were numerous. Somehow I eventually became aware of the Cox Army that marched on Washington.

    Another expression my Mom liked was about the “votin Tussies” which comes from Jesse Stuarts book “Taps for Private Tussie”. The votin Tussies were a notch above the non-votin Tussies but they were all still Tussies.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2018 at 6:09 am

    I’ve heard it before but never new the story behind it, I just assumed it was a civil war regimen or something like that.

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