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 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 06:02 am
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samhood
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Wiley Sword is at it again.  In his latest book "Courage Under Fire: Profiles in Bravery from the Battlefields of the Civil War" he includes an essay titled "What Kind of Courage" where he attacks the character and integrity of Gen. John Bell Hood, accusing him of lacking "moral courage."

A fully detailed and sourced expose' of Sword's latest collections of errors, ommissions and intentional deceptions has been posted at http://www.swordexposed.com



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 06:11 am
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ole
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Sword is quite famous for his bent against John Bell Hood. What is your excuse for getting upset about it?



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 06:41 am
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Sgt. Biggenbottom
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 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 08:34 am
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fedreb
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From this and previous posts you obviously have a downer on Wiley Sword. Most authurs ( not all ) have some bias for and against one side or the other or one person or another. Knowing Swords bias's why do you read him?



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 11:26 am
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Old Blu
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How dare he talk about an American Hero!! #%$#)(_)))(:(



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 01:22 pm
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Sgt. Biggenbottom
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I can understand the passion, and if anyone clicked on the link, the article is from the Sam Hood Historical Society, whose purpose would be to defend Gen. Hood and attack whatever they see as falsehoods. I feel the same way about William C. Davis - he's a misleading "expert", and it takes more time to check his facts than is worth the information he might provide. Also, he has an annoying money-grubbing habit of collecting up old articles and publishing them as new books, or taking a single topic from an old book, tinkering with it a bit and selling in on amazon as a new "treatment". So when anyone cites Davis on anything, I pull out my soapbox.

Member samhood is spreading the word about an issue he cares about - I posted the "catfight" emoticon because I've heard this fight before, between the Sam Hood Society and Sword (and others - Gen. Hood is a controversial figure, and his behavior is open to many interpretations).
His post was just provocative in tone, resulting in the tones of the responses.

A productive discussion might be to question why Sword has such a poor opinion of Gen. Hood, in the same way William C. Davis has such a poor opinion of Gen. Johnston.



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 02:52 pm
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javal1
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Actually the fairest and most even-balanced views I've heard on Hood come from author and fellow discussion board member Eric Jacobson. A "just the facts, maam" type of approach.



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 04:12 pm
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Captain Crow
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WHAT!!?? AUTHORS HAVE BIASES!!!!??...next you'll tell me people who post on message boards are opinionated.....this is all too much...



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 04:50 pm
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samhood
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Guys:

Thanks for your interest, curiosity, or whatever motivated you to read the Swordexposed essay.

My username is my real name, Sam Hood, and I am a relative of Gen Hood, although not a direct descendent. Like all of you I am a Civil War enthusiast and preservationist, and because of my collateral kinship to the Gen. Hood, I have always studied his life and career in more depth than other Civil War characters who interest me.  I am active in the John Bell Hood Historical Society.

Many years ago when I first read Sword's "Confederacy's Last Hurrah" I was shocked at many of his assertions, which were inconsistent with established family history. I was also astonished at how much of the historical record known to me was absent in Sword's book.  It became apparent that Sword was revealing to his readers only selected records, all of which were critical of Hood.  This seemed to me to be deplorable conduct from a scholastic standpoint. How can a non-fiction reader possibly be educated when the author filters out any and all evidence that does not support a predetermined conclusion?

Furthermore, I found it deplorable that Sword would attack the personal honor and integrity of a defenseless dead man. Misrepresentation and fact-filtering the historical record to paint Hood as a poorer general than he was is bad enough, but to make an all out assault on the man's personal character, tarnishing his eternal reputation, to me, simply crossed the line of human decency.

I discussed the matter with Sword personally in 2003, and he blamed the absence of all pro-Hood evidence in his book on his publisher, who he claimed culled 25% from his manuscript. Although I didn't believe him, I nodded and let it pass.  Then, four years later, Sword wrote essentially the same thing in his latest book, proving that his casting blame on his publisher for the earlier book was false.

My motivation for defending Gen. Hood and exposing Wiley Sword's scholastic and literary malfeasance, although originally inspired by kinship, is now driven more by a desire to warn the Civil War history community of his behavior. People who buy his books need to know what he is capable of doing to his subjects.

I frequently speak on Gen. Hood and the Tennessee Campaign at CWRT and SCV meetings, Living History events and other gatherings.  I have never accepted a penny in honorarium, or even travel expenses, which have taken me as far from my West Virginia home as California and Texas. And rather than charge the public for my research on Gen. Hood by publishing a book, I provide all information free on the internet. I encourage observers to compare my motives to Sword, who, as far as I know, does not give his books away for free.

Was John Bell Hood a successful army commander? Absolutely not. As Private Sam Watkins wrote, Gen. Hood, as an army commander, "was a failure in every particular."  But Watkins also wrote, "He was a noble, brave and good man, and we loved him for his virtues and goodness of heart...Every impulse of his nature was to do good, and to serve his country as best he could." To criticize Hood's decisions as commander of the Army of Tennessee is appropriate, but to attack the man's personal honor, as Sword does, is inappropriate in the extreme, as is Sword's propensity to intentionally mislead his readers, and charge them for the privilege.

Sword is a gifted writer for sure, which makes his conduct even more reprehensible. He should use his God-given talents to educate, not indoctrinate, and to inform, not misinform.

Last edited on Sun Nov 9th, 2008 08:27 pm by samhood



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 04:53 pm
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samhood
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Dittos to Grumpy Geezer.  Read Eric Jacobson's book if you want to know about Spring Hill and Franklin.  Jacobson cuts through the rumor and myth, and lets the ENTIRE historical record speak for itself.



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 05:17 pm
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Sgt. Biggenbottom
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ole wrote:Sword is quite famous for his bent against John Bell Hood. What is your excuse for getting upset about it?

I guess that one's been answered. How about the reasons or motivations for Sword's bent against Hood ?



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 06:38 pm
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formeryank
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ole wrote: Sword is quite famous for his bent against John Bell Hood. What is your excuse for getting upset about it?
Greetings,

I find this comment puzzling, no offense.

History is about nothing if it isn't vigorously based in truth and accuracy. All students of history should be deeply concerned about truthfulness in books and articles, especially about the Civil War which we all are so passionate about.

I've been a student of the Civil War for over 30 years. I am deeply passionate about it, and care very much about accuracy in historiography.

Sam Hood's passionate defense of General Hood is not based only upon the fact that General Hood has been unfairly maligned in popular history, most famously in Sword's "Confederacy's Last Hurrah". This defense of Hood in history is long overdue and is a discussion that is important in understanding the Civil War and the War in the West in particular. Sam Hood's defense of Hood is a defense of excellence in Civil War studies, a defense of accuracy, and an indictment of agenda-driven untruths.

This discussion is all the more important because of the visibility that Sword has in the marketplace. In most bookstores, his is the only book on the Franklin and Nashville campaign. The fact, clearly proven by Sam Hood and others, that Mr. Sword is egregiously false and misleading in his treatment of General Hood merits the kind of defense that Sam Hood and others have presented. Sam makes the case quite clearly, as does Eric Jacobson in his recent excellent treatment on Spring Hill and Nashville that there is no historical evidence to confirm the portrayal of General Hood as presented by Sword. If there is no evidence to support Sword's portrayal, and the record shows actually that Sword is wrong, then what is Sword's portrayal of General Hood at Franklin other than fiction. The evils of fictionalizing historical events and persons and presenting such portrayals as scholarship is too obvious a point to merit further discussion on the point here.

As students of history isn't the pursuit of truth the foundation of our world? Do we need an "excuse" to defend a person who has been wrongly characterized and maligned for present and future generations? I think that most students of history want our heroes and villains to be dealt with fairly and accurately. Mr. Sword has not been fair with General Hood - the record must be corrected.

Sam Hood is  doing the Civil War community and everyone who cares about the pursuit of truth in history a great service; one never needs "an excuse" to set the record straight. To suggest such a thing is bizarre to me.

Sam's passion in setting the record straight is one that I share. I applaud him for his research and his efforts.

Agenda-driven history ...isn't.

Wiley Sword's attacks on General Hood are not supported by the facts. Therefore, his approach is agenda-driven opinion and is not valid history. If his discussion of Hood at Franklin and Nashville and elsewhere are conclusions based on Sword's agenda of criticizing Hood the result is not good history - it is bad scholarship. If Sword is wrong about Hood at Franklin, what else is he wrong about? Such a profound misrepresentation of General Hood at Franklin puts the entire book to question.

Sword is an excellent writer, but his "scholarship" regarding Hood is not accurate. The record must be corrected, and we all, as students of history and passionate defenders of truth should support all such corrections. That is what historical debate is all about. If one has a position and an opinion one ought to support them with facts. If there are no facts to support them, the result is a novel or a bad book of history. This is what Sword has done. Sam Hood's fight to correct the record should be applauded by everyone in the historical community. One doesn't need an excuse to defend the truth. It's the right thing to do in and of itself.

One doesn't need an "excuse" for getting "upset" about bad scholarship.

All interested historians and students should get "upset" when historians like Sword, and now McCullough, go astray. It's a serious matter and can only undermine scholarship.

Folks like Sword confuse the subject, muddle it up, and break the trust that readers have with historians. This is why we should all get upset. If folks don't care about this kind of thing... well, they're not really historians and they're not really about the truth.

Best Regards,
Daniel Mallock
Civil War student and pursuer of truth



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 06:45 pm
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javal1
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Well said Daniel. The trouble begins when we don't question bias or the appearance of it.



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 08:10 pm
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izzy
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I have Sword's, The Confederacy's Last Hurrah.  I have never read it.  In fact it is still in its plastic wrap.  What to do now?  Is there any reason to read it?  Should I order Jacobson's book instead and throw Sword's in the trash?  Are there any other books on the subject that you recommend reading on the subject?



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 08:34 pm
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javal1
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Izzy,

By al means order Jacobson's. Then read them both. Examine the sources cited, and use your judgement to decide who if anyone is biased. That's the fun of studying. I've made my own decision which happens to coincide with SamHood's, but I would never make ir based on opinions on a discussion board. Besides, while I do disagree with Sword on Hood and a few other things, there's much to learn from his books as well. Always read with a skeptical eye and no preconceptions. Your judgement then will ususally be right.



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 08:42 pm
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samhood
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Geez. I don't know what to tell you to do with Sword's book.  If you take what he says about Hood with a grain (or perhaps a block) of salt, it is a heart wrenching, poignant telling of a tragic event.  But in addition to his factual errors, distortions  and deceptions, Sword has so much useless melodrama in it, namely the JB Hood/Sally Preston and Patrick Cleburne/Susan Tarleton dramas, that it is hard for me to suggest anyone spend the time necessary to read 400 pages of cut-and-paste historiography. Jacobson's book is much better history...especially the analysis of the "Spring Hill Affair" and the deserved attention given to the performance of the tough-as-nails Union troops at Franklin.  The only other book on the TN Campaign that I would suggest is Winston Groom's "Shrouds of Glory."  Although Groom's book is a narrative (no footnotes) it is objective, thorough, and if the author has a personal opinion, he doesn't allow it to infect the quality of his work.



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 08:43 pm
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I wince in anticipation of being lambasted for the following recommendation but here goes....

"Shrouds of Glory-From Atlanta to Nashville: the last Great Campaign of the Civil War" by Winston Groom

Well written, with an easy to follow narrative, and reasonably balanced, this is a good starter volume for anyone interested in Hood's campaign in the west.

I also own Sword's book and have always had misgivings about his obvious bias against Hood.



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 08:53 pm
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izzy
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Thanks for your opinions.  I won't read Sword first.  I'll start with either Jacobson or Groom or both.  If I get into an indepth study of that campaign, then I might read Sword.  I just don't want to read a book that has a definite slant to it first and get off kilter from the start.  Thanks for the early warning. 



 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 11:21 pm
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If Sword's books are nothing but cut and paste histiorography, then that means that authors before him were making the same accusations.  Maybe instead of launching a marketing campaign against the most convenient target you could address the original sources which influenced Sword's opinion.

Last edited on Sun Nov 9th, 2008 11:24 pm by The Iron Duke



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 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 11:48 pm
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Sgt. Biggenbottom
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Sort of what I said, but not as snarky. What's the motivation or reasons or sources for Sword's opinion of Hood ?



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