tv The Civil War Union General Joseph Hooker CSPAN December 23, 2017 6:00pm-7:18pm EST
great, you learn to trust her passion and let it lead the way. >> watch monday, christmas day, on the c-span networks. war, john the civil hennessy talks about union general use of hooker, describing him as -- about union general joseph hooker. this talk is part of pamplin historical park's symposium, "generals we love to hate." looking at the controversial military leaders of the civil war. bob wanted me to mention today is the 100th anniversary to the day that the first u.s. troop went into line into france during world war i. [laughter].
john jay hennessy is an author serving as the chief historian and chief of interpretation at gettysburg -- at the military part. worked -- he is the author of a great book, the first battle of manassas. let's welcome john hennessy. [applause] mr. hennessy: i have to start with this. this is not a gratuitous phrasing of my team that i have loved since i was 11 years old. the pittsburg penguins play hockey.
remember they won the stanley cup. i offer this is context for some of what you have heard this week. does anybody recall who was defeated in the final? [booing] mr. desmond: do you remember -- mr. hennessy: do you remember? do you remember? nashville is in the state of tennessee. the lives in the state of tennessee? will green. [laughter] mr. hennessy: after the stanley cup finals, he called me or i called him. i can armor which. he told me how great it was. i told him, you know the penguins won. a said, were the predators fun game to watch? it occurred to me as i was sitting listening to him talk
something forhas lovable losers. [laughter] unlike will, i am talking about joseph hooker. assumewill, i will not the cancer sticks of my subjects. [laughter] exceedingly: he is lovable, as you know. it is good to be here. i really did bring the hat for running. it proved to be a fortuitous moment. joseph hooker, a man we love to hate. at the time during the american hate was not as universal as it seems today. our emotions about historical
figures are shaped by the historians. or more often, the work and the writings of the historical figure themselves after the deed is done. george mcclellan is a perfect example. we know lastly more about him and his personality than any of his shoulders ever did. certainly, it is true for joseph hooker as well. he was a man of many accomplishments and occasional brilliance. he was not a man who could solely be judged based on his visible deeds and acts. ulysses grant spoke about hooker more so than anyone else he spoke of. he said he regarded him as a dangerous man. he was not subordinate to his superiors. he was ambitious about not
caring for the rights of others. we tend to flinch in the presence of an ambitious person. we forget that ambition is the main thing for a thriving society. hooker was in no means alone and being ambitious. he thought to distinguish himself from his peers in ways that would appeal to appeal to those of people of power above him. he knew his core beliefs would do him little or no good, he thought to blend with those around him. most importantly for hooker as a subordinate, he adopted the persona of an aggressor. i think it is safe to say when you look at the history of the
army at the potomac, there are few, if any, subordinate commanders who had a more unblemished, unbroken, spectacular record of aggression than joseph hooker. this in an army that was not an aggressive being. grant said his deposition when -- disposition was when engaged and battle exercise a separate command. this is speaking of him as a subordinate. gathering his standard all he could of his juniors. what he meant, all of their accomplishments. grant was not a fan of joseph hooker. many people, those that we admire the most survived by the virtue of their accomplishment. we have all known joseph hooker
in our lives, just as we have known a george mcclellan. if we lucky, a u.s. grant or a robert e lee. these are people who live among us today on their personality and method. others, in addition to their own accomplishment, rise by virtue of their efforts to pair down those around them. joseph hooker could muster little good to say about his -- about peers or superiors. if any figure of the war was successful in rising by diminishing the a college men's of those around him, it was joseph hooker. that success and context seems remarkable to us today. in the army of the potomac, people talk about the change in -- the changing war.
i would suggest understanding the war requires an understanding that it changed dramatically from the beginning in 1861 until the end. the change affects military practice, we see that here. also, military policy. the armies would become a dominant tool for implementing policy. it affected social institutions, the institution of slavery, and southern civilians. those policies would become the major point of debate within the union war effort. 1862, and 1863 with the armies themselves, because the army was such a important
tool and because their early commander was so avid and his insistence and participating in the debates about what those policies should be. the politics of officers came to matter a great deal. poker -- hooker realized this early on. although he was a conservative democrat who generally opposed using the army as a tool for emancipation, for example. he did not seem to be quite as solicitous as southern civilians. he opted out of the public debate. to this day, any people who write about about him do not have a clear idea of his politics. that was intentional on his part. he made himself disappear on those subjects that could do him
the most harm and perhaps inhibit his advancement to the army. i want to read you a quote by hooker. after the war, he would campaign -- he would embark on a pr campaign after the war until his death. not much with newspapers, although he granted an uncommon number of newspaper interviews, but with samuel bates, who would write a history on the battles. he offered his opinion on everything. i want to give you a sense of hooker as he undertook this. speaking of lee, he said he excelled with every man i knew in character. as a soldier, i do not wish to speak of him. elsewhere, he said rather negative things.
his orders of evading the army are sublime. that is, his orders, hands off the civilians was precisely right as far as he was concerned. then, he reveals himself as a thoughtful man. war has many evils, if burdens and terrors may be ameliorated. war has its morality. in no instance has our government a higher mission than to perform in her wars. what a contrast lee's character presents to general sherman whose orders were to retreat for -- work receipt for nothing and whose dispatch to the government were unworthy of a gorilla. -- unworthy of a gurellia -- of guerilla.
this speaks to his core belief of a conservative to war, something that mcclellan certainly shared. his certainty to examine the character of others, which he did constantly. his unwillingness for praise, or at least praised without a counterbalancing criticism. so, hooker engaged in damning almost anyone who impeded his progress toward success. suspect if joseph hooker took his seat this weekend by having -- weekend, i would put him by will green cheer him up a bit. [laughter] mr. hennessy: we would have enjoyed having him here. he was famous for being a fun guy.
he was unabashed. he could be entertaining. sometimes, injudicious. when in a format like this could , have a welcome injection of fun. usually, always in an amusing sort of way. we, as historians and students have come to know his way of , thinking. his calculated machinations. if you had stayed with us for any amount of time and aspired for jerr'y's job. job, we have -- jerry would have learned the underbelly of joseph hooker. before the civil war, his wastation in the army shaped less by his perfectly capable service and mexico and a far more by his raucous behavior
in california after the war. he served well in mexico and enjoyed his time in the postwar period. he would not marry until 1865. he was a bachelor, not lifelong, but almost. in california, where he was posted until 1853, and then resigned from the army in 1853 , he gained a reputation. he gambled and drank. in the mexican war he was looked upon as a good soldier, but an unreliable man. -- he was aa, common drunkard. had a certain
reputation among his colleagues in the army. somebody once described his time in the army as a beach bum. i think that is pretty accurate. [laughter] mr. hennessy: a staff sergeant later refered to him as a decade -- a decayed california gambler. for joseph hooker, his time in california coincided precisely with that command of henry talent, who would be his immediate superior officer during his tenure as commander of the potomac. hisit came to believe that knowledge of hooker in california deeply affected the relationship the rest of their careers. he is aware that i know some
things about his career and conduct in california. in fearing i may use that information against him, he seeks to ward off that affect by -- ward off affects by making it seem i am his personal enemy. he would become a constant enemy side.orn in hooker's we do not know if he is right but he thought his knowledge of hooker's-- of antics during his time in california shaped the relationship that the two of them had. as a civilian, he received contracts -- this was from -- this is his house in sonoma, which i have not heard if it is still standing. it is preserved in sonoma. as a civilian after his
resignation in 1853, he received a number of contracts to help build railroads in oregon. while he never left california, he certainly had a strong presence in oregon. it was there he developed a political base, including the eventual support of this man. he is there. this is not working. james, -- a man named james, who would become a united states senator. there he is. all you do is rise. [laughter] mr. hennessy: it did not work that way when will was here. he would be after statehood and he would become a senator and
be one of hooker's boosters on capitol hill. the papers that are out in the oregon historical society are fighting joseph hooker. they offer the most cohesive look at his method of rising in the army. with the onset of war in 1861, joseph hooker had to borrow $700 to retire the debts that he still labored under in california and presumably oregon. , so he could travel east to assist the war effort. not long after first manassas, he received a commission as a -- so that he could travel east to assist in the union war effort. not long after first manassas,
he received a commission as a brigadier general. at that time the 32nd ranked general in the union army to --joseph hooker was largely beloved by his men, who are proud of energy he brought to his endeavors. his first trip into the limelight -- it happened without you standing that time. it came on the peninsula campaign in 1862 when his division led the advance of the union army towards williamsburg. this is not going to be a tactical talk at all. suffice to say, it was the first evidence of one of his most important qualities.
that was his aggression. his was the lead of the army at -- army as they approached williamsburg. rather than waiting for support, waiting to become part of a well organized advance, he decided he needed to forge ahead and make contact rapidly. he was bloodied and driven back. to some degree, he was rescued sy the arrival of phil kearny' division. carney quickly concluded and would never lose the opinion that joseph hooker was reckless. carney was probably the greatest division commander for the army of the potomac. he was extremely aggressive, but not careless.
, wasr, carney thought aggressive to the point of carelessness. the commander of the artillery on the peninsula wrote this. " i must say that he did not impress me at all favorably as a power of a general. his great idea was to go ahead until we run against the army -- the enemy and fight them. them get into ." liamsburg first on the one hand, hooker established a reputation for aggression. within the circles of the army, there was a caveat that he was also reckless. after the battle mcclellan, praise, not hooker, but hancock. he delivered the final blood williamsburg. he said he was superb, hancock
the superb became his nickname. hooker received little to no notice. a prompted him to embark on aggressive -- an aggressive campaign to inform those of what he had accomplished. two weeks after the battle of williamsburg, he had written to as many as six senators, asserting his decisive role in the battle. not just boasting of himself, but also of someone else's failure. in writing to a new york congressman, he said of mcclellan --i am amazed of his inhumanity. he does not have the instinct or humanity of a great man.
another correspondent praising himself and criticizing mcclellan. " our commanding general does not know what leadership is or if he does he is indisposed to acknowledge it. i think mcclellan is the most trifling soldier yet. " as you can see, hooker's internal feelings were changing or intensifying. he was not one of the legions of of mcclellan loyalists in the army. continuallyr fored -- continually bucked promotions. he wrote continually to senators and the white house. we have a letter written to oregon. this is typical of the others. we can assume that not only did he promote his own accomplishments, but denigrated others. speaking of the commanders that surrounded him in the army of
the potomac, he told nesmith, i i would sooner cut down trees than serve in the army with these people exercise command. he would continue on. there were a lot of threats like this from officers in the company. he would continue on. do you want to stand up again, see if we can get it to change? [laughter] mr. hennessy: see? [applause] mr. hennessy: there goes, there goes. >> he has the real controller. mr. hennessy: we are just kind off on by the whole thing, are we not? by the battle of antietam, he had risen to the command of the first corps of the army of the potomac. a period of tremendous turmoil and change in the way of manassas. he took what is known as the first corps onto the battlefield
at antietam. a reporter saw him at antietam saying he had rather confident -- he had rather transparent cheeks that reveal him as a blushing girl. the blushing cheeks are part of his visit mentioned by anyone -- he looked up mostly he had been painted. they are a continual part of his visage mentioned by almost everyone. this continued the perception that he was under the influence of alcohol. i can find no evidence of that is true. antietam, he again exhibited aggression. on the night of the 16th of september, he was order to cross -- he was ordered to cross antietam creek and move towards what we now know as the northwood. he did so energetically. he did it so energetically, he
almost entangled his men among the confederates. to the point when the sun rose the next morning, the lines were so close together that he had no choice but to simply go forth. he removed any flexibility from the equation by being overly aggressive that night. his bravery is unquestioned wrote one of his officers who admired him. he had not shown himself as a tactician. he would be wounded at antietam. i am not sure that the story is -- that historians quite recognize how limiting his act of aggression putting his men so -- putting his men close to the confederate line was for the union army.
some of his fellow officers in the army certainly recognized that. another said i should fear his prudence that the own to be done is pitch in and fight. remember those words when you and i are speaking figuratively -- member those words -- remember those words when we are standing. after the battle of antietam, he spent weeks in washington recovering. it was at this time, with full access to powerbrokers, that he laid the foundation politically for his future rise to commander of the army of the potomac. he did not engage in any conversations or discussions about philosophy or policy. -- philosophy and policy. he confined himself to topics of military topics as he saw them. quite naturally, the quality of
the peers in commanders with whom he served. once back in the field, he continued his ways under burnside. on november 19, when burnside's campaign was rumbling towards the rappahannock river, he burnside,etter not to suggesting a different policy, but to edwin stanton. it is not denigrate burnside directly, but he implied a different route. ultimately, he is unsuccessful in altering the union plan. he would spend the next two months engineering, not only his own rise, but burnside's fall. time, he wrote at this
seemed to have counted on the , mcclellan delay. speaking derisively of mcclellan. they have never failed in their regulations predicting the implication that burnside would fail similarly again. so, those of you manage an organization you have , conversations about the people you work with and manage. we all do. sometimes, we speak uncharitable y of them, perhaps. one of the things i think we have all learned early is that if you are in a position of authority, you may have those conversations and they may be necessary to your organization to have those kind of frank conversations. you do not have them with them with people below you in the organization. you discredit yourself as a leader as soon as that happens.
quartered in the third who knew him well and said he was a easy talker and was custom to criticism freely. even in the presence of inferiors, the conduct of his affairs. conducte ducks -- the of his superiors. when it concerns himself, he indulges in boasting. one cannot reckon modesty among his purchase. enemywho would become an called him a man more dangerous. he was certainly unprincipled and would begin to pull down the men. one of the characters six of poker is -- of -- one of the characteristics of joseph hooker was boasting. boasting. ambitious people, people of accomplishment, i think we
expect them to find subtle ways, if not explicit ways, to boast about their accomplishments. the most dangerous kind of boasting his prospective boasting. this is what i will do. proclaim what your success will look like. that was his favorite kind of boasting. when henry benton talked about confronting robert e. lee, he responded, i do not intend to defeat him the intended to bank bag himi intend to entirely. with his command of the army of the potomac, he would engage in retrospective criticism of his peers and superiors with forward thinking boasting as his own intentions and accomplishments. his criticism -- i am going to spring goal some of these through because they are so wonderful. war,ote after the
especially to historian bates and unburden himself about the people he served with. was who came under fire those who failed him in some way. maybe his favorite target of all was howard. he said he was always a woman among the troops. he was not born and petticoats, but he ought to have been and he should wear them every day. on burnside -- support will -- he is going to burst into tears. i may safely say that i consider an ass.l, but simply i have no wish to dispute his claim, but his brain is the larger than a hickory and not fit for command. [laughter] mr. hennessy: what i love about
that is not the hickory met -- the hickory nut part, but that he has no wish to disturb his repute in any way. [laughter] mr. hennessy: he often did this. why did he do this? i think, as all of us are students of human behavior, he believed there would be a gain for him. certainly, it turned out there probably was. he was probably the most civilsful intrigue or -- -- most successful in the united states military during the civil war. his efforts got him a command. that is that the way he would have explained what he did. he said, later, again in a letter to samuel bates. i was pronounced in my opinion for the sake of the cause and the country. no ill feelings towards the person or party implicated or in
any way reflecting on their merit. simply to have the attention of the authorities called into for the sake of the cause and subject and order mistakes may be remedied. in the wararnestly to look at people privately or silently. he did all this utterly regardless of any influence it may have on myself. it conjures a few phrases one -- phrases, one begins with b and ends with s. [laughter] mr. hennessy: defeat and failure on the battlefield, it doomed burnside. when burnside was relieved after the mud march of january of 1863, hooker was given command. his first task was to humiliate ambrose. burnside had written and presented to the president general orders, which called for
the dismissal of hooker and other several leading officers in the army. or else, burnside would resign. this order had never been issued. hooker found it in the papers after he took command. as he described later -- in a week or two, i have availed myself of sending this to the new york press, which made the author more conspicuous than he ever had been before. subsequently, president lincoln inquired of me how the order that out. when i said it was through my own agency and i considered it a great wrong to the author in withholding it to the public. [laughter] mr. hennessy: lincoln knew with his ways andnew of
appointed him to command despite his ways. you are familiar with the famous letter that lincoln wrote in which he says i ask you for military success. i willappointed him to command e dictatorship. this is something else he wrote. i believe you to be a brave and skillful soldier. i also believe you do not mix politics of your profession. which was a welcome respite, by the way. it was something that was important to lincoln for sure. -- lincoln, for sure. you have confidence in yourself, which is valuable. you are ambitious, which does good rather than harm. lincoln who was, in my view, if learn want to promote and -- if you want to learn how to manage difficult people, read his papers. he ought to be topic number one in every business for america. he is magical in dealing with difficult people.
now, the challenge that faced joseph hooker in 1863, was not one of successful rehabilitating an army that was without question in crisis. after the relief of mcclellan and burnside. after the defeat of fredericksburg. -- after the relief of mcclellan. after the relief of burnside. after the defeat of fredericksburg. i would argue, and i think the evidence suggests this, hooker walked into an army that was probably as grumbly as any after theny ever to serve under postrevolutionary flag. for the first time, soldiers felt widely that their efforts have been wasted. one soldier wrote i am alive in a war of ambition and a war with thousands upon thousands being
killed or crippled for life. and for what? god only knows. another soldier in the army said peace would be held with joy on any terms. while these were not universal opinions, they were certainly opinions widely held in the army. all this despair and doubts bracketed the issue on january 1, 1863 of the emancipation proclamation. an executive order that was the focus of more attention than any in american history and more debate and controversy. all of these things, this
controversy itself -- mind you the army was either ambivalent or opposed to the emancipation proclamation because they felt it would make their job harder by enraging the southerners and causing them to fight harder. that aside, the tunnel that surrounded the army at the time. one man said this is an mind of the army is an intellectual marsh that switch them with perfect audacity. another man said, we have, some of us have forgotten the , distinction between a good government and a sometimes corrupt agents. with our personal indignation, we have lost sight of the moment of our principles. the sources of discontent within the army went way beyond the simple defeat on the battlefield. the war by 1863 was not only
going badly in virginia, but it was going reasonably well elsewhere in the self for the union cause. it was changing dramatically. the breadth of their complaints -- of the army's complaints is also astonishing. many had not been paid in months. for many, the families at home were dependent upon those little incomes. it was the middle of winter when physical hardships are at the greatest. they were dissatisfied with leadership. a governor wrote there is individually should -- there is -- why cannot we have generalship that would put us at a equal footing of our enemy? there was a simple disruption that comes with constant change.
only 19 -- of the 19 division commanders that had been with the army, only five were left. what was left seem to inspire little confidence. there was a tremendous pining for the good old days of mcclellan. this will change rather rapidly. there was certainly a desire for stability once again and mcclellan certainly represented that. there was a perception that it had been meddled with by politicians in washington. alexander webb wrote that -- -- wrote that fall, how many people have been done in washington -- have there ever been such idiots? i despise them more than the rebels.
a remarkable statement, coming from an officer of the united states army. i despise my government more intensely than i do the rebels of course the emancipation theoclamation caused question of black troops coming into the field was a subject of debate between the condition of the army and the instability of the time and the immense union -- immense issues surrounding the union war effort. how it should be done and the simple fact of failure, all of these left the army in a dire position. -- in a dire condition. now, perhaps the greatest threat to the army also would prove to offer the foundation for recovery. we look at the winter of 1862 1863 -- 8062-1863 -- 19
862-1863 as a time of calm. i physical level it was. there was tremendous transformation, a tremendous burgeoning within the army of the potomac. that burgeoning came as a reaction, not just from a appointment or the emancipation proclamation, but the rise of the northern peace party. just as robert e. lee galvanized the union army after the second manassas, i would argue the most important thing of going to maryland and confront the confederates by antietam creek was robert e. lee. doing the one -- was robert e. lee. doing the one thing that would motivate them up off their backside and out into the field again by crossing into the
now, -- into the north. now another external force rose , up because the army to began to see itself as a cohesive unit with a very specific goal. it was the rise of the copperheads. a number of state elections were held in the spring 1863. these are issues -- these were issues in new jersey and in connecticut where they would win elections or threaten to win elections extensively. the copperheads became a force against which the army began to coalesce. these cowardly traitors and scoundrels are afraid to take rhere muskets -- thei muskets and help us. they tread like midnight assassins to step us in the back. it is maddening for dozens of men each day. if they do not keep on, i wonder if our own arms will take these
cowardly skunks. the copperheads, many of them advocated for outright piece. -- outright peace. many advocated for a prosecution of the war that most high commanders would have agreed with one year before. slavery out of it. southerners will be our countrymen again. treat them gently. bring them back, there is a -- bring back, a policy of conciliation. this was a difference. the difference was the copperheads wanted peace. the copperheads opposed the success of the army. in the army in the field could not accept that as a valid view. the army in the field rallied against this force. oker had nothing to do
with it. as the debate evolved in the army, opposition to the government policy, emancipation proclamation, the treatment of civilians, the method of prosecuting the war, opposition to the government's policies became opposition to the war. that was not the case when mcclellan was in command. inn the army engaged freely the debate over the policy that guided the war. who has obscured his political inclinations, who had declined to engage in the debate over the war. his silence on the issue and the momentum that these issues had and the public press, freed the
army to express and coalesce around an identity and a determination that its effort would not be wasted. it would be justified by prosecuting the war. even when many members of the army disagreed with the specific policy, they came to see opposition to those policies as opposition to the war. that would not have happened , probably under mcclellan. because hooker detached himself effortat evolving war the union soldiers in the army , became a political force with an identity of their own. argued argue, i would that when you see 80% of , soldiers voting for abraham
lincoln in 1864, the foundation for that change was not founded in the campaign for president in the month leading up to the election. the foundation for that devotion to the president and his continued support for the war was born in the winter of 1862 - 1863. under his watch, he made no effort to inhibit it. ultimately, he benefited from it tremendously, as did the union war effort. at large. receivethe army hooker? somewhat moderately. his ascension to command came with his appointment as chief of staff, daniel butterfield. butterfield was widely disrespected by professional soldiers in the army.
he was the fastest rising civilian soldier in the army of the potomac. he had been commanding militia regiments in 1861 with no military experience whatsoever. it would from regimental command to core command in one year. there was a wide perception among military people, that does not happen unless some thing funny is going on. the other man who seem to be in s special affections was daniel, another nonprofessional soldier who had been rising rapidly. generally, the army itself neither cheered or complained. everybody appeared indifferent to the matter. thes a characteristic of
army that would continue until the end of the war. the army never intended to identify with the individual. unlike the army of northern virginia, which identified : with robert e. lee, the army of the potomac identified with himself. york wrote, when a -- man is hauling a heavy load up a hill, he has no time for jackasses. [laughter]. he attended to the physical conditions of his
troops. an important figure in american military instituted a series of physical improvements to the camp that seem so fundamental us today. they fundamentally changed how the army functioned during times in camp. remember in 1863, they may have been under fire for a mostly entire year. a functioning army camp was very important. one of the very few people who hooker singled out for praise is john reynolds. the other is jonathan. letterman deserves credit. finally, all of these basic things that we have come to see -- the drops in rate of
dysentery and diarrhea were dramatic. the incidence of desertion dropped dramatically. the food improved. bakeries sprouted across where the union camps were. fresh bread, potatoes, vegetables, all of that came into the army. one irishman wrote on i like joe better. we get more potatoes in a week than we did in a month. he issued for lowe's, a practice a he issued furlougs, practice that made lincoln very nervous. soldiers would never come back. he issued whiskey. one soldier said he and his staff devote a great time to inspecting the corks. [laughter] mr. hennessy: his most famous innovation of reform was
probably the least important. it is the most collectible today. it is the institution of core badges. each institution has their own symbol. he did that largely for negative reasons. that was so the stragglers could be identified as to where they had come from, then be sent back to their command is it lays -- command instantly. in fact, soldiers became very proud of these badges. it was in fact instituted largely for negative reasons. he instituted a series of reviews in allowing -- reviews and allowed an army to see itself as a powerful tool with commanders. we think about these reviews. lincoln came down in april of 1863 for a review of the entire army over the course of several days.
the greatest value of the was the army scene -- the army seeing itself, reinforcing the idea that they had. one soldier said after seeing this opportunity of not seeing our army as i had this last week. i cannot help but conclude that the army of the potomac is a collection of fine troops. i believe that they will come at i will be proud for us to have served in the army. another soldier so there is growing confidence in this general. there is this hopeful spirit, which now characterizes the army. it was written in april. hooker had a number of advantages. this was the largest amount of
-- this was the largest period of quiet the army had seen in over one year. he also has some advantages. the high command of the army had been purged, if you will. it is very interesting and ironic that the greatest advantages joseph hooker had was that he did not have himself within the army. [laughter] mr. hennessy: he did not enter the political fray or the political tone that characterize mcclellan's command. also, the army and the country were becoming, despite the rise of the copperheads and the deep divide -- it became ever more accustomed to and accepting of the more radical measures of the war.
one of the most interesting things that i found was in january 1863, after the emancipation proclamation -- it is hard to find a letter written from the army of the potomac that does not mention the emancipation proclamation. go one year later, january of 1864, it is hard to find a letter that mentions emancipation and issue anywhere. just like any other social change in america where there is tremendous debate and -- debate upon its anticipation. a tremendous uproar of implementation and then a gradual acceptance. we have seen that in our own life. we have seen the pattern of exactly that in the last several years with social issues in our own society. confidence in the government and respect for it is reestablished as the soldiers seem involved in
the controversy. now that is an important point. ,these soldiers became intensely engaged in the political context of the war. i believe that the army of 1861 - 1865 probably -- i would argue with the most politically aware armies that we ever sent out into the field. they knew why they were there. they knew what was at stake. they knew what the world was -- they knew how the war was changing. with all this, hooker still had to fight a battle. he still had to win a campaign. that after all, that is what he was there for. all of this was prelude to that. of course, we are not going to get into a tremendous discussion at church isgn still. -- of the campaign. you can read about that in summary pieces.
hooker engaged in attorney movement against lee. on april 30, 1863, even george gordon mede saw the moment. on the next day, the army was going to march. jerry? [laughter] [applause] mr. hennessy: thank you. you can put that on your resume, . this triumphant moment. what did he do? he boasted of the moment. he said not retrospectively, but prospectively.
he sadly must ingloriously fly. he issued a address to his army. it created unease in the army. the army then began to move up -- move on may 1 leaving chancellorsville. let's see if we can get this. times been trying three -- you are just thinking it that time. [laughter] >> i am tired of standing up. mr. hennessy: the army moves out from chancellorsville on the roads to come to the confederates. then, he stops. he pulls back. there is this tight solid line around the intersection. you can see that there. i do not want to get into a critique of that, other than to
suggest a couple of things. whether or not this was the right thing to the primary thing that i would cite was the astonished surprise of virtually all of hooker's subordinates. cite was thenot down the chain d slocum and governor warren who was his chief topographical engineer, who helped plan the campaign. they said if this was the plan thatlong, it was the plan he had kept to himself. the combined with the boasting of what he would do to robert e. lee. what he would do to robert e. lee. not defeat him but bag him.
the decision to pull back into the position are run chancellorsville, regardless of its merit reflected a you can't surprise her people like that, and expect them to embrace what you are doing when it seems to them exactly opposite of everything you have said that you were going to do. warren would write of this moment, we went forward filled with high hope and courage and a thought a great victory was to be hours. ours.be we hesitated, we wavered, retired. that force which had just turned us back seemed to me just made for us to crush. i know we could have done it. how few are the minds that comprehend things as they are, not as they seem.
men of mind way the responsibility before they engage, and in the hour of trial they are equal to the occasion. they were called away from danger power for the reality. i feel today that spirit of baffled hopes. man who was in hooker's inner circle. it is just an interesting ,bservation, that he implies and that mead more explicitly articulates this idea that nothing inspires conservatism, with a little see, not a big see c.with a little c, not a big than thee to boast, responsibility of actually making it happen. so over time, we almost all a
learn not to do that, and it was not something that hooker learned, as well. few would be defeated at chancellorsville by a force that was about half of his size. he was declared a great success. he would labeling for the defeat wont,ers, which was his of course. he laid thely, blame on the union of 11th core committed by oliver otis howard, whomhighest soldier hooker came to despise above all others. much of the spend rest of his life taking every opportunity he could to diminish howard in significant ways. the ultimate impact of chancellorsville on the new -- on the union war effort, you would think after that much march to fredericksburg, that it
crushing defeat against a force half your size would have caused the union war effort and the army of the potomac to just go, holy cow. say?will the country what did the country say? not much. not much. this perfect confederate victory moved the needle hardly at all. in many ways, it demonstrates, chancellorsville it has internal importance in virginia and obviously opened the way for lee's first invasion of the north, demonstrated that this war had become so big and so complicated that a single defeat , or victory anywhere in this war, could only move the needle so much. -- no one was more frustrated by that fact than robert e lee, who saw the virtually, with
minimal troops at chancellorsville. hooker, of course, would blame others. stoneman, and he would do it in nightly form as he got in ugly form as he got older. poker would continuing command after the battle of chancellorsville, and ultimately be removed from command at his own request just a couple of days before they battle of gettysburg, over a rather piddly dispute over the distribution of troops at harker -- troops at harpers ferry before gettysburg. he offered his resignation and lincoln said, ok. see you later.
resign, he asked to be relieved and was relieved from command of the army of the potomac. a pall the army under of disappointment. that hooker disappointed all of his friends by failing to show his fighting qualities in a pinch. and that is how it has come down over time. but that failure is exacerbated by the verbiage that surrounded it. and it is an abject lesson in them virtues of modesty and the perils of boastfulness, for sure. now, the army continued on. thatne of the things interests me very much and is of most of the
work i do, is the army of the potomac. because it was able to continue on after chancellorsville. there is a diminishment in but hooker'sure, efforts to localize the failure at chancellorsville, with the which was a partially-immigrant group composed by a great many germans and eastern european soldiers, about 40% of the corps was that. ultimately, when an organization organizations survive, in part, by finding internal, localized reasons for that failure rather than accepting the failure as a commentary, on the whole. and that worked very well for the army of potomac after the battle of chancellorsville, where the soldiers of almost every other corps were simply
able to dismiss what happened because it was the 11th. because was the 11th. herit no doubt please took that he could depend this on a man he despised, at the same time, oliver otis howard. so you don't see the army sag, as it did after fredericksburg and the much march -- the mod ud march. the story books tell us gettysburg is the turning point of the war, the most important battle of the war. we can all argue whether that is true but the army of the potomac , there is no question that was.
for the army of the potomac, maybe not the nation, but for the army of the potomac, ge gettysburg was a turning point, to its owncommitment success, found expression, finally, in victory. this is an army that is a truly wonderful army, wrote one oficer on the eve gettysburg. they have something of the english bulldog in them. you can with them time and again. the next fight they go into, they go in with good spirits again. thate, it has done it is true we have not been victorious but the fault is not in the troops. there never have been men known to fight as this army has fought, even when we knew we were defeated.
man will fight when a flush with former victories, but it is only this shattered army that will face the enemy in defeat. and the identity of that army, forced over a few years, came into focus during hooker's command. is just aperhaps, poker's greatest legacy, greatest contribution to the war. there is no arguing, no fromishing, that time january 1863 until may, 1863, as one of the most important eras in the history of the army of the potomac. and i would argue this is the time when the army took on its identity, some degree of structure, that would carry it through much greater struggles to come. would betysburg, poker
reassigned to command the 20th corps. were1th and 12 corps sent out to the western theater. ended whenin command oliver otis howard, after mcpherson was killed, received command of that army. hooker said, i am done and offered to be relieved from his position. and then would hold a lesser commands throughout the war and commence a campaign of terrorism in the western theater, as well, against his superiors. he resented sheridan for getting command in virginia as he did. william tecumseh sherman. for the private part of the indignity, hooker wrote of
sherman appointing howard over me the would give greatest satisfaction to break my saber over the head of sherman. sherman is crazy. he has no more judgment as a is yet with such men that i places in the army are being filled. in the same letter, he wrote of grants, in december of 1864, " grant is determined to have no officer of ability near him and rank your he unless the senate should interpose our armies will be more and more feebly ."mmanded be restored to some command. he would not be. he would stay in service until 1868, having suffered a stroke in 18 65 and another in 1867. he did get married. his wife lived for years. she died in 1868.
go on an war, he would interview to her, giving interviews to pretty much anybody who asked for one. and rhythmically, through the years between 1870 and 1879, the year he died, those interviews would appear in northern newspapers. and while i don't tell us a lot that is historically significant about the events he narrated, they are certainly vivid windows into the psyche of joseph poker. and i would follow -- the hooker.f joseph po those of you who manage have had people like that. know howyou who know, difficult it is to manage a situation like that. but as hooker demonstrated,
everyone's in a while a person with those characteristics, who rises into a position that they forre to, unobstructed now, the don't necessarily have to answer to anybody else, can succeed. when come up for a few months in the spring and late winter of 1863, george joseph hooker stopped his backbiting and denigrating of others and focused on the improvement of the army under his command. is hist, as i have said, greatest legacy. i would be glad to take any questions that you have. [applause] >> thank you.
you are welcome to defend yourself, if you wish. [laughter] hooker indering about the national hockey league. [applause] >> i would just point out, while i asserted the similarities between will and ambrose burnside, i just detected a similarity between will and hooker, right there. >> was that a name he picked up, early on? ance of a misconstrue on
newspaper report, summit he called them fighting joe hooker but there was no, there. hooker a name himself didn't like but he occasionally referred to himself it madeame, but he said him sound like a wagon master or dealer. but yes, this was a transcription error in a newspaper that ultimately led to it. referred hosionally tooke >> a tweet asking about an issue
that still resounds today and about how many people were fathered by u.s. g.i.'s in vietnam -- how they were treated after their departure. >> you can be featured during our next live program. about how many people were fathered join the cn facebook. and on twitter @cspanhistory. author david powell talks about the union defense of horseshoe ridge during the 1863 battle in georgia. troops under general george thomas halted a confederate assault that threaten to overwhelm the union army of the cumberland. this 45 minute talk was part of his imposing on great defenses of the civil war posted by the emerging civil war. [applause] >>