John Pope (March 16, 1822 – September 23,
1892) was a career United States Army officer and Union general in the American
Civil War. He had a brief but successful career in the Western Theater, but he
is best known for his defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Manassas)
in the East.
Pope was a graduate of the United States Military Academy in 1842. He served in the Mexican-American War and had numerous assignments as a topographical engineer and surveyor in Florida, New Mexico, and Minnesota. He spent much of the last decade before the Civil War surveying possible southern routes for the proposed First Transcontinental Railroad. He was an early appointee as a Union brigadier general of volunteers and served initially under Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont. He achieved initial success against Brig. Gen. Sterling Price in Missouri, then led a successful campaign that captured Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River. This inspired the Lincoln administration to bring him to the Eastern Theater to lead the newly formed Army of Virginia.
He initially alienated many of his officers and men by publicly denigrating their record in comparison to his Western command. He launched an offensive against the Confederate army of General Robert E. Lee, in which he fell prey to a strategic turning movement into his rear areas by Maj. Gen. Stonewall Jackson. At Second Bull Run, he concentrated his attention on attacking Jackson while the other Confederate corps attacked his flank and routed his army. Following Manassas, Pope was banished far from the Eastern Theater to the Department of the Northwest in Minnesota, where he commanded U.S. Forces in the Dakota War of 1862. He was appointed to command the Department of the Missouri in 1865 and was a prominent and activist commander during Reconstruction in Atlanta. For the rest of his military career, he fought in the Indian Wars, particularly against the Apache and Sioux.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John Pope, one of the Civil War's more controversial figures, was born of distinguished ancestry on March 16, 1822, in Louisville, Kentucky. He was a collateral descendant of George Washington; his father was territorial secretary and delegate from the Illinois Territory and later a Federal judge; and his uncle was a United States Senator from Kentucky. More importantly, he was connected by marriage to the family of Mary Todd Lincoln. Pope was graduated from West Point in 1842 in a class which furnished seventeen full-rank general officers to the opposing armies in the Civil War. After four years of survey duty, Pope won the brevets of lieutenant and captain for gallantry in the Mexican War. Following the war he discharged various assignments in the Topographical Engineers and was regularly promoted captain in 1856. Perhaps because of his connections, he was appointed a brigadier general of volunteers on June 14, 1861, to rank from May 17. His early war service seemed to amply justify his selection, as he opened the upper Mississippi River almost to Memphis by capturing Madrid and Island No. 10 in a series of well-executed movements in March and April, 1862. In the meantime he was promoted to major general on March 22. During the advance upon Corinth in May his army constituted the left wing of the forces under Henry W. Halleck. Pope was now at the apogee of his military career, and in June he was given command of all the forces in the East except for those under George B. McClellan on the Peninsula. These troops were designated the Army of Virginia and were designed to protect Washington and to demonstrate on the line of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad in order to ease the pressure on McClellan. At this point Pope began to get in over his depth. He now commanded his former superiors (John C. Fremont, who had been his commander in Missouri, asked for relief); he tactlessly published a series of bombastic general orders which not only reflected unfavorably on his new command but also earned him the undying hatred and contempt of his opponents; and subsequent to the Union disaster at Second Manassas, he committed the cardinal military sin of blaming others for his own errors of judgment. Entirely misapprehending the situation on the Manassas plains, Pope allowed R. E. Lee to first divide and then reunite his two wings under Stonewall Jackson and James Longstreet. The latter virtually swept Pope back into the Washington defenses on August 30, 1862. Nevertheless Pope succeeded in having Fitz John Porter cashiered for disobedience of orders impossible of execution and displaying the grossest ignorance of the situation at the time they were issued. McClellan was restored to command of all the forces in the East and Pope was put on the shelf in the Department of the Northwest where he served creditably during the Sioux uprising in Minnesota. From then until his retirement in 1886 he had various departmental commands, the last being the Division of the Pacific. He had been made a brigadier in the regular service to rank from July 14, 1862, and on October 26, 1882, was promoted to major general, proving, if nothing else, that seniority in that era would win out over all imaginable obstacles. The sister of Pope's wife had married General Manning F. Force, and it was in the latter's quarters at the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Home in Sandusky, Ohio, that Pope died on September 23, 1892. He was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.
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