Hi Stokerstove, The fresh air intake and a cold air return are two different items. And a good stove installation will have both.
A fresh air intake is to provide outside air for the combustion of the coal. This should be a pipe from outside to near or attached to the intake of the combustion fan. A screen on the outdoors end of the pipe will keep mice outside. Some people just open a window a 'crack' in the basement to provide fresh air, but this cools down the whole room, and creates a need to burn more coal to heat the cooler air.
The cold air return will create a positive circulation of hot air throughout your house. Cool air returning to the stove from the same rooms or parts of the house that you are pushing heat into will create a loop of heated air. This circulation is crucial to getting even heat through your house.
Many stove owners use open stairways as cold air return passageways and they work OK. But in some houses it just doesn't work. And some form of a cold air return is needed. If you have open floor joists in the basement, you may be able to put a simple duct from the farthest end of the house hooked to a floor resgister to the inlet of the distribution fan in the stokerstove. This will provide a positive return of cool air to the stove to be reheated and recirculated.