1863: “You Have Taken Counsel Of Your Ambition”

Executive Mansion

Washington, January 26, 1863

Major General Hooker:


I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appear[ed] to me to be sufficient reasons. And yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which, I am not quite satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and skilful [skillful] solider, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not indispensable quality. You are ambitious, which, within reasonable, bounds, does good rather than harm. Continue reading

1862: “I Am Sick & Tired Of The Whole Business”

November 8, 1862

…I am glad to do McClellan this justice [grateful for promotion], because altho’ I do not think he has treated me altogether as well as I had a right to expect yet I am thankful for what he has done, & wish to give him all the credit that is due particularly as to day the order has been received relieving him from duty with this Army & placing Burnside in command. Continue reading

1862: “You Have Done Your Best To Sacrifice This Army”

To Edwin M. Stanton

Savage Station June 28 12:20A.M.

…I now know the full history of the day [June 27]. On this side of the river – the right bank – we repulsed several very strong attacks. On the left bank our men did all that men could do, all that soldiers could accomplish – but they were overwhelmed by vastly superior numbers even after I brought my last reserves into action. The loss on both sides is terrible – I believe it will prove to be the most desperate battle of the war. The sad remnants of my men behaved as men – those battalions who fought most bravely & suffered most are still in the best order. My regulars were superb & I count upon what are left to turn another battle in company with their gallant comrades of Volunteers. Had I 20,000 or even 10,000 fresh troops to use tomorrow I could take Richmond, but I have not a man in reserve & shall be glad to cover my retreat & save the material & personnel of the Army. Continue reading

1862: “Victory Attends Us”


Headquarters Army of the Potomac

Fairfax Court House, VA., March 14, 1862


For a long time I have kept you inactive, but not without a purpose: you were to be disciplined, armed and instructed; the formidable artillery you now have, had to be created; other armies were to move and accomplish certain results. I have held you back that you might give the death-blow to the rebellion that has distracted our once happy country. Continue reading

1862: “Now That Begins To Look Like Business”


January 18, 1862

I visited Washington to-day, through such rain and such mud, as no civilized country, save this, can sustain, and preserve its character for purity. Am back tonight. On my return, I find on my table the following:

General Order No. 11

Headquarters, &c.

When the time arrives for the troops of this Brigade to move, the following will be the allowance of the means of transportation: Continue reading

1861: “I Could Become Dictator…”

Gazette665 Blog Series 1861: In Their Words

July 27 / 61 Washington D.C. Saturday

I have been assigned to the command of a Division – composed of Depts of N.E. Va (that under McDowell) & that of Washington (now under Mansfield) – neight of them like it much – especially Mansfield, but I think they must ere long become accustomed to it, as there is no help for it…

I find myself in a new & strange position here – Presdt, Cabinet, Genl Scott & all deferring to me – by some strange operation of magic I seem to have come the power of the land. I almost think that were I to win some small success now I could become Dictator or anything else that might please me – therefore I won’t be Dictator. Admirable self-denial! I see already the main causes of our recent failure – I am sure that I can remedy these & am confident that I can lead these armies of men to victory once more. I start tomorrow very early on a tour through the lines on the other side of the river – it will occupy me all day long ( a rather fatiguing ride it will be – but I will be able to make up my mind as to the state of things. Refused invitations to dine today from Genl Scott & four Secy’s – had too many things to attend to… Continue reading