View single post by samhood
 Posted: Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 04:09 pm
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Joined: Tue Sep 6th, 2005
Location: West Virginia USA
Posts: 55

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Lots of stuff in your last post. 

I couldn't disagree more with your assertion that Davis might have wanted to undermine Johnston during Sherman's Campaign.  You must look at the broad military/political situation at the time.  In early 1864 the North was weary of the war and Lincoln--facing a tough reelection in September--was under heavy fire in the northern press.  Lincoln decided to try a knockout punch to end the war before the elections.  Five major offensives were launched simultaneously; Banks' Red River Campaign, Seigel's in the Shenandoah Valley, Butler in the VA peninsula; Grant against Lee, and Sherman's offensive into GA.  Banks, Seigel and Butler were repelled, and Grant was in an incredibly bloody stalemate with Lee.  Nothing was going right for Lincoln EXCEPT SHERMAN.  Davis and the CS high command knew this, and they needed Sherman stopped, repelled, or at least bloodied badly.  The only positive thing the pro-Lincoln northern press could write about was how well Sherman was doing...and they did!  Johnston's tactics may have been the right thing to do at another place in a different time under different circumstances, but his tactics were not what the South needed in the summer of 1864.  Davis wanted Lincoln defeated, McClellan elected, and there would have been a negotiated peace.


As for Hood's attacks on Sherman at Atlanta, Hood, along with everyone else, knew that no city could ever endure a seige.  It didn't happen at Vicksburg, it wouldn't have happened at Atlanta, and it didn't happen later at Richmond/Petersburg.  The only way to save Atlanta was not to entrench and await envelopement by Sherman, but to attack and defeat him.  All of Hood's four attacks were attempts to catch a portion of Sherman's army detatched from the rest of the force, and attack in flank or rear.  They were unsuccessful, but to sit in trenches while all of Atlanta's rail supply lines were cut was not an option, nor was giving up Atlanta without a fight by retreating deeper into GA. (Because of the influnce of that move on the northern elections.)

As for Franklin, I assume (hope:-) Eric Jacobson might jump in here, but briefly, here is what Hood faced.  For whatever reason, and regardless of who was to blame, Schofield escaped at Spring Hill, and force marched to Franklin, where the river had destroyed bridges and the water too high and deep to ford.  So he had to dig in at Franklin, knowing Hood's army would be pursuing.  Hood's army arrived at Franklin in the afternoon, and Hood could see the Union trains being moved across a planked railroad bridge, and heading to Nashville...which was only an overnight's march from Franklin.  Hood's decision was to immediately attack what he thought to be Schofield's fatigued (the Federals had been marching for 60 straight hours), not fully fortified army.  Hood could not flank because the river was high, and the flank march (contrary to Sword's unbelievably false assertion) would cover 10-15 miles, and there was only a few hours of daylight remaining.  Plus, Hood's flank march could not be concealed, and would have been resisted by Schofield's cavalry and a division of infantry that he held in reserve north of the river.

Here are some quotes.

Col. Virgil S. Murphey of the 17th Alabama Infantry, "Had Hood succeeded, Nashville would have opened her gates to the head of his victorious legions and the throat of Tennessee released from the grasp of remorseless despotism. It was worth the hazard. Its failure does not diminish the value of the prize."

A member of A.P. Stewart’s staff, B.L. Ridley, "It has been charged that he (Hood) gave the order to attack at Franklin because of chagrin at his failure at Spring Hill. This supposition does Hood great injustice. A Federal courier had been captured bearing dispatches between Thomas and Schofield of the Federal army. The tenor of the dispatches led Hood to believe that Franklin was not in a defensible position, and that therefore, as he expressed it, he thought his ‘time to fight had come’." 

Sumner A. Cunningham, who stood near to Hood on Winstead Hill overlooking Franklin as Hood contemplated the attack,"While making ready for the charge, General Hood rode up to our lines, having left his escort and staff in the rear. He remained at the front in plain view of the enemy for, perhaps, half an hour making a most careful survey of their lines." Cunningham continued "...but I was absorbed in the one man whose mind was deciding the fate of thousands. With an arm and a leg in the grave, and with the consciousness that he had not until within a couple of days won the confidence which his army had in his predecessor, he had now a very trying ordeal to pass through. It was all-important to act, if at all, at once. He rode to Stephen D. Lee, the nearest of his subordinate generals, and, shaking hands with him cordially, announced his decision to make an immediate charge."

Hood needed victory in Tennessee to force a retrograde by Sherman, who had embarked on his March to the Sea.  Beauregard explained the reason for the Tennessee Campaign in a Dec 3 letter to Davis, he wrote in part, "...Under these circumstances, after consultation with General Hood, I concluded to allow him to prosecute with vigor his campaign into Tennessee and Kentucky, hoping that by defeating Thomas’s army and such other forces as might hastily be sent against him, he would compel Sherman, should he reach the coast of Georgia or South Carolina, to repair at once to the defense of Kentucky and, perhaps, Ohio, and thus prevent him from reinforcing Grant. Meanwhile, supplies might be sent to Virginia from Middle and East Tennessee, thus relieving Georgia from the present constant drain upon its limited resources.

Davis and Beauregard had sent Hood to liberate Nashville, and after Schofield's escape at Spring Hill, Hood had only two options; let Schofield complete his retreat to much more heavily fortified Nashville and attack there, or immediately attack Schofield at Franklin.  He had no third option considering what Richmond had sent him to do.

Finally...yes, Sam Watkins and others wrote some negative things about Hood, and you know them because Wiley Sword included every single one of them in his book; verbatim, not paraphrased.  Yet Watkins and others praised Hood, and NONE OF THEM APPEAR IN SWORD'S BOOK!  Not one!  You might want to ask yourself why Sword would cherry-pick Watkins and others and conceal from the reader everything good that was ever said about Hood.  Why? Because Sword had an agenda, something that is against all rules of ethical scholarship.

Have you ever read what Isham Harris, CS governor of Tennessee who accompanied the Aot on Hood's Campaign wrote about Hood after the campaign?  He wrote to Davis on Dec. 25, 1865, "I have been with General Hood from the beginning of this campaign, and beg to say, disastrous as it has ended, I am not able to see anything that General Hood has done that he should not, or neglected anything that he should have done which it was possible to do. Indeed, the more that I have seen and known of him and his policy, the more I have been pleased with him and regret to say that if all had performed their parts as well as he, the results would have been very different." Sword didn't want you to know this.  Shame on him. 

Hood certainly cannot by any means be considered anything but a failure as commander of the AoT, but his strategies, tactics and decisons were not without justification.  The results were tragic, but then again, so were Lee's at Gettysburg and Malvern Hill, Grant's at Cold Harbor, Sherman's at Pickett's Mill, and many other decisions made by commanders in the war.

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