Hooker prepares for battle

Lincoln appointed Hooker as the new leader of the Union's main army of the East with some reluctance. Hooker had made public state ments suggesting that he did not have a high opinion of the president, and many people believed that he had been disloyal to Burnside over the previous few months. Nonetheless, Lin-

coin viewed Hooker as a "a brave and skillful soldier" who could help restore battered Union morale.

Lincoln's faith in Hooker's ability to improve the Army of the Potomac's confidence and fighting spirit paid off. Hooker made sure that his troops were well fed, and he instituted a number of changes that improved his soldiers' health and the conditions in which they lived. He also boosted morale by displaying unwavering confidence in his own abilities. For example, at one point he reportedly said, "May God have mercy on General Lee, for I will have none." By April, when Hooker led a massive Union Army of more than 130,000 troops in a new offensive against Lee, the Army of the Potomac's new commander had become immensely popular with his men.

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