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 Posted: Tue Sep 23rd, 2008 01:38 am
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samhood
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Hood indeed praised his army's peformance at Franklin, and everyone should ask Wiley Sword and James Lee McDonough why they concealed those words of praise in their books.  Hood certainly expressed words of compliment and admiration, and those authors certainly decided not to include it in their books. 

Hood did not destroy the Army of Tennessee.  If it were indeed destroyed at Franklin, who killed approximately 1,500 Union troops at Nashville 2 weeks later?  But if it was destroyed at Franklin, it was Schofield's tough-as-nails veteran Union army that did it.

Regarding Schofield's defense of Hood's attack at Franklin, if he is not a credible commentator, others spoke of the decision to attack:

Col. Virgil S. Murphey of the 17th Alabama Infantry wrote of Franklin in his diary, "Had Hood succeeded, Nashville would have opened her gates to the head of his victorious legions and the throat of Tennessee released from the grasp of remorseless despotism. It was worth the hazard. Its failure does not diminish the value of the prize."

 

A member of A.P. Stewart’s staff, B.L. Ridley, wrote in his memoirs, "It has been charged that he (Hood) gave the order to attack at Franklin because of chagrin at his failure at Spring Hill. This supposition does Hood great injustice. A Federal courier had been captured bearing dispatches between Thomas and Schofield of the Federal army. The tenor of the dispatches led Hood to believe that Franklin was not in a defensible position, and that therefore, as he expressed it, he thought his ‘time to fight had come’."

 

L.A. Simmons of the 84th Illinois wrote in 1866, "In speaking of this battle, very many are inclined to wonder at the terrible pertinacity of the rebel General Hood, in dashing column after column with such tremendous force and energy upon our center -- involving their decimation, almost their annihilation? Yet this we have considered a most brilliant design, and the brightest record of his generalship, that will be preserved in history. He was playing a stupendous game, for enormous stakes. Could he have succeeded in breaking the center, our whole army was at his mercy. In our rear was a deep and rapid river, swollen by recent rains -- only fordable by infantry at one or two places -- and to retreat across it an utter impossibility. To break the center was to defeat our army; and defeat inevitably involved a surrender. If this army surrendered to him, Nashville, with all its fortifications, all its vast accumulation of army stores, was at his mercy, and could be taken in a day. Hence, with heavy odds -- a vastly superior force -- in his hands, he made the impetuous attack upon our center, and lost in the momentous game. His army well understood that they were fighting for the possession of Nashville. Ours knew they were fighting to preserve that valuable city, and to avoid annihilation." 

Battle of Franklin veteran, Washington Gardner, later a U.S. Congressman from Michigan, wrote of Gen. Hood in Bright Skies and Dark Shadows, "By the way, I was somewhat surprised, and may say pained, during my recent trip South, to note the disposition among soldiers of the late Confederate Army to criticize and disparage the merits of Gen. Hood. That he made mistakes no unprejudiced student of the War Between the States will deny, but that he was possessed of some of the best qualities that belong to great military commanders is equally indisputable. As between the General and his critics touching the Battle of Franklin, my sympathies are entirely with the former; while my admiration for the splendid valor exhibited by his heroic legions on that bloody field is not diminished by the fact that they were Americans all…Franklin, from the Confederate standpoint of view, must ever remain one of the saddest tragedies of the Civil War; on the other hand, there were in that battle possibilities to the Confederate cause, and that came near being realized, scarcely second to those of any other in the great conflict. Had Hood won-and he came within an ace of it-and reaped the legitimate fruits of his victory, the verdict of history would have been reversed, and William T. Sherman, who took the flower of his army and with it made an unobstructed march to the sea, leaving but a remnant to contend against a foe that had taxed his every resource from Chattanooga to Atlanta, would have been called at the close as at the beginning of the war, ‘Crazy Sherman.’ No individual, not even Hood himself, had so much at stake at Franklin as the hero of the ‘march to the sea.’"

Tennessee Gov. Isham Harris wrote in a Dec. 25, 1864 letter to Jefferson Davis, "I have been with General Hood from the beginning of this campaign, and beg to say, disastrous as it has ended, I am not able to see anything that General Hood has done that he should not, or neglected anything that he should have done which it was possible to do. Indeed, the more that I have seen and known of him and his policy, the more I have been pleased with him and regret to say that if all had performed their parts as well as he, the results would have been very different.

As for Hood's decision to attack being "rash", Sumner Cunningham wrote: "While making ready for the charge, General Hood rode up to our lines, having left his escort and staff in the rear. He remained at the front in plain view of the enemy for, perhaps, half an hour making a most careful survey of their lines...I was absorbed in the one man whose mind was deciding the fate of thousands. With an arm and a leg in the grave, and with the consciousness that he had not until within a couple of days won the confidence which his army had in his predecessor, he had now a very trying ordeal to pass through. It was all-important to act, if at all, at once. He rode to Stephen D. Lee, the nearest of his subordinate generals, and, shaking hands with him cordially, announced his decision to make an immediate charge." (Lee had arrived at the head of his column from Columbia just before the 4 PM attack.)

 

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