I'm starting to research General Hooker. From what I know of him he seemed to be a very capable Division and Corps commander. Chancellorsville was his first battle leading the Army of the Potomac and seems to have made him uneasy. Being knocked senseless by the cannonball didn't help him much. What do you all think about if he had been at Gettysburg....would the result have been the same? After his resignation he did well at Chattanooga so he definitely had skills in leading troops.
Some of the generals were better at leading smaller forces or even earlier in the war. Part of Hooker's problem at Chancellorsville came from his right flank being against the Wilderness, which Jackson flanked. He was too over confident that no one could get through the Wilderness, that Lee had to commit himself to a frontal assualt just as Burnside had at Fredericksburg. But the flank didn't hold against Jackson because they didn't expect anyone could come through the Wilderness.
Hooker was a very capable general. In my opinion, at Chancellorsville he was done in by Corps commanders who couldn't stand him (Slocum, Howard, Sedgwick and Sykes). His inability to get along with General Hallack and President Lincoln didn't help much either. I doubt those problems would have worked themselves out if he had been at Gettysburg. However, with the exception of Chancellorsville General Hooker did remarkably well as a commander.
Last edited on Sat Jan 22nd, 2011 05:08 pm by Mark
Sickles's III Corps identified the flanking column in the mid-morning of 2 May 1863, and Sickles claims he reported to Army HQ that, "the movement indicated either a retreat on Gordonsville or an attack on our right flank." (Hookers report says nothing about Sickles's report indicating a flank attack) Howard said that the "unvarying report," from his XI Corps skirmishers was, "the enemy is crossing the plank road moving toward Culpeper." In my opinion, based on those reports alone, a movement toward Culpeper could have easily been interpreted as a Confederate retreat to the west (in fact, that would have been the smart thing for Lee to do outnumbered as he was). Someone once told me that no one tries to fail... I think General Hooker made an educated guess on the Confederate movement based on the intel he had and he simply made the wrong call.
thanks for the clarification. Hooker from what I've read seems to have had some good leadership qualities. He rebuilt the morale of the army after Fredricksburg. He looked after his soldiers welfare. Made sure they were better fed. He had done very well at the Division and Corps level. Like you said he just made a logical but wrong decision. But after getting the sense knocked out of him by the cannon ball he should have turned over command. From what I remember didn't his Corp commanders want to stay and fight at the end of the day of the flank attack thinking victory was still possible? Or was that just revisionism done on their part?
I think you are right on that count. MG Hooker probably should have turned over command on the night of the 2 May. He likely had a concussion, or perhaps a case of what today's Army doctors call mild traumatic brain injury. Neither of which were recognized conditions during the ACW. According to MG Hooker's testimony to the Committee on the Conduct of the War, General Meade and General Howard (both of whom Hooker despised) were for attacking the ANV on 4 May, and Slocum and Sickles (who were in the Hooker clique) were for withdrawing. So, at least according to Hooker the Corps commanders were split. I think he made another bad decision, but I do think I understand WHY he made it. The Army of the Potomac had just been battered for two days by the ANV and Hooker decided (probably in a hazy state of mind) that the situation had changed enough to demand a complete change of plans.