Category Archives: John Bell Hood

7th Illinois Cav letter written the day of the Battle of Franklin

Also auctioned off in 2013 was this important letter from a Union cavalry soldier:

Pvt. Albert Swap, 7th Illinois Cavalry, Co C, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 30, 1864

[The 7th Illinois was part of Hatch’s Division, Coon’s Brigade. They served with the 2nd IA, 6th & 9th Illinois, and the 12th TN Cavs.]

“…you said you suppose Chas Dewey would arrive before I received this message of yours, so he did, but I regret to say he is among the missing on our trip to this place. We left Memphis on the 17th and was 9 days on the River there was several men drowned before we arrived at his place and C. L. D. and John R. Chapman of Co. C are among the missing. The last I saw of them was about two miles above New Madrid, Mo….

It has now been 62 days since the Regt. went out on this scout, they are now about 40 miles from this place at Columbia where they are having some very hard fighting with Hood’s Army. Genl. Thomas is out there with two corps of Infantry but the rebs still drive him back. We could hear very heavy cannonading in that direction for about an hour this morning. There is going to be some very hard fighting about this city in a short time if they keep driving our men back. We are camped about two miles from the city and they are going to move us in towards the city as they think we are exposed to a raid from the Lebanon Pike…

There is considerable excitement here today the Rebel General Hood is still driving our men they are now within 20 miles of this place. Some of our men who have come from the front seem to think that Genl. Thomas is falling back to get the rebels where he can gain some advantage over them while others seem to think they are two strong for us, if the latter there will be some hard fighting and then we will either have to fall back or be gobbled but we must always look on the bright side of everything…

But alas how many of our Brave soldiers are falling hourly as I am penning you these poor lines, the sullen booming of the cannon that I can hear very plainly speaks of death…to the soldier…”




  • Charles L. Dewey was from Mendota, Ill; he survived the war. A total of eight men with last named Dewey fought int he 7th ILL Cav; six in Company C, like Charles.
  • John R. Chapman, Co C., also survived the war.

Coming soon: The Lost Papers of Confederate General John Bell Hood

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 5.02.23 PMTo be published in August 2014, Amazon says: Scholars hail the find as “the most important discovery in Civil War scholarship in the last half century.” The invaluable cache of Confederate General John Bell Hood’s personal papers includes wartime and postwar letters from comrades, subordinates, former enemies and friends, exhaustive medical reports relating to Hood’s two major wounds, and dozens of touching letters exchanged between Hood and his wife, Anna. This treasure trove of information is being made available for the first time for both professional and amateur Civil War historians in Stephen “Sam” Hood’s The Lost Papers of Confederate General John Bell Hood.

Diary entry for November 29, 1864 by 63rd Indiana soldier in Spring Hill

Upon learning the entire Federal army had escaped Spring Hill during the night of the 29th, C.S.A. Gen John Bell Hood spoke these words on the morning of the 30th, “the best move of my career as a soldier come to naught.”

Last night passed off quietly. At 8 we are packed ready to move. The forces behind us have just moved out. The enemy have been trying all morning to get possession of the ford, consequently several artillery fights as well as skirmishes today with musketry in fact has been a noisy war-like day. Eve: The enemy just before dusk charged and drove our skirmishers away from the ford but they held on to part of their line. The operation made a great rattling of musketry and supposing the enemy to be attacking in force our Regt was ordered double quick up to the scene of action. The artillery thundered away for a while, and with darkness relapsed into silence. In our movement our Regt was very much exposed to the raking fire through its whole length yet the Rebs did not take advantage of it. Soon after dark we withdrew in silence and was on the march back to Franklin a distance of 23 miles. Just before we got to Spring Hill we could see a long string of lights on our right not far off, and supposing it was the 4th Corps in camp we were looking forward to an immediate rest when to our surprise we were told that it was the lights of a rebble camp. Men ordered not to speak nor let their accoutrements rattle, we were so close we could see their camp guards (night guards).

Written by Addison Lee Ewing, Captain, Co F, 63rd Indiana Infantry
(Previous posts related to Ewing)

Source: Ewing Mss. Manuscripts department, The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.

13th Indiana Cavalry soldiers served at Franklin, Nashville and on Hood’s Retreat

These two men from the 13th Indiana Cavalry pose for their picture in Huntsville, Alabama in July 1864. The two soldiers are Albert D. Patrick (Co H) and John H. Daily (Co D), both privates in the 13th Indiana Cav.  The original image sold on eBay.

The 13th Indiana Cav fought at Franklin and Nashville, and were involved in the Union chasing after Hood in his retreat to Alabama after Nashville.

Here’s a separate image of Daily.

And a separate image of Patrick.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about John Bell Hood?

Fourth in a series.  Part One | Two | Three

Question: What do you say to some historians – like Wiley Sword – who say Hood’s biggest critics were his own men and colleagues?

Answer by Sam Hood

Such statements are demonstrably factually incorrect. Like all commanders, Hood had critics—officer and enlisted men—but he also had plenty of supporters. Those who expressed sympathies and support for Hood are almost always concealed from readers. The opposite is true of Joe Johnston, who is portrayed as having been almost universally worshiped by everyone except JB Hood and Jefferson Davis. In my research I found countless criticisms of Johnston’s tactics by his officers and men. As for Hood, a classic example of how authors’ portrayals can influence perceptions is Sam Watkins, who in his diary recorded three times as many praises of Hood than criticisms, yet his critical comments about Hood appear in virtually all modern literature on the Army of Tennessee while his affectionate expressions for Hood are almost always absent.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about JBH?

Wow. Where do I begin?

Robert E Lee did not prefer William Hardee over Hood to succeed Johnston as commander of the Army of Tennessee.

Hood was not stupid.

Hood cared very much about casualties of his troops.

Hood did not write “poison pen” letters to Richmond intended to make Johnston look bad and take Johnston’s job.

Hood was not a poor army logistician, and other than shoes and blankets (which Hood implored the Confederate government multiple times to provide) the Army of Tennessee was well supplied during the Tennessee Campaign.

Hood absolutely was NOT a proponent of frontal assaults. (In fact Franklin was the only frontal attack Hood ever ordered as an independent army commander.)

Hood did not accuse any soldier of cowardice, nor did any of his soldiers ever think that he did. In fact he strongly praised the Army of Tennessee, and did so often.

Hood was not angry at any time after the early morning hours of Nov 30, 1864, and his decision to attack at Franklin was made after careful, composed consideration.

The attack at Franklin was not intended to punish his troops or teach them any sort of lesson. He had one reason to attack at Franklin: to destroy Schofield’s army before it reached Nashville.

Hood did not position any troops at Franklin to make them face the strongest enemy fire.

Hood did not shirk responsibility for his defeats; rather, he took personal responsibility.

Hood wasn’t obsessively infatuated with his girlfriend.

Hood didn’t use drugs or alcohol.

And just for fun, how about this one: the Army of Tennessee never sang “The Yellow Rose of Texas” with lyrics that ended with “But the gallant Hood of Texas played Hell in Tennessee.” (It is recorded that only one soldier sang it just one time.)