Whatever ambition he may have had to command armies, it did not prevent his cheerfully serving his country under junior officers, giving them faithful support, and his record shows no instance of his removal from command by his superiors.
Here in his native State, amid the homes of so many of his old brigade, the survivors of the Third Army Corps, all witnesses of his genius, valor, and devotion to duty, indorse his record as a soldier, as a gentleman, and as a patriot, and sincerely believe that history will assign to Major-Gen. Joseph Hooker a place among the greatest commanders of the late civil war.
The italics are mine. “One of the most noted tactical victories of modern times,” applied to Chancellorsville, is refreshing. Equally so is the exultant claim that “we inflicted on the enemy losses at least equal to our own.” The infliction of loss on the enemy has always been understood by military men to be an incident rather than the object of war.
The following reply in “The Boston Herald” of April 11, 1886, explains itself:—
In the call for the meeting of the Third Corps Gettysburg Re-union Association, held at Music Hall on Fast Day, was the following clause:—
“Loyalty to the memory of our beloved commander, Major-Gen. Joseph Hooker, makes it a duty, on this occasion, to protest against unjust and uncalled-for criticisms on his military record as commander of the Army of the Potomac.”
It having been intimated to me by some old brother officers of the Third Corps, that my late Lowell lecture on Chancellorsville was the occasion of this proposed protest, I wrote to the chairman of the committee which called the meeting, asking for an opportunity to reply to this protest, within such bounds as even-handedness and the purposes of the meeting would allow. The committee answered that it could not see the propriety of turning the occasion into a public debate, and referred me to the press. I do not object to their decision, made, no doubt, upon what appeared to them sufficient grounds; but as the occasion was turned into a public debate—one-sided, to be sure—I ask you for space, to reply in your valued columns.