Question: What do you say to some historians – like Wiley Sword – who say Hood’s biggest critics were his own men and colleagues?
Answer by Sam Hood
Such statements are demonstrably factually incorrect. Like all commanders, Hood had critics—officer and enlisted men—but he also had plenty of supporters. Those who expressed sympathies and support for Hood are almost always concealed from readers. The opposite is true of Joe Johnston, who is portrayed as having been almost universally worshiped by everyone except JB Hood and Jefferson Davis. In my research I found countless criticisms of Johnston’s tactics by his officers and men. As for Hood, a classic example of how authors’ portrayals can influence perceptions is Sam Watkins, who in his diary recorded three times as many praises of Hood than criticisms, yet his critical comments about Hood appear in virtually all modern literature on the Army of Tennessee while his affectionate expressions for Hood are almost always absent.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about JBH?
Wow. Where do I begin?
Robert E Lee did not prefer William Hardee over Hood to succeed Johnston as commander of the Army of Tennessee.
Hood was not stupid.
Hood cared very much about casualties of his troops.
Hood did not write “poison pen” letters to Richmond intended to make Johnston look bad and take Johnston’s job.
Hood was not a poor army logistician, and other than shoes and blankets (which Hood implored the Confederate government multiple times to provide) the Army of Tennessee was well supplied during the Tennessee Campaign.
Hood absolutely was NOT a proponent of frontal assaults. (In fact Franklin was the only frontal attack Hood ever ordered as an independent army commander.)
Hood did not accuse any soldier of cowardice, nor did any of his soldiers ever think that he did. In fact he strongly praised the Army of Tennessee, and did so often.
Hood was not angry at any time after the early morning hours of Nov 30, 1864, and his decision to attack at Franklin was made after careful, composed consideration.
The attack at Franklin was not intended to punish his troops or teach them any sort of lesson. He had one reason to attack at Franklin: to destroy Schofield’s army before it reached Nashville.
Hood did not position any troops at Franklin to make them face the strongest enemy fire.
Hood did not shirk responsibility for his defeats; rather, he took personal responsibility.
Hood wasn’t obsessively infatuated with his girlfriend.
Hood didn’t use drugs or alcohol.
And just for fun, how about this one: the Army of Tennessee never sang “The Yellow Rose of Texas” with lyrics that ended with “But the gallant Hood of Texas played Hell in Tennessee.” (It is recorded that only one soldier sang it just one time.)