had reluctantly assented to his designation after Burnside
's collapse; had been strengthened in his conviction of Hooker
's unfitness by the Chancellorsville
failure; and now, very naturally, improved his opportunity.
The next day brought Col. Hardie
's headquarters at Frederick
, with instructions relieving Hooker
and devolving the command on Gen. Meade
; who was therewith advised that he might do as he pleased with the Harper's Ferry
men; while Couch
and his militia, estimated at 20,000 men, were placed under his orders.
at once took leave of the army, with whose fortunes he had been so long and so honorably identified, in the following characteristic order:
Bidding a cordial but hurried farewell to his general and staff officers, Gen. Hooker
left at once for Baltimore
; being instructed to await there further orders from the Adjutant-General
's office. Three days bringing none, he went over to Washington
; where he was forthwith arrested by Halleck
for visiting the capital without leave, and in violation of the rule which forbade officers to do so. Thus ended his service with the Army of the Potomac.
, astounded by his promotion, announced to the army his acceptance of the command in these sincere, fit, modest words:
Such a change of commanders, for no more urgent reasons, on the very brink of a great battle, has few parallels in history.
Whatever his faults, Hooker
was loved and trusted by his soldiers, who knew less of Meade
, and had less faith in him. Had that army been polled, it would have voted to fight the impending battle under Hooker without
the aid of French's 11,000 men, rather than under Meade with
But it was inured ere this to being astonished oftener than delighted, and to moving firmly onward in the path of duty, even when that