'FIGHTING Joe Hooker' had gained a well-deserved reputation as a dashing leader in the Peninsula and at Antietam, where he was wounded at the head of his Corps.
We get a good idea of his personality in a celebrated letter he received from Lincoln on his appointment - and it gives us at the same time a glimpse into Lincoln's own mind.
'I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appears to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and skilful soldier, which of course I like. I also believe that you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not 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 of your ambition and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country and to a most meritorious and honourable 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 gave you the command. Only those Generals who gain successes can set up as dictators. What I now ask of you is a 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. I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to infuse into the army of criticising their commander and
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Publication information: Book title: The Military Genius of Abraham Lincoln:An Essay. Contributors: Colin R. Ballard - Author. Publisher: World Publishing. Place of publication: Cleveland, OH. Publication year: 1952. Page number: 153.
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