Category Archives: John Bell Hood

December 2, 1864 New York Times stories about Franklin

Hood’s Advance at Spring Hill, Tenn., Thirty-two Miles South of Nashville.

Franklin, the scene of the great victory over HOOD on Thursday, is the capital of Williamson County, Tenn., and is situated on the south bank of Big Harpeth River, about 18 miles from Nashville, on the line of the Nashville and Decatur Railroad. Before the war it was a beautiful village, with a population of about 2,000 people. Franklin has changed hands several times during the war. After VAN DORN’s success in capturing a Union brigade at Spring Hill, near Franklin, in March, 1863, that rebel Commander moved upon the latter place, which he attacked on the 10th of April. Major-Gen. GORDON GRANGER was in command of the village. His forces comprised two infantry divisions of 1,600 men, 2,000 cavalry under SMITH and STANLEY, and eighteen guns. The only artificial defence was an uncompleted fort, which mounted two siege guns and two three-inch rifled guns. VAN DORN’s force was estimated at nine thousand infantry and two regiments of cavalry. The rebels were handsomely repulsed, losing three hundred, while GRANGER’s total loss was only thirty-seven. The town proper is built upon an open, level spot; but circling round to the west and south of it are the Harpeth Hills. Big Harpeth River has its source in Bedford County, and flows northwest through Williamson, past the town of Franklin, enters Davidson County, and falls into the Cumberland River thirty-five miles below this city, after a general comparative course of sixty miles.

NASHVILLE, Wednesday, Nov. 30 — Midnight RECEIVED Dec. 1 — 9 A. M. Heavy skirmishing for the past few days, and still going on between our troops and FORREST. There was a sharp fight yesterday at Spring Hill, twelve miles south of Franklin. Our cavalry was driven back on our infantry lines which checked the enemy. A squad of rebel prisoners were in charge of these troops, when the rebel cavalry made a dash on them, releasing their men and capturing ours. A train was attacked near Harpeth River. The engineer detached the locomotive, and both are supposed to be captured. The rest of the train was saved. A squad of rebel cavalry dashed across the Chattanooga line yesterday, near Cheshire, tearing up the track. The train was detained all night, but came in next morning. Our troops have fallen back around Franklin. The main part of HOOD’s army is across Duck River. Every indication of a heavy battle in a few days, but we are confident of the result.

Most Desperate Attack

NASHVILLE, Thursday, Dec. 1. Parties who have arrived from the front, and who witnessed the battle of yesterday, describe the attack of the rebel forces as desperate. Four charges were made upon the Federal masked batteries in columns four lines deep. Each time the rebels were repulsed with fearful loss. The fort is on the north bank of the river, opposite the town, extending up the river, and encircling the town was the line of masked batteries. Eye-witnesses say that this engagement, in desperation and furious fighting, was hardly equaled by the battle of Stone River. FORREST in person was on the field rallying his men. A rumor is in circulation that he was killed, but it lacks confirmation. About 7 o’clock last night heavy reinforcements reached SCHOFIELD, which caused a complete rout of the rebel forces. The city to-day is full of fleeing residents of Williamson and other counties south. They state HOOD it gathering up all the horses, hogs and mules that he can find, and sending them south. There is great panic among the negroes in the counties south of Nashville. Numbers are fleeing to the city for protection.

Tennessee — A Severe Battle

WASHINGTON, Thursday, Dec. 1. The following official dispatch concerning the report of the victory in Tennessee, has been received at headquarters: FRANKLIN, Tenn., Wednesday, Nov. 30. FRANKLIN, Tenn., Wednesday, Nov. 30. Major-Gen. Thomas: The enemy made a heavy and persistent attack with two corps, commencing at 4 P.M., and lasting till after dark. He was repulsed at all points, with heavy loss — probably of five or six thousand men. Our loss is probably not more than one-fourth of that number. We have captured about one thousand prisoners, including one Brigadier-General. (Signed,) JOHN SCHOFIELD, Major-General.

The Fierce Battle in Tennessee

The one-legged rebel HOOD has again put in practice the system of quick, furious, persistent and desperate assault by which he and Stonewall JACKSON have been distinguished on the rebel side; and he has met with the same bloody luck which befell him when he tried the same thing at Atlanta. The battle between HOOD and THOMAS, on Wednesday afternoon, at Franklin, Tenn., eighteen miles south of Nashville, regarding which we have both official and unofficial dispatches, was indecisive. Only two of the four corps of the enemy are reported as being engaged, and so far as their repulse is concerned, it is eminently satisfactory. There is no difficulty, after reading the vivid dispatches of our special correspondent, in crediting the statements as to the enormous and disproportionate losses of the rebels in this battle. The gallant and conservative SCHOFIELD, who commanded on the occasion, states the rebel loss at five or six thousand, and our correspondent puts it at a still higher figure, while our own casualties were under a thousand. This disparity is accounted for by the circumstance that our men fought behind breastworks established in an open field, and by our wholesale use of grape and canister upon the enemy. It is reported that the rebels made four successive charges in columns four lines deep; but their furious assaults resulted in failure to carry the position. They were permitted to dash themselves against our works, and HOOD threw them forward with a recklessness of life equal to anything he has ever displayed during the four months he has had command of the rebel army in the Southwest. In the course of the evening after the battle, Gen. THOMAS retired his army to the vicinity of Nashville. This we judge to be a strategic movement, very like what might have been expected from the imperturbable and far-seeing Gen. THOMAS, who looks to the final result and general summing up of a campaign more than to partial and brilliant victories. He knows HOOD of old, and understands his style thoroughly. He will effect two, and perhaps, three or four objects by planting himself behind the works of Nashville. He will combine his forces in a compact body, with the corps of Gen. A.J. SMITH, which has just arrived at Nashville. He will get into a position of far greater natural and artificial strength than Franklin — Nashville being one of the most elaborately fortified cities on the continent; and he may be able to draw HOOD up there and induce him to dash his army to pieces against our works. Thus we view the situation in Tennessee, after reviewing carefully all the facts that have thus far come to hand.

Hood’s Retreat – December 17, 1864

On the night of December 16th, the Confederate rear guard under Lieutenant General Stephen D. Lee camped about seven miles north of Franklin. The soldiers were weary and poorly supplied as in their rush to retreat from Nashville, many had abandoned their equipment and muskets along the way. On the rainy morning of December 17th, the Confederates left around dawn. As they marched toward Franklin, Lee’s men had two encounters with Federal troops. The first took place around Hollow Tree Gap about five miles north of Franklin and consisted of a brief volley of fire at a portion of Union Major General James Wilson’s advanced cavalry. A more serious action occurred around 9:00 a.m. as two mounted Federal regiments attempted a frontal charge on the Confederate line. The Con- federate troops, however, were able to repulse the attack, which resulted in twenty-two Federal casualties and an additional sixty-three captured. As more Federal troops advanced, Lee’s rear guard withdrew around 10:00 a.m. to press on to the Harpeth River and into Franklin.

Two bridges spanned the Harpeth River offering quick passage into Franklin – a temporary pontoon bridge and a railroad trestle bridge near Fort Granger. By 10:30 a.m., the last of the Confederate wagons were crossing the bridges over the Harpeth River and troops had begun to disassemble the pontoon bridge when Wilson’s cavalry attacked. Brigadier General Randall Gibson’s Brigade of 500 Louisiana infantrymen was positioned near the river and the railroad overpass at Liberty Pike. Assisting Gibson was a portion of Brigadier General Abraham Buford’s cavalry and two field guns. The Confederate soldiers were no match, however, for the nearly 3,000 Federal cavalry. Buford’s cavalry was driven “in confusion into the river,” which was quickly rising due to the rainy weather. Surrounded, Gibson’s men fought back and sustained forty casualties before escaping. Panic and confusion reigned as men fled across the pontoon bridge.

A Confederate battery positioned along Front Street in Franklin began to fire upon Wilson’s cavalry causing them to temporarily draw back. Lee’s men rushed to destroy the pontoon and railroad bridges to prevent the Federal troops from crossing. Given this brief respite, Lee ordered the immediate evacuation of Franklin. No longer having the bridges available, Wilson’s men hastened to the nearest fords to beat the rising water. Meanwhile, additional Federal troops entered Franklin from the west. Around 1:00 p.m., the Confederate rear guard under the command of Lieutenant General Stephen D. Lee began to withdraw toward Winstead Hill south of Franklin. As some of Wilson’s cavalrymen fired volleys towards them, a shell tore into Lee’s boot breaking several bones in his foot. Despite his injury, Lee remained in command as the Confederates withdrew south down Columbia Pike. Wilson regrouped his forces and sent troops down Carter’s Creek, Lewisburg and Columbia Pikes in pursuit of the Confederates. Federal troops traveling down Columbia Pike quickly gained on the Rebels who maintained a line of battle as they headed toward Spring Hill. Around 4:00 p.m. the Confederate rear guard formed a line about one mile north of the West Harpeth River.

Wilson ordered a frontal attack on the Confederate line and sent brigades to swing around the line’s flank. Around 200 cavalrymen swiftly advanced south down Columbia Pike toward the center of the Confederate line in a column of fours, sabers drawn. With the flanking brigades, the Federal line stretched nearly one and half miles long. Some 700 Confederate infantrymen were posted along the road under the command of Major General Carter L. Stevenson. As the Federals attacked the fighting was brief but fierce. “They swooped down on us with pistols, carbines, and sabers, hewing, whacking, and shooting,” one Confederate officer later recalled. Stevenson’s men repelled this charge and formed three ragged lines of a hollow square as they withdrew with their bayonets drawn.

The Federal cavalrymen continued to strike against Stevenson’s troops as they made their way across the West Harpeth River. As the Confederates stopped to reorganize, Wilson’s men struck again. By this time darkness had fallen and both sides were confused. The Federal cavalry were nearly on top of the Rebel infantry when the firing began. The ensuing melee was brutal as most took the form of hand-to-hand combat with clubbed muskets and side arms. The darkness and the fact that many Confederates wore captured Federal overcoats added to the confusion. When additional units joined the Federals the Confederates were forced to retreat down Columbia Pike and abandoned three 12-pounder guns along the way. They soon encountered Major General Henry Clayton’s Brigade, who, after hearing the gunfire, had formed a line to assist their fellow Confederates. As Stevenson’s men joined them, the Rebels were attacked from the west by additional Federal cavalrymen. A quick round of fire from Clayton’s men soon repulsed the Federals, and the Confederates continued to withdraw. Exhausted, the Confederates withdrew to Thompson’s Station where they camped with the remainder of Lee’s troops.

A series of skirmishes were fought from the West Harpeth River south to the Tennessee River, as Wilson’s cavalry and the remainder of Thomas’ army pursued Hood’s army. The retreat would finally end on January 1, 1865 when Hood’s army crossed the Tennessee River. What was left of the Army of Tennessee was eventually sent to the Carolinas to contest Sherman’s advance.

Text credit: Franklin Battlefield Preservation Plan (n.d.): pp. 9-10

John Bell Hood’s Division makes assault on Federal left flank at 4:30pm on July 2nd, 1863

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 7.46.11 PM.png

john_bell_hood.jpgGen. John Bell Hood’s Confederate division, made up mostly of Texans, Arkansans, and Alabamians, made their assault upon the far left Federal flank at Gettysburg on July 2nd, 1863. Gen. Sickles’ men
occupied the area around Devil’s Den but were pushed out by the Confederate’s coming from the northwest. Hood’s division then made their way across Plum Run Creek and headed up towards Little Round Top. Hood was struck by shell fragments at Gettysburg, severely wounding his left arm.

Current issue of Civil War Times (Apr 2015) has great article by Stephen M. Hood on the ‘myth’ of John Bell Hood’s doping at Spring Hill-Franklin

For all of those people, including published historians, who have always thought that John Bell Hood was doped out on laudanum at Spring Hill and Franklin, you better check your uneducated assumptions against the facts that are now indisputable.  Stephen M. Hood sets the record straight. Here are some screen shots of the current issue of CWT (April 2015). The article starts at page 30.

April 2015 Issue of Civil War Times

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 6.47.07 PM

Gen. John Bell Hood

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 7.08.25 PM

Excerpt at the very end of the article below:

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 7.10.32 PM