Joseph Hooker

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Who: Joseph ‘Fighting Joe’ Hooker

What: Union major general in the Civil War

Where: Born Hadley, Massachusetts; died Garden City, New York

Why: Commanded the Army of the Potomac from January-June 1863

When: Born November 13, 1814; died October 31, 1879

“This time put in all your men” – Abraham Lincoln to Hooker before Chancellorsville

Joseph Hooker, for a time in 1863, seemed to be the answer to Abraham Lincoln’s prayers. One of the six men to command the Army of the Potomac during the war, he took over from Ambrose Burnside after the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg, openly criticizing Burnside during the battle as he followed orders to send wave after wave of soldiers on futile frontal assaults. Hooker was the grandson of a captain in the Revolutionary War, graduated West Point in 1837 and fought in the Seminole and Mexican-American wars. After resigning his commission, he joined the Union Army as a brigadier-general when the Civil War broke out. He fought with distinction at First Bull Run, Williamsburg and Antietam, where he was wounded. By January 1863 he was in command of the Army of the Potomac. His audacious plan to envelop Robert E Lee’s inferior forces was stunningly routed by Lee in the Battle of Chancellorsville, a major Union defeat. Hooker was relieved of command three days before the Battle of Gettysburg, replaced by George Meade, and transferred to the Western Theater, serving under William T Sherman. Hooker’s legacy is one of military competency shadowed by one spell of poor performance in 1863. His reputation as a hard-drinking ladies’ man possible led to the word ‘hooker’ becoming popular as a name for a prostitute. Though the use of the term predated the war, it became more popular as Hooker threw parties attended by prostitutes, and a red-light district in Washington DC even became known as ‘Hooker’s Division’.

Further reading:

http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/joseph-hooker.html

http://www.stripes.com/blogs/the-rumor-doctor/the-rumor-doctor-1.104348/do-hookers-owe-their-moniker-to-a-civil-war-general-1.142179

http://www.civilwarhome.com/hookbio.htm

http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/americancivilwar/p/American-Civil-War-Major-General-Joseph-Hooker.htm

http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/joseph-hooker

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