View single post by Johan Steele
 Posted: Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 04:28 pm
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Johan Steele
Life NRA,SUVCW # 48,Legion 352


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EricJacobson wrote: Johan,

No doubt Davis treated the Western Theater, aside from perhaps Mississippi, differently than the East.  That said, Davis and Johnston working together were a disaster for the Confederacy.  I don't think that could have been worded any better.

However, I have to disagree about Sword's treatment of generals in the West, particularly Hood.  Sword literally goes out of his way to attack Hood.  He accuses him of taking laudanum, trying to impress his lady friend Sally Preston, and murdering his soldiers at Franklin among other things.  I have never quite figured out how or why a scholar delves into territory usually left for fictional writers.  I've wondered on that as well; that said Sword has always been a favorite author of mine, perhaps because of his writing style or perhaps a shared passion for the arms of the day.  IMO his Mountains Touched by Fire is the bets book on the subject.

No doubt that Hood suffered heavy casualties after Johnston's dismissal and that he was not removed from command after Atlanta's fall.  But you have to consider that Davis wanted someone who would fight and he got that with Hood, for better or for worse.  I for one will not defend Hood based solely on his actions.  However, that does not mean Johnston gets the praise.  Both failed in their efforts to save Atlanta.  Again I agree, I don't think Hood the better general but I also don't see JEJ having a lot of other choices.  All he could do was continue to manuever and hope Sherman screwed up.

As I tried to explain in my book about Spring Hill and Franklin, Davis had few others choices by Sept. 1864 except to retain Hood.  He was not going to bring Johnston back, Beauregard was not an option, Lee wasn't coming west, Forrest and Cleburne were not qualified to be army commander, and Kirby Smith was running his kingdom west of the Mississippi.  Maybe Dick Taylor?  Do you know why neither Hardee or Cheatum were never considered?

It is easy to criticize Hood at Franklin.  Hood certainly knew the attack would be costly, but he also believed a flanking maneuver was not likely to succeed, not matter what Forrest thought.  Looking at a map and considering any flanking movement would have to fight through about 8,500 Federal soldiers and 14 cannon will show that Hood probably was correct in not attempting it.  Also consider that daylight was fast running out.  Again I see no flanking op as having much more than a snowballs chance.  But every time I look at that map & look at how the works have been described his attack fails under any & all circumstances. Even if he had waited for his arty his chances were poor not to mention attempting a night battle.

The Army of Tennessee did essentially die on the fields south of Franklin, but it did put up a heckuva fight at Nashville, all things considered.  The actions of those men on those fields, especially the redoubts, were nothing shy of increadible and the actions of the men who took them; I shudder to think about it.  Yet one more reason to respect those men on the sharp end.

In closing, this is not about praising or trying to elevate Hood, at least from my perspective.  It is simply an effort to provide balance.  Lee gutted his army at Gettysburg, but few will ever attack him like they do Hood.  Lee also continued fighting until his army was fragmenting and starving and only quit when he was surrounded.  Hood, in very basic terms, also fought to the very end.  More importantly, so did his men.

Hood is attacked, I think, because he failed so badly and his politicks of charachter assasination just aren't something one can easily get behind.  Lee was something else.

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