View single post by samhood
 Posted: Tue Apr 25th, 2006 09:09 pm
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Joined: Tue Sep 6th, 2005
Location: West Virginia USA
Posts: 55

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     I am sure the approx. 2,500 Union soldiers killed and wounded at Nashville would contend that they were not shot up by an opposing army that had been destroyed two weeks earlier.  And the 15,000 Confederate casualty number that you (and Eric Jacobson) cite includes approximately 5,000-6,000 Confederate desertions during the retreat.  I don't think that desertions are typically counted as casualties by modern scholars.  Hood's casualties in killed, wounded, missing and captured were probably closer to 10,000, which is about 28%...a percentage only slightly higher than the 20 largest Civil War campaigns.  I will concede that desertions are the responsibility of the commander, but for the purposes of calculating "casualties" should be considered seperately.  I will agree that the Army of Tennessee was decisively defeated at Franklin and Nashville, but it was not destroyed there.  The destruction, if there was one, began at Dalton in the spring of 64, and was completed at Bentonville.   

     I will not enter a debate over the "stupidity" of the assault at Franklin or the Nashville investment in this forum, when the reasoning for Hood's decisions are explained in detail at my web page, and even greater detail in Eric Jacobson's new book.  (Or at least the Franklin decision.)  Franklin was a terrible bloodbath for sure, but was only one of several tragedies in the War.

    Hood did indeed lay a lot of blame on Hardee after the fall of Atlanta, some probably unwarranted, but some probably legitimate.  He also observed that the troops, under Johnston, had become unwilling to fight outside of breastworks, which may or may not have been true, but even if so, would have been understandable.  However, Hood wasn't alone in making such comments, and similar quotes by some other Civil War commanders are detailed on my web page, although these other commanders seem to escape the ire of modern authors and scholars.

A couple of items I haven't yet inserted into my site text (I'm past due for an update)...  

Regarding Hood's assault at Franklin, one quote that I haven't yet inserted into my site text comes from William T Sherman, commenting in the OR on his attack at Kennesaw, "...I perceived that the enemy and our own officers had settled down
to the conviction that I would not assault fortified lines.  All looked to me to outflank
...An army to be efficient must not settle down to a single mode of offence, but must be prepared to execute any plan which promises success.  I wanted, therefore, for the moral effect, to make a successful assault against the enemy behind his breastworks, and resolved to attempt it at that point where success would give the largest fruits of victory."  Hood said something similar about Franklin, and is harshly condemned, while Sherman avoids criticism of most authors for saying essentially the same thing. 

Another related point...Hood is accused of blaming the army for the loss at Jonesboro, commenting that the relatively low CS casualties at that battle indicated a lack of aggressiveness.  In fact he was simply repeating SD Lee's OR on Jonesboro almost ver batim.  But again citing Sherman, "At times assaults [on Kennesaw] are necessary and inevitable....Had we broken his line today it would have been most decisive, as it is our loss is small compared with some of those East."  This rather callous, albeit statistically accurate, rationalization by Sherman escapes condemnation of many scholars.  Had Hood said something similar, he would have been condemned.  The only comparison that Hood made between Franklin and "back East" was in his postwar memoirs, "The attack (at Franklin), which entailed so great a sacrifice of life, had become a necessity as imperative as that which impelled Gen. Lee to order the assault at Gaines’ Mill, when our troops charged across an open space, a distance of one mile, under a most galling fire of musketry and artillery, against an enemy heavily entrenched. The heroes in that action fought not more gallantly than the soldiers of the Army of Tennessee upon the fields of Franklin."  Unfortunately, although Hood's memoirs are cited substantially in all the books on the Tennessee Campaign, this quote of high praise by Hood for the soldiers of the Army of Tennessee appears nowhere (not even in Eric's outstanding new book.)    

Last edited on Tue Apr 25th, 2006 11:53 pm by samhood

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