Portrait of John Pope

Major General John Pope was a prominent and controversial army officer who commanded the Union Army of Virginia at the Battle of Bull Run II. [Wikimedia Commons]

John Pope - Facts

March 16, 1822 – September 23, 1892

Key facts about Union General John Pope.

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Full Name:

  • John Pope

Birth Date:

  • March 16, 1822

Birth Location:

  • Louisville, Kentucky

Parents:

  • Nathaniel and Lucretia (Backers) Pope

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1842)

Occupation:

  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • Major General (USA), Army of Virginia commander

Spouse:

  • Clara Horton (1859)

Place of Death:

  • Sandusky, Ohio

Date of Death:

  • September 23, 1892

Place of Burial:

  • Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri

Significance:

  • John Pope’s father was a federal judge in the Illinois Territory who presided over cases argued by Abraham Lincoln.
  • John Pope graduated the United States Military Academy in 1842, seventeenth in a class of fifty-six cadets.
  • John Pope fought in the Mexican – American War (1846 – 1848).
  • John Pope was promoted to second lieutenant on May 9, 1846.
  • John Pope received a brevet promotion to first lieutenant on September 23, 1846 for “gallant and meritorious conduct” during the battle of Monterrey, and a brevet promotion to captain for his part in the American victory at Buena Vista on February 23, 1847.
  • John Pope was promoted to first lieutenant on March 3, 1853.
  • John Pope was promoted to captain on July 1, 1856.
  • John Pope married Clara Horton, the daughter of Ohio Congressman Valentine B. Horton on September 15, 1859. The union produced four children.
  • John Pope was selected as one of four army officers to escort president-elect Abraham Lincoln on his train trip from Illinois to his inauguration in Washington, D.C.
  • When the Civil War erupted, Abraham Lincoln appointed John Pope as a brigadier general of volunteers on June 14, 1861 (effective May 17), despite the fact that Pope had no experience commanding troops in battle during his military career.
  • John Pope’s first Civil War assignment was recruiting volunteers in Chicago.
  • John Pope marched on the Mississippi River town of New Madrid, Missouri and forced a Confederate withdrawal on March 14, 1862.
  • With the assistance of Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote, John Pope gained national recognition when he forced the seven-thousand-man Confederate garrison on Island No. 10 to surrender on April 7, 1862, giving the Union control of the river as far south as Memphis, Tennessee.
  • John Pope was promoted to major general of volunteers, effective March 21, 1862.
  • John Pope commanded the left wing of Major General Henry Halleck’s army during the Siege of Corinth (April 29– May 30, 1862).
  • In June, President Lincoln appointed John Pope to command the newly-created Army of Virginia, which consisted of scattered forces from the Shenandoah Valley and Northern Virginia.
  • John Pope earned the enmity of many of the soldiers in the Army of Virginia when he delivered a speech comparing them in a negative manner to the soldiers in the west.
  • John Pope earned the enmity of many Southerners by issuing a series of general orders that targeted civilians in Northern Virginia.
  • Confederate General Robert E. Lee labeled John Pope a “miscreant.”
  • Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia defeated John Pope’s Army of Virginia at the Second Battle of Bull Run (August 28 – 30,1862 near Manassas, Virginia, on the site of the Confederate victory at the First Battle of Bull Run, a year earlier.
  • John Pope blamed Major General Fitz John Porter for the Union defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run.
  • On September 12, 1862, John Pope was relieved of command and his army was merged with the Army of the Potomac. Pope was exiled to the Department of the Northwest, in Minnesota, where he spent nearly the remainder of the war.
  • On March 13, 1865, John Pope received a brevet promotion to major general for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Capture of Island No. 10, on the Mississippi in 1862.
  • John Pope mustered out of volunteer service on September 1, 1866, but remained in the regular army.
  • On April 1, 1867 John Pope was placed in charge of the Reconstruction Third Military District. His staunch support of voting rights for Afro-Americans during his tenure as military governor prompted President Andrew Johnson to replace him with George Meade on December 28, 1867.
  • John Pope spent much of the latter part of his military career campaigning against Plains Indians.
  • On October 26, 1882, John Pope was promoted to the rank of major general in the regular army.
  • Despite waging war against the Plains Indians during his second stint as commander of the Department of the Missouri Pope made political enemies in Washington for criticizing the government’s harsh treatment of Native American’s and exposing corruption in the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • On March 16, 1886, John Pope retired from the army at age 64.
  • Following his retirement, John Pope resided in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • John Pope died at Sandusky, Ohio on September 23, 1892, while visiting his brother-in-law, Union General Manning F. Force, who was superintendent at the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home in that city.
  • John Pope was buried next to his wife in Bellefontaine Cemetery, in St. Louis.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title John Pope - Facts
  • Coverage March 16, 1822 – September 23, 1892
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 31, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021