Today, we’re going to talk about General John Pope.
At times my mind goes into an odd space. I look at many of the people around me and I imagine that suddenly all are taken back in time to the days of the Civil War.
How would they react? What side would they be on? Would they join the military? So on and so forth.
I truly believe the results would be quite surprising. The reason I say that is, even though they were pro-slavery, many people in the South were courteous and would give you the shirt off their back and some people in the North would stab you in the back for a slice of bread.
I don’t say this to defend the Confederate’s ideals about slavery, but I say it to point out that there is good and evil in all, around all, and we will never erase either.
As people and organizations attempt to erase history by destroying statues and memorials, I believe if we go that route, why should we keep statues or memorials to any. Maybe Mount Rushmore should be blown to bits because every person depicted there also had an evil side and did some terrible things:
- Theodore Roosevelt aided thugs in stealing what is now Panama away from Columbia.
- Abraham Lincoln did believe slavery should be abolished but on his dark side, he also believed we should put all blacks on boats and take them back to Africa.
- George Washington admitted to assassinating a French officer in cold blood.
- Thomas Jefferson raped and impregnated a 14-15 year old black slave girl. Even though he wrote against slavery, he owned many and had several children when he would take young black girls against their will.
But enough of my opinions on how society is trying to erase history. The only reason I am bringing it up is because today, I am going to tell you 10 facts about a military leader on the side of the Union during the Civil War. He was a character in his own right and hated by many.
Here are the top 10 cool facts about General John Pope.
#1: Before The Civil War
John Pope graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1842. He first served in the Mexican American War and from there he was surveying various routes for a transcontinental railroad.
In 1861, Pope was given the rank of Brigadier General of volunteers in the Western Department of the Civil War zone… Primarily in Missouri.
#3: Army Of The Mississippi
In 1862, Pope was given command of the Army of the Mississippi. His task was to clear Confederate blockades in the river. With 25,000 troops under his command, he handled this task quite well by taking New Madrid, Missouri and Island #10. Union supplies were able to go up and down the Mississippi River.
#4: John C. Fremont
Before gaining command of the Army of the Mississippi, Pope was under Major General John Fremont. I bring this up because my Mother lives in Fremont, Nebraska which is named after the Major General.
Pope did not like Fremont and was always finding things to try and get him taken out of command. Many of the soldiers under Fremont’s command considered Pope a backstabber and braggert.
#5: Brought East
With his victories in Missouri noticed, Pope was brought East and given command of the Army of Virginia. He immediately gained hate from his soldiers because he brought an attitude that they did it better in the West than they did the East.
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#6: His Entry Speech
Upon bringing all the soldiers in the Army of Virginia in front of him, Pope gave this speech that many say would be one of the worst leadership speeches ever:
“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.”
#7: The Second Battle of Bull Run
Pope’s style of warfare may have worked in the West, but in the East, he was taking his soldiers against extremely well trained Confederates… Namely, General Robert E. Lee and Major General Stonewall Jackson.
In this battle, Pope was so concentrated on Jackson’s troops, his troops were flanked and many killed.
It was a black mark on his leadership and many saw him for what he really was.
After that terrible loss, Pope was relieved of command and sent to Minnesota to the Department of the Northwest where he commanded troops in the Dakota War of 1862. This was battles and skirmishes between the U.S. Army and Sioux Indians.
Before his retirement, Pope served as Governor of the 3rd Military District and was quite active in the rebuilding of Atlanta. He also issued orders to allow African Americans to serve on juries.
#10: Retirement And Death
John Pope has given us many lessons on how not to lead. No matter what, he still deserves honor for his patriotic service and dedication to freedom.
I hope you learned from this post as I did. If you have any questions, just post them below. Thank you.
About The Author
Greg Boudonck is a full time freelance writer and the author of over 50 books. He served in the United States Army in the early 1980’s and enjoys writing about military subjects. You can see Greg’s books on Amazon by searching his name and you can also visit his website at Lancerlife.com.