Historian-author Wiley Sword weighs in on Hood’s blunder-failure at Franklin

I recently emailed historian and author Wiley Sword to see if he’d like to weigh in on the current discussion regarding Hood’s blunder-failure at Franklin.  He offered this commentary.

Confederacys Last HurrahThere are a variety of modern viewpoints involving Gen. John Bell Hood’s performance at Spring Hill and Franklin,and there often is some merit with each opinion. On the positive side, Hood was a physically brave soldier, had a burning desire to succeed, and planned his operations on the basis of his considerable experience in combat.

From a negative perspective, Hood was not very adaptive of the innovation required in confronting a new era in the methodology of war, his stubborn nature disallowed constructive criticism , and being prone to blame others he could not accept responsibility for his mistakes. This led, in my opinion, to the ultimate disaster to his army at Franklin. Based upon my extensive research for my book Embrace an Angry Wind, Hood’s greatest critics were his own soldiers. Anyone wishing to explore this aspect should look at the sources listed in my book for each statement, which is based on contemporaneously written materials, not some “Lost Cause” postwar musings.

Hood at Franklin is perhaps best put into perspective by a modern observer asking himself: If I were a member of Hood’s army at Franklin, what would I think; would I willingly go; would I like my chances of surviving?

Or, would I rather have the likes of Robert E. Lee, Pat Cleburne, or Nathan Bedford Forrest calling the shots as to fighting that battle?

There are a variety of modern viewpoints involving Gen. John Bell Hood’s performance at Spring Hill and Franklin,

and there often is some merit with each opinion. On the positive side, Hood was a physically brave soldier, had a

burning desire to succeed, and planned his operations on the basis of his considerable experience in combat.

From a negative perspective, Hood was not very adaptive of the innovation required in confronting a new era

in the methodology of war, his stubborn nature disallowed constructive criticism , and being prone to blame others

he could not accept responsibility for his mistakes. This led, in my opinion, to the ultimate disaster to his army at

Franklin. Based upon my extensive research for my book Embrace an Angry Wind, Hood’s greatest critics were his

own soldiers. Anyone wishing to explore this aspect should look at the sources listed in my book for each statement,

which is based on contemporaneously written materials, not some “Lost Cause” postwar musings.

Hood at Franklin is perhaps best put into perspective by a modern observer asking himself: If I were a member

of Hood’s army at Franklin, what would I think; would I willingly go; would I like my chances of surviving?

Or, would I rather have the likes of Robert E. Lee, Pat Cleburne, or Nathan Bedford Forrest calling the shots

as to fighting that battle?

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