David Strother, writing as Porte Crayon, described General Heintzelman as “a grim, grizzled veteran, who looks as if he had mettle in him.”
Heintzelman graduated from West Point in 1826, fought in the Seminole Wars in Florida, the Mexican War, then in the expedition to put down the Yuma Indian uprising in 1851.
During the Civil War, Heintzelman had two of the most aggressive field commanders in his corps—Fighting Joe Hooker and Philip Kearny. As a result, his corps fought in the thick of the action during the Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days Battles.
And yet, for all his military experience, Heintzelman lacked imagination, ingenuity, and the ability to command a large body of men. Hooker and Kearny made him look good but take them away, and Heintzelman was lost.