John Pope (military officer)

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 stint 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.

John Pope
Brig. Gen. John Pope
BornMarch 16, 1822
Louisville, Kentucky
DiedSeptember 23, 1892 (aged 70)
Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Home near Sandusky, Ohio
Place of burial
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army
Union Army
Years of service1842–1886
RankUnion Army major general rank insignia.svg Major General
Commands heldArmy of the Mississippi
Army of Virginia
Department of the Northwest
Department of the Missouri
Military Division of the Pacific
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Dakota War of 1862

Apache Wars

Early life

Pope was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Nathaniel Pope, a prominent Federal judge in early Illinois Territory and a friend of lawyer Abraham Lincoln.[1] He was the brother-in-law of Manning Force, and a distant cousin married the sister of Mary Todd Lincoln.[2] He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1842, and was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical Engineers.[2]

He served in Florida and then helped survey the northeastern border between the United States and Canada. He fought under Zachary Taylor in the Battle of Monterrey and Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican–American War, for which he was appointed a brevet first lieutenant and captain, respectively.[2] After the war Pope worked as a surveyor in Minnesota. In 1850 he demonstrated the navigability of the Red River. He served as the chief engineer of the Department of New Mexico from 1851 to 1853 and spent the remainder of the antebellum years surveying a route for the Pacific Railroad.[1]

Civil War

Pope was serving on lighthouse duty when Abraham Lincoln was elected and he was one of four officers selected to escort the president-elect to Washington, D.C.[1] He offered to serve Lincoln as an aide, but on June 14, 1861, he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers (date of rank effective May 17, 1861)[3] and was ordered to Illinois to recruit volunteers.

In the Department of the West under Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont, Pope assumed command of the District of North and Central Missouri in July, with operational control along a portion of the Mississippi River. He had an uncomfortable relationship with Frémont and politicked behind the scenes to get him removed from command. Frémont was convinced that Pope had treacherous intentions toward him, demonstrated by his lack of action in following Frémont's offensive plans in Missouri. Historian Allan Nevins wrote, "Actually, incompetence and timidity offer a better explanation of Pope than treachery, though he certainly showed an insubordinate spirit."[4]

Pope eventually forced the Confederates under Sterling Price to retreat southward, taking 1,200 prisoners in a minor action at Blackwater, Missouri, on December 18. Pope, who established a reputation as a braggart early in the war, was able to generate significant press interest in his minor victory, which brought him to the attention of Frémont's replacement, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck.[1]

Halleck appointed Pope to command the Army of the Mississippi (and the District of the Mississippi, Department of the Missouri) on February 23, 1862.[2] Given 25,000 men, he was ordered to clear Confederate obstacles on the Mississippi River. He made a surprise march on New Madrid, Missouri, and captured it on March 14. He then orchestrated a campaign to capture Island No. 10, a strongly fortified post garrisoned by 12,000 men and 58 guns. Pope's engineers cut a channel that allowed him to bypass the island. Assisted by the gunboats of Captain Andrew H. Foote, he landed his men on the opposite shore, which isolated the defenders. The island garrison surrendered on April 7, 1862, freeing Union navigation of the Mississippi as far south as Memphis.[1]

Pope's outstanding performance on the Mississippi earned him a promotion to major general, dated as of March 21, 1862.[2] During the Siege of Corinth, he commanded the left wing of Halleck's army, but he was soon summoned to the East by Lincoln. After the collapse of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Peninsula Campaign, Pope was appointed to command the Army of Virginia, assembled from scattered forces in the Shenandoah Valley and Northern Virginia. This promotion infuriated Frémont, who resigned his commission.[1]

Pope brought an attitude of self-assurance that was offensive to the eastern soldiers under his command. He issued an astonishing message to his new army on July 14, 1862, that included the following:[5]

Let us understand each other. I have come to you from the West, where we have always seen the backs of our enemies; from an army whose business it has been to seek the adversary and to beat him when he was found; whose policy has been attack and not defense. In but one instance has the enemy been able to place our Western armies in defensive attitude. I presume that I have been called here to pursue the same system and to lead you against the enemy. It is my purpose to do so, and that speedily. I am sure you long for an opportunity to win the distinction you are capable of achieving. That opportunity I shall endeavor to give you. Meantime I desire you to dismiss from your minds certain phrases, which I am sorry to find so much in vogue amongst you. I hear constantly of "taking strong positions and holding them," of "lines of retreat," and of "bases of supplies." Let us discard such ideas. The strongest position a soldier should desire to occupy is one from which he can most easily advance against the enemy. Let us study the probable lines of retreat of our opponents, and leave our own to take care of themselves. Let us look before us, and not behind. Success and glory are in the advance, disaster and shame lurk in the rear. Let us act on this understanding, and it is safe to predict that your banners shall be inscribed with many a glorious deed and that your names will be dear to your countrymen forever

— John Pope, message to the Army of Virginia
John Pope
Major General John Pope

Despite this bravado, and despite receiving units from McClellan's Army of the Potomac that swelled the Army of Virginia to 70,000 men, Pope's aggressiveness exceeded his strategic capabilities, particularly since he was now facing Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Lee, sensing that Pope was indecisive, split his smaller (55,000 man) army, sending Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson with 24,000 men as a diversion to Cedar Mountain, where Jackson defeated Pope's subordinate, Nathaniel Banks.[1]

As Lee advanced on Pope with the remainder of his army, Jackson swung around to the north and captured Pope's main supply base at Manassas Station. Confused and unable to locate the main Confederate force, Pope walked into a trap in the Second Battle of Bull Run. His men withstood a combined attack by Jackson and Lee on August 29, 1862, but on the following day Maj. Gen. James Longstreet launched a surprise flanking attack and the Union Army was soundly defeated and forced to retreat. Pope compounded his unpopularity with the Army by blaming his defeat on disobedience by Maj. Gen. Fitz John Porter, who was found guilty by court-martial and disgraced.[1]

Brigadier General Alpheus S. Williams, who served briefly under Pope, held the general in particularly low esteem. In a letter to his daughter, he wrote:

All this is the sequence of Gen. Pope's high sounding manifestoes. His pompous orders ... greatly disgusted his army from the first. When a general boasts that he will look only on the backs of his enemies, that he takes no care for lines of retreat or bases of supplies; when, in short, from a snug hotel in Washington he issues after-dinner orders to gratify public taste and his own self-esteem, anyone may confidently look for results such as have followed the bungling management of his last campaign ... I dare not trust myself to speak of this commander as I feel and believe. Suffice it to say (for your eye alone) that more insolence, superciliousness, ignorance, and pretentiousness were never combined in one man. It can with truth be said of him that he had not a friend in his command from the smallest drummer boy to the highest general officer. All hated him."[6]

Pope himself was relieved of command on September 12, 1862, and his army was merged into the Army of the Potomac under McClellan. He spent the remainder of the war in the Department of the Northwest in Minnesota, dealing with the Dakota War of 1862. His months campaigning in the West paid career dividends because he was assigned to command the Military Division of the Missouri on January 30, 1865, and received a brevet promotion to major general in the regular army on March 13, 1865, for his service at Island No. 10.[1][2]

On June 27, 1865, the War Department issued General Order No. 118 dividing the entire United States, including the states formerly a part of the Confederacy, into five military divisions and 19 subordinate geographical departments. Major General William T. Sherman was assigned to command the Division of the Missouri. Pope then became commander of its Department of the Missouri, replacing Major General Grenville M. Dodge.

Shortly after Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, Pope wrote a letter to Edmund Kirby-Smith offering the Confederates in Louisiana the same surrender terms that Grant allowed for Lee. He told Kirby-Smith that further resistance was futile and urged the general to avoid needless bloodshed, devastation, and misery by accepting the surrender terms. Kirby-Smith, however, rejected Pope's overtures and said that his army remained "strong and well equipped and that despite the 'disparity of numbers' his men could outweigh the differences 'by valor and skill'." Five weeks later Confederate General Simon Bolivar Buckner signed the surrender in New Orleans.[7]

Postbellum years

In April 1867, Pope was named governor of the Reconstruction Third Military District and made his headquarters in Atlanta, issuing orders that allowed African Americans to serve on juries, ordering Mayor James Williams to remain in office another year, postponing elections, and banning city advertising in newspapers that did not favor Reconstruction. President Andrew Johnson removed him from command December 28, 1867, replacing him with George G. Meade.[8] Following this, Pope was appointed head of the Department of the Lakes (based in Detroit, Michigan) from January 13, 1868, to April 30, 1870.[9]

Pope returned to the West as commander of the Department of the Missouri (the nation's second largest geographical command) during the Grant presidency, and held that command through 1883.[9] He served with distinction in the Apache Wars, including the Red River War relocating Southern Plains tribes to reservations in Oklahoma. General Pope made political enemies in Washington when he recommended that the reservation system would be better administered by the military than the corrupt Indian Bureau. He also engendered controversy by calling for better and more humane treatment of Native Americans,[1] but author Walter Donald Kennedy notes that he also said "It is my purpose to utterly exterminate the Sioux" and planned to make a "final settlement with all these Indians".[10]

Pope's reputation suffered a serious blow in 1879 when a late-convened Board of Inquiry called by President Rutherford B. Hayes and led by Maj. Gen. John Schofield (Pope's immediate predecessor in the Department of the Missouri and then head of the Department of the Pacific) concluded that Major General Fitz John Porter had been unfairly convicted of cowardice and disobedience at the Second Battle of Bull Run. The Schofield report used evidence of former Confederate commanders and concluded that Pope himself bore most of the responsibility for the Union loss. The report characterized Pope as reckless and dangerously uninformed about events during the battle, also criticized General Irvin McDowell (whom Pope detested), and credited Porter's perceived disobedience with saving the Union army from complete ruin.

Pope was promoted to major general in the Regular Army in 1882 and was assigned to command of the Military Division of the Pacific in 1883 where he served until his retirement.[11]

Death and legacy

Pope retired as a major general in the Regular Army on March 16, 1886, and his wife, Clara Pope, died two years later. The National Tribune serialized his memoirs, publishing them between February 1887 and March 1891.[12] General Pope died on September 23, 1892 at the Ohio Soldiers' Home near Sandusky, Ohio.[2] He is buried beside his wife in Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri.[9]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Frederiksen, pp. 1541–43.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Eicher, pp. 433–34.
  3. ^ Warner, pp. 376–77.
  4. ^ Nevins, p. 378.
  5. ^ Hennessy, p. 11.
  6. ^ Williams, Alpheus S. (2011). From the Cannon's Mouth: The Civil War Letters of General Alpheus S. Williams. Literary Licensing, LLC.
  7. ^ Winters, pp. 421, 426.
  8. ^ Atlanta city directory website, timeline of Atlanta history. Archived 2006-08-31 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ a b c
  10. ^ O.R., Series I, Vol. XIII, p. 686.
  11. ^ Marquis Who's Who, Inc. Who Was Who in American History, the Military. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who, 1975. P. 488 ISBN 0837932017 OCLC 657162692
  12. ^ Cozzens, Peter E. and Robert I. Girardi, editors. The Military Memoirs of General John Pope. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998.


  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Frederiksen, John C. "John Pope." In Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History, edited by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. ISBN 0-393-04758-X.
  • Hennessy, John J. Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993. ISBN 978-0-8061-3187-0.
  • Nevins, Allan. The War for the Union. Vol. 1: The Improvised War 1861–1862. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1959. ISBN 0-684-10426-1.
  • U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 128 vols. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880–1901.
  • Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964. ISBN 0-8071-0822-7.
  • Winters, John D. The Civil War in Louisiana. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963. ISBN 0-8071-0834-0.

Further reading

  • Cooling, Benjamin Franklin. Counter-thrust: from the Peninsula to the Antietam. Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 2007. ISBN 0-8032-1515-0
  • Cozzens, Peter. General John Pope: A Life for the Nation. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000.
  • Ellis, Richard M. General Pope and U.S. Indian Policy. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1970. ISBN 0-8263-0191-6.
  • McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom, Volume 2, Oxford University Press, 1988. ISBN 0195038630.
  • Foote, Shelby. The Civil War: A Narrative. Vol. 1, Fort Sumter to Perryville. New York: Random House, 1958. ISBN 0-394-49517-9.
  • Pope, John, Peter Cozzens, and Robert I. Girardi. The Military Memoirs of General John Pope. Civil War America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8078-2444-5.
  • Ropes, John Codman. The Army in the Civil War. Vol. 4, The Army under Pope. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1881. OCLC 458186269.
  • Strother, David Hunter. A Virginia Yankee in the Civil War: The Diaries of David Hunter Strother. Edited by Cecil D. Elby. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8078-4757-7. First published 1961.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of the Army of the Mississippi
February 23, 1862 – June 26, 1862
Succeeded by
William S. Rosecrans
Dakota War of 1862

The Dakota War of 1862, also known as the Sioux Uprising, the Dakota Uprising, the Sioux Outbreak of 1862, the Dakota Conflict, the U.S.–Dakota War of 1862 or Little Crow's War, was an armed conflict between the United States and several bands of Dakota (also known as the eastern 'Sioux'). It began on August 17, 1862, along the Minnesota River in southwest Minnesota, four years after its admission as a state. Throughout the late 1850s in the lead-up to the war, treaty violations by the United States and late or unfair annuity payments by Indian agents caused increasing hunger and hardship among the Dakota. During the war, the Dakota made extensive attacks on hundreds of settlers and immigrants, which resulted in settler deaths, and caused many to flee the area. Intense desire for immediate revenge ended with soldiers capturing hundreds of Dakota men and interning their families. A military tribunal quickly tried the men, sentencing 303 to death for their crimes. President Lincoln would later commute the sentence of 264 of them. The mass hanging of 38 Dakota men was conducted on December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota; it was the largest mass execution in United States history.

Traders with the Dakota previously had demanded that the government give the annuity payments directly to them (introducing the possibility of unfair dealing between the agents and the traders to the exclusion of the Dakota). In mid-1862, the Dakota demanded the annuities directly from their agent, Thomas J. Galbraith. The traders refused to provide any more supplies on credit under those conditions, and negotiations reached an impasse.On August 17, 1862, one young Dakota with a hunting party of three others killed five settlers while on a hunting expedition. That night a council of Dakota decided to attack settlements throughout the Minnesota River valley to try to drive whites out of the area. There has never been an official report on the number of settlers killed, although in President Abraham Lincoln's second annual address, he said that no fewer than 800 men, women, and children had died.

Over the next several months, continued battles of the Dakota against settlers and later, the United States Army, ended with the surrender of most of the Dakota bands. By late December 1862, US soldiers had taken captive more than a thousand Dakota, including women, children and elderly men in addition to warriors, who were interned in jails in Minnesota. After trials and sentencing by a military court, 38 Dakota men were hanged on December 26, 1862 in Mankato in the largest one-day mass execution in American history. In April 1863, the rest of the Dakota were expelled from Minnesota to Nebraska and South Dakota. The United States Congress abolished their reservations. Additionally, the Ho-Chunk people living on reservation lands near Mankato were expelled from Minnesota as a result of the war.

History of Minnesota

The history of the U.S. state of Minnesota is shaped by its original Native American residents, European exploration and settlement, and the emergence of industries made possible by the state's natural resources. Minnesota achieved prominence through fur trading, logging, and farming, and later through railroads, and iron mining. While those industries remain important, the state's economy is now driven by banking, computers, and health care.

The earliest known settlers followed herds of large game to the region during the last glacial period. They preceded the Anishinaabe, the Dakota, and other Native American inhabitants. Fur traders from France arrived during the 17th century. Europeans moving west during the 19th century, drove out most of the Native Americans. Fort Snelling, built to protect United States territorial interests, brought early settlers to the area. Early settlers used Saint Anthony Falls for powering sawmills in the area that became Minneapolis, while others settled downriver in the area that became Saint Paul.

Minnesota gained legal existence as the Minnesota Territory in 1849, and became the 32nd U.S. state on May 11, 1858. After the upheaval of the American Civil War and the Dakota War of 1862, the state's economy started to develop when natural resources were tapped for logging and farming. Railroads attracted immigrants, established the farm economy, and brought goods to market. The power provided by St. Anthony Falls spurred the growth of Minneapolis, and the innovative milling methods gave it the title of the "milling capital of the world".

New industry came from iron ore, discovered in the north, mined relatively easily from open pits, and shipped to Great Lakes steel mills from the ports at Duluth and Two Harbors. Economic development and social changes led to an expanded role for state government and a population shift from rural areas to cities. The Great Depression brought layoffs in mining and tension in labor relations but New Deal programs helped the state. After World War II, Minnesota became known for technology, fueled by early computer companies Sperry Rand, Control Data and Cray. The Twin Cities also became a regional center for the arts with cultural institutions such as the Guthrie Theater, Minnesota Orchestra, and the Walker Art Center.

List of United States Military Academy alumni

The United States Military Academy (USMA) is an undergraduate college in West Point, New York with the mission of educating and commissioning officers for the United States Army. The Academy was founded in 1802 and is the oldest of the United States' five service academies. It is also referred to as West Point (the name of the military base that the Academy is a part of.) The Academy graduated its first cadet, Joseph Gardner Swift, in October 1802. Sports media refer to the Academy as "Army" and the students as "Cadets"; this usage is officially endorsed. The football team is also known as "The Black Knights of the Hudson" and "The Black Knights". A small number of graduates each year choose the option of cross-commissioning into the United States Air Force, United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, or United States Coast Guard. Before the founding of the United States Air Force Academy in 1955, the Academy was a major source of officers for the Air Force and its predecessors. Most cadets are admitted through the congressional appointment system. The curriculum emphasizes the sciences and engineering fields.The list is drawn from graduates, non-graduate former cadets, current cadets, and faculty of the Military Academy. Notable graduates include 2 American Presidents, 4 additional heads of state, 20 astronauts, 74 Medal of Honor recipients, 70 Rhodes Scholars, and 3 Heisman Trophy winners. Among American universities, the academy is fourth on the list of total winners for Rhodes Scholarships, seventh for Marshall Scholarships and fourth on the list of Hertz Fellowships.

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