Portrait of Joseph Hooker

On January 26, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln named Joseph Hooker as the new commanding general of the Army of the Potomac. [Wikimedia Commons]

Joseph Hooker - Facts

November 13, 1814 - October 31, 1879

Key facts about Union General Joseph Hooker.

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Full Name:

  • Joseph Hooker

Birth Date:

  • November 13, 1814

Birth Location:

  • Hadley, Massachusetts

Parents:

  • Joseph and Mary (Seymour) Hooker

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1837)

Occupation:

  • Military officer, farmer

Career Summary:

  • Major General (USA)
  • Army of the Potomac commander

Spouse:

  • Olivia Groesbeck (1865)

Nickname:

  • Fighting Joe

Place of Death:

  • Garden City, New York

Date of Death:

  • October 31, 1879

Place of Burial:

  • Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio

Significance:

  • Joseph Hooker’s parents were Joseph Hooker, a local storekeeper, and Mary Seymour.
  • Joseph Hooker attended school at the Hopkins Academy in Hadley, Massachusetts.
  • Joseph Hooker enrolled at the United States Military Academy in 1833, and graduated in 1837, 29th out of his class of 50 cadets.
  • After graduation from the United States Military Academy, Joseph Hooker was brevetted as a second lieutenant with the 1st U.S. Artillery in Florida, during the Second Seminole War (1835–1842).
  • Joseph Hooker served in the Mexican-American War (1846–1848) in staff positions with Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott.
  • During the Mexican-American War (1846–1848) Joseph Hooker was brevetted to captain (1846), major (1847), and lieutenant colonel (1847) for gallantry.
  • After the Mexican-American War, Joseph Hooker’s career foundered when he testified against General Winfield Scott during court-martial proceedings that Scott initiated against fellow officer Gideon Pillow.
  • After the Mexican-American War, Joseph Hooker was assigned to the Pacific Division.
  • Joseph Hooker resigned his commission on February 21, 1853, to become a farmer in Sonoma, California.
  • Joseph Hooker requested to be reinstated in the U.S. Army in 1858 but was denied, possibly because of his lingering feud with Scott.
  • Joseph Hooker was commissioned as a colonel in the California militia in 1859.
  • When the American Civil War began, Joseph Hooker traveled east and requested a commission in the U.S. Army, but was denied.
  • After viewing the Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run as a civilian, Joseph Hooker successfully petitioned President Abraham Lincoln for a commission in the Union army. He was commissioned as a brigadier general in the volunteer army on August 6, 1861 (effective to May 17).
  • During the first year of the Civil War, Joseph Hooker organized and trained the Army of the Potomac in Washington, D.C.
  • When Major General George McClellan launched his Peninsula Campaign in 1862, Hooker commanded the 2nd Division of the 3rd Corps of the Army of the Potomac.
  • During the Peninsula Campaign, Joseph Hooker acquired the sobriquet “Fighting Joe” because a typographical error changed a newspaper headline, which should have read “Fighting – Joe Hooker”, to “Fighting Joe Hooker.”
  • Joseph Hooker never liked the nickname because he believed that “People will think I am a highwayman or a bandit.”
  • During the Peninsula Campaign, Joseph Hooker was promoted to major general of volunteers on May 5, 1862.
  • After the Peninsula Campaign ended dismally for the Union, Joseph Hooker was openly critical of McClellan (his commanding officer) for his overly-cautious leadership.
  • On September 6, 1862, Joseph Hooker assumed command of the 3rd Corps of Major General John Pope’s Army of Virginia.
  • On September 12, 1862, Joseph Hooker’s corps was assigned to the Army of the Potomac and designated as the 1st Corps.
  • During the Maryland Campaign, Joseph Hooker fought with distinction at the Battle of South Mountain (September 14, 1862) and at the Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), where he was wounded in the foot.
  • Joseph Hooker was promoted to brigadier general in the regular army on September 20, 1862.
  • Joseph Hooker was placed in command of the 5th Corps of the Army of the Potomac from November 10 to November 16, 1862.
  • On November 16, 1862, Major General Ambrose Burnside placed Joseph Hooker in command of a Grand Division of the Army of the Potomac, consisting of the 3rd and 5th Corps.
  • At the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11–15, 1862), Joseph Hooker’s Grand Division suffered major losses during fourteen futile assaults on Marye’s Heights ordered by Major General Burnside, over Hooker’s protests.
  • After the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11–15, 1862), Joseph Hooker was publicly critical of Major General Ambrose Burnside’s leadership.
  • After the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11–15, 1862), Burnside initiated actions to rid himself of Joseph Hooker and several other subordinate officers, but before he could do so, President Lincoln relieved Burnside of his command.
  • On January 26, 1863, Lincoln named Joseph Hooker as the new commanding general of the Army of the Potomac.
  • When Joseph Hooker assumed command of the Army of the Potomac, he spent his first few months implementing reforms that raised the morale of his soldiers.
  • Joseph Hooker’s first test as commander of the army came at the Battle of Chancellorsville (April 30–May 6, 1863).
  • Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s much smaller Army of Northern Virginia defeated Joseph Hooker’s Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Chancellorsville (April 30–May 6, 1863).
  • Joseph Hooker suffered a concussion when a cannon shell exploded at his headquarters at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863.
  • On June 27, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln and General-in-chief Henry W. Halleck accepted Joseph Hooker’s impulsive offer to resign his command of the Army of the Potomac after Hooker got into a dispute with Army headquarters over the status of defensive forces in Harpers Ferry.
  • After Joseph Hooker’s resignation as commander of the Army of the Potomac, he and two corps were reassigned to the Army of the Cumberland and sent west to help lift the siege at Chattanooga.
  • Joseph Hooker’s troops performed well at the Battle of Lookout Mountain (November 24, 1863) and the Battle of Chattanooga (November 23–25, 1863).
  • Joseph Hooker commanded the 20th Corps of the Army of the Tennessee from April 14–July 28, 1864, during the Atlanta Campaign (May 7–September 2, 1864).
  • Joseph Hooker asked to be relieved of command during the Atlanta Campaign (May 7–September 2, 1864), because Major General William T. Sherman promoted of Major General Oliver O. Howard to command of the Army of the Tennessee, upon the death of Major. General James B. McPherson, despite the fact that Hooker had seniority over Howard.
  • After leaving Georgia, Hooker commanded the Northern Department (comprising the states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois), headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, from October 1, 1864, until the end of the war.
  • While in Cincinnati Joseph Hooker met and married Olivia Groesbeck, sister of a former Ohio Congressman, William S. Groesbeck.
  • Joseph Hooker was brevetted to major general in the regular army on March 13, 1865.
  • Joseph Hooker mustered out of the volunteer service on September 1, 1866.
  • Joseph Hooker retired from the regular army on October 15, 1868, with the increased rank of major general, after being partially paralyzed by a stroke.
  • Joseph Hooker spent the last few years of his life living near New York City.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Joseph Hooker - Facts
  • Coverage November 13, 1814 - October 31, 1879
  • 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
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