October 29, 1863: Grant wants Hooker out

Joseph Hooker

Charles Dana reports that Hooker’s stubbornness is endangering his troops, and Grant wants to get rid of him.

Official Records:


Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
CHATTANOOGA, October 29, 1863-9 a.m.

On reaching the mouth of Lookout Valley yesterday afternoon, Hooker encamped Howard’s corps at the west base of the range of five mamelons or hills occupied and fortified by General Smith, while he encamped Geary’s division at Wauhatchie, fully 2 1/2 miles distant. These positions not only invited attack from the enemy, who could see everything from the top of Lookout Mountain, but were very bad for the defense of the valley, and General Hazen, commanding the forces on the mamelons, went to General Hooker and endeavored to get him to take up a compact line across the valley, and to bring all his forces together. But being confident the enemy would not disturb him, Hooker refused to change his dispositions. The consequence was that about 12 p.m. rebels fell upon Geary, seeking to crush and capture him before succor could be brought up. The moonlight was almost as bright as day, and Geary having strong pickets out got timely warning. The fight was very furious. Howard, marching to the relief of Geary, was heavily struck in the flank, but his corps behaved splendidly, and finally effected its junction with Geary. The enemy was successfully repulsed, and withdrew at 4 a.m. Our loss in killed is reported as small, but we had many wounded. No further details yet received. Two brigades from here have gone this morning to support Hooker, and Grant and Thomas are now there. The mamelons are also occupied by the brigades of Hazen and Turchin, temporarily under Smith.

No part of Palmer’s division has yet got across the Tennessee, it having proved impossible to move the pontoon brigade above Shellmound, while Palmer had marched to Rankin’s Ferry. This force will, however, join Hooker to-night, making in all 25,000 men in Lookout Valley. Prisoners report Longstreet’s whole corps there. Hooker is hard at work intrenching. No news from enemy up river.

[C. A. DANA.]

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Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
CHATTANOOGA, October 29, 1863-1 p.m.

General Grant desires me to request for him that Lieutenant Colonel J. H. Wilson, of his staff, captain of Engineers, be appointed brigadier-general of volunteers. Grant wants him to command cavalry, for which he possesses uncommon qualifications. Knowing Wilson thoroughly, I heartily indorse the application.

Grant also wishes to have both Hooker and Slocum removed from his command, and the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps consolidated under Howard. He would himself order Hooker and Slocum away, but hesitates because they have just been sent here by the President. Besides, I think he would rather prefer that so serious a proceeding should come from headquarters. Hooker has behaved badly ever since his arrival, and Slocum has just sent in a very disorderly communication, stating that when he came here it was under promise that he should not have to serve under Hooker, whom he neither regards with confidence as an officer nor respects as a man. Altogether Grant feels that their presence here is replete with both trouble and danger; besides, the smallness of the two corps requires their consolidation, and even after that it will be necessary to add troops to make the numbers of the new consolidated corps respectable.

[C. A. DANA.]

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