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Major General Joseph "Fighting Joe" Hooker

Hooker, Joseph
November 13, 1814
Hadley, Maine
October 31, 1879
Garden City, New York
Hooker attended Hopkins Academy in Hadley before he went to West Point. He graduated from West Point in 1837, ranked 29 out of 50 in his class. He was assigned to the artillery and served in the Seminole War, on the frontier, Adjutant at West Point, and the Mexican War. He resigned in 1853, and settled in California as a farmer and land developer.

At the start of the Civil War, Hooker offered his services to the Union and was repeatedly denied by the War Department. He was finally accepted in May, given a Brigadier General commission, and commanded a brigade and then a division around Washington, D.C. He then joined the Army of the Potomac for the Peninsula Campaign in 1862. He fought atYorktown, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, White Oak Swamp, and Malvern Hill.

Hooker was transferred to Major Gen. John Pope's Army of Virginia for the 2nd Bull Run. He returned to the Army of the Potomac, commanded I Corps at Chantilly, South Mountain, Antietam and Fredericksburg. At Antietam, he was wounded in the foot. He replaced Major Gen. Ambrose Burnside as commander of the Army of the Potomac in 1863 after Burnside was defeated at Fredericksburg. In a letter to Hooker, President Abraham Lincoln praised the his fighting abilities but strongly questioned his previous criticism of commanders and feared that this might come back to haunt the new chief. Lincoln was also critical of the his loose talk on the need for a military dictatorship to win the war. During the spring of 1863, he established a reputation as an outstanding administrator and restored the morale of his soldiers through reforms in health and welfare programs.

Hooker commanded the Army of the Potomac during Chancellorsville. His planned campaign to defeat the Army of Northern Virginia was stopped by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee through a devastating attack on his exposed right flank by Lieutenant Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and by his timid command performance. He was dazed by the effects of an artillery shell striking a pillar on the porch of his headquarters. He lost control of the army and ordered a withdrawal.
Hooker resigned 2 months later during the early part of the Gettysburg Campaign, due to disagreements with President Abraham Lincoln and Major Gen. Henry W. Halleck, and was replaced by Major Gen. George Meade.

With the Union defeat at Chickamauga, Hooker was transferred to the XI and XII Corps of the Army of the Potomac and sent westward to reinforce the Army of the Cumberland around Chattanooga. In the battles around the city, he kept open the supply lines and captured Lookout Mountain.

Hooker participated in the Atlanta Campaign under Major Gen. William T. Sherman, but requested to be relieved when Major Gen. James B. McPherson was killed and Major Gen. Oliver O. Howard received command of the Army of the Tennessee. He was transferred to the north where he remained for the rest of the war, never having any more field command. Brevetted major general in the Regular Army for his victory at Lookout Mountain, he was mustered out of the volunteers on September 1, 1866. Transferred to various commands, including the Departments of the East and the Lakes, he suffered a stroke that partially paralyzed him. Not long afterwards, on October 15, 1868, he retired from the Army.
Always popular with his men, Hooker lacked the confidence of his subordinate officers and was quarrelsome with his superiors. He was popularly known as "Fighting Joe", a nickname he detested. When a newspaper dispatch arrived in New York during the Peninsula Campaign, a typographical error changed an entry “Fighting — Joe Hooker” to remove the dash and the name stuck. Lee occasionally referred to him as "Mr. F. J. Hooker" in a mildly sarcastic jab at his opponent.

Despite Hooker's reputation as a hard-drinking ladies' man, there is no basis for the popular legend that the slang term for prostitutes came from his last name due to parties and a lack of military discipline at his headquarters. The term "hooker" was used in print as early as 1845, many years before Hooker was a public figure.

Hooker is buried in Cincinnati, Ohio.


  • Brigadier General USV- May 17, 1861
  • Major General USV- May 5, 1862
  • Brigadier General USA- September 20, 1862
  • Major General USA- March 13, 1865

Major Commands:

  • Brigade, Division of the Potomac (August - October 3, 1861)
  • Division, Army of the Potomac (October 3, 1861 -March 13, 1862)
  • 2nd Division, III Corps, Army of the Potomac (March 13 - September 5, 1862)
  • III Corps, Army of Virginia (September 6-12, 1862)
  • I Corps, Army of the Potomac (September 12-17, 1862)
  • V Corps, Army of the Potomac (November 10-16, 1862)
  • Center Grand Division, Army of the Potomac (November 16, 1862-January 26, 1863)
  • Department and Army of the Potomac (January 26 - June 28, 1863)
  • XI and XII Corps, Army of the Cumberland (September 25 - April 14, 1863)
  • XX Corps, Army of the Cumberland (April 14 - July 28, 1864)
  • Northern Department (October 1, 1864 - June 27, 1865)
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