John Bell Hood Documents Discovered

>> The following press release is provided by The Andrews Agency <<

Significant historical find changes how Hood has been portrayed

(Franklin, Tenn.)— October 19, 2012–The Battle of Franklin Trust Chief Operating Officer Eric A. Jacobson announced today at Carnton Plantation the discovery of several hundred documents, letter and orders of Confederate General John Bell Hood.  While conducting research for an upcoming book on the general, West Virginia’s Sam Hood, a collateral descendent and student of the career of Hood, was invited to inspect a collection of the general’s papers, held by a descendent in Pennsylvania.

In making the announcement, Sam Hood said, “I felt like the guy who found the Titanic, except for the fact everyone knew the Titanic was out there somewhere, while I had no clue that some of the stuff I found even existed.”

Sam Hood added, “General Hood is certainly no stranger to controversy. During his colorful military career and with historians ever since, he has remained a controversial and tragic figure of the Civil War.  Long noted for the loss of Atlanta and what some consider reckless behavior at the November 30, 1864 Battle of Franklin after a lost opportunity for possible victory at Spring Hill, he has often been the subject of ridicule and blame for the demise of the Confederacy in the West.

Eric Jacobson, who has viewed a portion of the collection said, “This is one of the most significant Civil War discoveries in recent history.  These documents also tell us as much by what they don’t say.  One major example is the discovery of Hood’s medical journal, kept by his doctor, John T. Darby, during the war. There is no mention of the use of painkillers or laudanum by Hood at Spring Hill or any other time.  Hood was much more multi-faceted than how he has been portrayed by some as a simple minded and poorly equipped commander.” 

Jacobson has been one of only a few contemporary Army of Tennessee historians to give Hood the benefit of fatigue, fog of war and failures of subordinates as part of the breakdown of the Army of Tennessee in late 1864.

Some of the items found include recommendations for promotion, handwritten by Stonewall Jackson and James Longstreet.  Also uncovered was wartime correspondence between Hood and General R. E. Lee, Braxton Bragg, Louis T. Wigfall, and other senior commanders as well as his four general officer commission papers with signatures.  Roughly seventy post-war letters from other Civil War notables were also discovered, mostly concerning the controversy with Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and used to compose Hood’s memoir Advance & Retreat.  Hood added, “This is just the tip of the iceberg on the expansive collection.”

“I spent three days photocopying and inventorying,” added Hood.  “I held in my hands documents signed by Jefferson Davis, Longstreet, Jackson and Lee.”

Keith Bohannon, professor of history at the University of West Georgia, says most of Hood’s biographers assumed that Hood’s papers, other than those known to be archived, were lost or destroyed.  “Some of John Bell Hood’s official papers made their way into the public record when he attempted to sell them to the Federal government near the time of his death in 1879,” Bohannon said.  Hood and his wife, Anna Marie, both died in New Orleans from yellow fever and left behind ten orphaned children.  Before his death at age 48, Hood was in poor financial condition and was working to sell some of his documents to better the financial plight of his family, according to Bohannon.

“I have been fighting to right some of the misperceptions and vicious myths of General Hood for years,” added Sam Hood.  “These documents will shed a lot of light that will change some of those views.”   Hood is set for a spring release of his detailed point by point defense of General Hood’s career, entitled John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of a Confederate General, which will be published by Savas Beatie Publishing.

As timing would have it, this volume was completed before this recent document discovery.  Much of his book argues that known evidence before the recent cache find has been misinterpreted or blatantly misused by many contemporary authors.  Hood critically notes several authors who he believes perpetuated the use of Hood as a target for Lost Cause architects.  Some of the newly discovered information on the Atlanta Campaign, the Spring Hill affair, and the Battle of Franklin will be included in Sam Hood’s upcoming book, but since the total collection will take several months to transcribe, more important information on John Bell Hood – the man and the soldier – cannot, by necessity,  be revealed until later.

The Battle of Franklin Trust is a 501 (c) 3 management corporation acting on behalf of Franklin’s battlefield sites to contribute to a greater understanding and enrich the visitor experience of the November 30, 1864 battle. It’s organized for the charitable and educational purposes of preserving, restoring, maintaining and interpreting the properties, artifacts and documents related to the battle so as to preserve an important part of the nation’s history.

# # #

Susan Andrews Thompson, APR

The Andrews Agency

209 10th Avenue South

Suite 323

Nashville, TN  37203

P  (615) 242-4400

F  (615) 242-4404

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6 thoughts on “John Bell Hood Documents Discovered

  1. Pingback: John Bell Hood Much Maligned and Misunderstood? « Student of the American Civil War

  2. Pingback: A cache of General Hood’s papers | To the Sound of the Guns

  3. Pingback: Will New Documents Prompt a Reappraisal of John Bell Hood? « Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

  4. Pingback: Why is the recent discovery of the John Bell Hood papers and documents important and why should you care? «

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