Fighting Joe Hooker, a Troublemaker and His Own Worst Enemy

Following are excerpts from my article about General Hooker in my book, Civil War Trailblazers and Troublemakers.  For obvious reasons, I classify him as a troublemaker, but in many ways he could have been a greater success.  Unfortunately, the person standing in his way was usually himself.  The book is available at                       https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HV4SSWK

“Lincoln’s order giving Hooker command of the Army of the Potomac on January 26, 1863 is one of the strangest examples of its kind.  It is also a superb example of the degree to which Abraham Lincoln was an excellent judge of people, especially someone like the much-disliked and overtly-ambitious Hooker.  It read in part:

“GENERAL: I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac.  Of course I have done this upon what appears to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you.  I believe you to be a brave and skillful soldier, which, of course, I like…You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm; but I think that during General Burnside’s command of the army, you have taken counsel of your ambition, and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country and to a most meritorious and honorable brother officer.  I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a dictator… What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship…I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to infuse into the army, of criticizing their commander and withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon you…  And now beware of rashness…go forth and bring us victories.”   

             Allegedly, when Hooker received this order, he said that while he was somewhat chagrined, he was also was touched by its tone of mingled authority and kindness, stating, “He talks to me like a father…I shall not answer this letter until I have given him a great victory.”  Hooker never responded to the letter because he never gave Lincoln a great victory.”

3a35574r50 men and women who inalterably changed the civil war era

 

 

 

 

Author: geneofva

Author of "Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era," and of the upcoming "Lincoln, Antietam, and a Northern Lost Cause."

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