Friday, October 31, 2008

Warning: Command of the Army of the Potomac May Lead to an Early Death

It was on this date, 129 years ago, that Union Major General Joseph Hooker passed away, just two weeks shy of his sixty-fifth birthday.
Although it was the late nineteenth century and the average life expectancy wasn't what it is today, 64 was still rather young. Perhaps his early demise had something to do with his tenure in command of the Army of the Potomac. . .
Let's take a closer look.
George McClellan, who organized and twice led the AoP, died in 1885. . .at the age of 58.
When Ambrose Burnside died in 1881, he was only in his fifty-seventh year.
George Meade was the first AoP commanders to go. He died in 1872, at age 56.
And what about Grant? OK, so he didn't technically have sole command of the AoP, but still, when he died in 1885 he was 63.
And while were on the topic, let's look at Irvin McDowell. The army he led at 1st Bull Run was not yet titled the AoP, but for all intents and purposes it was close enough. When he died in 1885, he was 66.
And finally there was John Pope, commander of the Army of Virginia + some AoP units at 2nd Bull Run. He fared better than his compatriots, at least in terms of longevity. . .he died in 1892 at the ripe old age of 70.
So perhaps there was something about leading this army that caused an early demise. Maybe it was having to put up with Lincoln. . .or Robert E. Lee.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Lee had something to with it or maybe it was all of the bacon they ate.

John C. Nicholas

Harry said...


IrVIN McDowell, John, IrVIN!


John David Hoptak said...

Harry. . .
My bad.