Joseph Hooker — Facts and APUSH Notes

November 13, 1814–October 31, 1879

APUSH Definition — Joseph Hooker (1814–1879) was an officer in the United States Army during the Civil War. He was given the nickname “Fighting Joe Hooker” for his efforts at the Battle of Williamsburg but is most well-known for his defeat at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Joseph Hooker, Civil War General

On January 26, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln named Joseph Hooker as the new commanding general of the Army of the Potomac. Image Source: Library of Congress.

Who was Civil War officer Joseph Hooker?

When the Civil War started, Joseph Hooker received an appointment as a brigadier general in the volunteer army in August 1861. During the first year of the Civil War, Joseph Hooker helped organize and train the Army of the Potomac. When Major General George McClellan launched his Peninsula Campaign in 1862, Hooker commanded a division in the army. During the campaign, Hooker was promoted to major general, and he gained the nickname “Fighting Joe” because a typographical error changed a newspaper headline from “Fighting—Joe Hooker” to “Fighting Joe Hooker.”

During the Maryland Campaign in 1862, Hooker fought with distinction at the Battle of South Mountain, and at the Battle of Antietam, where he received a foot wound. For his gallantry in action at Antietam, the army promoted Hooker to brigadier general in the regular army.

On November 7, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln replaced McClellan with Major General Ambrose Burnside as commander of the Army of the Potomac. When Burnside reorganized the army, he placed Hooker in command of a Grand Division comprising the 3rd and 5th Corps. At the Battle of Fredericksburg, Hooker’s Grand Division suffered major losses during fourteen futile assaults on Marye’s Heights, which Burnside ordered over Hooker’s protests. After the battle, Hooker publicly criticized Burnside’s leadership. In January 1863, Lincoln replaced Burnside with Hooker.

When Hooker assumed command of the Army of the Potomac, morale was sinking, and desertions were rising. Hooker spent his first few months implementing reforms that raised the spirits of his soldiers. By spring, the army was ready for another offensive. Hooker’s first test as its commander came at the Battle of Chancellorsville, where he proved no match for Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Despite being outnumbered nearly two to one, Lee outmaneuvered and defeated Hooker.

Following Lee’s victory at Chancellorsville, Hooker became embroiled in a heated disagreement with Lincoln and impulsively offered to resign his command. Lincoln quickly accepted the resignation and sent Hooker to Tennessee where he performed well at the Battle of Lookout Mountain and the Battle of Chattanooga.

During the Atlanta Campaign, Hooker expected to be named commander of the Army of the Tennessee after Confederate troops killed Major General James B. McPherson. When Sherman instead chose Major General Oliver Howard, Hooker asked for reassignment. The War Department complied and sent Hooker to the Northern Department, in Ohio, where he spent the rest of the war dealing with administrative matters.

Hooker mustered out of the volunteer service on September 1, 1866, but he remained in the regular army. After being partially paralyzed by a stroke, Hooker retired from the regular army in October 1868, with the rank of major general. He spent the remaining years of his life living near New York City. Hooker died while visiting Garden City, New York, on October 31, 1879. He was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Battle of Antietam, Union Soldiers Marching into Battle, Painting
Battle of Antietam. Image Source: Library of Congress.

Joseph Hooker Facts for APUSH

Birth and Early Life

  • Full Name: His full name was Joseph Hooker.
  • Parents: His parents were Joseph and Mary (Seymour) Hooker.
  • Date of Birth: He was born on November 13, 1814.
  • Birthplace: He was born in Hadley, Massachusetts.

Family Tree

  • Spouse: His spouse was Olivia Groesbeck (1865).

Death

  • Death: He died on October 31, 1879.
  • Place of Death: He died in Garden City, New York.
  • Burial: He is buried at Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Education

He attended the United States Military Academy and graduated in 1837.

Career

He worked as a military officer and farmer.

Career Summary

He was a Major General (USA) and the Army of the Potomac commander.

Nickname

He was known as “Fighting Joe.”

Joseph Hooker — Summary of His Life and Accomplishments APUSH

  • Joseph Hooker’s parents were Joseph Hooker, a local storekeeper, and Mary Seymour.
  • Hooker attended school at the Hopkins Academy in Hadley, Massachusetts.
  • He 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, Hooker was brevetted as a second lieutenant with the 1st U.S. Artillery in Florida, during the Second Seminole War (1835–1842).
  • 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) Hooker was brevetted to captain (1846), major (1847), and lieutenant colonel (1847) for gallantry.
  • After the Mexican-American War, 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.
  • Hooker resigned his commission on February 21, 1853, to become a farmer in Sonoma, California.
  • He requested to be reinstated in the U.S. Army in 1858 but was denied, possibly because of his lingering feud with Scott.
  • Hooker was commissioned as a colonel in the California militia in 1859.
  • When the Civil War started, 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, 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, Hooker acquired the nickname “Fighting Joe” because a typographical error changed a newspaper headline, which should have read “Fighting – Joe Hooker”, to “Fighting Joe Hooker.”
  • Hooker never liked the nickname because he believed that “People will think I am a highwayman or a bandit.”
  • During the Peninsula Campaign, Hooker was promoted to major general of volunteers on May 5, 1862.
  • After the Peninsula Campaign ended dismally for the Union, Hooker was openly critical of McClellan (his commanding officer) for his overly-cautious leadership.
  • On September 6, 1862, Hooker assumed command of the 3rd Corps of Major General John Pope’s Army of Virginia.
  • On September 12, 1862, Hooker’s corps was assigned to the Army of the Potomac and designated as the 1st Corps.
  • During the Maryland Campaign, 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.
  • Hooker was promoted to brigadier general in the regular army on September 20, 1862.
  • He 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 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), 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), 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 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 Hooker as the new commanding general of the Army of the Potomac.
  • When Hooker assumed command of the Army of the Potomac, he spent his first few months implementing reforms that raised the morale of his soldiers.
  • 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 Hooker’s Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Chancellorsville (April 30–May 6, 1863).
  • 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 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 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.
  • Hooker’s troops performed well at the Battle of Lookout Mountain (November 24, 1863) and the Battle of Chattanooga (November 23–25, 1863).
  • He 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).
  • 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 Hooker met and married Olivia Groesbeck, sister of a former Ohio Congressman, William S. Groesbeck.
  • Hooker was brevetted to major general in the regular army on March 13, 1865.
  • He mustered out of the volunteer service on September 1, 1866.
  • Hooker retired from the regular army on October 15, 1868, with the increased rank of major general, after being partially paralyzed by a stroke.
  • He spent the last few years of his life living near New York City.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title Joseph Hooker — Facts and APUSH Notes
  • Date November 13, 1814–October 31, 1879
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date April 16, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update January 12, 2024

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