Lincoln Accepts Hooker’s Resignation

It is truly remarkable when one thinks about it.  In the face of a huge enemy offensive, the President of the United States accepts the resignation of the general tasked to oppose an invasion.  Yet that is precisely what President Lincoln did on June 28th, accepting General Hooker’s offer to resign that Hooker had made in a fit of pique resulting from a dispute with General in Chief Halleck as to whether Harper’s Ferry should be defended.  Hooker had not done terribly in his marshalling of his forces as the Army of Northern Virginia pursued the Army of Northern Virginia its march into Maryland and Pennsylvania, but it was clear that he could not get along with Halleck and that he no longer enjoyed the confidence of Lincoln.  The fact that he had gone on a few drunken binges after duty did not help matters.  After he was relieved Hooker pressed journalist Noah Brooks to tell him what Lincoln thought of him.   Brooks responded that he had heard that Lincoln viewed Hooker like a beloved son, but who due to some physical defermity would never grow into a successful man.  Hooker was reduced to tears when he heard this.

George Gordon Meade probably felt like shedding a few tears when he heard that he had picked to lead the Army of the Potomac.  Having publicly stated that he was not interested in the job, he now had it and all the responsibility.  Taking command in the midst of a campaign against a general that even the Northern press was hailing as one of the great captains of history, one could have excused a drop or two from the eyes of General Mead.  Here is the text of the letter in which Hooker rashly offered to resign:

Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief:

       My original instructions require me to cover Harper’s Ferry and Washington. I have now imposed upon me, in addition, an enemy in my front of more than my number. I beg to be understood, respectfully, but firmly, that I am unable to comply with this condition with the means at my disposal, and earnestly request that I may at once be relieved from the position I occupy.

JOSEPH HOOKER,
Major-General.

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Published in: on June 28, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Lincoln Accepts Hooker’s Resignation  
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