New Leader for Union's Army of the Potomac
This week 150 years ago in the Civil War, Joseph Hooker was sacked as
commander of the Union's Army of the Potomac, replaced by George G.
Meade. Hooker had served only months in the leadership post, promoted
there by President Abraham Lincoln in January 1863 in place of Maj. Gen.
Ambrose Burnside after Burnside's disastrous stint at the helm. Hooker
was felled by infighting despite his deft moves to reorganize the Union
army and better supply it with arms and rations for the fighting still
ahead. But his undoing began at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Va., in
early May 1863 when Confederate Robert E. Lee outsmarted and divided a
far larger Union force, seizing a key victory. Only days ahead, Meade
would meet and defeat Lee at the historic Battle of Gettysburg in July
1863. Already there were ominous signs that Lee's invasion of the North
was on track. The Associated Press reported in a dispatch June 21, 1863,
that Confederate cavalry had captured a number of horses near
Hagerstown, Md., and that some 6,000 Confederate troops were on the
northern side of the Potomac River. A second AP dispatch this week
reports "rebels, in heavy force, were advancing on Pittsburg(h), Pa." In
fact, Lee had been moving forces forward for days, poised to redirect
fighting away from war-ravaged Virginia to the North — moving within
potential striking distance of several Northern cities that also
included Philadelphia and Baltimore.