Facts and Events
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, with whom he had a stormy relationship. He achieved initial success against Brig. Gen. Sterling Price in Missouri and then led a successful campaign that captured Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River.
Pope's success in the West inspired the Lincoln administration to bring him to the troubled 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, under Maj. Gen. James Longstreet, executed a devastating assault into his flank, routing his army. He deflected some of the blame for the defeat by wrongfully accusing Brig. Gen. Fitz John Porter of disobeying his orders. Porter was exonerated in 1879, causing much public embarrassment for Pope.
Following Manassas, Pope was banished to the Department of the Northwest far from the Eastern Theater 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.