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 Posted: Sun Mar 30th, 2008 04:05 pm
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samhood
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Joined: Tue Sep 6th, 2005
Location: West Virginia USA
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With apologies for commenting on a topic that has been dormant for a few months...

There is no historical evidence whatsoever that Hood used opiates.  It was a theory posed in a 1940 book that got traction.  As for alcohol, not only is there not a single shread of evidence that Hood drank, rather, to the contrary, it was written by one of his biographers that for the remainder of his life alcohol never touched his lips after his baptism by Gen Polk during the Atlanta Campaign.

It has always struck me as interesting that Ewell had FINALLY married the love of his life; while Hood was still persuing  (and ultimately disappointed in persuing) his Great Love in Life (was it "Sallie 'Buck' Preston"? I'm at work, no references handy...)

The Hood-Buck Preston thing was a dramatic soap-operetic non-issue concocted by Wiley Sword in his book on Hood and the TN Campaign.  Sorta like the Leo DeCaprio and Kate Winslet characters injected into the plot of the recent movie "Titanic."  Yes, Hood was courting Sally Buchanon Preston during the war, but many men were courting women during the war.

Especially JBHood, whom was noted for being "moody" and sometimes "unconcerned", during major battles.  

I know of no witnesses who ever wrote that Hood was "moody," to the contrary, the only descriptions I have read on Hood before battle was that he was composed.  SA Cunningham wrote of Hood before the Battle of Franklin, "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."

The reference to Hood being "unconcerned" came, I think, from the memoirs of one of Hood's Texans as Hood's Brigade was preparing for the charge at Gaines' Mill (long before his woundings at Gettysburg and Chickamauga).  Pvt. Val Giles (I think) wrote, "I tell you what,...I got mighty nervous and shaky while we were forming in the apple orchard to make that last desperate charge on the batteries. But when I looked behind me and saw old Hood resting on one foot, his arm raised above his head, his hand grasping the limb of a tree, looking as unconcerned as if we were on dress parade, I just determined that if he could stand it, so would I."

(In contrast, JBH would so little listen to any of his lessor generals' opinions that, after leaving a meeting that included Cleborne and NB Forrest, where each general there strongly disagreed with JB Hood's plans, NB Forrest exited saying "If you was a whole man, I'd whup you to within and inch of your life".) 

Philip D Stephenson of the Fifth Co. Washington Artillery described Hood: "Hood’s personal appearance was striking and commanding. He was over six feet and of splendid proportions . . .of magnificent and striking appearance. With his yellow waving hair and great tawny beard and big bold blue eyes and Herculean frame, he looked like a gigantic old Saxon chieftain come to life again."  If Hood were indeed "a whole man" I think Forrest would have had his hands full.

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