Hood’s blunder-failure at Franklin?

I understand I’m treading on thin ice here with some folk when it comes to critiquing John Bell Hood, especially for his actions at Franklin.  So let me clearly state my biases because we all have them; I’m just honest enough to admit them.

My biases and background?

  • I was born in Kentucky, which was neutral in the Civil War officially.
  • Until ten years ago (late 30s), I was very ‘pro-Southern’ and totally leaned to the so-called States’ rights side of the aisle. I espoused the Lost Cause ideology with conviction then, though I was not even aware how much I had descended into it.
  • Today, I have completely shed the Neo-Confederate mindset and its accompanying arguments.
  • I now believe that the American Civil War, at least for the last two years, was mostly (but not entirely) fought over the issue of slavery.
  • I believe that human slavery was a moral scourge on this nation and wished it would have been effaced from our landscape without the shedding of blood.

If you still have an objective bone in your body I submit the following six items as evidence that John Bell Hood made at least six fatal errors at Franklin. These six are mainly related to his direct frontal massed assault at Franklin.

Hood’s blunder-failure (i.e., his frontal assault) at Franklin can be summed up thus:

a. His assault had virtually zero artillery support.
b. He had too large an army to perform an assault that only had roughly 1.7 miles of width-to-width from flanks once the works were reached.  His columns were terribly constrained and inter-mixed.
c. He went against the better judgment of his subordinate commanding generals.
d. His cavalry played virtually no role in the assault strategically.
e. He started the assault too late in the day.
f.  He apparently had very little true knowledge of the topography of Franklin, and/or had the knowledge and ignored it.

John Bell Hood

a. His massed assault had virtually zero artillery support.

b. He had too large an army to perform an assault that only had roughly 1.7 miles of width-to-width from flanks once the works were reached.  His columns were terribly constrained and inter-mixed.

c. He went against the better judgment of his top subordinate commanding generals.

d. His cavalry played virtually no role in the assault strategically.

e. He started the assault too late in the day.  By the time his men reached the works it was nearly dark.

f.  He apparently had very little true knowledge of the topography of Franklin, and/or if he had the knowledge, he ignored it.

I’d love to know your opinion. Please comment.

However, I will NOT approve any comment that descends into plain silliness and ad hominem attacks.  I revealed my biases so fair-play suggests you will too , then lay out your arguments.

Let the readers make up their own minds.

By the way, don’t forget the Hood Legacy Discussion at Carnton coming November 6th.

Carnton will host a Hood panel discussion on Friday, November 6 at 6 p.m. in the event room of the Fleming Center. It is FREE to the public and will last about 1 ½ hours. Panelists will include Eric A. Jacobson (author, historian), Sam Hood (Hood expert, descendant), Sam Elliot (author, historian) and Brandon Beck (University of Mississippi).

21 thoughts on “Hood’s blunder-failure at Franklin?

  1. Greetings,

    Franklin isn’t my particular specialty, but I do think your comments are pretty solid in general (though I’m open to be disproved). I would make two observations:

    1. Re: He went against the better judgment…–I wouldn’t necessarily place emphasis on the fact that he just went against their judgment so much as I might argue that in this case they saw things more clearly than he did. He ought to have seen it because it was true, not just because they brought it up. There are, unfortunately, plenty of cases on record where the commanding general really did know what he was doing, and his subordinates didn’t. So, just because they said something isn’t significant. If you’re not careful, you’ll fall into the Lee-Longstreet at Gettysburg trap. (That could be a post in and of itself.)

    2. On slavery as a cause of the war: This is really more directed towards your honest context. I would argue that the best way to conceive of slavery in the war was as its primary “catalyst” as opposed to initial “cause.” There were other direct causes–states rights, tariff issues, etc.–but it was the context of the slavery debate that made them so explosive. For instance, “States Rights” was the explicit “cause” but what state right were they particularly concerned about? After the Emancipation Proclamation, the proverbial cat was out of the bag, and the catalyst merged with the cause, becoming harder to distinguish between.

    Just a thought or two.

    Best Regards,

    Dr. Brian Melton

  2. I believe all six points are accurate; however, I think to call them blunders misses somehow what I think you are trying to say. I wish I knew the right word but blunders implies a certain ignorance on Hood’s part or incompetence. Perhaps the phrase “odds against” works, perhaps not. I’m not a fan of “if” this or that so I won’t slip into hypotheticals but I would like to pose the question that always haunts me when I put myself on Winstead Hill and look up that gently sloping march of two miles: What other option(s) did he have?

  3. Always an interesting topic!

    Certainly Hood learned the same lesson that Lee learned at Gettysburg, Grant learned at Cold Harbor, Quincy Gillmore learned at Battery Wagner, and Burnside learned at Fredericksburg – a frontal attack against a well-entrenched foe equipped with rifles and artillery is likely to exact a frightful toll from the attacker.

    Curious that this elemental lesson seemed to escape almost every general until World War 2 when new options in mobile warfare presented commanders with opportunities to rapidly envelop static defenses.

    Despite the great foolishness of the Confederate assault on November 30, 1864, its remarkable to think that Hood’s army almost did the impossible. Its breakthrough at the center was only pushed back by a fortuitous counter-assault by local Union commanders willing to take the initiative. To me Franklin and Upton’s Assault on the Mule Shoe Salient at Spotsylvania seem so similar in this regard.

    My only big “What If” relates to the possibility of Hood engaging in another end round of the Federal forces at Franklin. With the Harpeth in a largely fordable condition, could some significant part of Hood’s army have swung around and cut off the retreating Union army on the north side of the Harpeth? With the Franklin-Harpeth river bridges in a precarious state, could the Union army have responded to this move on November 30? My only counter to this “What If” is that Hood had just tried a similar end-around at Spring Hill and his plan had miscarried. With November daylight hours at a premium, could Hood’s army have rapidly gained the Union rear? We’ll never know.

    And what if Hood had decided not to make the attack at Franklin? Great generals seem to have a superior sense of when to attack and when not to attack. Here’s where Hood’s character just seemed predestined to failure on the 1864/1865 battlefield.

  4. You’re right about Hood’s failures at Franklin.

    I would also throw in that Hood failed to make his attack plan in a rational state. He was furious at the Federal army’s escape from Spring Hill, livid at his own army and probably felt he needed to do something quickly or the blame for the whole thing would come down on him quickly and surely. I also suspect that deep down inside he was most angry at himself as he knew the blame for the whole debacle rested on his shoulders.

    It seems like his embarrassment at allowing the Federals to slip away led him to design an attack that was, at least in part, punitive against his own army. To cover his posterior, he needed an action that was immediate and high-energy. I’m sure he thought he could win the fight and punish his army in one shot.

    Re: biases & background –
    I wouldn’t have guessed that about you. And I’m also coming from a neo-Confederate past myself. But I sympathized with the South’s desire for self-direction and local control. As well as the belief that if a section desired to leave, it had that right.

    HOWEVER, I also concur with your belief on the slavery issue. There can be no more central cause (though there were other causes) than that. On the other hand, boiling the whole conflict down to pro-slavery (bad people) vs. anti-slavery (good people), as many folks attempt to do, does great injustice to all sides. The issue was so much more complex than that simplistic and adolescent view. I believe it really devolved into a simple Us vs. Them fight.

    In the end, the right side of the slavery issue won. Good riddance to that ugly institution. (And you can lump Jim Crow and racism along with that rubbish).

    There! Now you have my two shiny pennies worth of thoughts.

  5. John Bell Hood lost a leg and an arm and yet fought on for what he believed in and it was not a war based on slavery. It was based on high taxes and states rights. Lincoln wanted the Big money from the South and even told some of the states that they could keep their slaves if they would stay with the union and pay up.

    • I’m allowing this comment because it reveals your bias, which I appreciate you being honest. But I noticed you did not address any of the points about Hood’s actual failure at Franklin?

  6. From reading about the Battle of Franklin and having been to and visited parts of the battlefield three times I would concur Hood made a decisive blunder. I think his blunder started at Spring Hill when he allowed Schofield”s troops to march by his encamped troops during the night. He angered and ignored the advise of some of his best subordinates including Cleburne and Forrest. Hood was a good commander when he was under Lee and Longstreet but he was not cut out to be head of an army.

  7. Darren Dicky has summed up my personal analysis of Hood’s state of mind as well as anyone could. Hood was indeed furious with his army for allowing the Federals to slip though unmolested at Spring Hill. Planning in a state of rage, Hood could not have formulated a more ruinous plan of attack.

    Against the advice of some of his most capable subordinates, Hood pressed on with a bad plan. The Army of Tennessee suffered catatstrophic losses as a consequence.

    As to the causes of the conflict, slavery was chief among them. One need only study the papers of the Southern secession commissioners to understand that conclusion. I am convinced beyond doubt that the letters, papers and speeches of th Southern commissioners of 1860-1861 tell a compelling story about chief cause of secession and the Civil War.

  8. I believe Gen. Hood was a disabled veteran who would have served the South much better in an advisory capacity, especially given the nature and severity of his injuries. Laudanum (tincture of opium) can definitely affect almost anyone’s judgement, and there is good reason to believe that this was the case with Gen. Hood at Franklin, and possibly later at Nashville.
    Raised in the Jackson/Lee school of thought and tactics, General Hood was well-versed in the audacious and daring battle strategies of his military idols. At the time of the Franklin debacle, however, whatever inherited good judgement he had displayed in earlier times had long gone by the wayside; whatever was left after Gettysburg, Chickamauga and the Atlanta campaign were undoubtedly and unfortunately obscured by his horrible wounds and the powerful narcotic/sedative he had to take to deal with them.
    To paraphrase Shelby Foote, The Flower of the Army of Tennessee fell at the Battle of Franklin. Hood wrecked his own Army in a senseless frontal assault, much too late in the day, and against the advice of men like Generals Cleburne and Forrest. These were barriers to success in addition to the notable preparations for battle manifested by the Union soldiers (with the notable exception of General Wagner). It was too much for any host, especially the hard-driven Army of Tennessee.
    A further shame resultant from the loss of valuable men was a complete denial and loss of their influence following the War. Who knows what influential role the fallen soldiers might have played in the rebuilding of their land following the War.

  9. There can be no doubt that Hood accomplished brave and historic acts in other battles which partly resulted to his promotion to lead the Army of Tennessee. I have never fallen into the opiate excuse for his actions as while I’m sure he was in pain, there are no primary sources to promote the dulling of his senses or decision-making abilitites by opiates.
    Hood was a good soldier but was arguably not ready to command such a driving force of the Confederacy. He was irrascible and proud, and refused to listen to other generals who had equal or more experience.
    By spreading out Forrest’s cavalry, he rendered them nearly useless. And by ignoring the other general’s advice, he sent six fine and fellow soldiers to a wasted and wroughtful death.
    Hood’s decisions can never be ignored. His later words damned him even further. Are there reasons Hood chose this path? Sure. But his catastrophic choices are beyond tragic.
    This war ended the way it was meant and an unjust and immoral institution was banished. It was only a matter of time, but Hood’s timing. . . may be more tragic still.

  10. There are really two separate issues here. 1) Was the Civil War about slavery? and 2) Did Hood blunder at Franklin? They could be answered independently of each other.

    On 1) above, I would say the evidence is completely overwhelming. Read the congressional debates of the 1850s. Observe what was said by the secessionists themselves or by the vice-president of the Confederacy. I can see no other significant issue in the war besides slavery.

    On 2), I would once again have to agree. A case can be made in defense of Hood’s battle plans at Atlanta, though not his execution of those plans. Such is not the case at Franklin. It’s true that frontal attacks were sometimes necessary and sometimes successful. It’s also true that every truly great Civil War general launched one or two such attacks that he would no doubt have liked to have taken back afterward but that seemed reasonable when he launched them. Yet there simply can be no palliation or excuse for Hood’s Franklin assault. it did not seem at all reasonable when he launched it. By that point in the war, the simplest drummer boy could see that it could not succeed and would lead to the slaughter of the army. Bad as Hood’s situation was, wrecking his army could only make it worse. His only reasonable option was to maneuver in such a way as to maintain his army, since it was one of the Confederacy’s last assets.

  11. Pingback: Historian-author Wiley Sword weighs in on Hood’s blunder-failure at Franklin «

  12. Fascinating to have two such learned and accomplished historians weigh in with their opinions.

    My response is really a question. Where did this idea come from that Hood was trying to “punish” his men for Spring Hill? It seems idiotic, immature and absolutely counter-productive. Are there any primary sources for this? Or is it mere speculation that has caught fire and spread?

  13. @historychick

    I, for one, will say that my assertions above were mere conjecture on my part. Just my opinion.

    However, from what I’ve read Hood was indeed furious at Schofield’s escape and blamed everyone but himself. It also seems obvious that the Hood who had served so well in the ANV was not the Hood who led the AoT here. His planned attack in Franklin – against the advice of everyone around him – appears to be more rash than rational or well thought out. As a plan, it appears suicidal, which is what it turned out to be.

    I wasn’t aware of it before, but apparently I’m not alone in this opinion, even if I’m not in the most stellar of company. Wiley Sword raised the incredible ire of the John Bell Hood Historic Society when he claimed Hood had thrashed his army at Franklin, in part, as punishment. And B. Franklin Cooling attributed Hood’s temper as part of the cause of the disastrous loss in Franklin in an article he wrote for the CWPT.

    So, I cannot offer evidence of Hood’s state of mind or rationale that day, nor can anyone else for that matter, but it seems plausible that Hood’s temper and his injured sense of honor might have caused him to make a foolish battle plan.

    I also think it’s plausible that Hood actually believed he would win the battle. I don’t think he intended to wreck his army. But it’s conceivable that he believed he would win and if he could make his army pay for the dishonor of Spring Hill, it would be an added bonus. A hard fight would toughen up his army and regain some of their lost honor to boot.

  14. I always thought that the full frontal assault, on an enforced entrenchment was a fatal and suicidal error! I asked, what was impeding them to the east.
    The Harpeth River? Or Little Harpeth? Don’t recall which it really was, but it was just a stream most of the time! My grandfather lived on Lewisburg Pike where it closes with the Harpeth River! His father a Slave.
    I don’t know what impeded them to the west!
    Keeping them from Outflanking the Union Troops!
    But like you said and I never thought of that, 4:30 PM.
    The TIMING, was an obvious, ridiculous, incredible, unbelievable, UNFORGIVING “MISTAKE”. I thought it was HOOD or FORREST that LEE didn’t Like from West Point, because of his propensity for “Heroics”.
    In LEE”S opinion the Battle Field was no place for Heroes in “GENERALS”.
    You Lose my Troops!
    And when they’re “Done” I’m “Done”.

  15. Now that the facts are in, I don’t see any reason for Philosophical, Psychological, Scientific, Opinion, Analysis!
    This event is another example of the “Futility of War!
    A General became Angry, Got “MAD” and became a “MAD MAN”.
    He wanted to “Hurt Somebody” In the “Worst” Way!
    And he was a “General”.
    So he did it “His Way”.

  16. To fully disclose my biases, I was born and raised in NJ, my first ancestors having come here from Holland to the New Amsterdam colony. My family has DAR on both sides, as well as three who fought in the Civil War on the side of the Union.

    Had I been alive at the time, I probably would have been a free-soiler. I disagree with slavery philosophically and morally, but cannot get around the fact that the 10th Amendment made it a state issue. I believe that abolition by a simple act of Congress would have been unconstitutional. The only way to abolish slavery nationwide would have been by constitutional amendment (which is how it eventually happened). However, I do believe that the federal government had the right to outlaw slavery in the territories, and that the Republicans in DC were well within their rights to use any parliamentary trick or maneuver to prevent new slave states from being admitted to the Union.

    I believe that when pointing out Hood’s shortcomings and his poor decisions during the Tennessee campaign, too much focus gets placed upon Hood’s decision that was made at 2:30 pm on Nov. 30, and not enough upon his decisions on Nov. 29 and Dec. 1. Why, after finally maneuvering his army between Schofield and Nashville, did he decide to work banker’s hours and retire for the evening? He had to know at that point that Schofield was aware of the perilousness of his situation and would act. Regardless of the controversy of what may have happened with his orders at Spring Hill, he was leaving the battle in the hands of subordinate commanders at a critical time. Was Schofield’s escape due to Hood’s indolence? It certainly appears so. Perhaps Hood’s furious attack on the 30th into the night was an attempt to overcompensate for his laziness the day before, or an attempt to erase that perception. Certainly no one could accuse him or his army of not working overtime on the 30th. Hood and his ancestors can make all the excuses they want, and attempt to blame all of his failures on others, circumstances, or fate. None of them have a convenient answer for this question. I believe Hood had to be aware of that when he did what he did at Franklin.

    On the morning of Dec. 1 it had to be hard for everyone in the Army of Tennessee, from the commanding general to the drummer boys, to escape the reality that Hood had absolutely wrecked his army. 13 generals and half the field officers had become casualties. They had a brigade that was being led by a captain for God’s sake! Hood had not achieved his goal of destroying Schofield before he could link up with Thomas at Nashville. That ship had sailed. What could possibly be gained by continuing on to Nashville, to fight an army twice as big, behind more formidable fortifications? Does a boxer get the stuffing beaten out of him by a non-contender and wake up the next morning and say “I am ready to take on the champ?” I believe that Hood’s assault at Franklin stood a much better chance of success than any he could have hoped for at Nashville. That is a nice way of putting it. Another way would be that Hood’s decision to continue on to Nashville, to provoke a battle that could have only one outcome, demonstrated a complete disregard for the lives of his men that I find to be not simply irresponsible but unforgiveable.

  17. I am a Nashville native and lived in Franklin for 12 years. Agree with your assessments of Hood’s blunders, and blunders they certainly were. Hood was unfit for command by this stage in the war. Any of his directly subordinate generals would have been a better choice.

    As for the other issues you raise: Of my ancestors of the Civil War years, some served in the Union army and some the South’s. Two observations:

    1. To defend the South’s cause is to defend the absolutely indefensible. The South seceded over slavery, period. Read the original secession resolutions, starting with South Carolina’s, the first state to secede. Its resolution discusses nothing but slavery as its cause to secede. The Confederacy fought to preserve slavery, period. All this “states rights” stuff is absent from the southern states’ prewar ruminations. It’s a postwar apologists’ invention. Even the northern-voted tariffs that Southern apologists offer don’t wash as part of the casus belli, since the South, mainly S.C., wrote the Congressional enactments for the tariffs in the 1850s.

    2. The severity with which Lincoln fought the war is also indefensible. In fact, Lincoln’s body of political idealizations of the union of the states is indefensible. It certainly was not based upon the Constitution, which Lincoln himself freely admitted. The more I have studied Lincoln, the less enamored and more horrified of him I become. He was the closest thing to a despotic dictator this country has ever come.

    These, I think, encapsulate the reason this war still grips the popular imagination. Neither cause can be rationally defended and neither should be embraced today. Neither North nor South have ever been able to cogently reconstruct what was so important that it was worth taking 600,000 lives and destroying tens of thousands of square miles of American territory.

  18. I do tend to agree with most of the previous comments and your assesments as to why Hood lost the battle. The battle could have been won @ this location if he would have had artillery support or if he would have attempted a flanking manuever. If he could have positioned himself between Franklin and Nashville, Schofield (his union counterpart) would have had no other choice but to surrender or try to fight his way out and Hood’s superior numbers might have prevailed. I do also agree that Hood was definitely not thinking very rationally. He was undoubtly very upset by what had happened @ Spring Hill and he was letting his emotions override his better judgement and I do think that there is a possibility that laudanum could have been a factor. I’m not saying that he was an addict but if he was using the stuff it could have very well have served to have clouded his judgement. Hood has also always struck me as the proverbial “bull in the china shop”. He was a very good brigade and divisional leader. He was very brave and fearless and was one of those generals who led by the creed of “follow me”! However, bravery and fearlessness are not always enough when it comes to leading an entire army. You’ve got to have some brains to go along with it and I’m not sure the old boy possessed a tremendous amount of that. He certainly wasn’t a Lee, Jackson or Grant! An incredible irony to all of this is that Hood lost the use of his arm @ Gettyburgh by attempting a frontal assault on the Devil’s Den. This was an assault that he did not want to make and he vehemently argued with his commanding officer (James Longstreet) over doing this. You would think that after experiencing first hand the devastating and painful results of a frontal assault that he would not be so quick to order one himself. A more intelligent man would have! You would also think that after virtually destroying his army @ Franklin that he would have had sense enough to realize that his army was not gonna be able to fight another large full scale battle without some major replenshing, which by this point in the war was virtually impossible. Instead he marches what’s left of the army up the road to Nashville and attempts another battle under circumstances worse than what was present @ Franklin. This pretty well finished the Army of the Tennessee as an effective fighting force. The bottom line is this, The Army of the Tennessee was led by a General at Franklin who was somewhat over his head when it came to leading an army and was also prone to letting his better judgement get overridden by his emotions and this is why the results of the battle were so tragic and devastating for the south!

  19. Hi. I would like to write in defense of Hood at Franklin. In order to do so it is important that Franklin occured in a context that and was the chain end of a series of catastrophes that set this battle up. First, Hood was awarded command of the army of Tenessee at the end of a disastorous campaign by Joseph Johnston. Johnston was not an incompetent field commander at all but he was outnumbered by Sherman and rereated across Georgia and highly defensive terrrain. Johnston strategic temparament was a RELUCTANCE – not a complete unwillingness – to take the offensive only when under the most favorable conditions with victory highly unlikely. He was not a bold offense fighter such as Jackson, Lee, Sheridan, Grant, Forest, Cleburne or to a lessor degree Meade or Sherman. Johnston’s lengthy retreat to the gates of Georgia led to major casualties – although not at the scaleof Lee’s and Grants – led to some degree of demoralization and increased desertions. He placed Hood in the same situation Lee faced when he took over the AONV from Johston with the AOP literally at the gates of Richmond. And this without Jackson and his Valley army sitrring things up and diveting union troops from the AOP to protect Washington DC. As for turning Forest loose on Sherman’s rail lines, Forest was responsible for a key part of Confederate territory. He wasn’t an unrestricted mobile reserve sitiing on his hands. In trying to preserve a Confederacy that was choking on a blockade, a deteriorating rail system, loss of strategic and vital cities and regions, Davis could not just throw away hugh sections of the country, factories, fields, populations, governing centers, railroads and limited manufacturing. Davis, was under constant presure by state governments for troops, reinforcements and supplies.

    I’m not saying that if Johnston had been bolder he would have decisively defeated one of the most capable generals in the entire war (Sherman) with a larger better equiped army, which could eventually replenish its losses far better thant the South. But Johnston had no real strategy except to retreat and hope that Sherman made a catastrophic mistake instead of risking seriously contesting his advance. Instead, he retreated to the outskirts of Atlanta, forcing an even more riskier attack with a great margin of error or setting up a lenghty siege and leaving Hood with little alternative except to attempt to undertake some brilliantly planned offensives that failed in execution in part because, like Lee, Hood had no experience running an army. He also inherited a completely dysfunctional and highly politicized officer corps whose insubordination greatly hindered Bragg and reached a level where in another time and era might have resulted in the court matrial and execution of some of the subordinate generals. Finally, the AOT had suffered extensive losses of mid rank and some higher level of officers. Finally, there is clear evidence in the form of Johnston’s plans to evacuate Andersonville that suggests he planned to evacuate Atlanta without much of a fight. Perhpas Hood’s biggest shortcoming was his lack of experience with the full command of a large field army and the recognition that the AOT was not nearly as capable as the AONV. But none of Hood’s offensives were blin headlong assaults into impregnable union fortified lines.

    Fast forward, Sherman beats the tar out of the AOT and siezes Atlanta. Sherman goes goes on the March to the Sea offiensive. The geogrpahy is much more open than Northern Geogria with much less defensible positions or room to mauneveur for Hood’s AOT. And the AOT had suffered much more in casualties, losses of equipment, just lost Atlanta, Tenessee troops were even more demoralized than before and there was even less probability that the AOT could inflict a catastrophic defeat on the union forces of Sherman

    Fast forward toward Franklin What was the confederacy to do? It was highly unlikely that the AOT was going to pursue Sherman and inflict a decisive victory, save Savanah and recover the smoldering ruins of Atlanta. At this point the AOT was still the only major Confederate field army that had some degree of manueverability and was not tied down defending a city or region. Perhaps the AOP had approximately 40,000 or so troops. Union superiority in repeating rifles and rifled cannon and larger number of artillery, and equipment was being felt. Reinforced slave troops were increasingly making their way to the battle field. The South was wearing out. Lee was being ground down by the AOP and no longer had the capability to infliect the kind of catastropihic defeat on Grant that might have been possible at Gettysburg or Chicamaugua. So what exactly do the confederates do with their one remaining, understrength field army.

    Well, Hood, with the FULL agreement and support of Davis and Beauregard decided that their last desperate roll of the dice was to try to hit Thomas before Schoefiled and other reinforcements consolidated into the heaveily fortified city of Nashville and perhaps and take a verylong shot roll of the dice by destroying Schoefield before he could consolidate and raise hell in Teneseess, Kentucky and Ohio.

    Hood outmanuevered Schoefield at Springfield and had his army set up for its destruction. The AOT failed for several reasons. Hood needed to be more hands on Cheathan. Forrest needed to tell Hood that he did not block the road as he was supposed to and not withold this vital piece of information from Hood. Hood should not have made a major change in troop dispositions without telling Cheatham. And Cheatham should not have sat on his ass while Schoefields entire army, strong out along a road marhced completely by Cheatham whose was 200 yeards away. Could anyone seriously see a Jackson, Sheridan or Longstreet bed down for the night when a strung out union army not in battle formation marched by 200 yeards from their camp.

    Yes, Hood was pissed. As would have Sheridan, Grant, Sherman, Jackson and George Thomas had they been in the same situation. Had the South not had a shortage of capable commanders heads wouold have rolled. So there was mutual blame all around in the AOT and Hood must bear the ultimate but not complete responsiblity.

    But its history now. So now what. Hood’s only hope was to catch Schoefield before he gets to Nashville. Because Hood had to leave a full corps and all his artillery in Columbia to conceral his cuttoff at Spring Hill, he only had two corps and no artillery to catch Schoefield. Franklin was his last shot and maybe the confederacy’s last should. There is only a few hours of daylight left, the terrran is against you and the position is fortified. Do you attack? Or do you let Schoefield join Thomas who also has other reinforcements on the way? Then what.

    And don’t give me Forests flanking them by crossing the Harpet River. the distances were too great and the time to late. Also, the claims that Hood was unhinged, doped on ophiates, wanted to punich his soldiers and officers for not cutting off Schofield is bunk. Hood was not in a rage but was determined. He had a couple of hours of daylight left and this was a “hail mary” The south was on the verge of losing the war and was collapsing. This was the Confederacy’s last chance. It was a huge long shot and Hood knew it.
    what other chance did the confederac have left but to stake a last desperate effort to destroy Schofield fefore he joined with Thomas and Thomas was further reinforced? Besiege Nashville while being outnumbered two to one with reinforcedments on the way. Come on.

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