A Major General Joseph Hooker was to earn command of the Army of the Potomac after McClellan was dismissed, in large part because of his aggressive attacks at Antietam, as I Corps commander, which opened the battle.
► Major General Ambrose Burnside allowed his command to become entangled at the bridge that thereafter forever would bear his name, and failed to hit the Confederate Army at the same time as other commands were attacking along the line.
would not shake this confidence; indeed, the caution McClellan displayed and for which he has been criticized by generations of historians accounted for some of his popularity. Captain Charles Francis Adams, of the 1st Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry, commented with perceptive insight upon McClellan's removal from command of the Army of the Potomac following the Maryland Campaign: 'We believed in him, not as a brilliant commander, but as a prudent one and one who was gradually learning how to handle our immense army, and now a new man must learn and he must learn by his own mistakes and in the blood of the army.' The Army of the Potomac was very much 'McClellan's Army' in the first two years of the war.
Of the the corps commanders at Antietam, the actions of those at each flank were to have sirnificant repercussions on the course of the battle.
On the right flank, Federal I Corps was commanded by Joseph Hooker (1814-79), an 1837 graduate of the United States Military Academy, who had served in the Mexican War before resigning in 16
1853 to farm. He offered his services at the beginning of the Civil War, commanding a brigade, a division and eventually a corps with credit. Hooker was flamboyant, aggressive and ambitious. He made good newspaper copy, the reporters tagged him 'Fighting Joe' during the Peninsular Campaign, and although he would fail as an army commander during the May 1863 Chancellorsville Campaign, he displayed competence at Lookout Mountain in November 1863 and displayed consistently sound tactical ability while commanding XX Corps in the Army of the Cumberland during Sherman's 1864 Atlanta Campaign.
It was rumoured that Hooker drank to excess and that he liked the ladies. Hooker acquired quite a reputation for personal immorality early in the War, causing one well brought up Massachusetts officer serving on his staff to reply to his sister's request that she be allowed to visit him during the winter, 'General Hooker's headquarters is a place that no lady could visit with propriety.' The newspaper reporters jokingly suggested that the large numbers
of prostitutes flocking to Washington in 1861 constituted 'Hooker's Division'. It is a name that has stuck to street walkers ever since. Joe Hooker was perhaps not a man one might introduce to polite society at a fashionable dinner on Beacon Hill in Boston, but he was the man McClellan trusted with commencing the destruction of Lee's Army. It would prove a difficult task.
At the other end of the Federal line would stand the Federal IX Corps, under the command of Ambrose Everett Burnside (1824-81). He was an 1847 graduate of the United States Military Academy, and a veteran of the war with Mexico. Burnside left the regular army in 1857 to manufacture a breech-loading carbine of his own invention. He led the 1st Rhode Island Volunteers at First Manassas and engineered the successful occupation of the Outer Banks coastal area of North Carolina. Burnside's North Carolina expedition in the early months of 1862 produced victories for the North at Roanoke Island, Fort Macon, and at New Berne. It also secured valuable anchorages for the Federal blockading fleet, staging areas for future assaults on southern railroad lines supplying Virginia, and would succeed in denying much of North Carolina to the Confederacy for the remainder of the War. Burnside secured for himself a reputation as a successful independent commander, and he looked the part. 'I have seen old Burnside,' wrote Harrison Woodford of the 16th Connecticut to his sister Mattie, 'He is a stern resolute looking man.'
In a similar fashion to the Federal Army of the Potomac, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia became 'Lee's Army' in the minds of many following the assumption of command by Robert E. Lee after the wounding of General Joseph E. Johnston on the first day (31 May 1862), of the engagement of Seven Pines or Fair Oaks. Lee directed next a series of offensive battles known as the Seven Days, designed to drive McClellan's Army of the Potomac away from Richmond. He then defeated John Pope's Army of Virginia in a convincing fashion in the Second Manassas Campaign. The officers and men of the Army of Northern Virginia quickly developed supreme confidence in Lee's leadership abilities. Robert E. Lee received intense loyalty from his army, but Lee also received from his men what few generals experience - an emotional devotion to his person.
Robert Edward Lee was born 19 January 1807 into one of Virginia's most aristocratic families. His father, Henry 'Light Horse Harry' Lee (1756— 1818), was a famous continental cavalry officer during the American Revolution, one of the members of the first American Congress and eventually governor of Virginia. Robert Lee entered West Point in 1825 and graduated second in his class in 1829 without receiving a single demerit for conduct deficiencies. He served in the corps of engineers constructing coastal fortifications and served on Winfield Scott's staff during the 1847 drive on Mexico City. Lee won three brevet promotions in Mexico and a reputation as one of the most able officers in the entire army. He served as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point between 1852 and 1855. His superintendency is regarded as one of the most suc-
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