2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
The Battle of Chancellorsville - April 1863
Union Major General Joseph Hooker

Major General Joseph Hooker
Following the Northern catastrophe that was the Battle of Fredericksburg, commanding General Ambrose E. Burnside tendered his resignation. In his place, President Abraham Lincoln would appoint the ambitious and confident Union Major General Joseph Hooker. Now in command of the Army of the Potomac, General "Fighting Joe" Hooker set about reorganizing the demoralized Army of the Potomac. In an unexpectedly short time, he would do just that, as the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and their foes in blue exchanged mutual glares over the previous December's battleground. Months passed and the April sun now warmed a countryside bursting with new life. The spring campaign season had arrived and called for action. General Hooker planned to launch a daring offensive to crush the Southern Army. He would order his comparatively larger force to divide, leaving Major General John Sedgwick's 6th Corps facing the Southerners at Fredericksburg as most of General Hooker's remaining forces swung around General Lee's left flank. Swiftly crossing the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers to the northwest and rear of the Southern lines, he predicted either defeat or retreat for General Lee as the two parts of his force crushed the men in gray between them. Supremely confident, he would boast, "My plans are perfect."

General Hooker's men would share his enthusiasm and confidence, at least initially. Major General Daniel Edgar Sickles, commander of the Union's 3rd Corps, would write in his official report,

"Accompanying the general-in-chief at sunrise on Saturday (May 2, 1863) in a tour of inspection along our lines on the right flank, I found General Birney, who had also brought up Graham's brigade and Clark's, Randolph's, and Turnbull's batteries, making his dispositions with admirable discernment and skill, holding the crest along Scott's Run, from the farm-house on the left toward Dowdall's Tavern. It is impossible to pass over without mention the irrepressible enthusiasm of the troops for Major-General Hooker, which was evinced in hearty and prolonged cheers as he rode along the lines of the Third, Eleventh, and Twelfth Corps." [9]