Fighting Joe Hooker

Fighting Joe Hooker

Fighting Joe Hooker

Fighting Joe Hooker

Excerpt

On the twenty-sixth of January 1863 a weary and disheartened President sat by the long, low conference table in the White House study. His attempt to keep the Southern states in the Union by military force, which had once seemed so certain of success, now appeared to be well on the road to failure. The Confederacy had gained a wide edge in the last two months of fighting. In the East the Army of the Potomac was still demoralized from the disaster of Fredericksburg which climaxed a long succession of Union reverses; even a minor expedition into North Carolina had just been repulsed. In the West the year-end battle of Stone's River, proclaimed as a great Federal victory, was now recognized as an indecisive contest. The attempt to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi, via Chickasaw Bluffs had been beaten back, the advanced Union base at Holly Springs, Mississippi, destroyed, and Galveston, Texas, retaken by the Confederates. Desertion was whittling down the effective force of the armies, and the ranks could not be filled since volunteering had practically ceased.

Home-front support of the war was crumbling from dejection over the reverses in the field and the unanticipated length of the struggle. In the President's own Northwest resolutions were being proposed in the state legislatures to acknowledge the Confederacy, to seek an armistice, or to call a convention of all the states to compromise the sectional struggle. Even the prominent New York Republican editor, Horace Greeley, was advocating foreign mediation to terminate it. The war administration had received a vote of no confidence in the mid-term elections, and a radical committee from the Senate had just tried to force the resignation of the Secretary of State. The Copperheads were riding high! Was the union of these states perpetual after all? Would the nation ever regain its solidarity and emerge from this tragic period?

Abraham Lincoln turned to the job at hand. He had just appointed a new commander to the Army of the Potomac--that ill-fated body buffeted by poor leadership and by the seemingly invincible infantry from Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, the Gulf states and faraway Texas. No other Federal army was more important to the preservation of the Union, yet none was so sadly in need of reorganization and a strong . . .

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