When Jefferson Davis replaced Johnston with Hood on July 17th 1864 in Atlanta, no doubt Davis wanted and needed a fighter. But he also needed a fighter who could deliver results. Measured against even that simple mark, John Bell Hood’s performance between mid July 1864, in the latter half of the Atlanta Campaign (which had begun in May 1864), and late December 1864 was an abysmal failure personally and militarily.
In short, in those entire six months, Hood lost every single engagement that was of any importance. Worse, Hood virtually destroyed his own army – the glorious and proud Army of Tennessee – by constantly throwing it against perilous frontal assaults, failing to reconnoiter the battlefield prior to an engagement, and losing some of his best and most competent senior commanders in the process.
I don’t lay all the blame on Hood in that Davis must surely be held accountable for a ridiculous strategy that Hood was apparently all too-willingly obliged to pursue.
Here is my summary of Hood’s performance in the last half of 1864, the twilight of his military career:
1. The AOT is reduced to a shell of its former self by the end of Nashville. It is no longer a serious or vital fighting force after Dec 1864.
2. He loses Atlanta to Sherman, thus resulting in Abraham Lincoln being re-elected in November.
3. He allows Sherman to execute the famous March to the Sea.
4. Hood does not win one vital or strategic engagement during this entire period, from July – Dec 1864.
5. Hood completely fails in his objective to prevent Schofield form reaching Nashville, and thus from executing whatever plans he did have after securing Nashville again.
6. He does nothing – in six months – to (a) either slow the Union war machine in the Western theater, or (b) to actually gain some strategic military wins that could lead to Confederate momentum in the Western theater.
7. He gained a reputation as a reckless commander, suffering staggering casualties when the AOT could hardly afford it.
8. He resigns in disgrace in early January 1865.