The only army commander operating against the Army of Northern Virginia to earn the personal animosity of Robert E. Lee was John Pope. The Kentucky native had spent his entire career in the military service. Receiving an appointment to West Point from Illinois, he was graduated in 1842 and was posted to the topographical engineers. Performing creditably, he was considered a top soldier. The Mexican War brought him two brevets and he continued to rise regularly in rank.
His Civil War-era assignments were somewhat less happy and included: captain, Topographical Engineers (since July 1, 1856); brigadier general, USV June 14, 1861, (to rank from May 17); commanding District of North Missouri, Western Department (July 29-October 1861); commanding 2nd Division, Army of Southwest Missouri, Western Department (October-November 9, 1861); commanding 2nd Division, Army of Southwest Missouri, Department of the Missouri (November 9-December 186 1); commanding District of Central Missouri, Department of the Missouri (December 1861-February 18, 1862); commanding Army of the Mississippi (February 23-june 26, 1862); major general, USV (March 21, 1862); commanding Army of Virginia (June 26-September 2 1862); brigadier general, USA (July 14, 1862); and commanding Department of the Northwest (September 16-November 28, 1862 and February 13, 1863-February 13, 1865).
Having served in the escort of Lincoln to the Washington inaugural ceremonies, Pope was named to be a brigadier of volunteers and performed organizational duties in Illinois before serving under Fremont in the Western Department. His capabilities being displayed in Missouri, he was eventually given charge of the operations along the Mississippi River.
In early 1862 he scored major successes at New Madrid and Island # 10 and the advance on Memphis. He then led one of the three field armies serving under Henry W. Halleck in a painfully slow advance on Corinth, Mississippi. In the meantime he had been awarded a second star in the volunteer service and was marked for advancement. With the scattered forces in northern Virginia unable to contain Stonewall Jackson's small mobile command in the Shenandoah Valley and thus unable to advance on Richmond from the North, Pope was called east.
Three departments were merged into his newly formed Army of Virginia. His former commander, Fremont, refused to be one of his corps commanders and was relieved. Pope was then advanced to a brigadier generalship in the regular establishment. Not taking command of his scattered forces in the field until late July, he lost the faith of his men when he made an address praising the western armies and disparaging the efforts of the eastern forces up to that time. In bombastic fashion he declared his headquarters would be in the saddle. This led to a quip that he didn't know his headquarters from his hindquarters.
His proposals on how to deal with the secessionist population raised the ire of his opponents, especially Lee. Part of Pope's command was defeated at Cedar Mountain. Later that month his command and parts of McClellan's Army of the Potomac fought at 2nd Bull Run. Pope had no idea of the true situation on the field and was routed.
Blaming the defeat upon his subordinates, he came into conflict with those officers who were McClellan partisans. He charged Fitz-John Porter with disobedience of orders in failing to launch an attack which was in fact impossible. Nonetheless Porter was cashiered, but Pope also lost his command on September 21 1862, and the Army of Virginia was merged into the Army of the Potomac 10 days later.
While there was recognition of a lack of support from McClellan and his officers, Lincoln felt he had little choice but to give the consolidated command to McClellan in the face of the Confederate invasion of Maryland. Pope then spent most of the balance of the war commanding the Department of the Northwest and dealing with the Sioux uprising. He performed his job ably and in 1865 was brevetted a regular army major general for Island #10.
Mustered out of the volunteers on September 1, 1866, he held departmental commands in the regular army, mostly in the West, until his 1886 retirement. Four years later he was named a full major general. (Ropes, John C., The Army Under Pope and Ellis, Richard N., General Pope and U.S. Indian Policy)
Source: "Who Was Who In The Civil War" by Stewart Sifakis
RETURN TO BIOGRAPHY PAGE