Conflict Between Generals Hooker and Halleck Comes to a Head

June 27, 1863

As a major confrontation between Union and Confederate armies approaches, General Joseph Hooker telegraphs Lincoln regarding his deteriorating relationship with General-in-chief Henry W. Halleck : “You have long been aware, Mr. President, that I have not enjoyed the confidence of the major-general commanding the army, and I can assure you so long as this continues we may look in vain for success…”  President Lincoln replied: “When you say I have long been aware that you do not enjoy the confidence of the major-general commanding, you state the case much too strongly.  You do not lack his confidence in any degree to do you any harm.  On seeing him, after telegraphing you this morning, I found him more nearly agreeing with you than I was myself.  If you and he would use the same frankness to one another, and to me, that I use to both of you, there would be no difficulty.  I need and must have the professional skill of both, and yet these suspicions tend to deprive me of both….”

Hooker wires Halleck: “My original instructions require me to cover Harper’s Ferry and Washington.  I have now imposed on me, in addition, an enemy in my front of more than my number.  I beg to be understood, respectfully, but firmly, that I am unable to comply with this condition with the means of my disposal, and earnestly request that I may at once bet relieved from the position I occupy.”

Meanwhile, preparations were made to replace Hooker as commander of the Army of the Potomac.  Historian Freeman Cleaves wrote: “According to one account, Lincoln appeared at the War Office looking rather gloomy and not disposed to make conversation.  After a few perfunctory remarks the Secretary took up the matter at hand.  He did not feel, he said, that Hooker would be equal to the present emergency, but he could find no fault with the record and ability of General Meade.  Lincoln on his part felt that Meade would fight well in Pennsylvania ‘on his own dunghill,’ and thus it was decided to act.”

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Published in: on June 27, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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