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.

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Susan Andrews Thompson, APR

The Andrews Agency

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Franklin Battlefield Sites: Cleburne Park

One of the must-stops in Franklin for a battlefield site is Cleburne Park. It sits at the corner of Stewart Street and Columbia Pike, just a few blocks south of the Carter House. This small park is the approximate location where Major-General Patrick R. Cleburne was killed. It was formerly the site for a Pizza Hut until the land was preserved and returned to a park-like setting. The land reclamation project made national news, even in National Geographic.

You can watch a YouTube video of Eric Jacobson talking about this hallowed spot.

Major-General Patrick R. Cleburne was killed at Franklin

Maj-Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne

Colonel First Regiment Arkansas Infantry,–, 1861.

Brigadier general, P. A. C. S., March 4, 1862.

Major general, P. A. C. S., December 13, 1862.

Killed at the battle of Franklin, Tennessee, November 30, 1864.

Commands.

Brigade composed of the Second, Fifth, Twenty-fourth and Forty-eighth Tennessee and Fifteenth Arkansas Regiments Infantry, and Calvert’s Battery of Artillery, being Second Brigade, Third Corps, Army of the Mississippi.

Division composed of the brigades of Brigadier Generals Lucius E. Polk, S. A. M. Wood, and James Deshler, and the batteries of artillery of Calvert, Semple, and Douglass.

Division subsequently composed of the brigades of Brigadier Generals L. E. Polk, Lowry, Govan, and Granbury, and subsequently of the brigades of Brigadier Generals Wood, Johnson, Liddell, and Polk, Hardee’s Corps, Army of Tennessee.

Source:  General Officers of the Confederate States of America

Major-General Patrick R. Cleburne, one of the most brilliant soldiers of the Confederate States, was a native of Ireland.  When twenty-two years of age he joined the British army as a private, and there took his first lessons in drill and discipline.  For good conduct he was promoted to the rank of corporal.  After remaining three years in the British army he procured his discharge and came to America.

He settled in Arkansas, became a hard student, was admitted to the bar, and the year 1861 found him practicing law in Helena, enjoying in his profession and in society the honorable position which his toil and native worth had gained for him.  He was among the first to answer the call to arms.  He raised a company and with it joined the First, afterward known as the Fifteenth Arkansas regiment, of which he was almost unanimously elected colonel.

His first campaign was with General Hardee in Missouri.  At its close he went with Hardee to Bowling Green, Ky.  He had during this short military service so impressed his superiors that he was assigned to command of a brigade, and on March 4, 1862, was commissioned brigadier-general.

At the battle of Shiloh he proved that his abilities had not been over estimated, and during the reorganization of the army at Tupelo he brought his brigade to a very high state of discipline and efficiency.  He had that valuable combination of qualifications for command which enabled him to enforce discipline and at the same time secure the esteem and confidence of his troops.

At Richmond, Ky., he commanded a division whose impetuous charge had much to do with winning the magnificent victory over “Bull” Nelson’s army.  Though painfully wounded in this battle, a few weeks later he led his men in the fierce conflict at Perryville, with his usual success.  On December 13, 1862, he was commissioned major-general.

He was in the memorable attack upon the right of the Federal army at Murfreesboro, which drove the Union on lines until the mass in front became at last too thick for further penetration.  Again at Chickamauga Cleburne made a charge, in which his men by desperate valor won and held a position that had been assailed time and again without success.

At Missionary Ridge, in command at the tunnel, he defeated Sherman, capturing flags and hundreds of prisoners, and when involved in the general defeat, he made a heroic fight at Ringgold gap and saved Bragg’s artillery and wagon train.  In recognition of this gallant exploit, the Confederate Congress passed the following joint resolution:  “Resolved, that the thanks of Congress are due, and are hereby tendered to Maj.-Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne, and the officers and men under his command, for the victory obtained by them over superior forces of the enemy at Ringgold gap in the State of Georgia on the 27th day of November, 1863, by which the advance of the enemy was impeded, our wagon trains and most of our artillery saved, and a large number of the enemy killed and wounded.”

One of the most brilliant episodes of the Atlanta campaign of 1864 was Cleburne’s victory at Pickett’s mill over Howard’s corps of Sherman’s army.  In the awful carnage at Franklin, November 30, 1864, Cleburne, the “Stonewall Jackson of the West,” gave his last battle order.  Within twenty paces of the Union line, pierced by three wounds, he fell, and on the battlefield expired.  His death was a disheartening blow to the army of Tennessee, and was mourned throughout the whole South.

Source: Confederate Military History, vol. XIV, p. 396

The original pistol used by Cleburne at Franklin.

 

Brigadier General Otho French Strahl was killed at Franklin

General Otho French Strahl

General Otho French Strahl, one of the choicest spirits that embraced the cause of the South, and finally offered all upon her altar, was a native of Ohio, who had settled in Tennessee and was practicing law at Dyersburg when the great war of States began.  Although of Northern birth, both of his grandmothers were Southern women, and perhaps had much to do with moulding the sentiments which made him such an ardent sympathizer with the South.

When Tennessee was making ready to cast in her lot with the Southern Confederacy, the young lawyer entered the Fourth Tennessee regiment as a captain (May, 1861).  Early in 1862 he became lieutenant-colonel of the regiment.  As such he shared in the hardships and glories of the campaigns of Shiloh, Bentonville and Murfreesboro, in which he so conducted himself as to be promoted colonel early in 1863, and then to the rank of brigadier-general, July 28, 1863.

In the hundred days’ campaign from Dalton to Atlanta in 1864, he and his men added to their already magnificent record.  Mr. S. A. Cunningham, who was a boy soldier in his brigade at Franklin, November 30, 1864, has given in his magazine a graphic account of the conduct and death of his commander on that fateful day.  Mr. Cunningham being that day right guide to the brigade, was near Strahl in the fatal advance, and was pained at the extreme sadness in his face.  He was surprised, too, that his general went into the battle on foot.

The account of Mr. Cunningham continues: “I was near General Strahl, who stood in the ditch and handed up guns to those posted to fire them.  I had passed to him my short Enfield (noted in the regiment) about the sixth time.  The man who had been firing, cocked it and was taking deliberate aim when he was shot, and tumbled down dead into the ditch upon those killed before him.

When the men so exposed were shot down, their places were supplied by volunteers until these were exhausted, and it was necessary for General Strahl to call for others.  He turned to me, and though I was several feet back from the ditch, I rose up immediately, and walking over the wounded and dead took position, with one foot upon the pile of bodies of my dead fellows and the other upon the embankment, and fired guns which the general himself handed up to me, until he, too, was shot down.”

The general was not instantly killed, but soon after received a second shot and then a third, which finished for him the fearful work.  “General Strahl was a model character, and it was said of him that in all the war he was never known to use language unsuited to the presence of ladies. ”

While the army was camped at Dalton on the 20th of April, 1864, services were held in the Methodist church by Bishop Charles Todd Quintard, of the Episcopal church.  On this occasion Bishop Quintard baptized General Strahl and presented him to Bishop Stephen Elliott for confirmation, with three other generals of the Confederate army — Lieutenant-General Hardee and Brigadier-Generals Shoup and Govan.

Source:  Confederate Military History, vol. X, p. 334

65th Indiana Lt.-Col. Edward Adams Baker writes of Confederate General John C. Adams’ death at Franklin

Lieut.-Col. Edward Adams Baker, of the Sixty-fifth Indiana infantry, who witnessed the death of General Adams at Franklin, obtained the address of Mrs. Adams many years after the war and wrote to her from Webb City, Mo.  This letter appeared in the Confederate Veteran of June, 1897, an excellent magazine of information on Confederate affairs, and is here quoted:

“General Adams rode up to our works and, cheering his men, made an attempt to leap his horse over them.  The horse fell upon the top of the embankment and the general was caught under him, pierced with bullets.  As soon as the charge was repulsed, our men sprang over the works and lifted the horse, while others dragged the general from under him.  He was perfectly conscious and knew his fate.  He asked for water, as all dying men do in battle as the life-blood drips from the body.  One of my men gave him a canteen of water, while another brought an armful of cotton from an old gin near by and made him a pillow.  The general gallantly thanked them, and in answer to our expressions of sorrow at his sad fate, he said, ‘It is the fate of a soldier to die for his country,’ and expired.”

The wife of General Adams was Miss Georgia McDougal, daughter of a distinguished surgeon of the United States army.  She was in every way worthy to be the wife of so gallant a man.  Though left a widow with four sons and two daughters, she reared them, under all the severe trials of that sad period, to be useful men and women.

Source:  Confederate Military History, vol. X, p. 285