View single post by samhood
 Posted: Tue Feb 26th, 2008 08:46 am
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Joined: Tue Sep 6th, 2005
Location: West Virginia USA
Posts: 55

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Johan: You wrote...

Sam; It's been several years since I read exerpts of Hoods letters to Davis and to be honest I don't recall which book they came out of; I'll have to do some digging and frankly I won't lie to you and tell you I'll get right on that. I seem to recall Carter's Seige of Atlanta detailing some of that but I may well be all wet. I don't think it was in Cox or Woodworths work and it's entirely possible I have something written by Glatthaar in mind. I wasn't being fussy about this.  As I recently told Eric Jacobson, a few times in the past I have almost headed up to Cleveland to see Bragg's letters that are archived at Case Western Reserve Univ.  I would like to read them myself rather than rely on the paraphrasing of authors like Sword who intentionally try to make Hood look bad.  

Hood skipped the chain of command by sending his letters, purposefully bypassing superior officers in the chain of command while doing so. A heinous crime in the military and the kind of thing that would have gotten him a courts martial in the US Army. To add insult, for me, he did this all behind JEJ's back. In Hood's defence the AoT CS was full of backroom cowardly politicking and he would get his share of it. As I said in a prior post, I think this sort of thing was more common and less frowned upon back in the nineteenth century.  Plus, I think Hood was probably doing exactly what he was told by Davis and Bragg, considering Johnston's almost psychotic secretiveness (if that's a word) in all his previous commands.

Currently I've been studying and reading as much as possible on the wee scrap at Allatoona pass. What strikes me now and before is how Hood would edit his Official Reports after the fact, sometimes in a rather dramatic fashion. For example if you read French's account of his orders from his diary... they are almost completely at odds w/ what Hood filed in Febuary of 65. Hood bactracked trying to cover his posterier by saying he wanted French to grab the rations & wreck the RR there. When in reality he had ordered French to fill in the RR cut, destroy the Etowah River Bridge & return to the army in approx 30 hours. In short he was to destroy a bridge, tear up some RR track fill in a 100' deep RR cut that was better than 300' long, seize 1 million rations (which he added later) & return them to the army... w/out wagons. All this in approx 40 hours w/ less than 5000 infantry & 12 guns. French's men were good... but I question if any were that good. Hood was targetting a garrison that he had no info on in a position originally built by the CS designed for a garrison of IIRC 3000. In short French had a talent for understatemen: "It would appear, however, from these orders that the general in chief (Hood) was not aware that the pass was fortified and garrisoned that I was sent to have filled up." French's Report. You know much more than I do about Allatoona so I will defer to you on this one.  If what you say is true, and there are no other truths to go along with them, Hood deserves criticism for Allatoona.  Speaking of French, didn't he gather up some generals, secretly scheme for Hood's removal of command after Atlanta, and send an unsigned letter to Richmond?  (I have read this a couple times and Ed Bearss talked about it on a Staff Ride I attended with Ed.)

In short, for me, it is just one more example of Hood's lack of... capability.

Hood, in contrast to Lee would blame everyone except himself for failure. Not necessarily so (see the Lee quote at the end of this paragraph.)  Sword accuses Hood of never accepting blame for the failure of the TN Campaign.  Once he throws that stuff out there, everyone accepts it.  Then someone like me has to research the issue and dig up exculpatory evidence.  I personally haven't done much research on Hood and Atlanta, but there is plenty of evidence that he accepted his share of the blame for Tennessee...of course Sword concealed it.  As an example after Atlanta Hood wrote to Davis (Sept 6?): "According to all human calculations we should have saved Atlanta had the officers and men of the Army done what was expected of them." Again, I'm not so sure this sort of thing wasn't so uncommon in the era.  I could give plenty of examples of similar things being written by losing commanders-Union and Confederate-in many (if not most) major battles. For example, after his surrender, Lee wrote to Davis on April 10, 1865, "…The operations which occurred while the troops were in the entrenchments in front of Richmond and Petersburg were not marked by the boldness and decision which formerly characterized them. Except in particular instances, they were feeble; and a want of confidence seemed to possess officers and men." Hood wrote similar stuff and is demonized; others get a pass.  Again, I just don't think that sort of thing was considered taboo at the time. 

Of note in his speech at Macon in September Davis royally ripped both Gov Brown & JEJ. And in what can only be looked at as startling incompetance he detailed military plans. Was it Sherman who said that Davis's speeches in GA gave more intelligence than any spy could have provided...or something similar? When he reviewed the troops @ Palmetto he failed to return salutes and in return the men didn't cheer Davis but there were frequent shouts of "Give us Johnston!"  If I were a grunt in Joe Johnston's army I would have wanted him too.  In all of his command tenures he avoided battles, and because in every one of his commands he was constistently shortening his supply lines, his soldiers were always well supplied.  Johnston always made for happy soldiers but he did nothing to contribute to winning the war.  During Davis's Sept visit Hardee recomended the Johnston be reinstated to command of the AoT or to choose between Hood & himself (Hardee)w/ both Stewart & S.D. Lee agreeing. Hardee was sent to the Atlantic coast for his trouble Hardee asked to be transferred. and Cleburne & several others nearly resigned. From my readings on SC's General Manigault.  I haven't read Manigault.

To appease the upset Generals Davis appointed old Beau as Hoods CO... it was a sham as Hood all but ignored the man.  Not are buying Sword's assertions.

Like Davis & Wheeler; the more I read of Hood the less I like the man.  Not suprising since you like Sword so much.  Sword is a helluva writer...maybe the best wordsmith in CW literature right now, but he ought to write novels.  He compromises just about every rule of ethical historiography when it comes to Hood...and maybe other of his subjects.

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