Information

Joseph Hooker


Joseph Hooker was born in Hadley, Massachusetts, on 13th November, 1814. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served in the Seminole War (1838-42) and the Mexican War (1846-48). While in Mexico he clashed with General Winfield Scott and decided to resign from the army in 1855.

Hooker became a farmer in California until offering his services to the Union Army on the outbreak of the American Civil War. Commissioned as a brigadier general in August, 1861, he was sent to defend Washington. Later he was sent on offensive duties and his aggressive style at Antietam (September, 1862) and Fredericksburg (November, 1862) earned him the nickname name 'Fighting Joe'

After the disappointment of Fredericksburg President Abraham Lincoln selected Hooker to replace Ambrose Burnside as commander of the Army of the Potomac. In April, 1863, Hooker decided to attack the Army of Northern Virginia that had been entrenched on the south side of the Rappahonnock River since the battle of Fredericksburg. Hooker crossed the river and took up position at Chancellorsville.

Although outnumbered two to one, Robert E. Lee, opted to split his Confederate Army into two groups. Lee left 10,000 men under Jubal Early, while he and Thomas Stonewall Jackson on 2nd May, successfully attacked the flank of Hooker's army. However, after returning from the battlefield Jackson was accidentally shot by one of his own men. Jackson's left arm was successfully amputated but he developed pneumonia and he died eight days later.

On the 3rd May, James Jeb Stuart, who had taken command of Jackson's troops, mounted another attack and drove Hooker back further. The following day Robert E. Lee and Jubal Early and joined the attack on the Union Army. By 6th May, Hooker had lost over 11,000 men, and decided to retreat from the area.

Abraham Lincoln lost confidence in Hooker after Chancellorsville and he decided to resign on the eve of Gettysburg (July, 1863). He returned to the front when he led troops to rescue William Rosecrans after he was defeated at Chickamuga (September, 1863).

Hooker joined with William Sherman at the Battle of Atlanta but resigned after he failed to get the promotion he felt he deserved. Hooker moved to command the Department of the East until he retired from the army after suffering a stroke on 15th October, 1868. Joseph Hooker died in Garden City, New York, on 31st October, 1879.

There were woods in front of Doubleday's hill which the Rebels held, but so long as those guns pointed that way they did not care to attack. With his left then able to take care of itself, with his right impregnable with two brigades of Mansfield still fresh and coming rapidly up, and with this center a second time victorious, General Hooker determined to advance. Orders were sent to Crawford and Gordon - the two Mansfield brigades - to move directly forward at once, the batteries in the center were ordered on, the whole line was called on, and the General himself went forward.

To the right of the cornfield and beyond it was a point of woods. Once carried and firmly held, it was the key of the position. Hooker determined to take it. He rode out in front of his furthest troops on a hill to examine the ground for a battery. At the top he dismounted and went forward on foot, completed his reconnaissance, and returned and remounted. The musketry fire from the point of woods was all the while extremely hot. As he put his foot in the stirrup a fresh volley of rifle bullets came whizzing by. The tall soldierly figure of the General, the white horse which he rode, the elevated place where he was - all made him a most dangerously conspicuous mark. So he had been all day, riding often without a staff officer or an orderly near him - all sent off on urgent duty - visible everywhere on the field. The Rebel bullets had followed him all day, but they had not hit him, and he would not regard them. Remounting on this hill he had not ridden five steps when he was struck in the foot by a ball.

Three men were shot down at the same moment by his side. The air was alive with bullets. He kept on his horse for a few moments, though the wound was severe and excessively painful, and would not dismount till he had given his last order to advance. He was himself in the very front. Swaying unsteadily on his horse, he turned in his seat to look about him. "There is a regiment to the right. Order it forward! Crawford and Gordon are coming up. Tell them to carry these woods and hold them - and it is our fight!"

I see no reason why I should disguise my admiration of General Hooker's bravery and soldierly ability. Remaining nearly all the morning on the right, I could not help seeing the sagacity and promptness of his maneuvers, how completely his troops were kept in hand, how devotedly they trusted to him, how keen was his insight into the battle; how every opportunity was seized and every reverse was checked and turned into another success. I say this the more unreservedly, because I have no personal relation whatever with him, never saw him till the day before the fight, and don't like his politics or opinions in general. But what are politics in such a battle?

I have placed you the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appear to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know what 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. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is valuable if not an indispensable quality. 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 by your ambition and thwarted him so 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. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain successes can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders.

After the battle of Fredericksburg we returned to the same encampments which we had left to cross the Rappahannock, and on January 27, 1863, orders from the President, dated the day before, placed our "Fighting Joe Hooker" in command of the army. Burnside, Sumner, and Franklin were relieved. Hooker had been a little hard, in the camp conferences, upon McClellan, and for poor Burnside he had shown no mercy. My own feelings at the time was that of a want of confidence in the army itself. The ending of the peninsular work, the confusion at the termination of the second battle of Bull Run, the incompleteness of Antietam, and the fatal consequences of Fredericksburg did not make the horizon of our dawning future very luminous.

If Burnside lacked self-confidence, Hooker had an abundance of it. he had been one of the bitterest critics of McClellan and Burnside, and even the administration - perhaps the loudest of all. He had even talked of the necessity of a military dictatorship. But he had made his mark as a division and corps commander and earned for himself the name of "Fighting Joe". The soldiers and also some - although by no means all - of the generals had confidence in him. Lincoln, as was his character and habit, overlooked all the hard things Hooker had said of him, made him Commander of the Army of the Potomac in view of the good things he expected him to do for the country, and sent him, with the commission, a letter full of kindness and wise advice.

Joseph Hooker was a strikingly handsome man, a clean-shaven, comely face, some-what florid complexion, keen blue eyes, well-built, tall figure, and erect soldierly bearing. Anybody would feel like cheering when he rode by at the head of his staff. His organizing talent told at once. The sudden gloom of the camps soon disappeared, and a new spirit of pride and hope began to pervade the ranks.

His exterior was certainly most attractive and commanding. He was fully six feet high, finely proportioned, with a soldierly, erect carriage, handsome and noble features, a slight fringe of side-whiskers, a rosy complexion, abundant blond hair, a fine and expressive mouth, and, most striking of all, great, speaking grey-blue eyes. He looked, indeed, like the ideal soldier and captain, fit for a model of a war-god.

He had even then an unenviable notoriety for a rash tongue, to which he added lamentably in his subsequent career. He burst forth into unsparing criticism of the general conduct of the war, of the government, of Halleck, McClellan and Pope. His language was so severe and, at the same time, so infused with self-assertion as to give rise immediately to a fear on my part that he might be inclined to make use of me for his own glorification and for the detraction of others.

Hooker was in Washington on the Thursday of the week before the battle of Gettysburg, and at a conference with the President and the Secretary of War, it was agreed to hold Harper's Ferry, which, the year before, had been surrendered with great loss of men and materials of war. Upon his return to headquarters General Hooker changed his opinion, and, without reporting to the Secretary of War, he ordered General Wilson to evacuate the post and join the main army. The order Wilson transmitted to the Secretary of War. Mr. Stanton, assuming that there had been in error in the dispatches, or a misunderstanding, counter-manded Hooker's order. Thereupon Hooker, without seeking for an explanation, resigning his command.

When I received the dispatch my hear sank within me, and I was more depressed than at any other moment of the war. I could not say that any other officer knew General Hooker's plans, or the position even of the various divisions of the army. I sent for the President to come to the War Office at once. It was in the evening, but the President soon appeared. I handed him the dispatch. As he read it his face became like lead. I said, "What shall be done?" He replied instantly, "Accept his resignation."

Such a change of commanders, for no more urgent reasons, on the brink of a great battle, has few parallels in history. Hooker was loved and trusted by his soldiers. Had the army been polled, it would have voted to fight the impending battle under Hooker without the aid of 11,000 men, rather than under Meade with that reinforcement.


Like many officers leading both armies in the Civil War, Hooker was a graduate of West Point Military Academy. After leaving the academy, he was a lieutenant in the artillery, fighting against the Seminole Indians, then served on the Canadian border and as an adjutant at West Point.

In 1846, war broke out with Mexico. Hooker served on the staff of various commanders, building up his knowledge and experience of leadership. He fought in the storming of Chapultepec, showing the boldness that was characteristic of his military style.

After Mexico, Hooker remained in the army for several years but frustrated at not achieving his ambitions, he returned to civilian life in California.

“Fighting” Joe Hooker in an 1863 engraving.


General Hooker help give rise to a common slang term for sex workers

According to Rob Dalessandro, of Fort McNair's U.S. Army Center for Military History, "soldiers in the Army of the Potomac, the Federal Army operating in the east in which Hooker served, quickly named the hordes of female camp followers that plied their trade on young and often naive soldiers, 'Hooker's Legions,'" reports Stars and Stripes. Richard L. Baker, of the U.S. Army Military History Institute, further explained: "We see the evolution and adoption of a word varies over time and by association with different groups of peoples . We can credit General Hooker and the Union Soldiers with adding to the continuity of the term in present form."

Hooker was better remembered for his legendary parties than for his military prowess, and "hookers" came to be associated with the working women who made their living servicing the Union soldiers. Over time, the military association was dropped, but the term stuck around in general parlance as a slang word for sex workers.


Joseph Hooker

Joseph Hooker was a senior officer in the Union army during the American Civil War. Hooker had an aggressive approach to campaigning and during the American Civil War his men in recognition of this gave him the nickname ‘Fighting Joe’ though it was a nickname he did not like as he felt that it made him out to be a highwayman.

Hooker was born on November 13 th 1814 in Hadley, Massachusetts. He attended the US Military Academy at West Point and graduated in 1837. Hooker fought in the Seminole War and the Mexican War. By the end of this war, Hooker held the rank of lieutenant colonel. Hooker resigned his commission in 1853 after his involvement in a court martial where he testified against his commanding officer – it was not thought as the right thing to do. Hooker became a farmer in California but maintained his link with the military by serving as a colonel in California’s militia.

The American Civil War broke out in April 1861. Hooker applied to join the Union army but his request was rejected. No one is quite sure why this was so but there is speculation that many senior officers in the US Army still had not forgiven or forgotten the part he played in the court martial of General Scott. Hooker wrote directly to President Lincoln. This approach succeeded and Hooker rejoined the US Army in August 1861 with the rank of brigadier general of volunteers.

His first task was to defend Washington against a possible attack. He commanded a division that was eventually to become part of the Army of the Potomac.

Hooker fought at the Battle of Williamsburg and the Seven Days Battle with distinction and in recognition of this he was promoted to major general. Hooker found it very difficult to adapt to General McClellan’s cautious tactics and strategy and he openly voiced his opposition to such an approach.

Hooker’s I Corps in the Army of Virginia fought at Antietam (September 1862). Once again, Hooker adopted an aggressive approach in what was to prove a very bloody battle. He had to leave the battlefield with an injured foot. When he returned he found that McClellan’s caution had meant that Robert E Lee’s men had been able to withdraw from the battlefield. Hooker believed that if McClellan had followed his aggressive approach, Lee’s army would have been destroyed at Antietam.

Hooker commanded the III and V Corps at the Battle of Fredericksburg (November 1862). He was highly critical of General Burnside’s plan to attack Fredericksburg – plans he called “preposterous”. Much against his wishes, the ‘Grand Division’, the name given to the III and V Corps, made fourteen attacks against Fredericksburg and took serious casualties. Whatever complaints would be made against Hooker in the future, no one doubted that he cared for the men under his command and they respected his concern. Hooker could barely forgive Burnside for ordering what he viewed as the senseless slaughter of his men and he called him a “wretch”. Hooker was very open about his views on Burnside and did nothing to disguise or moderate them. Burnside wrote to Lincoln to get the President’s approval to remove him from corps command claiming that Hooker could not cope in a crisis. Lincoln got rid of Burnside instead and in January 1863 Hooker replaced him as head of the Army of the Potomac.

His approach to the care of his soldiers in the ‘Grand Division’ was extended to the Army of the Potomac. He ensured that they had a proper diet and that all camps were provided with proper sanitary systems. Probably most important for his men, Hooker did what he could to ensure that they were paid on time and that they got the necessary amount of leave that they were entitled to. There was obviously a clear bond between Hooker and his men he called them “the finest army on the planet”.

Hooker’s reputation was severely damaged by the battle with Lee fought around Chancellorsville. Hooker had planned to outflank Lee after cutting off his supply line using a large cavalry force. Once Lee was defeated, Hooker planned to take Richmond and end the war. It was a grand plan, which failed to work. When Hooker’s cavalry failed to disrupt Lee’s supply lines, it was the start of a disaster. Robert E Lee commanded a much smaller army but to attack the Army of the Potomac, he split his men into two forces. For once, Hooker seemed to have been unsure what to do and his aggressive instincts temporarily left him. It may well be that he was mentally prepared for an attack by one army and totally unprepared for an attack by two small armies. The Battle of Chancellorsville ended in Hooker retreating. It was a great victory for Lee but a chronic embarrassment for Hooker. Subordinate officers refused to serve under him ever again.

Lincoln ordered that Hooker’s Army of the Potomac had as its first duty the protection of Washington from the advancing Lee. But Lincoln ordered that it also had to find Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and engage it in battle again. This flew in the face of what Hooker wanted to do. As Lee advanced on Washington, Hooker believed that Richmond was undefended. He wanted to advance on the Confederate capital and occupy it thus ending the war. Lincoln did not agree and ordered that Hooker had to follow his orders. To Hooker this was a sign that the President did not have confidence in him. After a seemingly minor dispute with army headquarters, Hooker handed in his resignation as head of the Army of the Potomac on June 28 th 1863 and Lincoln accepted it.

Hooker’s military career took another direction when he was sent to assist the Army of the Cumberland in Tennessee. Hooker did much for his reputation at the Battle of Chattanooga. While Ullyses Grant got the credit for the victory, Hooker did as much as he could to support him, especially at Lookout Mountain. Hooker was rewarded for what he did at the Battle of Chattanooga by being given a rank of major general in the regular army and he was given command of the XX Corps. XX Corps did what was needed of it during the campaign in Georgia and Sherman’s success in this campaign had a rub-off effect on Hooker. After the North’s success in Georgia, Hooker was appointed commander of the Northern Department – a position he held for the rest of the American Civil War.

Hooker suffered a stroke after the war and retired from the US Army on October 15 th 1868 with the rank of major general.


ORIGINS OF `HOOKER' HOOKS MORE THAN A FEW READERS

Dear Ann Landers: It looks as if "A Buff in Ft. Dodge" hooked you in with the origin of the word "hooker." The American Heritage Dictionary, computer version, makes it clear that the word was already in use to mean "prostitute" well before Gen. Hooker's time and that it therefore could not have originated as the reader described. This is the gist of the word's history:

The word "hooker," meaning "prostitute," is in fact older than the Civil War. It appeared in the second edition of John Russell Bartlett's "Dictionary of Americanisms," published in 1856. Bartlett defined hooker as "a strumpet, a sailor's trull." He also guessed that the word was derived from Corlear's Hook, a district in New York City, but there is no evidence that the term originated in New York.

Norman Ellsworth Eliason traced this use of "hooker" back to 1845 in North Carolina. He reported the usage in "Tarheel Talk, an Historical Study of the English Language in North Carolina to 1860," published in 1956. The fact that we have no earlier written evidence does not mean that "hooker" was never used to mean "prostitute" before 1845. The history of "hooker" is, quite simply, murky we do not know when or where it was first used, but we can be very certain that it did not begin with Joseph Hooker.

However, the late Bruce Catton, Civil War historian, didn't completely exonerate Gen. Hooker. Catton said the term became popular during the Civil War-probably because there was a red-light district in Washington, which became known as Hooker's Division in tribute to the proclivities of the lusty general. If the term "hooker" was derived neither from Joseph Hooker nor from Corlear's Hook, what then is its derivation? It is most likely, etymologically, simply "one who hooks." The term portrays a prostitute as a person who hooks, or snares, clients. No wonder it wasn't taught in school.

Dear Frank: Thanks for the history lesson. I didn't realize there were so many scholars who were interested in hookers. Some of the letters were very funny. Thanks to all who wrote.

Dear Ann Landers: I am 76. After 16 years of living alone, I have finally met a man I can care for. I believe "George" is quite fond of me, but here is the problem.

George has a little dog he loves more than life. The dog sleeps with him and goes everywhere George goes. I can't blame him for being attached to a pet that has been his constant companion for five years. After all, I have a cat that sleeps with me. However, this dog barks constantly while riding in the car and jumps all over me. I dread going anyplace with George because of the jumping and high-pitched barking. I'm afraid to say anything for fear George will quit seeing me.

Is there a future for this relationship? If so, what would be the best approach for me to let George know I'd like to focus more attention on him and less on the dog?

Dear Dilemma: Don't compete with the dog. You'll lose. Use earplugs when you ride with George, and when you put them in, make a big point of how much the barking bothers your ears.


Fighting Joe

It was during his time on the Peninsula that Hooker earned the nickname "Fighting Joe." Disliked by Hooker who thought it made him sound like a common bandit, the name was the result of a typographical error in a Northern newspaper. Despite the Union reverses during the Seven Days Battles in June and July, Hooker continued shine on the battlefield. Transferred north to Major General John Pope's Army of Virginia, his men took part in the Union defeat at Second Manassas in late August.

On September 6, he was given command of III Corps, which was redesignated I Corps six days later. As General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia moved north into Maryland, it was pursued by Union troops under McClellan. Hooker first led his corps in battle on September 14 when it fought well at South Mountain. Three days later, his men opened the fighting at the Battle of Antietam and engaged Confederate troops under Major General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. In the course of the fighting, Hooker was wounded in the foot and had to be taken from the field.

Recovering from his wound, he returned to the army to find that Major General Ambrose Burnside had replaced McClellan. Given command of a "Grand Division" consisting of III and V Corps, his men took heavy losses that December at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Long a vocal critic of his superiors, Hooker relentlessly attacked Burnside in the press and in the wake of the latter's failed Mud March in January 1863 these intensified. Though Burnside intended to remove his adversary, he was prevented from doing so when he himself was relieved by Lincoln on January 26.


Joseph Hooker: The Administrator

Over the weekend, the 150th anniversary of Joseph Hooker’s appointment of command of the Army of the Potomac passed. The mere mention of Joseph Hooker in relation to the American Civil War quickly conjures up the Battle of Chancellorsville and failure. This is true.

Chancellorsville is considered Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s greatest victory. One of the most iconic images of the Army of Northern Virginia commander is of Lee riding into the Chancellorsville crossroads, his men cheering, and the Chancellor House in flames.

Let’s stop there and backtrack to before the campaign even started. If Hooker failed on the battlefield in late April and early May 1863, he did, however, greatly succeed from late January to the start of the campaign in mid-April in the role of an administrator.

And he succeeded because there was still an army intact after that winter that followed Hooker. That army went on a campaign that spring of 1863 in what Confederate artillerist Edward P. Alexander later remarked was “decidedly the best strategy conceived in any of the campaigns ever set foot against” the Army of Northern Virginia

Granted, Hooker was not the best subordinate officer and let his ambition for army command become well known. Hooker had even hinted that the country (and the army) needed a dictator. On January 26, 1863 Hooker was given command by President Abraham Lincoln, who also remarked in his candid way that he would “risk the dictatorship” if Hooker could provide “military success.” Another line from that same order stands out and Hooker followed this advice to the letter and then some: “Neither you, nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army, while such a spirit prevails in it.”

The army that Hooker inherited was in shambles, morale had plummeted, the men were under-supplied, and desertions had skyrocketed. Hooker moved quickly to stem the desertion problem issuing four days after taking command an order to every regiment and battery to list its absentees by name, who was absent without leave (AWOL), and a physical description of the absent soldier. These reports were due at his headquarters by February 7th. He also had every care package from the home front routed through in provost marshal’s office for inspection to guarantee that no supplies that would aid future deserters were delivered.

As historian Stephen Sears wrote, “all this was the stick in Hooker’s stick-and-carrot effort.”

The “carrot” part came about on March 10th when Lincoln issued a general amnesty to all deserters if he returned to his unit by April 1st. This was extended by Hooker to all deserters currently in custody and by the end of March only 1,941 men were still AWOL. Desertions had decreased from approximately 30% at the end of January to only 4% by the end of March.

Hooker after his initial hard-line policy on desertions had enacted his own “carrot.” He issued a restructure on the furlough policy, stating that two men out of every 100 would be picked by lot and granted a furlough. The catch was that the two men chosen must return to camp before the next two who had drawn the furlough could leave. The other caveat was the unit had to pass inspection prior.

Chief of Staff, General Daniel Butterfield

Furloughs ranged from 10 days to the mid-Atlantic states, 15 days to Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and to Ohio and the western states. Another idea to boost morale was presented to Hooker by his Chief of Staff, General Daniel Butterfield. The previous year, the late General Philip Kearney had hit on the idea of issuing a colored piece of cloth for identifying men of his division. Butterfield improved on the idea.

He proposed that each corps in the army be given its own unique design. In addition, each of the three divisions within the corps would have a separate color red for the first, white for the second, and blue for the third divisions. The men would affix the badge with the specific color to their caps but the particular emblem of the corps would also be affixed to ambulances, wagons, and artillery of that corps.

The corps badge of the First Corps was a full moon.

The corps badge of the Second Corps was a trefoil or clover.

The corps badge of the Third Corps was a diamond or lozenge.

The corps badge of the Fifth Corps was a Maltese cross.

The corps badge of the Sixth Corps was a Greek cross.

The corps badge of the Eleventh Corps was a crescent moon.

The corps badge of the Twelfth Corps was a five-pointed star.

*

Hooker also made changes to the cavalry division–consolidating them into one corps–under the command of General George Stoneman which enabled them in the following campaign to begin to rival their Confederate adversaries. He also beefed up the numbers and roles of inspector-generals. By consequence, hospitals, campsites, and camp sanitation greatly improved.

Even more endearing to the troops was that paydays were reestablished, new clothing was issued, and corruption and incompetence was rooted out in the commissary and officer corps respectively. Hooker was changing the Army of the Potomac by restructuring how the army was fed, controlled by the provost, inspected by the inspector-generals, disciplined, and even who retained command in the officer corps.

If that did not improve morale tremendously, the same day the reports of AWOL’s were due at headquarters–February 7th–Hooker announced that soft bread would henceforth be issued to the troops four times a week. Fresh potatoes or onions were to be issued twice a week, and desiccated vegetables delivered once a week. If these supplies were not delivered the commissary officers responsible had to furnish a written report proving that their depot lacked the necessary supplies.

Thomas Nast’s Army of the Potomac Drawing Rations
(courtesy Sons of the South.net)

Hooker understood the maxim attributed to Napoleon, “an army marches on its stomach” yet took it a step further insisting that “my men shall be fed before I am fed, and before any of my officers are fed.”

But, even a few extra items were delivered into camp. Historian John Bigelow, Jr. wrote that “tobacco, the soldier’s solace” became a regular issued item to the rank-and-file of the Army of the Potomac. Occasionally an issue of whiskey was made upon the return of soldiers from sever exposure suffered during picket or fatigue duty.

A Maine officer remarked about the impact of Hooker’s reforms, “never was the magic influence of a single man more clearly shown.”

Sergeant Edmund English of the 2nd New Jersey wrote, “I do not think it possible that such a change could have taken place for the better as has been effected in the short space of two months.”

In those two months, according to Sears, “virtually everyone agreed–and virtually everyone was surprised” that Hooker “had engineered a miraculous recovery” in the Army of the Potomac. Hooker has shown to everyone in his army that he cared for their well-being.

Hooker could then, possibly, be forgiven when he boasted that he was leading “the finest army on the planet.” Within those two months of taking command he had shown his awesome ability as an administrator. His appointment in late January 1863 saved the Army of the Potomac from melting away, a fear expressed by General Carl Schurz to Lincoln in a letter on January 24th, merely two days before Hooker took over command. And by saving the army, he arguably saved the war effort for the Union.

He may be best remembered for the lost chances, losing his nerve, and then losing the Battle of Chancellorsville. But, he was victorious in keeping the army in tact, improving its morale, and in having an army that believed in itself enough to take on the campaign. In this capacity he saved and help create the Army of the Potomac that would eventually defeat Lee’s army.


Hooker, Joseph

Hooker, Joseph (1814�), Civil War general.Graduating twenty‐ninth of a class of fifty at the U.S. Military Academy, Hooker won three brevets in the Mexican War, but angered Winfield Scott by testifying against him in a court of inquiry. While a civilian colonel in the California militia in the 1850s, he had a major disagreement with Henry W. Halleck. During the Civil War, he advanced his way up the promotion ladder as a Union leader, often denigrating other officers, until he found himself commanding the Army of the Potomac to its disastrous defeat at the Battle of Chancellorsville. He served under William Tecumseh Sherman as a corps commander but demanded reassignment when he failed to receive command of the Army of the Tennessee. From 1 October 1864 to his retirement in 1868, he held inconspicuous assignments.

Hooker had the reputation for being a drinker and a womanizer and is often erroneously cited as the inspiration for prostitutes being called “hookers.” He gained the nickname 𠇏ighting Joe” when the newspaper headline 𠇏ighting—Joe Hooker” was in error printed as 𠇏ighting Joe Hooker.” His is the tale of a military man of limited ability, reaching command beyond his talents and paying the awful price of casualties to his men and ruin to his reputation.
[See also Civil War: Military and Diplomatic Course Union Army.]

Walter H. Herbert , Fighting Joe Hooker , 1944.
Ernest B. Furgurson , Chancellorsville 1863: The Souls of the Brave , 1992.

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General Joseph Hooker House

Joseph Hooker (left) and Original Land Grant Map (bottom right).

“To tell the truth, I just lost confidence in Joe Hooker.” –Joseph Hooker

But we have not. Well, at least not in regards to his former home.

We never planned to open a tasting room. We sell most of our wine direct to our mailing list, and farming and making wine gave us more than enough complications to make life interesting.

But then in spring 2017, we came across an article from the paper saying the 1852 home of General Joseph Hooker on the Sonoma Plaza was up for rent for the first time in its history.

Run for years by the local Preservation League, the beautiful little saltbox house and museum was only able to open a few hours of a single day each week. Tucked into a charming little courtyard on the east side of the Sonoma Plaza, just a few dozen yards from the historic mission and barracks, the house rests in a shaded nook away from the bustle of Plaza foot traffic.

The house itself is a nineteenth-century precursor to modern-day IKEA. Called a “knockdown,” the pre-cut house came around the horn from Sweden and was erected in the 1850s. Hooker was stationed in Sonoma at that time and was soon to buy a vineyard with his fellow military member William “Tecumseh” Sherman. Hooker soon sold the house to Catherine Vasquez and her husband Pedro, who lived in it for the next fifty years.

In 1973, the house was given to the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation and was moved from its site on First Street West to its present location on leased land just off the Sonoma historic plaza. After reconstruction and lots of support from locals, the house opened as the Vasquez House in 1976 and housed a library of historic records and a tea room.

In 2009, the name was changed back to the General Joseph Hooker House, and for the next nine years, the League used the house as a small museum about General Hooker and historic Sonoma.

In early 2017 the building came up for lease. As lovers of history, curators of the past and caretakers of Hooker’s old vineyard, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to reunite the house with the wines from his historic vineyard. We’ve partnered with the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation to curate an exhibit of mid-19th century photos, maintaining the tradition of the Hooker House containing a small museum of Sonoma history.


Western Theater

Joseph Hooker transferred to Chattanooga, Tennessee, when his command at Chancellorsville finished. He commanded troops and rebuilt his reputation, and he took part in several battles and campaigns.

He led the Battle of Lookout Mountain with no credit for the part he played. Hooker also commanded the corps in the Atlanta Campaign of 1864. Hooker led the Northern Department, which took in the four states of Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. He stayed in the role until the war ended.


Watch the video: Nuclear Madness by Joseph Lee Hooker Music Video (January 2022).