It was on this date of June 27 in 1863 that General Joe Hooker offered his resignation as the commander of the Army of the Potomac, and it was accepted.

Both armies were moving north in the latter part of June – the Confederates crossing the Potomac at Williamsport and Sheperdstown, while the Federals moved in a parallel fashion much closer to Washington. Just as many Confederates were shocked at the sight of corpses protruding from the shallow graves while crossing the Antietam Battlefield, some Union men experienced the same grim sights while passing over the grounds at Manassas.

General Hooker faced many complications. He needed to reshuffle regiments and brigades as multiple units had their time of enlistment expire. As with the Confederates, the season alternated between scorching heat and incredible downpours, creating equal-opportunity miseries. The exact nature of Lee’s plans and movements remained a mystery, though it was known his troops were surely stretched out over a great distance. Lincoln, employing one of his colorful word pictures, said that “the animal must be very slim somewhere.”

A variety of circumstances may have worked to avert a “2nd Antietam.”  Hooker had a thought process of combining a number of forces in the area of Frederick and moving them west to attack the columns of Lee’s advance somewhere near Antietam in Washington County. A key to this would be the release into his command of the roughly 10,000 disparate troops now gathered in Harpers Ferry. Lincoln’s words in response to this idea certainly were affirmative, saying “it gives you back the chance that I thought McClellan lost last fall.”george meade

But again, as always, personalities, infighting, and lack of trust and confidence intervened. Halleck believed Hooker’s interests in gaining the Harpers Ferry troops were simply to swell his numbers rather than accomplish and objective of attacking Lee. And so Halleck sent orders to the command in Harpers Ferry to pay no attention to Hooker. And it was on this date that Formerly Fighting Joe rode into Harpers Ferry, realized the situation at hand, and by early evening telegraphed his resignation to Halleck. Within 30 minutes, Lincoln said to accept it.

Though certain portions of the army and officers would hope to see the return of George McClellan, it was another George who would be the next man up. George Meade was age 47 when command of the Army of the Potomac fell upon him. He would have but days to prepare for the mother of all battles of the American Civil War … at a crossroads town called Gettysburg.

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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