Did Hood’s 1864 Tennessee Campaign have a chance of succeeding?


We recently asked Dr. Woodworth this question:  Did Hood’s Tennessee Campaign ever have a chance?

With Lincoln’s reelection, the North had demonstrated that it had the will to continue the war, if necessary, for another four years. Can anyone imagine that the Confederacy could possibly have resisted that long? Or, to put it another way, what would have had to happen, after Lincoln’s reelection, for the Confederacy to win its independence? Can we come up with any plausible scenario in which Hood’s Tennessee campaign could have started a chain of events leading to Confederate independence? If Hood had trapped and annihilated Schofield at Spring Hill, it certainly would have been an unwelcome development for the Union, but would it have enabled Hood to defeat Thomas in the fortifications of Nashville? I can’t imagine that it would have. What if Hood had pressed on into Kentucky or even Ohio? Would Union morale have collapsed, prompting Lincoln to sue for peace? Again, I can’t imagine such a reaction. And how might Hood’s ill-clad troops have fared in Ohio in December?

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2 thoughts on “Did Hood’s 1864 Tennessee Campaign have a chance of succeeding?

  1. No doubt, the outcome of the war would not change had the campaign been successful, but the question is regarding the Tennessee campaign itself.

    It is evident to me that had Hood followed the plan as Beauregard later described their conversation, to push north and move on Murfressboro, the outcome of the campaign at least may have been somewhat different.

    At what poinit Hood had moved on to Murfreesboro would likely have been the deciding factor in the success of the campaign.

    It is in fact possible to have a succesful campaign and still lose a war, as many commanders have proven in past wars. I think the success of this campaign would have been measured in the relief it brought Lee in Virginia.

    As it was, Smith’s entire corps had to be transferred from the west and nearly all Tennessee garrisons stripped of their forces to confront Hood’s threat.

    So, did it stand a chance of being a successful campaign? I would say yes with careful planning and economy of force. At best it would have prolonged the suffering of men on both sides and extended the war perhaps another six months.

    This doesn’t particularly sound successful, but if the goal of creating a threat in the enemy’s rear achieves some relief or success on another front, the mission is likely accomplished.

  2. At the point of the campaign there was also Price’s invansion into Missiouri which bottomed out around the same time as Hood’s was getting under way. The two campaigns were supposed to work in concret with each other. But Price’s campaign stepped earlier. Hood’s didn’t get into Tennessee until October of 64 by this point Price was looking for a way out. I honestly believe that had Hood’s campaign been successful it would have caused Lincoln to look for a peaceful solution. The final part of Hood’s campaign was to link up with Lee in Virginia which would have given them opportunity to overpower Grant and possibly sweep the valley clear of all Federal then focus on Washington itself. It could have worked but Hood failed more then anything else just like outside of Atlanta his offesive tactics cost him dearly and this time it destroyed the army he commanded.

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