View single post by samhood
 Posted: Sun Sep 21st, 2008 11:03 am
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Joined: Tue Sep 6th, 2005
Location: West Virginia USA
Posts: 55

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Ladies and Gents:

If I may jump in here...

Hood was sent into Tennessee primarily to attempt to defeat Thomas's forces, liberate Nashville and move north, all of which would force a retrograde by Sherman, who had already departed on his March to the Sea.  For Hood to have turned around and abandoned the campaign after the Spring Hill debacle (regardless of who was to blame) was not an option.

In a telegram to PGT Beauregard in late November 1864, Jefferson Davis alluded to Hood's mission when he stated, "Until Hood reaches the country proper of the enemy, he can scarcely change Grant’s or Sherman’s campaigns."

Schofield explained Hood's decision to attack at Franklin in his postwar memoirs: "Hood's assault at Franklin has been severely criticized. Even so able a general as J.E.Johnston has characterized it as ‘useless butchery'. These criticisms are based on a misapprehension of the facts, and are essentially erroneous. Hood must have been aware of our relative weakness of numbers at Franklin, and of the probable, if not certain, concentration of large reinforcements at Nashville. He could not hope to have at any future time anything like so great an advantage in that respect. The army at Franklin and the troops at Nashville were within one night's march of each other; Hood must therefore attack on November 30 or lose the advantage of greatly superior numbers. It was impossible, after the pursuit from Spring Hill, in a short day to turn our position or make any other attack but a direct one in front. Besides our position with the river on our rear, gave him the chance of vastly greater results, if his assault were successful, than could be hoped for by any attack he could make after we had crossed the Harpeth. Still more, there was no unusual obstacle to a successful assault at Franklin. The defenses were of the slightest character, and it was not possible to make them formidable during the short time our troops were in position, after the previous exhausting operations of both day and night, which had rendered some rest on the 30th absolutely necessary.

"The Confederate cause had reached a condition closely verging on desperation, and Hood's commander-in-chief had called upon him to undertake operations which he thought appropriate to such an emergency. Franklin was the last opportunity he could expect to have to reap the results hoped for in his aggressive movement. He must strike there, as best he could, or give up his cause as lost."

Hood accusing his soldiers of cowardice and blaming them for the defeats on the Tennessee Campaign is pure myth, created almost single-handedly by master wordsmith and arch Hood-slanderer Wiley Sword.  Sword took Hood's words out of context, distorted their meaning, and shamelessy concealed from the reader all of Hood's words of praise and acceptance of responsiblity.  Hood wrote in Advance and Retreat, praising the “extraordinary gallantry” of the soldiers of the Army of Tennessee at Franklin.  In his Official Report of the Battle of Franklin, Hood wrote, "Never did troops fight more gallantly." In his Army of Tennessee resignation letter he wrote, "When the fortunes of war were against us, the same faithful (Army of Tennessee) soldiers remained true to their flag, and with rare exceptions followed it in retreat as they had borne it in advance."  In Advance and Retreat, he wrote, "Whilst I failed utterly to bring on battle at Spring Hill..." In his Army of Tennessee resignation letter, of the Tennessee Campaign he wrote, "I am alone responsible for its conception..."  At the end of the Nashville retreat, near Shoal Creek AL, W.G. Davenport of the 6th Texas Cavalry wrote that Gen Hood rode up and "Looking worn and tired but with kindly words for all, said to the soldiers, 'Boys, this is all my fault.'"

But perhaps Hood's most eloquent praise for the soldiers of the Army of Tennessee are found on page 296 of his memoir, where he compared the soldiers to his own renowned namesake Hood's Texas Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia, "The attack (at Franklin), which entailed so great a sacrifice of life, had become a necessity as imperative as that which impelled Gen. Lee to order the assault at Gaines’ Mill, when our troops charged across an open space, a distance of one mile, under a most galling fire of musketry and artillery, against an enemy heavily entrenched. The heroes in that action fought not more gallantly than the soldiers of the Army of Tennessee upon the fields of Franklin."


Finally, Hood's movement to Nashville after the defeat at Franklin was indeed an act of desperation.  He was trying a Hail Mary, but since Napoleon's Maxims are quoted previously in this thread, may I also offer up Napoleons Maxim Number VI states, "At the commencement of a campaign, to advance or not to advance is a matter for grave consideration; but when once the offensive has been assumed, it must be sustained to the last extremity. However skillful the maneuvers in a retreat, it will always weaken the morale of an army, because in losing the chances of success these last are transferred to the enemy. Besides, retreats always cost more men and materiel than the most bloody engagements; with this difference, that in a battle the enemy's loss is nearly equal to your own--whereas in a retreat the loss is on your side only."

And keep in mind how concerned US Grant was with Hood's threat while at Nashville. Grant wired Thomas on Dec. 11, imploring him to attack Hood. "If you delay attacking longer, the mortifying spectacle will be witnessed of a rebel army moving for the Ohio…



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