On this day in 1862, Union general John Pope issued General Orders No. 5, directing the Army of Virginia to “subsist upon the country.” His General Orders No. 7 held Confederate civilians who lived near the sites of guerrilla attacks responsible for damages. Confederates perceived these orders to be violations of the tradition of honorable warfare, and in response, Robert E. Lee labeled Pope a “miscreant.”
From the historian Joseph L. Harsh:
Clearly, Lee not only disliked Pope’s orders, he also disliked the Federal general. Twice during a four-day period, Lee referred to Pope as a “miscreant” and three times used the word “suppress” to describe what needed to be done to him. Revealing an irrepressible sense of humor—which not all historians have appreciated—Lee also made two playful remarks at Pope’s expense. Referring to his nephew Louis Marshall, who had remained loyal to the North, he told his daughter he hoped [Stonewall] Jackson would catch both Pope and Marshall: “I could forgive the latter for fighting against us, if he had not joined such a miscreant as Pope.” And several weeks later, after Marshall had been seen looking “wretched” after the battle of Cedar Mountain, Lee wrote to his wife, Mary, “I am sorry to hear he is in such bad company. But I suppose he could not help it.”
Not exactly side-splitting. Nor does it strike me as irrepressible. But I will give you playful.
IMAGE: Union general John Pope; the glass plate is cracked, making him seem all the more devilish!