Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 25, 1863 (Sunday): Change In Command

General Edwin Vose Sumner


Numbers 20.
Washington, January 25, 1863. 

I. The President of the United States had directed:
1. That Major General A. E. Burnside, at this own request, be relieved from command of the Army of the potomac.
2. That Major General E. V. Sumner, at his own request, be relieved from duty in the Army of the Potomac.
3. That Major General W. B. Franklin be relieved from duty in the Army of the Potomac.
4. That Major General J. Hooker be assigned to the command of the Army of the Potomac.
II. The officers relieved as above will report in person to the Adjutant-General of the Army.
    By order of the Secretary of War:

    Assistant Adjutant-General.

January 25, 1863.
Major General JOSEPH HOOKER,
Commanding, &c.:
    GENERAL: The President directs me to say that he wishes an interview with you at the Executive mansion as early as possible.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    H. W. HALLECK,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Page 3.

Lincoln decided to change commanders after Burnside made his extraordinary request to sack several of his top generals for going behind his back to the administration.  Burnside had not wanted the job to begin with and acquiesced in his "resignation" without regret.  Sumner resigned due to his disillusionment with the quarreling in the Army of the Potomac, and would die of a heart attack in New York in March on his way to a new command in Missouri.  Franklin was fired, in no small part due to the efforts of Republicans on the Committee on the Conduct of the War.  He would play a small part in the Red River Campaign in 1864 (where he was wounded), be captured (and escape the next day) by Jubal Early's men during the Monocacy Campaign,  and finish the war "awaiting orders".  The choice of Hooker was perhaps the only play left on the board.  He was a schemer, played the political game well, but was also a competent general (although the record of the Chancellorsville Campaign would challenge that assumption).

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