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John A. Carpenter is a graduate of Harvard and of Columbia University, where he received his Ph.D. under Allan Nevins. He is currently a professor at Mount Vernon Junior College, Washington , D. C, wliere he teaches American and Modern European History. O. O. Howard: General at Chancellorsville JOHN A. CARPENTER one of the prominent civil war GENEBALS on the Union side was Oliver Otis Howard. Though today largely forgotten by all but the experts, he deserves greater recognition than he has received for his services in the West under Grant and Sherman during the last year and a half of the war. The most dramatic events of his career surround his participation in the two battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. At the one he had the misfortune of being in command of the Eleventh Corps on the right of the Union line, that portion of the line which received the brunt of Stonewall Jackson's famous attack; at the other he commanded the Union forces during much of the fighting on July 1, 1863, the first day of the battle. Howard, a native of Maine and a member of the class of 1854 at West Point, had quickly risen from the colonelcy of a regiment of Maine volunteers in June, 1861, to the rank of major general in command of an army corps in March, 1863. His strong religious bent, which carried over into his daily life, made him a somewhat unusual figure among the officers of General Joseph Hooker's Army of the Potomac. His empty right sleeve was the result of a severe wound at the Battle of Fair Oaks the year before in the Peninsular Campaign. Howard's command, the Eleventh Corps, was comparatively new to the Army of the Potomac, and Howard was new to the Corps. There was little time for mutual understanding in the few weeks that passed between Howard's accession to command and the opening of the campaign. Besides, the large number of Germans, GermanAmericans , and other foreigners in the ranks of the Corps set it apart from the rest of the Army. Howard was going to have a difficult time in getting 47 48JOHN A. CARPKNTEK his command in shape forthe spring campaign. His rather naive confidence in being able to do so and the suspicion which greeted him as a newcomer did not augur well. Still, the prospects of success for the Army as a whole were good, and the people of the North believed that this time the luckless Army of the Potomac could not fail. The Army was large, well equipped and, it was thought, well led. The country expected great things from Fighting Joe Hooker. Hooker kept his plans to himself; only gradually did they unfold. An indication of what they might be came on April 13 when Hooker ordered Howard to send a brigade some thirty miles up the Rappahannock to Kelly's Ford.1 As late as the 24th, the Army still had not moved, and Howard wrote to his wife at home in Maine: ... it has begun to rain again hard, patter patter on my tent driven by a north west wind .... The rains thus far have hindered the possibility of moving effectively , but I believe Gen Hooker has kept a large force of the enemy opposite—& caused them of late to reinforce. All this answers every purpose, if provisions are running as low as it is claimed in the rebel country. . . . Harry Stinson2 with CoI [Adolph] Bushbeck's German Brigade is still up at Kelly's ford.3 It was a beautiful morning, warm and spring-like, on the 25th,4 and Hooker could now issue orders for the advance. He still kept his plans veiled in secrecy but dropped a hint as to what they might be in a confidential telegram to Howard sent by his adjutant: The Maj. Gen'l Comdg directs me to inform you that your Brigade at Kelly's Ford will want knapsacks and complete equipment with eight days rations in knapsacks & Haversacks as heretofore directed in circular as early as Tuesday noon [April 28] .... I am also directed to inform you confidentially for your own information...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 47-63
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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