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).

Union soldier writes about fighting Hood in late 1864

Raleigh, North Carolina
April 20, 1865,

Nov. the 28th
We was ordered to Nashville to defend the place against Rebel [John Bell] Hood. December 1 we got there and dug trenches 2 days and 1 night.

Dec. the 4th & 5th
considerable skirmishing.

The 6 & 7
considerable firing on picket with a little fight. We lost several….

The 15th
Thomas went for them and it was a hard fight with a loss to the Rebs of 12 hundred prisoners 18 pieces of cannon 8 battle flags which we got.

The 16th
the fight gets harder our loss 1000 killed and wounded. Rebs loss 600 hundred killed & wounded. We captured 5000 prisoners 30 canon and several battle flags.

The 17th
Hood has left our front and skedaddled. Thomas after him.

The 19th we was ordered to move we marched to Murfreesboro 2 days….went 9 miles the other side of Huntsville, Alabama the track being torn up. We had to march the rest of the way.

The 27th
we crossed the Tenn. River on transports and run the rebs out of Decatur . Our cavalry captured 4 canon then we started after Hoods pontoon train but hearing that he had made a crossing below we lay at Cortland a few days.

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

https://i2.wp.com/shelfari-userimages.s3.amazonaws.com/usr1964721633643227147598750.jpg

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?

Here are some other posts on the CWG related to Professor Woodworth.

Check out the books on Amazon Dr. Woodworth has authored.

Sam Watkins’ (Company Aytch) Great Granddaughter to speak at December 14th meeting.

Sam Watkins, Sam R. Watkins, Co. Aytch, Co. Aytch new edition, new edition Co. Aytch, First TN Regiment,     Confederate Army, Civil War, Ken Burns, William C. Davis, Ruth Hill McAllister, Ruth Hill Fulton McAllister, Great granddaughter of Sam Watkins, soldier narrative, David Petruzzi, Paul Taylor, expanded edition of Co. Aytch

Sam’s Great Granddaughter to speak at December 14th Franklin Civil War Round Table meeting.

Ken Burns, known for his famous PBS historical series, said the “only thing better than Sam Watkins (author of Company Aytch) is more Sam Watkins”.  The Franklin Civil War Roundtable is proud to present Ruth Hill McAllister, Sam’s great granddaughter, at our December 14th meeting. She will discuss how she found some of Sam’s original notes and finished her own edition of his famous book.  Company Aytch is a first hand account of Sam Watkins as he fought with the Army of Tennessee.  His folksy, birds eye view of the common soldier’s life has endured as a popular Civil War masterpiece since it was first published in 1882.

McAllister will share with us family stories of Sam and the events that led her to Watkin’s once lost notes.  Come prepared to pick up a copy of this classic work’s latest edition.

Plan to join us December 14, three PM at the Williamson County Public Library.

https://i0.wp.com/www.first-tennessee.co.uk/images/watkinss.jpg

What was the effect of the action at Franklin on the Army of Tennessee at the battle of Nashville?

Dr. Chris Lossom, an author and teacher, ponders the effect the defeat at Franklin (30 Nov 1864) had on the Confederate Army of Tennessee at the Battle of Nashville, two weeks later.

This is an excerpt from a lecture Dr. Lossom gave at the June 2008 Franklin’s Charge symposium in Franklin, TN