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the war of the rebellion, years which he spent in private pursuits in California, HOOKER's life was a purely military one.
Born at Hadley, Massachusetts, November 13, 1814, he was graduated at the military academy at West Point in 1837 as number twenty-nine in a class of forty-nine, among whom also were VODGES, BENHAM, WILLIAMS (who fell at Baton Rouge), ADJUTANT-GENERAL TOWNSEND, FRENCH, TODD, BATES, and SEDGWICK, of the Union army, and BRAGG, WM. H. T. WALKER, EARLY, and PEMBERTON, of the rebel army. Commissioned in 1837 as Second Lieutenant in the First Artillery, he passed his first year of service as a subaltern in the Florida war, and the subsequent two years on the northern frontier. On November 3, 1838, HOOKER was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant. In 1841, he was Adjutant at the military academy, and for the next five years was Adjutant of his regiment. In 1846, at the beginning of the war with Mexico, he was assigned to the staff of BRIGADIERGENERAL PERSIFER F. SMITH, and afterward transferred to the staff of BRIGADIER-GENERAL HAMAR. In 1847, he was Aid-decamp to MAJOR-GENERAL BUTLER. He acquired no little popularity and distinction while serving as Assistant Adjutant-General in 1847-48 to MAJOR-GENERAL PILLOW, who was commanding a division. The army record shows that HOOKER, for gallantry at Monterey, was brevetted Captain; at the National Bridge, Major; and for bravery at Chapultepec, Lieutenant-Colonel. HOOKER'S services as a staff officer during the Mexican war were notably brilliant and useful. They afforded him an experience and knowledge of men and of campaigns capable of being acquired in no other way; and formed a potent element in educating one of the most unique and conspicuous characters of the war of the rebellion. After Mexico, he served as Assistant Adjutant-General of the Sixth Military Department and of the Pacific Division, in 18491851. With his restless and energetic disposition and habits of activity, it is no wonder that, thrown into California at this period, he resigned his commission in the army for private pursuits.
He abandoned agriculture to aid in suppressing the rebellion,
and hastened to Washington when the war broke out. It so happened that his offers of services received little encouragement. He was about to leave the Capital unaccepted, and called, before departing, upon PRESIDENT LINCOLN.
He told the President, on being introduced to him, by mistake, as Captain HOOKER, that he had been Lieutenant-Colonel HOOKER of the regular army, and that he had come from California to tender his services to the government, but that either his relations to GENERAL SCOTT, or some other impediment, stood in the way of making his military education useful.
“I am about to return," he added; "but before going I was anxious to pay my respects to you, sir, and to express my wish for your personal welfare, and for your success in putting down the rebellion. And, while I am about it, Mr. President, I want to say one thing more, and that is, that I was at the battle of Bull Run, the other day, and it is neither vanity nor boasting in me to declare that I am a better general than you, sir, had on that field."
Of this interview, PRESIDENT LINCOLN is said subsequently to have remarked: "HOOKER's eye was steady and clear; his manner not half so confident as his words; and, altogether, he had the air of a man of sense and intelligence, who would at least try to make his words good. I was impressed with him, and rising out of my chair I walked up to him, and putting my hand on his shoulder, said: Colonel-not Lieutenant-Colonel--HOOKER, stay, I have use for you and a regiment for you to command.''
The regiment proved to be a brigade, which he established into a camp near Bladensburg called "Camp Union." His discipline, instruction, and presence quickly turned the volunteer recruit into the ways of a "regular."
HOOKER'S Commission as Brigadier-General reached him, bearing date May 17, 1861, and, in the autumn of that year, he was placed in charge of the troops occupying the approaches to Washington from the west bank of the Potomac and lower Maryland. His command, at first a brigade of New England regiments, was subsequently enlarged into the famous Second Division, Third
Corps, which, in the spring of 1862, he first brought into line at the siege of Yorktown.
The two divisions of this corps, then commanded by HEINTZLEMAN, became distinguished as the Red Diamond, or First Division, educated and led by the lamented KEARNEY, and the White Diamond, or Second division, commanded by HOOKER. Impetuous, skillful, and self-reliant, these three commanders, in campaign, were more frequently requesting orders to advance, than reporting imaginary resistance. They uniformly sought the enemy.
Thus, although not in the advance, the battle of Williamsburgh (May 5, 1862), following the evacuation of Yorktown, was opened by HOOKER. This was a long sustained and pitched battle. It was begun, continued, directed, and, indeed, finally might have been lost under HOOKER but for the opportune arrival of reinforcements in the afternoon.
"I attacked," said HOOKER, in his testimony, in March, 1863, before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, " with my single division, a line of works stronger than the line across the peninsula at Yorktown."
A history of the battle of Williamsburgh, and the part taken by GENERAL HOOKER in it, would require more than one chapter. It was a sanguinary contest. The losses in HOOKER's division were out of all proportion to the casualties of ordinary battle. Of the entire Union loss, 2,228 men, 1,575 were from HOOKER's division, aud the balance chiefly from KEARNEY'S division, which reinforced him in the afternoon.
Williamsburgh established HOOKER as a leader of men. Its events can not here be described or discussed. A word from HOOKER himself about it might not be out of place. His report says:
History will not be believed when it is told that the noble officers and men of my division were permitted to carry on this unequal struggle from morning until night unaided, in the presence of more than thirty thousand of their comrades with arms in their hands. Nevertheless, it is true."
So memorable is the day in the estimation of the Third Corps -which was the only corps continuously engaged on the Union side, that each recurring fifth of May is celebrated by the Annual Re-union of the "Third Corps Union," the association of surviving officers of that corps, and, chronologically, the first organization of the various army societies of that character. The last of these reunions held during HOOKER's life (at Delmonico's, New York, May 5, 1879), was attended by him, where, amidst great enthusiasm, HOOKER was called to his feet, and, for the last time, talked in his own fresh and epigrammatic style to the surviving veterans who had followed his fortunes on that eventful day.
HOOKER'S commission as Major-General of U. S. Volunteers also dates from this desperate day-May 5, 1862.
When the army had advanced up the Peninsula, and its left was assailed in front of Richmond and driven from its camps, HOOKER, whose troops had been retained in reserve, was brought up, and regained the lost ground in the battles known as Fair Oaks and Seven Pines (June 1).
Then came in succession the battles of Williamsburgh Road, of June 25th, and afterward what is now generally termed the "Seven days' Fight;" HOOKER's division participating in the battles of Glendale and Malvern Hills.
While the army rested at Harrison's Landing, HOOKER led a reconnoisance to Turkey Bend, fighting successfully the second, though light battle of Malvern Hills, with the situation of the opposing forces reversed. This movement, HOOKER maintained, if co-operated in as it developed itself, could have placed the Army of the Potomac at Richmond before the enemy in POPE's front could have returned to prevent it. But HOOKER, then a division commander only, was as loyal, obedient, and earnest in supporting his superior commanders, as he was sagacious and fearless in the leadership of his subordinates.
Before the army withdrew from Harrison's Landing, HOOKER urged its commander to march again on Richmond, believing it could be taken. He told GENERAL MCCLELLAN, "that if we were
unsuccessful, it would probably cost him his head, but that he might as well die for an old sheep as for a lamb. I told him I knew of no better place to put an army than between JOHNSTONwho was at that time in POPE's front-and the defenses at Richmond."
The Peninsula, however, was abandoned, HOOKER's division of HEINTZELMAN's corps was among the first to report to POPE in the Army of Virginia, who immediately thereafter found the enemy between his army and Washington. To HOOKER was assigned the task of restoring communication with the Capital. A timid or vacillating march might have destroyed our army. HOOKER encountered the enemy at Bristoe Station, where ensued (August 27) and was fought a hotly contested but successful engagement. His division again fought intensely at the Second Manassas (August 29), and at Chantilly (September 1), which battle turned LEE's apparently victorious columns from Washington to the upper Potomac.
What more natural than that HOOKER should be needed there? Besides, the remnants of his old division should recruit some strength.
Assigned to the command of the First Corps, he arrived on the field in time to make the battle of South Mountain a success; and was entrusted, two days later, at Antietam, with the responsible duty of leading the right wing in the grand flank movement, which was the scheme of this engagement ;-an engagement which, however tenaciously fought, faithfully conducted, and honorable in its results for the Union arms, nevertheless, from the fruitless inactivity which followed it, has degenerated from a decisive historical victory into a bloody combat of civil war-an episode in its military annals.
Both at South Mountain and Antietam, HOOKER was incontestibly a great leader. Wounded painfully in the foot, at the close of the severest fighting in his front, who shall say that, had HOOKER not been carried from the field, greater luster might have fallen to the Union arms? While recovering from this wound,