First Bull Run Joe Hooker at Bull Run

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Andy Cardinal

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220px-Joe_Hooker_on_horseback.jpg

Wikipedia
Joseph Hooker graduated from West Point and enjoyed a distinguished record during the Mexican War. He served as a staff officer and received three brevets -- which was rare. He ran into trouble, however, when he testified against Winfield Scott in the court martial of Gideon Pillow. He resigned from the army in 1853 and took up farming in California. It was a disaster. He failed in business, ran into heavy debt, and gained a poor reputation -- especially with some of his former comrades. Then war broke out in 1861. Hooker saw a way to redeem himself.

Hooker arrived in Washington in mid-June with a letter of introduction to Abraham Lincoln from Edward Baker, one of Lincoln's oldest and closest friends. He also found Charles Sumner, senator from his birth state Massachusetts, in an attempt to gain a command. Hooker told Sumner that if given command of a regiment, he would soon rise to command the army and eventually would take Richmond. Yet when Governor Andrews offered Hooker the colonelcy of one of the new Massachusetts regiments then in Washington, he declined because his experience entitled him to a higher rank.

Hooker grew more and more frustrated as he watched others, whom he had once outranked (including Irvin McDowell), gain prominent positions. Meanwhile, Hooker himself stayed on the sidelines. The reason was Winfield Scott, who remembered Hooker's testimony against him in 1848.

Hooker was one of the many civilian spectators who watched the battle on July 21. There is no record, however, from where he viewed the fighting.

A few days after the Battle, he was introduced to Lincoln as "Captain Hooker." His reply was classic Hooker:

"Mr. President, I was introduced to you as Captain Hooker. I am, or was, Lieutenant Colonel Hooker of the Regular Army. When this war broke out I was at home in California, and hastened to make a tender of my services to the Government, but my relation to General Scott, or some other impediment, stands in the way, and I now see no chance of making my military knowledge and experience useful. I am about to return, but before going I was anxious to pay my respects to you, Sir, and to express my wish for your personal welfare, and for your success in putting down the rebellion. And while I'm about it, Mr. President, I want to say one thing more, and that is, that I was at the battle of Bull Run the other day, and it is neither vanity or boasting in me to say that I am a ****ed sight better General than you, Sir, had on that field."

Shortly afterwards, Hooker received his commission as Brigadier General of Volunteers.


Source: Walter H. Hebert, Fighting Joe Hooker
 
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Yankeedave

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Too bad he is judged for one event. His division was among the best in the army. The point being only a hand full were even considered for the command. He was better than the majority on the field at Bull Run.
 
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Yankeedave

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Let me edit my post. He was better than all but two at Bull Run imho. Sherman and Richardson. South had some good commanders there...
 

Andy Cardinal

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Let me edit my post. He was better than all but two at Bull Run imho. Sherman and Richardson. South had some good commanders there...
I think I agree with that assessment, at least as far as the Union army's division and brigade commanders go. Sherman, Burnside & Howard all went on to army commands with varying levels of success. Richardson might have if he had survived.
 

kel1985

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He did have some issues relating to command up to that point, however, when you look at the information he was receiving from his corps commanders you could understand how he had errors in judgement.
Also, up to the battle, including gaining the march on the ANV was a great move.
 
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Carronade

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I still tend to believe his issue at Chancellorsville was due to being concussed. It's a shame Halleck did everything possible to impede him as he followed Lee north.
This comes up frequently, but the decisions that lost the battle had all been made before Hooker was injured:

Sending the cavalry off on a raid.
Falling back to a defensive stance on May 1.
Leaving the right flank in the air.
Interpreting Jackson's march on May 2 as a retreat.
Falling back from Hazel Grove on May 3.

Hooker's incapacity may even have had one benefit, allowing Hunt to concentrate the army's artillery, most of which Hooker had preferred to have assigned to individual divisions.

The injury likely did contribute to the lack of confidence which led Hooker to call off the battle at the council of war on May 5, even though most of the generals present were willing to continue the fight.
 

Yankeedave

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Hooker's incapacity may even have had one benefit, allowing Hunt to concentrate the army's artillery, most of which Hooker had preferred to have assigned to individual divisions.
It was Hooker not allowing Hunt to do as he pleased with the artillery that probably doomed them. The AotP tended to be successful when Hunt was in charge.
The allowing of Hazel Grove to contributeted to the mess. It was almost a downhill shot into open ground for the Confederate Artillery. This with additional support back where the camp ground is. Plus the artillery on the heights on the opposite side firing into the rear. Kinda lucky Hunt wasn't in charge that day.
 
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