After the start of the Civil War he returned to the Army as a brigadier general. He distinguished himself as an aggressive combat commander leading a division in the Battle of Williamsburg , May 5, , resulting in his promotion to major general. As a corps commander, he led the initial Union attacks at the Battle of Antietam , in which he was wounded. At the Battle of Fredericksburg , he commanded a "Grand Division" of two corps, and was ordered to conduct numerous futile frontal assaults that caused his men to suffer serious losses.
Throughout this period, he conspired against and openly criticized his army commanders. Following the defeat at Fredericksburg, he was given command of the Army of the Potomac. Hooker planned an audacious campaign against Robert E. Hooker's subordinate general's mistakes, and a loss of confidence on his part contributed to a failure to marshal the strength of his larger army against Lee, who boldly divided his army and routed a Union corps with a flank attack led by Stonewall Jackson. Casualties were heavy on both sides approximately 17, of the Union's , troops, and 13, of the Confederate's 60, troops , and the defeat handed Lee the initiative, which allowed him to travel north to Gettysburg.
Lincoln kept Hooker in command, but when General Halleck and Lincoln declined Hooker's request for troops from Harpers Ferry to reinforce his army while in pursuit of Lee's advance toward Pennsylvania, Hooker resigned his command. George G. Meade was appointed to the command of the Army of the Potomac on June 28, , three days before Gettysburg, and was allowed to take the troops from Harpers Ferry. Hooker returned to combat in November, leading two corps from the Army of the Potomac to help relieve the besieged Union Army at Chattanooga, Tennessee , and achieving an important victory at the Battle of Lookout Mountain during the Chattanooga Campaign.
He continued in the Western Theater under Maj. William T. Sherman , but departed in protest before the end of the Atlanta Campaign when he was passed over for promotion to command the Army of the Tennessee. Hooker became known as "Fighting Joe" following a journalist's clerical error reporting from the Battle of Williamsburg; however, the nickname stuck. His personal reputation was as a hard-drinking ladies' man, and his headquarters were known for parties and gambling, although the historical evidence discounts any heavy drinking by the general himself.
Hooker was born in Hadley, Massachusetts , the grandson of a captain in the American Revolutionary War. He was of entirely English ancestry, all of which had been in New England since the early s. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in , ranked 29th out of a class of 50, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 1st U. He received brevet promotions for his staff leadership and gallantry in three battles: Monterrey to captain , National Bridge major , and Chapultepec lieutenant colonel.
His future Army reputation as a ladies' man began in Mexico, where local girls referred to him as the "Handsome Captain". After the Mexican—American War which ended in , he served as assistant adjutant general of the Pacific Division, but resigned his commission in ; his military reputation had been damaged when he testified against his former commander, General Scott, in the court-martial for insubordination of Gideon Johnson Pillow.
Civil War Records: Basic Research Sources | National Archives
Floyd to request that his name "be presented to the president Buchanan as a candidate for a lieutenant colonelcy", but nothing came of his request. From to , he held a commission as a colonel in the California militia. At the start of the Civil War in , Hooker requested a commission, but his first application was rejected, possibly because of the lingering resentment harbored by Winfield Scott, general-in-chief of the Army. He commanded a brigade and then division around Washington, D. George B. In the Peninsula Campaign of , Hooker commanded the 2nd Division of the III Corps and made a good name for himself as a combat leader who handled himself well and aggressively sought out the key points on battlefields.
He led his division with distinction at Williamsburg and at Seven Pines. Hooker's division did not play a major role in the Seven Days Battles , although he and fellow division commander Phil Kearny tried unsuccessfully to urge McClellan to counterattack the Confederates. He chafed at the cautious generalship of McClellan and openly criticized his failure to capture Richmond.
Of his commander, Hooker said, "He is not only not a soldier, but he does not know what soldiership is.
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On July 26, Hooker was promoted to major general, to rank from May 5. During the Maryland Campaign, Hooker led the I Corps at South Mountain and at Antietam, his corps launched the first assault of the bloodiest day in American history, driving south into the corps of Lt.
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Stonewall Jackson , where they fought each other to a standstill. Hooker, aggressive and inspiring to his men, left the battle early in the morning with a foot wound. He asserted that the battle would have been a decisive Union victory if he had managed to stay on the field, but General McClellan's caution once again failed the Northern troops and Lee's much smaller army eluded destruction. Ambrose Burnside. Although Hooker had criticized McClellan persistently, the latter was apparently unaware of it and in early October, shortly before his termination, had recommended that Hooker receive a promotion to brigadier general in the regular army.
The War Department promptly acted on this recommendation, and Hooker received his brigadier's commission to rank from September This promotion ensured that he would remain a general after the war was over and not revert to the rank of captain or lieutenant colonel. The December Battle of Fredericksburg was another Union debacle. Upon recovering from his foot wound, Hooker was briefly made commander of V Corps , but was then promoted to "Grand Division" command, with a command that consisted of both III and V Corps. Hooker derided Burnside's plan to assault the fortified heights behind the city, deeming them "preposterous".
His Grand Division particularly V Corps suffered serious losses in fourteen futile assaults ordered by Burnside over Hooker's protests. Burnside followed up this battle with the humiliating Mud March in January and Hooker's criticism of his commander bordered on formal insubordination. He described Burnside as a "wretch He stated that Hooker was "unfit to hold an important commission during a crisis like the present.
Lincoln appointed Hooker to command of the Army of the Potomac on January 26, Some members of the army saw this move as inevitable, given Hooker's reputation for aggressive fighting, something sorely lacking in his predecessors. During the "Mud March" Hooker was quoted by a New York Times army correspondent as saying that "Nothing would go right until we had a dictator, and the sooner the better. I have heard, in such way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a Dictator.
Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain success can set up dictators.
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What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. During the spring of , Hooker established a reputation as an outstanding administrator and restored the morale of his soldiers, which had plummeted to a new low under Burnside. Among his changes were fixes to the daily diet of the troops, camp sanitary changes, improvements and accountability of the quartermaster system, addition of and monitoring of company cooks, several hospital reforms, and an improved furlough system one man per company by turn, 10 days each. He also implemented corps badges as a means of identifying units during battle or when marching and to instill unit pride in the men.
Other orders addressed the need to stem rising desertion one from Lincoln combined with incoming mail review, the ability to shoot deserters, and better camp picket lines , more and better drills, stronger officer training, and for the first time, combining the federal cavalry into a single corps. I have the finest army on the planet. I have the finest army the sun ever shone on. If the enemy does not run, God help them.
So many visitors came that he was granted the use of the head jailer's apartment to receive them. President James Buchanan sent Sickles a personal note. Harper's Magazine reported that the visits of his wife's mother and her clergyman were painful for Sickles. Both told him that Teresa was distracted with grief, shame, and sorrow, and that the loss of her wedding ring which Sickles had taken on visiting his home was more than Teresa could bear. Sickles was charged with murder. He secured several leading politicians as defense attorneys, among them Edwin M.
Brady who, like Sickles, was associated with Tammany Hall. Sickles pleaded temporary insanity—the first use of this defense in the United States. The papers soon trumpeted that Sickles was a hero for "saving all the ladies of Washington from this rogue named Key". Sickles had obtained a graphic confession from Teresa; it was ruled inadmissible in court, but, was leaked by him to the press and printed in the newspapers in full.
The defense strategy ensured that the trial was the main topic of conversations in Washington for weeks, and the extensive coverage of national papers was sympathetic to Sickles. Sickles publicly forgave Teresa, and "withdrew" briefly from public life, although he did not resign from Congress. The public was apparently more outraged by Sickles's forgiveness and reconciliation with his wife than by the murder and his unorthodox acquittal.
In the s, Sickles had received a commission in the 12th Regiment of the New York Militia, and had attained the rank of major. Because of his previous military experience and political connections, he was appointed colonel of one the 70th New York Infantry of the four regiments he organized. In March , he was forced to relinquish his command when the U. Congress refused to confirm his commission. He lobbied his Washington political contacts and reclaimed both his rank and his command on May 24, , in time to rejoin the Army in the Peninsula Campaign.
Despite his lack of previous combat experience, he did a competent job commanding the " Excelsior Brigade " of the Army of the Potomac in the Battle of Seven Pines and the Seven Days Battles. He was absent for the Second Battle of Bull Run ,  having used his political influences to obtain leave to go to New York City to recruit new troops.
He also missed the Battle of Antietam because the III Corps , to which he was assigned as a division commander, was stationed on the lower Potomac , protecting the capital. Sickles was a close ally of Maj. Joseph Hooker , his original division commander, who eventually commanded the Army of the Potomac. Both men had notorious reputations as political climbers and as hard-drinking ladies' men. Sickles' division was in reserve at the Battle of Fredericksburg. On January 16, , President Abraham Lincoln nominated Sickles for promotion to the grade of major general to rank from November 29, Senate did not confirm the promotion until March 9, , and the President did not formally appoint Sickles until March 11, ,  Hooker, now commanding the Army of the Potomac, gave Sickles command of the III Corps in February This decision was controversial as Sickles became the only corps commander without a West Point military education.
His energy and ability were conspicuous in the Battle of Chancellorsville. He aggressively recommended pursuing troops he saw in his sector on May 2, Sickles thought the Confederates were retreating, but these turned out to be elements of Thomas J. He also vigorously opposed Hooker's orders moving him off good defensive terrain in Hazel Grove. In both of these cases, it is easy to imagine the disastrous battle turning out very differently for the Union if Hooker had heeded his advice. The Battle of Gettysburg was the occasion of the most famous incident and the effective end of Sickles' military career.
On July 2, , Army of the Potomac commander Maj. Meade ordered Sickles' corps to take up defensive positions on the southern end of Cemetery Ridge , anchored in the north to the II Corps and to the south, the hill known as Little Round Top. Sickles was unhappy to see the "Peach Orchard," a slightly higher terrain feature, to his front.
He violated orders by marching his corps almost a mile in front of Cemetery Ridge. This had two effects: it greatly diluted the concentrated defensive posture of his corps by stretching it too thin, and it created a salient that could be bombarded and attacked from multiple sides. About this time 3 p. Gouverneur K.
Warren soon reported the situation. The Confederates attacked at about the time the meeting finished and Meade returned to his headquarters.
William Tecumseh Sherman
James Longstreet 's corps, primarily by the division of Maj. Gettysburg campaign historian Edwin B.
enter site Coddington assigns "much of the blame for the near disaster" in the center of the Union line to Sickles. Sears wrote that "Dan Sickles, in not obeying Meade's explicit orders, risked both his Third Corps and the army's defensive plan on July 2. McPherson wrote that "Sickles's unwise move may have unwittingly foiled Lee's hopes. During the height of the Confederate attack, Sickles was wounded by a cannonball that mangled his right leg. He was carried by a detail of soldiers to the shade of the Trostle farmhouse, where a saddle strap was applied as a tourniquet.
He insisted on being transported to Washington, D. He brought some of the first news of the great Union victory, and started a public relations campaign to defend his behavior in the conflict. Sickles had recent knowledge of a new directive from the Army Surgeon General to collect and forward "specimens of morbid anatomy He preserved the bones from his leg and donated them to the museum in a small coffin-shaped box, along with a visiting card marked, "With the compliments of Major General D. The museum, now known as the National Museum of Health and Medicine , still displays this artifact.
Sickles ran a vicious campaign against General Meade's character after the Civil War. Sickles felt that Meade had wronged him at Gettysburg and that credit for winning the battle belonged to him. In anonymous newspaper articles and in testimony before a congressional committee, Sickles maintained that Meade had secretly planned to retreat from Gettysburg on the first day.
While his movement away from Cemetery Ridge may have violated orders, Sickles always asserted that it was the correct move because it disrupted the Confederate attack, redirecting its thrust, and effectively shielding the Union's real objectives, Cemetery Ridge and Cemetery Hill.
Sickles's redeployment took Confederate commanders by surprise, and historians have argued about its ramifications ever since. Sickles eventually received the Medal of Honor for his actions, although it took him 34 years to get it. Johnston and John B. Hood was forced to abandon the city, and Sherman captured Atlanta in early September. By this time, Sherman was convinced that the Confederacy could only be brought to heel by the complete destruction of both its military and civilian ability to wage war. There is no use trying to reform it.
The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.
Early life and career
With the full support of both Lincoln and Grant, Sherman devised an unusual plan. In November , he departed Atlanta with 60, troops, bound for the coastal port of Savannah. He separated his men into two Corps, which tore through the countryside, destroying both military and civilian targets. His distrust of the press led Sherman to ban reporters, and many Americans had no clue where the army went after leaving Atlanta. Marching in secret meant he had no connection to Union supplies, forcing his men to carry with them everything they would need.
They foraged and stole food to supplement rations, and built pontoon bridges and roads to traverse the terrain. Sherman wired the president on December 22, offering Lincoln the city as a Christmas gift. Early in the new year, Sherman turned his attention north, marching his men through the Carolinas. South Carolina was treated perhaps even harsher than Georgia — the first state to secede was also the state where the Confederacy first fired shots on federal Fort Sumter.
Most of the city of Columbia was burned to the ground. Sherman remained in the U. Army after the war. When Grant became president in , Sherman assumed command of all U. He retired from active duty in , eventually setting in New York. Sherman died in New York on February 14, , at age 71, and was buried in St. In a final tribute from a former foe, Joseph E. Refusing to don a hat as a sign of respect, Johnston caught a cold, which developed into pneumonia and died just weeks later. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!
Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present. Sherman led some 60, soldiers on a mile march from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia. William Seward was a politician who served as governor of New York, as a U. Seward spent his early career as a lawyer before winning a seat in the New York State Senate in An ardent He was named for a Shawnee chief. His father gave him his unusual middle name as a nod to the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, a magnetic leader who built a confederacy of Ohio Over the next four years, the general directed much of U.