Hooker and the army of the Potomac.
The unfortunate course of events during the early winter of 1862-63 had resulted in a grievous loss of morale in the Army of the Potomac. The useless slaughter of Marye’s Heights was, after a few weeks, succeeded by that most huge of all strategic jokes, the Mud March; and Gen. Burnside retired from a position he had never sought, to the satisfaction, and, be it said to his credit, with the warm personal regard, of all. Sumner, whom the weight of years had robbed of strength, but not of gallantry, was relieved at his own request; Franklin was shelved. Hooker thus became senior general officer, and succeeded to the command.
No man enjoyed a more enviable reputation in the Army of the Potomac. He had forced himself upon its notice. From Bull Run, after which action he is said to have remarked to Mr. Lincoln that he knew more than any one on that field; through Williamsburg, where he so gallantly held his own against odds during the entire day, and with exhausted ammunition, until relieved by Kearney; before Richmond; during the Seven Days; in the railroad-cutting at Manassas; at Antietam, where he forced the fighting with so much determination, if not wisdom, on the Union right; up to Fredericksburg, where, after a personal protest to his commanding officer, he went in and fought his troops “until he thought he had lost as many men as he was ordered to lose,”—Hooker’s character as man and soldier had been marked. His commands so far had been limited; and he had a frank, manly way of winning the hearts of his soldiers. He was in constant motion about the army while it lay in camp; his appearance always attracted attention; and he was as well known to almost every regiment as its own commander. He was a representative man.