Title

The Concussion that Stole Fighting Joe's Nerve

Presenter Information

Brian MartinFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Physics and History

Minor

Mathematics

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. William H. Mulligan Jr.

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Joseph Hooker was one of the most interesting and charismatic Union officers during the Civil War. Throughout his life, both before and during the war, Hooker’s personality was characterized by courage and self-confidence. The defining event of the general’s career, the Battle of Chancellorsville, is regarded as one of the most significant Union defeats in the war. Despite having a well-known reputation for maintaining confidence and a collected presence in battle, Hooker is generally said to have lost his nerve during the Chancellorsville campaign. Hooker’s alleged loss of confidence is widely accepted as the cause for Union defeat at Chancellorsville, but the explanation has many flaws, as it fails to take into account the severe blow to the head sustained by the General during the Battle of Chancellorsville. By analyzing the symptoms that he displayed after his injury, as well as tracing his behavior throughout the battle, it becomes evident that Joseph Hooker suffered a severe concussion in the middle of the Battle of Chancellorsville. In light of modern knowledge of concussions and their impacts on the brain, Hooker’s sudden change of character cannot be attributed to a simple loss of nerve. By examining General Hooker’s behavior both before and after his injury, a definite difference can be discerned. By comparing the change in Hooker’s behavior to the known symptoms of severe head trauma, the true impact of his injury can be discovered. This new lens can provide a more accurate interpretation of Joseph Hooker’s actions at Chancellorsville.

Spring Scholars Week 2019 Event

Honors College Senior Thesis

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The Concussion that Stole Fighting Joe's Nerve

Joseph Hooker was one of the most interesting and charismatic Union officers during the Civil War. Throughout his life, both before and during the war, Hooker’s personality was characterized by courage and self-confidence. The defining event of the general’s career, the Battle of Chancellorsville, is regarded as one of the most significant Union defeats in the war. Despite having a well-known reputation for maintaining confidence and a collected presence in battle, Hooker is generally said to have lost his nerve during the Chancellorsville campaign. Hooker’s alleged loss of confidence is widely accepted as the cause for Union defeat at Chancellorsville, but the explanation has many flaws, as it fails to take into account the severe blow to the head sustained by the General during the Battle of Chancellorsville. By analyzing the symptoms that he displayed after his injury, as well as tracing his behavior throughout the battle, it becomes evident that Joseph Hooker suffered a severe concussion in the middle of the Battle of Chancellorsville. In light of modern knowledge of concussions and their impacts on the brain, Hooker’s sudden change of character cannot be attributed to a simple loss of nerve. By examining General Hooker’s behavior both before and after his injury, a definite difference can be discerned. By comparing the change in Hooker’s behavior to the known symptoms of severe head trauma, the true impact of his injury can be discovered. This new lens can provide a more accurate interpretation of Joseph Hooker’s actions at Chancellorsville.