First Corps – Joseph Hooker

Joseph Hooker

Joseph B. Hooker Quotes

Last Updated January 16, 2010

With quotations by Hooker first followed by others in alphabetical order of the person making the quote

“I was at the battle of Bull Run the other day, and it is neither vanity or boasting in me to declare that I am a damned sight better General than you, Sir, had on that field

Hooker, Joseph

Hooker speaking to Lincoln

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 49

“for once I lost confidence in Joe Hooker”

Hooker, Joseph

A remark attributed to Hooker in a conversation with Abner Doubleday.  Bigelow, John, Jr. The Campaign of Chancellorsville.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1910.  p.478

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 199

“Look at old Hooker.  Don’t he play for keeps?”

A soldier

Dec 2 1863

soldier on orchard knob watching advance on Lookout Mt reported in NY Herald

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 257

…no General was more careful of the comfort and welfare of his men.  When other corps were hungry, we always had rations; when other corps were ragged, we had clothes

a soldier in 33 MA

Aug 3 1864

soldier in 33 MA writing the Christian Register

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 287

a noisy low toned intriguer under whose influence Army headquarters was: a place where no self-respecting man liked to go, and no decent woman could go. It was a combination of barroom and brothel.

Adams, Charles Francis

Adam’s autobiography

Lowry, Thomas P.  The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell Sex in the Civil War Stackpole 1994 pg 148

“the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac was a place to which no self-respecting man liked to go, and not decent woman could go.  It was a combination of bar-room and brother.”

Adams, Charles Francis

Charles F. Adams, Charles Francis Adams, 1835-1916: An Autobiography (Boston, 1916), 161

Robertson, James I.  Stonewall Jackson The Man, The Soldier, The Legend. New York:  Macmillan Publishing Co, 1997 pg 694

“He was by far the best fighting corps commander of the army that McClellan was leading against Lee”

Carmen, Ezra

Carmen, Ezra.  The Maryland Campaign of 1862. Ed. Joseph Pierro.  New York: Routledge, 2008 pg 74

“a frank, manly, brave and energetic soldier, of somewhat less breadth of intellect than I had expected, however, though not of less quickness, clearness and activity.

Chase, Salmon

Sep 23 1862

Chase’s diary recording meeting with wounded Hooker in Washington DC

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 147

I have always stated that he probably abstained from the use of ardent spirits when it would have been far better for him to have continued in his usual habit in that respect

Couch, Darius

Darius Couch speaking of Hooker at Chancellorsville

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg ix

I…regarded him as a dangerous man.  He was not subordinate to his superiors.  He was ambitious to the extent of caring nothing for the rights of others.”

Grant, U.S.

Grants Memoirs

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 286

Joe Hooker fed his men the best and fought them the best, of any of the corps commanders

Hinckley, William

Hinckley Memoirs of 3 WI

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 287

“The Army ran like sheep all but General Hooker”

Kearney, Phil

Sep 1 1862

Day before his death, Kearney wrote of Hooker at Second Manassas

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 127

“…he had the air of a man of sense and intelligence who thoroughly believed in himself and who would at least try to make his words good”

Lincoln, Abraham

Lincoln speaking of his first meeting with Hooker

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 49

“I think as much as you or any other man of Hooker, but-I fear he gets excited.”

Lincoln, Abraham

Sep 1862

Chase’s diary.  Discussion between Gideon and Welles

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 128

“You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm.” (Lincoln in Letter to Hooker)

Lincoln, Abraham

Jan 26 1863

Lincoln appointment letter to Hooker appointing Cdr AOP

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Foreward

“now there’s Joe Hooker-he can fight-I think that point is pretty well established-but whether he can “keep tavern’ for a large army is not so sure.”

Lincoln, Abraham

After Antietam

Lincoln’s observations to a visitor after Antietam when he was looking for a commander to replace McClellan.

Sears, Stephen.  Controversies & Commanders-Dispatches from the Army of the Potomac. Boston:  Houghton Mifflin, 1999. Pg 181

Hooker will “soon bring them out of the kinks & …make them fight if anyone can”

McClellan, George

GBM letter to Ellen

Sears, Stephen.  George B McClellan – The Young Napoleon. New York:  Ticknor & Fields, 1988 pg 265

“Hooker is a very good soldier and a capital officer to command an army corps, but I should doubt his qualifications to command a large army.  If fighting, however is all that is necessary to make a general, he will certainly distinguish himself

Meade, George

Oct 11 1862

Ltr by George Meade to his son

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 168

“Hooker has disappointed the army and myself in failing to show the nerve…at the critical moment, which all had given him credit for before he was tried…. I am sorry of Hooker, because I like him: but I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that he has on this occasion missed a brilliant opportunity.”

Meade, George

May 12 1863

Meade to his wife, Letters, 1:374-75

Rafuse, Ethan S. George Gordon Meade and the War in the East. Abilene:  McWhiney Foundation Press. 2003 pg 66

“Hurrah for old Joe; we are on Lee’s flank, and he does not know it.  You take the Plank Road toward Fredericksburg, and I’ll take the Pike or vice versa, as you prefer, and we’ll get out of the Wilderness.”

Meade, George

Apr 30 1862

Meade to Henry Slocum in the opening phase of the Battle of Chancellorsville.  John Bigelow, Chancellorsville (1910; reprint New York: Smithmark, 1995), 221

Rafuse, Ethan S. George Gordon Meade and the War in the East. Abilene:  McWhiney Foundation Press. 2003 pg 59

“I believe Hooker is a good soldier, the danger he runs is subjecting himself to bad influences, such as Dan Butterfield and Dan Sickles….I believe my opinion is more favorable than any other of the old regular officers, most of whom are decided in their hostility to him.”

Meade, George

Jan 26 1863

Meade to his wife, Jan 25 1863

Rafuse, Ethan S. George Gordon Meade and the War in the East. Abilene:  McWhiney Foundation Press. 2003 pg 58

“When you see occasion for issuing an order, give it without reference to me.  As you understand these matters”

Pillow, Gideon

August 1847

Pillow speaking about his adjutant general Joseph Hooker in Mexico

Johnson, Timothy. A Gallant Little Army.  Lawrence KS:  University of Kansas, 2007.   Pg 149

“As I saw him [Hooker] that afternoon on his white horse in rear of his line of battle, and close up to it, with the excitement of battle in his eyes, and that gallant and chivalric appearance which he always presented under fire, I was struck with admiration.  As a corps commander with his whole force operating under his own eye, it is much to be doubted whether Hooker had a superior in the army

Pope, John

Pope speaking of Hooker at Bristoe Station in the 2nd Manassas campaign in Battles and Leaders

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 122

“…He failed in this [farming] and applied himself most industriously to borrowing money of all who would lend it to him, and drinking whiskey whenever and wherever he could obtain it…he became a constant uninvited visitor to the Pacific Club of San Francisco to the annoyance of the members.”

Richmond Dispatch

Feb 24 1863

Richmond newspaper reacting to appointment of Joe Hooker as Cdr AOP

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 169

“he failed in farming and applied himself most industriously to borrowing money … and drinking whiskey whenever and wherever he could obtain it.

Richmond Dispatch

Newspaper commenting on the selection of Hooker to command the Army of the Potomac

Lowry, Thomas P.  The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell Sex in the Civil War Stackpole 1994 pg 148

“this second edition of the braggart Pope”

Richmond Enquirer

Jan 27 1863

Newspaper commenting on the selection of Hooker to command the Army of the Potomac

Robertson, James I.  General A. P. Hill. New York:  Random 1987. Pg 175

I know Hooker well and tremble to think of his handling 100,000 men in the presence of Lee.  I don’t think Lee will attack Hooker in position because he will doubt if it will pay, but let Hooker once advance or more laterally and I fear for the result

Sherman, William Tecumseh

April 1863

Letter written by Sherman two weeks before Chancellorsville

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 257

“[Hooker] is a man with no firm moral force but he is a good soldier and in addition has the talent publicly to display his achievements in the most favorable light

Shurtz, Carl

Papers of Carl Shurtz

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 167

“Hooker’s men were fully up to their work.  They saw their General every where in the front, never away from the fire, and all the troops believed in their commander, and fought with a will.”

Smalley, George

Sep 19 1862

Smalley describing Hooker on the battlefield

Sears, Stephen. Landscape Turned Red. New York:  Ticknor & Fields 1983 New York pg 191

I have no confidence in General Hooker though his personal courage I do not question

Stanton, Edwin

Stanton quoted telling Lincoln

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 241

“was the most brilliant of all the generals up to a certain point, but when his limitation was reached he was utterly helpless

Stoneman, George

Stoneman talking to newspaperman A.K. McClure

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 225

He [Hooker] could play the best game of poker I ever saw until it came to the point when he should go a thousand better, and then he would flunk

Stoneman, George

Stoneman talking to newspaperman A.K. McClure

Hebert, Walter H.  Fighting Joe Hooker.  Bison Books, 1999. Pg 225

“You will recall that I told you long since of Hooker and if possible he would through his unscrupulous action succeed in ousting everyone above him”

Ward, Sam

Jan 5 1863

Samuel Ward to S.L.M. Barlow

Sears, Stephen.  Chancellorsville. Boston:  Houghton Mifflin, 1996 pg 10

4 Responses

  1. I am related to Hooker from one his sisters on my mothers side. I have read Sear’s “Chancellorsville” and Bobrick’s “Master of War”. Grants, Shermans, Stonemans, and Couch comments can be dismissed as selfserving cover my ass. Hooker screwed up at Chance. falling back to defence position, giveing up hi ground where Lee pounded him with artillery, and not getting Sedgewick moving in time. The rest was his liutenents not obeying orders. I have been to Anteitam. It is a wonderful place.

    • Hello James
      I think that Hooker has never gotten his due recognition for essentially rebuilding the Army of the Potomac, creating an effective cavalry corps, establishing a capable intelligence service. There are many more positive contributions to the Union victory than most people realize. Thanks for checking out my blog. Regards Jim

    • Why, at Antietam, Hooker insisted on commencing his attack without Mansfield is a matter for speculation. That he would have done so in order to avoid his having to share in any resulting glory is a possibility that can not be dismissed. “He [Hooker] was not subordinate to his superiors. He was ambitious to the extent of caring nothing for the rights of others. His disposition was, when engaged in battle, to get detached from the main body of the army and exercise a separate command,” wrote Ulysses S. Grant. Whatever Hooker’s rational may have been on the morning of September 17th, his actions severely diminished any chance for a major Union victory.

  2. Interesting Stuff….

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