Wherein we search for something likable about the new commanding general
George McClellan was beloved by his men and officers, even after he was dismissed in disgrace, and some modern writers have gone out of their way to lionize him. Joe Hooker, after losing Chancellorsville, went on to be a hero at Lookout Mountain, and has an equestrian statue right in front of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. Ambrose Burnside and Irvin McDowell both suffered major failures, but continued to serve afterwards and maintained the respect of their peers for awhile, and still have their apologists today. Even George Meade is finally experiencing a renaissance as people begin to recognize his significant role in winning the war under the shadow of Grant.
But the one man with no vocal defenders is John Pope. He first drifts into our scope in the last week of June 1862 and will be gone again by September 1862, the shortest time of any of the major subjects of this blog, but in that time he will do more than perhaps any man but Robert E. Lee to extend the life of the Confederacy and the war to sustain it for at least an additional year. Who was this man and how was he so universally disliked and somehow still remains a footnote of history?
GENERAL ORDERS No. 7
Headquarters, Army of Virginia
Washington, July 10, 1862
On July 10, 1862, two weeks to the day since the new Army of Virginia was created for him to command, Maj. General John Pope issued his seventh general order from his headquarters in Washington, a brick building nearby the War Department [points for any reader that can find its location amidst the search results with the old saw about his headquarters in the saddle]. More than any of his other orders, some of which were even more controversial, General Order No. 7 epitomized John Pope and everything that made him the unpopular figure he was.
Both Pope's mother and father came from distinguished families. His mother's line was old New England aristocracy (one had founded Hartford, Connecticut), and his father's was from the Kentucky ruling class. His namesake, an uncle, had succeeded Henry Clay as Senator for that state, and his brother Nathaniel--our John Pope's father--had moved to the territory of Illinois and represented it in Congress, helping it achieve statehood. Having cast his lot with Clay's Whigs, Nathaniel was swept out of office by the Jackson's Democrats, but secured a position as Illinois' only Federal district judge. It was in this position that the elder Pope became very fond of the young lawyer Abraham Lincoln, though he was tougher on him in court because of it.
While the judge took on the role of father-figure for the ramshackle lawyer from Springfield, his real son was living large in Mexico. Pope had been trained as an engineer at West Point (he graduated 17th in his class of 56--the same class that James Longstreet graduated an abysmal 54th). On the strength of his academics (though his father would have disagreed 17th was strong) he was able to become a topographical engineer.
When war broke out, John Pope had found himself one of the fortunate few topographical engineers assigned to Zachary Taylor's army on the Mexican border. He enjoyed his months on the border, being amused by the fits of his mercurial commander, Major Joseph K. Mansfield by day, and indulging in his corpulent appetite for food, booze, and sex by night--all of which there was plenty. While most regular officers condemned the depredations of the volunteers in the Mexican War (e.g. McClellan), Pope appears to have thoroughly enjoyed them.
But he loved battle more, and in the two major ones he took part in, Monterrey, and Buena Vista, Pope played key roles that even won the approval of the normally disapproving Mansfield. He also earned himself a brevet to captain, and a spot on the surveying team to map the new territory the United States had secured through the war. But the next decade didn't lead to the promising glory of command that the war seemed to promise it would.
First, like another engineer he would perpetually be compared to, George McClellan, Pope's penchant for editorializing in reports and communicating with powerful politicians outside of the army chain of command led to a series of poor relationships with commanding officers. He and Colonel Joseph E. Johnston, his commander in Texas, disliked each other so much, that Pope arranged a trade (easily, Texas was the most popular frontier station) to wind up in the much less pleasant posting of New Mexico. It wound up being his one happy assignment in the interval, and he learned much from Colonel Edwin Sumner, the one commanding officer who seemed to really like Pope in his whole career. It helped that Pope's polemics and out-of-chain communications never tried to undermine Sumner.
But it was Pope's stationing in Cincinnati that really stoked his interest in politics and the power of the capital city. One of his father's friends and political allies, Salmon P. Chase, had built the heart of the Ohio Republican Party there, and Pope found himself swept up in the spirit. Vehemently anti-slavery and in the profession of building internal improvement (today we'd call it "investment in infrastructure"), the Republican Party spoke deeply to Pope--it helped that they were growing strong enough to take on the Democrats, who Pope hated deeply as the ungrateful lot that had ousted his father. It helped even more that his new father-in-law represented Cincinnati in Congress as one of those first Republicans.
So when then-Captain Pope sat in Cincinnati designing lighthouses for the Great Lakes and New England in the winter of late 1860, his thoughts frequently drifted to the politics of his new friends and their take on the Charleston secession convention. Unlike many of them (including his father-in-law, who would attempt a last minute peace negotiation in 1861), Pope welcomed war, and was confident at the North's ability to prevail--so much so, that he took up pen to write one of his famous ranting letters to his father's old favorite, now the president-elect.
The major theme of his correspondence was that Secessionists were criminals, and ought to be punished severely. What Lincoln, who at the time advocated gentleness and reconciliation with the South, thought of the presumptuous letter from the son of a similarly blustery judge he formerly worked with, isn't known. But he did invite the captain to join him as part of his official escort to the nation's capital. Pope jumped at the opportunity to share all his thoughts on the long journey, and certainly did so after he met up with the party in Indianapolis. When the train came back through Cincinnati, Pope used his new celebrity to deliver a major address to his Republican friends--one in which he got carried away and accused outgoing-President Buchanan of cowardice and maybe treason.
By the time Lincoln's party reached Washington, the War Department had read it, and within a week a court-martial waited for Captain Pope at its offices. Buchanan himself, in either an act of compassion or in deference to a member of the new president-elect's official party, ordered the charges dropped. Pope saw it not as clemency, but as a sign of new political clout and set himself up to stay, devoting himself to lobbying incoming Secretary of War Simon Cameron for a plum position (at one point, he asked to be named Lincoln's personal military secretary). When the war against the treacherous Southerners began, John Pope was determined that he would be the one to wield justice's sword.
The people of the valley of the Shenandoah and throughout the region of operations of this army living along the lines of railroad and telegraph and along the routes of travel in rear of the United States forces are notified that they will be held responsible for any injury lone to the track, line, or road, or for any attacks upon trains or straggling soldiers by bands of guerrillas in their neighborhood. No privileges and immunities of warfare apply to lawless bands of individuals not forming part of the organized forces of the enemy nor wearing the garb of soldiers, who, seeking and obtaining safety on pretext of being peaceful citizens, steal out in rear of the army, attack and murder straggling soldiers, molest trains of supplies, destroy railroads, telegraph lines, and bridges, and commit outrages disgraceful to civilized people and revolting to humanity. Evil-disposed persons in rear of our armies who do not themselves engage directly in these lawless acts encourage them by refusing to interfere or to give any information by which such acts can be prevented or the perpetrators punished.
Two weeks after South Carolinians fired on Fort Sumter, Captain John Pope sat in Springfield, Illinois, scrutinizing the ragtag band of men in front of him. What they lacked in appearance and military bearing, they made up for in enthusiasm. Captain Pope did not mirror their buoyancy. The men numbered over a hundred, but when Captain Pope was done there'd be closer to seventy. They were volunteers from one of the nearby counties, come to Springfield to become the soldiers for Union, and Pope's assignment was to eliminate any that couldn't pass muster--literally, they were mustering and Pope was supposed to pass or fail each man based on their age and physical fitness.
When Fort Sumter fell, Pope had given up his pursuit of a post in Washington and decided glory lay in leading his home state's militia. He immediately requested leave from the Army in order to return and the War Department granted it promptly (perhaps, in Cameron's case at least, gladly). But rather than give Pope a regiment to lead, the governor asked him to muster the companies into service, which meant equipping them, supervising their internal organization, and assigning them to a regiment. It also included pulling from the ranks anyone not fit for service, a task about which the portly Pope apparently was especially zealous. Pope was responsible for patching together the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiments, all in a two week period.
But Pope wanted more. Recognizing that others had beat him to the command of the regiments, he used all his political contacts in Illinois and Ohio to lobby the War Department in Washington for an appointment to general in the Regular Army, a position he presumed would do the real fighting in command of Regulars. Lincoln seemed inclined to grant it, but his cabinet stood in the way of almost any promotions. Pope remained a captain, but was given the consolation prize of brigadier general of Volunteers, a grade that he believed was worthless since it only lasted for the duration of what he assumed would be a short war. Deeply insulted, he again scrawled off imprudent letters accusing the president of perfidy, including one that only barely fell short of that claim to Lincoln himself.
A few men had received Regular Army generalships, including a former captain of engineers who was reentering the Army from civilian life, George McClellan. McClellan was made a major general in the Regular Army, thanks to the influence of Pope's friend Salmon Chase, and now commanded the Department of the Ohio, including the state of Illinois. McClellan sent Brig. General Pope to command six Illinois regiments stationed north of St. Louis. He arrived just in time for the beginning of Missouri's wild wartime history.
Missouri's governor and the commander of its militia had declared for the Confederacy and absconded with the State's treasury, its public records, and much of its militia equipment. Brig. General Nathaniel Lyon, the Federal defender of St. Louis, promptly left the city with nearly all his troops to chase them. The deeply divided city threatened to burst into chaos, and its loyalist inhabitants begged Pope to secure it for the Union. Now part of a newly created Department of the West, Pope tried to reach his new commander, Maj. General John C. Fremont (another of the few lucky enough to receive a Regular Army promotion), but he was in New York City and unacquainted with the situation, so Pope marched his men in on his own authority and secured the city.
Loyalties were slippery in Missouri, split between anti-slavery Republicans, pro-Union Democrats, and out-and-out secessionists, making protection of St. Louis's critical rail lines a difficult knot to untangle. Pope hit upon a novel solution that appealed to his sense of justice--assign each part of each rail line to civilians collectively without regards to sect and hold them entirely responsible for its protection and continued service. It worked, and Fremont was only too happy to confirm Pope's initiative and make him defender of the city when he arrived.
But Pope was not just defending St. Louis, he was waging an offensive of correspondence at the same time. The target this time was Republican Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull [who--for regular readers of this blog--had ousted the Democrat James Shields]. Pope wanted Trumbull to lobby Lincoln to create an all-Illinois unit on the entirely fictitious grounds that non-Illinoisan generals were giving odious behind-the-lines work to the men from the president's state. Pope didn't even hide that he was proposing to command this corps, a position he said required the rank of major general in the Regular Army, and promised to lead it down the Mississippi to subjugate the South.
While Pope planned his march to New Orleans, things had gotten out of hand in northern Missouri. Volunteer soldiers were carrying out atrocities against the local population without regard to politics or color, and Secessionists were stepping up sabotage and guerrilla attacks. Now responsible for the entirety of the northern area, Pope assigned Colonel Ulysses S. Grant of the 21st Illinois to a particularly troubled area to restore order. It worked too well, and Fremont transferred Grant south to Cape Girardeau to bring order to the southeast. The partisan warfare and atrocities got worse, and Pope decided that he would invoke collective punishment on local jurisdictions. The Unionist and Secessionist populations alike cried out to Fremont, who, blaming Pope for his men's bad behavior and ineffectiveness, promptly revoked Pope's orders and set about establishing the security regime himself. Pope flew into a rage and began firing off missives about his commanding officer again, blaming Fremont's timidity for the failure of his security scheme.
Pope made use of his political connections to send a steady stream of critical reports back to Washington about Fremont. When Fremont gathered his troops together to form an army intended to take on the Confederate army in southern Missouri, Pope sent detailed criticisms of his plans back to Washington. The recurring theme among them was that Fremont was too timid and unsure of how to lead men. As it became more and more obvious that Fremont had lost favor in the Lincoln administration, Pope became bolder, and openly turned his cutting sarcasm on his superior in councils of war. Finally, to Pope's great delight, Fremont was supplanted by Maj. General Henry Halleck, who pledged to give him a semi-independent command to lead aggressively against the southern army.
If Pope had thought Fremont was timid, he was little prepared for Halleck. Almost immediately, Halleck began denying Pope's requests for aggressive movements, in order to maintain a strong defense. Finally, Halleck split up his army, and Pope took a leave of absence for the winter to be with his wife, who was in a difficult first pregnancy. He spent his time lambasting Lincoln for abandoning him, and brooding about the idiocy of the men he served under.
The success of Grant in capturing Forts Henry and Donaldson forced the Confederate army operating in Tennessee to retreat further south, and reignited an offensive spirit in Halleck. Part of the Confederate force had retreated to the tenth island of the Mississippi River south of Cairo, and Halleck asked John Pope to lead the army to capture it, complete with a promotion to major general--but, again, only of Volunteers. Pope's old lust for glory overcame his despair about the war effort, and he sprang into action, actually arriving in the vicinity of Island No. 10 before his army did in order to personally reconnoiter. His new men adored him for it.
Over eight weeks beginning on the last day of February, Pope conducted a brilliant joint operation with the Navy utilizing his engineering background, his battlefield experience, and his force of personality to capture the 7,000 Confederate defenders of Island No. 10, with only 23 of his own men killed and 50 wounded--a butcher's bill that turned the adoration of the men into love. Halleck was effusive in his praise, telling Pope that "your splendid achievement excels in boldness and brilliancy all other operations of the war. It will be memorable in military history and will be admired by future generations." Delighted, Pope forwarded the message to a political friend asking him to use it as evidence for why he should be promoted to major general in the Regular Army.
Safety of life and property of all persons living in rear of our advancing armies depends upon the maintenance of peace and quiet among themselves and upon the unmolested movements through their midst of all pertaining to the military service. They are to understand distinctly that this security of travel is their only warrant of personal safety.
It is therefore ordered that wherever a railroad, wagon road, or telegraph is injured by parties of guerrillas the citizens living within 5 miles of the spot shall be turned out in mass to repair the damage, and shall, beside, pay to the United States in money or in property, to be levied by military force, the full amount of the pay and subsistence of the whole force necessary to coerce the performance of the work during the time occupied in completing it.
Maj. General John Pope stood before Secretary of War Edwin Stanton in uncomfortable silence. The new Secretary of War, he knew, was a prominent Ohio Democrat, but he also seemed willing to execute the harsh war strategy that Pope himself believed was necessary to vanquish the Secessionists. And he was offering Pope a major command, reporting directly to the President through the Secretary of War.
The date was June 25, and Pope had returned to the nation's capital the day before. In Missouri, he had left behind the usual tumultuous relationship with a commanding officer, this time Henry Halleck. It was the same story. Pope's commander had assembled several independent armies (Pope's, Grant's, and that of McClellanite Don Carlos Buell) and advanced ever so slowly. Pope disobeyed and pushed ahead of schedule, until directly ordered to halt, at which time he wrote letters and grumbled loudly. He had added a new trick to his bag of theatrics, enabled by his hero status after Island No. 10, and fed information about Halleck's timidity to a crowd of hungry reporters now.
It was in the midst of this new round of politicking that he received orders sending him to Washington. Over the months of May and June the Confederate general Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson had run circles around three different Union commands for the capital region, defeating each of them in battle and tying down over 50,000 men. Stanton had split the men into three different Departments in order to maintain control himself over their operations, but it had turned out to be a disastrous organization. Salmon Chase was all too happy to point it out to him too.
The President had sent for Pope because Island No. 10 suggested that all his braggadocio might have something behind it, and Lincoln was desperate for a commander with something behind the braggadocio. McClellan had run the Army's distinguished old warrior Winfield Scott out of town on the promise that his youth held fresh, bold ideas, but his Peninsula Campaign was icing on a failure cake for Lincoln. Even more so than the President, Stanton desperately hated McClellan and would do anything to see him sidelined.
Lincoln traveled to West Point before Pope arrived, and talked through his thoughts with Scott, who approved of them and improved them. Grateful to the elderly strategist, Lincoln returned and with Stanton and select members of the Cabinet planned what to do next. The Departments of the Rappahannock and Shenandoah and the Mountain Department would be united into a new Army of Virginia, with Pope at its head. Now united, Pope would march his new command to Charlottesville or Gordonsville, and seize the Virginia Central Railroad, the direct link between Richmond and points west. The Confederate army guarding Richmond temporarily led by Gen. Robert E. Lee would have to split in order to fight Pope, giving McClellan the advantage he needed to finally seize the Southern capital.
Pope's army would also solve the problem that Stanton had been unable to solve by dividing his forces--it would make it impossible for the Confederates to threaten Washington and the Northern Virginia supply lines. With so large a force on the rail lines to Richmond, Jackson would have to withdraw to the south and east, or else risk Pope being able to march into Richmond through the back door.
Pope loved the plan, he just didn't want it to be his mission. And so he stood awkwardly in front of a fuming Stanton in the War Department. Later Pope would say that he felt it was improper to supersede higher ranked officers, but that complaint rings hollow considering his deep ambition and general disrespect of superiors. More likely, Pope had either developed a tolerable equilibrium out West, or else he wanted Lincoln to beg in revenge for all the ignored requests for advancement (Lincoln once had wryly written back that generalships were not as common as blackberries). The latter interpretation is further born out by the fact that he was invited to address the House of Representatives only a day after arriving, during which speech he lambasted the slave power and insisted only a thorough dismantling of it would save the Union.
If Pope was playing games, he severely misjudged Stanton. Stanton took him to see Lincoln. Not only did Lincoln want Pope, it turned out, but he and the Secretary of War wanted Pope's entire philosophy about warfare, and believed him that a firm hand was the only way to subdue a populace that would otherwise spring up in rebellion again the moment the armies were transferred elsewhere. In the short run, Pope had won his little power struggle and graciously consented to command the Army of Virginia, but the Secretary of War had a very, very long memory.
If a soldier or legitimate follower of the army be fired upon from any house the house shall be razed to the ground, and the inhabitants sent prisoners to the headquarters of this army. If such an outrage occur at any place distant from settlements, the people within 5 miles around shall be held accountable and made to pay an indemnity sufficient for the case.
Any persons detected in such outrages, either during the act or at any time afterward, shall be shot, without awaiting civil process. No such acts can influence the result of this war, and they can only lead to heavy afflictions to the population to no purpose.
Maj. General George McClellan was proving trickier for Maj. General John Pope than he had anticipated. It was July 7, and he had received a reply from the commander of the Army of the Potomac to a letter he had sent him proposing his line of operations. Far from agreeing to support Pope's efforts--as the general had requested--McClellan had agreed to let Pope support his own efforts. For Pope it was flabbergasting.
Whereas for nearly a year McClellan had drawn criticism for undermining the war effort through his plodding pace and non-confrontational approach to rebel territory, he had indisputably lost in the last week of June. The day Pope had arrived in Washington, the temporary commander of the Confederate troops around Richmond had launched a fierce week-long offensive that had become the bloodiest operation in American history to that point, known as the Seven Days. McClellan's mighty army had crumpled before withering assaults, and even though Robert E. Lee's Southerners had had the worse of the fight in terms of casualties, the Northerners were the ones hunkered down in defensive positions, thoroughly licked.
McClellan had utterly collapsed, his trademark aristocratic civility even falling away as he sent bitter telegraphs back to Washington accusing Secretary Stanton of malicious conduct against him and willfully undermining the campaign. Maj. General Ambrose Burnside had been pulled with several divisions from a promising operation in North Carolina and sent to prop-up McClellan's army, which appeared on the verge of surrendering entirely. A floodgate of scalding complaints from the army's subordinate commanders had opened and every politico in Washington was drowning in missives from generals trying to save their own careers or ruin someone else's.
To Pope, it was both confounding and infuriating that McClellan did not resign, and it was obnoxious that the president did not simply sack him. Pope had advocated it to the entire Cabinet less than a week earlier, when Lincoln had invited him to address them. He had told them that McClellan's retreat was shameful, and would allow Lee to send more men against the Army of Virginia. Then, addressing directly McClellan's superior rank as a major general of the Regular Army, asked to return to the West rather than risk having to serve under him.
Pope was unusual as an open Republican in the army. Most officers were either politically agnostic or Democrats, like McClellan. While his brother officers believed in a limited war to restore the Union as it was (code: keep slavery), Pope believed in a punishing war that forced the rebellious Southerners to acknowledge their errors and dismantled the slave system that gave power to their leaders. He counted himself firmly among those who had suspected treasonous behavior of Charles P. Stone and believed McClellan a Southern sympathizer who could not do what needed to be done.
Lincoln had again prevailed upon Pope to cooperate McClellan, which had been his reason for writing detailed plans of his operation and force disposition. He wrote as an equal to McClellan, but as the more active equal, expecting his one-time commander to understand that things had changed, and it was now the Army of Virginia's turn to be engaged in active operations. In deliberately ignoring Pope's intent, McClellan challenged Lincoln and Stanton to order him to submit to his junior, after which he would have triumphantly resigned and taken the severe breach of military regulation to Democrats to use against Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections.
Pope turned to his usual tactics, made easier by the presence of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. On July 8, he was called in to testify to them (given the recent receipt of his confounding letter from McClellan, it's likely that he himself recommended they call him). It started off gently enough, with Pope confidently outlining his plan for both defending the capital and pressuring the Confederacy, but he was happy to continue down a road that made the Radical Republicans very happy.
Congressman Covode of Pennsylvania, who had once chaired a committee hearing to investigate impeaching James Buchanan and would later introduce the resolution to impeach Andrew Johnson, lobbed Pope a softball: "Would you not be in a far better condition to attack Richmond successfully if you had the army on James River somewhere on this side of Richmond?"
The army on the James River, of course, was McClellan's. And the entire movement had been made to surprise the Confederates and beat them to their capital. Pope didn't even shy away from acknowledging that as he trashed the idea:
I am not sufficiently familiar with the causes that induced the movement upon the peninsula with that force, but it has always seemed to me that we better have made our movement upon Richmond direct from Washington. We should then have been able to have moved the whole force from here, for our movement would, at all times, have covered this place; that would have forced the enemy to have left Richmond and evacuate the entire State, or it would have forced their troops down upon the peninsula between those two great rivers, where they could have been captured or starved to death. I think dividing up our forces to accomplish such an object as that is a great mistake.But it wasn't only Pope's opinion that the general was expressing, it was Stanton's. The words Pope were using are close to identical to those that Stanton wrote for Lincoln to advocate to McClellan way back in early spring when the general had first come up with the plan. McClellan had won the vote of confidence among Stanton's hand-picked corps commanders and Lincoln had duly overruled the furious Secretary of War and bestowed his blessing on the Peninsula Campaign. Stanton's harnessing of John Pope to vindicate his original war plans was another step in the secretary's battle against McClellan.
But Pope did not let it rest at that. "Can you now in any way fix upon any definite time when you and General McClellau can both act together?" Covode continued. "That kind of mixed operations are always very difficult," Pope answered, invitingly. Congressman Gooch of Massachusetts (who had taken Nathaniel Banks' seat) jumped on the invite: "Is it difficult to move two forces upon the same place to meet and act at the same time?"
But rather than circumspectly considering the problems with McClellan's trademark complex movement schedules, Pope went straight for the throat: "It is very difficult. Your two armies should be commanded by generals of the same character and manner of operations for one thing."
Covode fired the kill shot: :Would it not in your judgment be the best way to bring that army up here so that it might unite with your army, and go upon Richmond from this side?"
And again, Pope stepped beyond Stanton's interests, and served his own: "I think it would. I expressed that opinion to the President a week ago."
The Committee was delighted with Pope's testimony, and began pressuring Stanton and the President to transfer the Army of the Potomac to Pope's control as well. But Lincoln was still reluctant to remove McClellan. Something about the man was still compelling to the president, even if it was only to avoid providing electoral ammunition to Democrats. Pope went so far as to ask Lincoln directly to removed McClellan, but the president declined. Frustrated, Pope hit upon the novel solution of advocating Lincoln appoint none other than Henry Halleck as general-in-chief, so that there would be an officer to order McClellan to cooperate with Pope. Surprisingly, Lincoln agreed to consider.
It is therefore enjoined upon all persons, both for the security of their property and the safety of their own persons, that they act vigorously and cordially together to prevent the perpetration of such outrages.
Whilst it is the wish of the general commanding this army that all peaceably disposed persons who remain at their homes and pursue their accustomed avocations shall be subjected to no improper burden of war, yet their own safety must of necessity depend upon the strict preservation of peace and order among themselves; and they are to understand that nothing will deter him from enforcing promptly and to the full extent every provision of this order.
The threat of Halleck appears to have vanished from Pope's world as soon as he came to Washington. Towards the end of his tenure in the West, the Illinois man may have believed he had come to conquer his superior officer. Or perhaps he felt his summons to the East had clarified that Pope had powerful friends now, who supported his more aggressive vision of the war. But even with Halleck cowed, Pope had plenty of enemies within his new army upsetting the peace and order.
First and foremost was John C. Fremont. Second only to McClellan in rank in the entire army, Fremont under no circumstances intended to take orders from his hated former subordinate. When Stanton sent out the orders forming the Army of Virginia, Fremont, commanding the Mountain Department, immediately responded, demanding that his department be excluded from the order or that he be removed from command.
Stanton had been wary of Fremont from the start. Always a very political general, Stanton had mistrusted the man's ambitions, and while he hadn't been around to advocate his removal from command in Missouri, he had certainly thought it wise politically. As Stanton saw it, Fremont's career had already been resurrected once, during which he had been humiliated by Jackson and then refused to be a team player. The secretary made sure that he didn't get another post, but it would be another long two years of lobbying before Fremont got the hint and resigned from the army.
The Mountain Department, now known as the First Corps, Army of Virginia, passed to another former associate of Pope's, Maj. General Franz Sigel. Sigel and Pope's commissions as major generals of Volunteers dated from the same day, but Pope held seniority because of his pre-war service. The two had served together as division commanders in Fremont's army in Missouri. Pope hated him, and called him the "God damndest coward [I] ever knew" and told his staff to let him know the moment they detected cowardice, because Pope would arrest him.
Sigel had been a colonel on the wrong side of a revolution in his home principality of Baden, and fled to the United States. To acknowledge the German-American vote that had helped him win election, Lincoln made Sigel, assumed to be one of the most eligible of the former German rebels, into a general. After being transferred East, he had led a division in the Department of the Shenandoah, so when Lincoln needed a new commander for Fremont's majority German troops, he had transferred Sigel again so he could lead them. But when he arrived, he found Fremont had decamped with all of the department's records and had to recreate the entire corps' organization scheme, much to Pope's disgust. Sigel hated Pope in equal parts, and would late call him an "imbecile and a coward" and claim he was "affected with looseness of the brains as others [are] with looseness of the bowels."
Pope's new Second Corps, formerly the Department of the Shenandoah, was led by former Republican Speaker of the House Maj. General Nathaniel P. Banks. Banks was the second most senior major general of Volunteers in the Army, a full ten spots ahead of Pope in seniority. But Banks had very democratic notions about a fighting force, and only brought up matters of rank when he felt he was being asked to do something that endangered his men. Pope may have had doubts about Banks' abilities, since he had twice been surprised and chased out of the Valley by Jackson, but the mild-mannered Banks was diligent and well-liked, so if he did have them then he ignored them.
His Third Corps, though, appeared like it would be more problematic. It was the former Department of the Rappahannock and was commanded by Maj. General Irvin McDowell. Eighth in rank as major general of Volunteers, McDowell was also senior to Pope, and he had until very recently believed he would lead the army north of Richmond. Now Pope led an even bigger force and McDowell was subordinate. Pope, for his part, distrusted the loser of Bull Run, whose aloof nature was naturally off-putting and reeked of the Regular Army aristocracy that drove Pope mad.
But rather than take the route of the insubordinate subordinate (as Pope himself had so often done), McDowell took a very different course. As he had when McClellan had usurped him in the summer of 1861, McDowell put all his effort in becoming Pope's most reliable subordinate. It worked remarkably well, and Pope very quickly began to rely on McDowell's knowledge of the theater and advice for running an army. As we have seen, though, McDowell was every bit as ambitious as Pope.
By command of Major-General Pope:
GEO. D. RUGGLES,
Colonel, Assistant Adjutant-General, and Chief-of-Staff.
Maj. General John Pope had a massive task ahead of him. Jackson had run all three of his corps ragged, and they needed a complete reorganization and resupply. At Lincoln's insistence, Pope remained in Washington, consulting with him and Stanton nearly every day on the course of the war. Pope felt the Secretary had proven a close ally in waging the kind of war needed to crush rebels, and General Order No. 7, along with the other orders Stanton had helped draft, implemented the sorts of policies that Pope had been trying to implement since Lincoln's election.
The elements of the man can be seen in his orders. His personal history had formed those elements and it had brought him to this turning point in his country's history. The next two months are the story of how John Pope made the wrong turn at that point, and the result for the country.
Too much praise can not be heaped on Peter Cozzens' General John Pope: A Life for the Nation, without which this post would have been impossible. Pick it up.