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Hood's Performance at Nashville - John Bell Hood - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Tue Sep 16th, 2008 02:58 pm
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pamc153PA
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Hi folks,

Well, I've worked myself from Franklin to Nashville, and I'm really stumped by Hood's performance at Nashville. I'm having a hard time figuring out why he did what he did in the battle.

It makes sense that, since he didn't have enough numbers to attack against the Union Army there, he'd take a defensive position. Perhaps this was also due to what had happened to him at Franklin--he couldn't afford another suicidal attack, obviously. I assume he was planning to wait until Thomas attacked, then would counterattack, and take Nashville. But what was his plan, after that?

It seems to me that after that he sort of "lost it"--lost focus, lost clear thinking, lost common sense. Why send away Forrest's cavalry to Mufreesboro and further weaken your already weak position? It seems, IMO, that things just snowballed from there, and Hood was "lucky" to be able to withdraw south again.

So what happened with Hood at Nashville? Was he out of his depth as a commander of the AotT, which I've read some opinions suggesting, or were there other reasons that made him a "bad" choice for command? I'm by no means an expert on this--all opinions welcome!

Pam



 Posted: Tue Sep 16th, 2008 03:21 pm
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Scout
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Many of us have pondered these very same issues. For me, following his aggressive failures in and around Atlanta, Gen. Hood makes few decisions I understand.

Attempting to lure Sherman to the north by attacking his rail lines around Marietta and Allatoona may have worked, but Hood changed his mind and wanted to move North and take Nashville and possibly Kentucky...
some have suggested he even desired to join Lee in Virginia after this....an unreasonable idea which lends some notice on the man's grasp of reality in the fall of '64.

By not crossing the Tennessee nearer Chattanooga and delaying a month by moving nearly to Mississippi to cross at Florence/Muscle Shoals, Hood gave Schofield's two corps and Gen. Thomas dear time to gather/train his army at Nashville which in the beginning numbered less than 20,000.

His effort (Gen. Forrest found a great ford to bypass the federal position north of the river) at Columbia allowed for an excellent chance to separate Schofield's forces. But the fiasco at Spring Hill failed to allow for capitalization.
Then you have the disasters at Franklin and Nashville, followed by a retreat that only a vigorous rear-guard provided escape.

There are many good books about Nashville and the events that led to it. Stanley Horn's, The Decisive Battle of Nashville, comes to mind. About Franklin, Five Tragic Hours (the author escapes me I think McMurry) There are many topics to discuss about Hood's command of the AoT, perhaps we could narrow it?



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 Posted: Tue Sep 16th, 2008 04:07 pm
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pamc153PA
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Scout,

I see you are from Nashville? I haven't had the chance to visit there yet, but I just read somewhere that there IS no Nashville military park or something like it--is that so? What a true shame, if it is!

Pam



 Posted: Tue Sep 16th, 2008 05:18 pm
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ole
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http://civilwartalk.com/forums/civil-war-history-south-western-theaters/28112-hoods-plan-hoods-failure.html

For a very long but thorough discussion (only occasionally heated), visit this link.

ole



 Posted: Tue Sep 16th, 2008 05:38 pm
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HankC
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How about the possibility that Hood was undeterred when confronted by Thomas?

Recall that the Union forces attacked *in spite* of Thomas' inertia.

MacArthur, and others, saw an opportunity slipping away and ordered their men forward...


HankC



 Posted: Tue Sep 16th, 2008 07:29 pm
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Scout
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Yes Pam it's my hometown. Sadly very little of the battlefield remains. There are a few small parks that are within the core area. Sevier Park which surrounds Sunnyside Mansion has about 30 acres that was between the two lines during the first day of the battle.

Small sites the size of a lot like Redoubt No. 1 (last to fall of a series of rebel forts built to protect the left flank near present day green hills mall) and Shy's Hill (pivotal point of day 2) are preserved with the help of Battle of Nashville Preservation Society. (http://www.bonps.org) is their website.

There is a driving tour linking some 30 or so markers throughout the southern edge of the city. Unfortunately, I-440 was built directly through the battle line on the first day. And other school campuses such as Vanderbilt and David Lipscomb University built over significant portions also.

Recently the city renovated Fort Negley, near downtown and put together a 2 million dollar interpretive center (renovations plus the museum/center) which I have been to and it is very informative....if not a reminder of the lost battlefield.

Last edited on Wed Sep 17th, 2008 01:16 am by Scout



 Posted: Wed Sep 17th, 2008 01:42 am
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Thanks for that link Ole. It was quite the discussion.

I agree with Bama's reflection on Hood's wounds. In the Atlanta Campaign (previous to replacing Johnston) I recall his performance was rather mediocre.

Considering the two attempts Johnston took to lash out at Sherman, Hood's Corps was to lead the blow...and Hood either did not act (Cassville). Or Hood did not coordinate his attacks (Resaca/Kolb's Farm etc.. It was not just Hood, as the AoT seemed to consistently worry about it's flank and front and second guess Sherman's whereabouts.

But it truly is a wonder that with several able men and a number ranked Major General or better, who had served with that army through many campaigns...that command passed to Hood, who had only experienced corps command for a couple months.

Last edited on Wed Sep 17th, 2008 01:44 am by Scout



 Posted: Wed Sep 17th, 2008 02:51 am
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Johan Steele
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I think Hood was out of his depth from the moment he was given command of more than a Division. Sam Watkins makes clear his opinion of Hood as did many other private soldiers well prior to the disaster of Franklin. That said Hood was not alone, he just was never able to grow into the position.



 Posted: Wed Sep 17th, 2008 11:35 pm
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pamc153PA
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I've been continuing to read up on Hood, and especially the sequence of events that led to Hood's appointment by Davis to command the AotT in July 1864. He did very well at Chickamauga, breaking the Federal line, and ultimately losing his leg but being recommended for promotion by Longstreet. I suppose it helped that he and Jefferson Davis, during Hood's recouperation, developed a close personal relationship. When it came down to who to replace Johnston with, William Hardee or Hood, Bragg recommended Hood. But what I find really telling is the lukewarm response Lee gives when Davis asks his opinion of Hood:

"Hood is a good fighter, very industrious on the battlefield, careless off, and I have had no opportunity of judging his action, when the whole responsibility rested upon him.I have a very high opinion of his gallantry, earnestness and zeal. General Hardee has more experience in managing an army. May God give you wisdom to decide in this momentous matter."

To me, this is sort of, "He's okay, he certainly puts forth a good show, but you have to watch him, and maybe Hardee would have more experience when you need it, like now, so good luck deciding." I frankly don't know a lot about Hardee prior to this, so I can't make an honest opinion. Actually, based on what I read into Lee's words, it sounds like the choice Davis had either way was not the best. Just my humble opinion!

Pam

Last edited on Wed Sep 17th, 2008 11:36 pm by pamc153PA



 Posted: Wed Sep 17th, 2008 11:39 pm
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The Iron Duke
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Hardee had been offered command of the army in the past and turned it down.



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 Posted: Thu Sep 18th, 2008 02:28 am
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I think the climate in which Hardee turned it down following the debacle at Chattanooga has to be recognized. There was a near officer coup and it was apparent that Davis would stand by Bragg. Had the situation evolved more thoughtfully, Hardee may have assumed command without upsetting protocol.

But after being subservient to Bragg for a year and a half of poor leadership, thoughtful protocol was hard to oblige.

It must be noted that upon Hood's appointment to command, Hardee immediately sought reassignment at being passed over by a junior officer. Which he rightfully considered a "personally humiliating" situation.

Last edited on Thu Sep 18th, 2008 02:29 am by Scout



 Posted: Thu Sep 18th, 2008 03:22 am
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"Hood is a good fighter, very industrious on the battlefield, careless off, and I have had no opportunity of judging his action, when the whole responsibility rested upon him.I have a very high opinion of his gallantry, earnestness and zeal. General Hardee has more experience in managing an army. May God give you wisdom to decide in this momentous matter."

Lee was too much a gentleman to say, "Are you freaking crazy? The man is a time bomb! Hardee is a nebbish, but does know what he is doing. Leave me out of this."

ole



 Posted: Thu Sep 18th, 2008 03:29 am
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ole
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It must be noted that upon Hood's appointment to command, Hardee immediately sought reassignment at being passed over by a junior officer. Which he rightfully considered a "personally humiliating" situation.
It might be assumed that Hardee, who had been around the block a time or two, saw nothing good to come of that and very much wished to distance himself.

ole



 Posted: Thu Sep 18th, 2008 04:05 am
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I personally don't think Hardee has any right to be indignant over being passed over. He was offered a chance to prove his worth after being a rabid anti-Bragg man and he turned away from the opportunity.



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 Posted: Fri Sep 19th, 2008 12:31 am
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I still think Hood was zonked on laudenum, which would definitly cloud his judgement



 Posted: Fri Sep 19th, 2008 05:53 am
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I still think Hood was zonked on laudenum, which would definitly cloud his judgement


The stories of laudenum use as Eric Jacobson has pointed out several times on here and in his book For Cause & For Country are mostly myths .

Susan



 Posted: Sat Sep 20th, 2008 02:09 am
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ole
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No, Miss Susan, Eric doesn't say the stories are myths, he says there is no evidence to back them up. The state has not made its case so there exists reasonable doubt and, therefore, there can be no conviction.

Each of us can believe what we want (as in the first OJ trial), but without the evidence, we cannot rule.

ole



 Posted: Sat Sep 20th, 2008 02:36 am
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Thanks Ole, you are right , I used the wrong words. 

Miss Susan



 Posted: Fri Sep 26th, 2008 02:29 am
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I have read a significant amount of material on the Atlanta Campaign, and Hood's Tennessee Campaign. John B. Hood was in WAY over his head. He never made the transition from a brigade/division commander to a corps commander - much less the commander of an army in the field. Hood, on his best days, lacked imagination. Handling a division, like he did at Chickamauga, he could act more aggressively when opportunities presented themselves. However, as a corps commander - or army commander - he did not have the operational expertise, nor the imagination to lead such large groups of men.

I have visited Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville, twice in the past four months. While the battlefield at Franklin has changed significantly, you can still easily see the folly of his frontal assualts on Jacob Cox's well entrenched Federal corps. Adding to his lack of creativity was his use of Beford Forrest's cavalry - no imagination - and certainly no tactical plan that could succeed. Nashville was literally a last ditch effort to save his campaign. He was doubting himself by then and had lost all the confidence of his corps commanders - even A.P. Stewart - who sustained him earlier in the campaign.



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