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 Posted: Tue Apr 25th, 2006 11:28 pm
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samhood
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Eric:

    Whatever the desertion number might have been, memoirs of several veterans of the campaign indicate that it was abnormally high.  SA Cunningham wrote that after the defeat at Nashville "Almost all the Tennesseans had either gone home on furlough or took French leave (deserted)." Furthermore--not to split hairs--but there is also some ambiguity between captured and desertions when troops allowed themselves to be captured, as Sam Watkins testified. 

    Also, as you and I discussed recently, many Tennesseans were given furloughs during the retreat, and although willing, were unable to rejoin the army as Federal control over Tennessee was tightened after the Nashville defeat.  (Cunningham was one example.)

    In any event, as I said earlier, Hood is ultimately responsible for the number of troops returning from the campaign.  But in the context of the army being "destroyed" by Hood, I think the desertion numbers, whatever they might have been, are pertinent.

    



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 Posted: Wed Apr 26th, 2006 02:35 pm
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javal1
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Congrats to Eric for the story about his book in today's Nashville Tennessean. The story, with a picture of Eric, can be found here.

Also, there is now a thread open here for Battle of Franklin talk. Thought it might help.

Last edited on Wed Apr 26th, 2006 02:56 pm by javal1



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 Posted: Wed Apr 26th, 2006 03:28 pm
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samhood
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Savez:

    Thanks for the kind words about my web site.

    By the way, I can't take any personal credit for the convincing research that impeaches the credibility of the myth of Hood's laudanum use.  The article on my site is a reprint of a Blue and Gray magazine article by Dr. Steve Davis.  I'm sure Steve appreciates your compliments.

    Regarding my assertion that Hood would have had fresh troops and more time to use "strategic flanking manuevers" the next day, and the fact that the Harpeth was high and fast, is not double-talk.  On Nov. 30 the Harpeth was fordable, but only at a few spots, and fording was difficult and hazardous.  Forrest had been fording the river at either McGavock or Davis fords (Eric J. would know which) but with difficulty.  The river could be crossed, but not by large numbers of infantry in the brief time available on the 30th.  Also, Confederate flanking to the west could have been considered by Hood on the following day, although I will admit, I haven't studied that scenario.  In summary, I think it is pretty well established that the river was too high for large numbers of troops, wagons and artillery to cross rapidly, but the river could be crossed at a few places.  (There is record of one of Forrest's cavalrymen, a Mississippian named Dennis or Dennys, and his horse, drowning while fording the river on the 30th.)

     Regarding Hood and Lee's opinion that an offensive campaign was needed for the morale of the army after the fall of Atlanta, I don't think you make a convincing argument that Hood and Lee were "lying."  You might disagree with them, but there is little (if any) evidence that they were stupid or liars.  They were, like hundreds of other CW commanders of various rank, both Union and Confederate, who made observations, made decisions, and were trying to successfully achieve objectives with the information and resources available to them at that time.  The army had been steadily retreating since May, and Hood and Lee were reasonable to think that an offensive would improve morale.  (Also, Jeff Davis had found it necessary to tell the army at Palmetto that their faces would "soon be turned northward" and their feet  would "soon be treading Tennessee soil".

     You are right, Forrest didn't like Hood, but then again, Forrest didn't hardly like anyone:-)  However, the fact that Sword and some others bash Hood doesn't necessarily "add up."  The Hood bashing started with Horn.  Connelly took up the same theme, but sharpened the tone.  Sword "one upped" Connelly, and crossed the line of decency.  These authors fed on each other.  Go back and read Thomas R. Hay's 1929 Hood's TN Campaign, and Winston Groom's more recent Shrouds of Glory.  They have  different tone and content than Sword et al.  So does Eric Jacobson new book.  My point is that if any reader only reads a selected few books, he will get a filtered portrayal.

     Again, I appreciate your taking time to visit the site, and the respectable tone of your criticisms.   



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 Posted: Wed Apr 26th, 2006 04:50 pm
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samhood
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Savez:

    That's a good question that I am frequently asked.

    I am a relative of Hood, and have the honor of carrying his surname.  The General's grandfather Lucas Hood was my great x 5 grandfather, but I descend directly from his uncle Andrew Hood.  I suppose that makes me a first cousin.  I live in West Virginia near the Kentucky border, and several generations of my ancestors lived in Kentucky.  (Not only is my CWI screen name samhood, my real name is Sam Hood.)

    I have always been fascinated by Civil War history, but not until I retired in the late 90s did I find time to dive into a more in-depth study of Gen. Hood.  The first book I read was Sword's, and within the first several pages I read assertions that were inconsistent with established family lore.  I then read the rest of the book with great skepticism, noting how much historical evidence had been concealed from the reader.  In 1999 I attended a Tennessee Campaign battlefield tour/seminar in Nashville, presented by the Blue Gray Education Society, with Ed Bearss, Wiley Sword, and Richard McMurry among the faculty.  I was stunned at the one-sidedness of the presentation (by some of the faculty about some facts), and disappointed that many rumors and myths were being presented as fact.  The tour concluded with a visit to the Carter House in Franklin, where a staffer gave our tour group a highly caustic portrayal of Gen Hood, and declared that no picture of Hood appears in the museum, and never will.  (Fortunately, that policy has since been moderated.  Gen Hood's picture now is included with the other commanders, and the Carter House's portrayal of Gen Hood is much more objective.)  At that point I decided that both Gen Hood and modern students of the Civil War deserved to have a more objective, and less hyperbolic historical portrayal than what was becoming more and more common.

    Within a few months I launched the http://www.johnbellhood.org website, and to date we have received over 85,000 unique visits.  Many visitors contacted me expressing thanks that their favorite Civil War general was now being defended and honored, and from that evolved the John Bell Hood Historical Society.

     My objective is not to deify Gen Hood.  Like all of us, he had flaws.  His decisions as commander of the Army of Tennessee are fair game, however attacks on his personal character and honor do not seem appropriate, since he is not around to defend himself.  (Even his bitter rival Joe Johnston ceased criticism of Gen Hood after his death in 1879, noting that it was not fair to debate a man who cannot answer for himself.)  I try to focus most of my efforts on defending the General's personal honor, not his military decisions, but most discourse seems to evolve into analysis and discussion of his tactics...which is understandable I suppose.

     Thanks for your interest and indulgence.



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