|Also known as:||Unknown|
Rifleman Cooper was the first of the riflemen named. He was also the first named rifleman killed on the retreat to Corunna in Sharpe's Rifles. His first name was never mentioned.
Both novels were written out of sequence, and inserted in the continuity after the television series began. Either his appearance is an error on the author's part, or more likely, a new character called Cooper was created to coincide with the television character of the same name.
Cooper was born and bred in the London slums, as was Sharpe, claiming Shorditch as his native patch, where he learnt his trade in thieving, pick pocketing, and housebreaking. He always carried a set of pick locks. When Sharpe asked him his previous employment, he replied, "By way of a trader, sir. In... property and the like." Sharpe understands; "Would that be other people's property, Cooper?"
He hadn't volunteered for the army so mach as been invited to join the army by the magistrate. He reckoned it a better option than hanging or transportation. He tends to be a smart mouth: "It's very hard to trust a man who wants to borrow your pick-lock."
In Sharpe's Rifles, he asks Sharpe where he had learned to fight so dirty, Sharpe replies he'd learned in the same place as Cooper, "Saturday night in the gutters."
He also appears in Sharpe's Gold where he was last seen wounded. Since he later appears in Sharpe, The Legend, it may be assumed he was repatriated due to injuries after that.