Joseph Hooker Statue
In front the Massachusetts State House in Boston sits a statue of General Joseph Hooker. He was portrayed to be dressed in his combat uniform while sitting on a horse. This statue was funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to honor its native son, Joseph Hooker, for his numerous achievement during the Civil War. It was a collective effort by the famous sculptors Daniel Chester French and Edward C. Potter in 1903. Now serving as a popular landmark, the statue is open to the public.
Backstory and Context
After graduating from West Point, Hooker was assigned to the 1st U.S. Artillery during the 2nd Seminole War. Later when Mexican American War started in 1846, Hooker joined the force as a staff officer where he developed his leadership skills and experience. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel because of his bravery and boldness during the battles of Monterrey, National Bridge, and Chapultepec (all within the Spanish-American War).After the war ended, Hooker resigned from military and decided to pursue a farming career. Yet, he struggled and made several attempts to go back to the military. When the Civil War broke out, Hooker saw an opportunity. He appealed to President Lincoln in a letter that highlighted his qualifications and plan of action for the army. President Lincoln was impressed by Hooker's persistence and ambition. He commented:
"He had the air of a man of sense and intelligence, who thoroughly believed in himself. I was impressed. . . . In every position in which he has been put, General Hooker has equaled the expectations which his self-confidence excited."5
A month later, Hooker was appointed as a brigadier general under the service of General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac in Washington, D.C. Contrary to McClellan's conservative strategy, Hooker was eager to adopt more aggressive actions. He started by involving himself in the Peninsula Campaign where the Union Army try to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond from the southeast. At this very campaign, Hooker earned the name of “Fighting Joe” as he courageously led the army into the Battle of Williamsburg and the subsequent Seven Days Battles. As a result, he was promoted to Major General of Volunteers.
In September of 1862, Hooker obtained a command of a grand division in the Army of Potomac. At the Battle of South Mountain, he led his corps in the Union victory. In addition, his corps also initiated the first attack during the stalemate at the Battle of Antietam. After numerous successes under his leadership, Hooker gained more control of the army. Meanwhile, McClellan was relieved of the commander position and replaced by General Ambrose Burnside. Coincidentally, Hooker's tactics also varied greatly from the new commander. During the Battle of Fredericksburg, Hooker's army suffered mass casualties due to General Burnside's caution. Thus, General Burnside was forced out of the position and President Lincoln appointed Hooker as the new commander of the Army of Potomac.
In this role, General Hooker boosted the morale of the troops and eliminating corruption. He introduced a series of changes into the daily lives of the troops including dietary routines, sanitation improvements, hospital reforms, and the quartermaster system. He even appointed a new system of badges for the different corps. General Hooker became very popular in the army as he led his army to a series of successes at Gettysburg. At some point, General Hooker even claimed that he created “the finest Army on the Planet.” Prior to his arrival, the Army of Potomac was severely unmotivated under the leadership of several inefficient commanders. General Hooker had led the troops to many victories under his strategic planning. He was able to transform an unmotivated army into an efficient of "100,000 well-drilled infantry, 1200 well-equipped cavalry, and 400 well-oiled guns."5
General Hooker achieved many great accomplishments during the Civil War that led to the creation of the statue. Hooker’s courageous actions served as an example for many future army leaders. Thus, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts decided to honor this particular Boston native in the form of a statue in front of the State House.
2. History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/joseph-hooker.
3. Sybil Ludington - Carmel, NY - Statues of Historic Figures on Waymarking.com, www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM7CR8_Joseph_Hooker__Boston_MA.
4. Acitelli, Tom. “25 Boston-Area Military Memorials and Monuments, Mapped.” Curbed Boston, Curbed Boston, 7 Nov. 2017, boston.curbed.com/maps/boston-military-memorials-map.
5. “Milton H. Shutes • 'Fighting Joe' Hooker - CalHSQ 16:304‑320 (1937).” Arch of Augustus, penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Journals/CalHSQ/16/4/Fighting_Joe_Hooker*.html.
6. “‘Joseph Hooker.’” PROCLAMATION Information, www.yeodoug.com/resources/dc_french/hooker/dcfrench_hooker.html.