Discussion Could Hood Have Taken Nashville?

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Could Hood Have Taken Nashville?

Add Dec. 7, 1864.jpeg


As the anniversaries of the Battles of Spring Hill, Franklin, Third Battle of Murfreesboro & the Battle of Nashville concentrate the mind amongst those of us interested in the Civil War here in Middle Tennessee, have a lot to discuss.


Circus add 11:15:64.jpeg


A friend who has recently retired & been reading about the Civil War during his COVID isolation asked me if Hood could have captured Nashville. I said no. He asked me what in the historic record made me so sure of that.

Females, Females, Females 15:11:64.jpeg


Good question, that. His new interest in military history has left him with way more questions than answers.
We share a background in graphic arts & advertising. I thought hard about what would make an impact.


Gold Pen Depot 11:15:64.jpeg


I turned to The Nashville Daily Union news paper, Browse Issues, Library of Congress.

Ad for glassware 12:7:64.jpeg


Hood's army made its fatal Franklin charge on the same day that ladies in Nashville
shopped for glassware at Campbell & Squires.
They could have had their secret diseases eased by the purchase of Helmbolts Extract Buchu.
Whatever the heck that was.


Hotel Restaurant 12:7:64.jpeg


Defenders in the trenches could have had a meal at all hours of every seasonable article known to the epicure. Afterward, the very best brands of Tobacco, Cigars, &c. were always on hand at moderate prices.
Because of transportation restrictions,
the Howe & Norton Champion Circus performed three shows a day for the duration.
Hood's exposed men who were shivering from a shower of frozen rain heard the calliope playing
into the dark of short December days.
Had things gone a little wrong in an encounter with one of Nashville's licensed prostitutes,
Dr. Richards could dose your private disease in the old style.
While my friend is only beginning to grasp what the military consequences of a botched battle at Spring Hill; the immolation at Franklin; Forrest getting thumped at Murfreesboro; the arrival of an army corps guarded by heavy hitting gunboats from the Mississippi Flotilla; & a brilliantly executed attack, he can understand that having the Gold Pen Depot ready to provide you with nibs to write down your impressions of the battles
means something profound.
We know that desertions by Hood's ragged & starved veterans was rampant.
Picketts traded tobacco for the Daily Nashville Union.
Gazing down from their water filled trenches, they could clearly hear the echoing call of church bells, train whistles, the deep hoots of riverboats & the calliope at the circus.
Archeologists have excavated small fire pits dug into the face of trenches occupied by Hood's soldiers.
Imagine what must have gone through their minds as they read these ads
by the light of a fire of smoking wet wood.
Is it any wonder that so many of the Tennesseans simply walked home?
There are volumes of military reasons why Hood's "siege" of Nashville was doomed to failure.
On a purely human level, the ads in the Daily Nashville Union paper are all you need to know fate of Hood's army.
When the COVID thing ends, my friend & I will have some long day trips discussing what happened militarily.
It will not include reenacting a 24 hour pass to indulge in a fine meal,
attend a circus performance & finish up the day enjoying the favors of a lady of the evening.
I suppose a car full of old geezers will know just how Hood's veterans felt.
 
Last edited:

gjpratt

Private
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
@Rhea Cole, this is innovative and brilliant insight! Kudos. I grew up wandering the Nashville battlefields. in the 1920s my father as a boy eyeballed and collected relics from the stone fence behind Battery Lane. I consider myself a lifelong student of the battle.
I also have used my Newspapers.com account to scour the period Nashville newspapers for insight. But I never once thought about this angle.
 

Lubliner

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
There are way too many "Only if...." for Hood to have taken Nashville. While the citizens of Nashville were doing the best they could to continue a normal life and making ends meet, the Army of General Thomas' was alert and ready to launch an attack, and the gunboats were covering the right flank. Sure, General Vaughn made an end run sneak through Cumberland City and threatened Glasgow and Munfordville, essentially a vital supply line. And sure Hood could have moved further to his right and invested Murfreesboro, and possibly threaten connections to Knoxville and Chattanooga, hoping Thomas would be dilatory in his movements. But Grant forbid the latter possibility, and Hood cut his own artery by direct siege in the former.
Lubliner.
 

rbasin

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Location
Tampa, Fl
Had his supplies been available, yeah. He had to wait, what 2 weeks? Thomas likely could have held him off, but I do see where Hood's plan could have worked.
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
Sherman and Grant must of not been reading the newspaper ads.

They seemed to be concerned about the AOTs abilities. Recon Why? Maybe because Sherman had taken all of Thomas’s best Troops. Grant‘s approval of boy Sherman’s plans would of look foolish. Abe mis trust of Thomas strikes again. All this talk of relieving Thomas. The Final dagger of betrayal to Thomas. Oh, there might be time for a few more. Surely the Yankees didn’t deserve Thomas.
 

JeffBrooks

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2009
Location
Manor, TX
Nashville was ringed with incredibly strong fortifications and defended by 50,000 men under the command of George Thomas.

If Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia at the height of their powers were magically transported from the spring of 1863 and placed in front of Nashville in December of 1864, they could not have taken the city.
 

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
Thomas devised a classic envelopment with a diversion on the Confederate right and the main assault on the Confederate left. Given Thomas' methodical but deliberate sense of planning, he was not willing to rush into battle without the appropriate supplies, manpower, and weather conditions. With Thomas's manpower advantage, and the depleted state of Hood's AoT, the conditions were ripe for a successful Union victory. Conversely, had Hood taken the offensive, he would have faced strong federal fortifications around Nashville, a situation where the defender held the advantage.
 

rbasin

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Location
Tampa, Fl
Thomas devised a classic envelopment with a diversion on the Confederate right and the main assault on the Confederate left. Given Thomas' methodical but deliberate sense of planning, he was not willing to rush into battle without the appropriate supplies, manpower, and weather conditions. With Thomas's manpower advantage, and the depleted state of Hood's AoT, the conditions were ripe for a successful Union victory. Conversely, had Hood taken the offensive, he would have faced strong federal fortifications around Nashville, a situation where the defender held the advantage.
Well said. And do t get me started on what Grant and Sherman said about Thomas.
 

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
Grant's mindset, in particular, was very much different from that of Thomas, which is where a lot of the problems between them begin. Thomas was a cautious but brilliant commander, who insisted on ensuring the most effective conditions before commencing battle. Grant was more willing to take quick action, without necessarily getting all the planning right. Many of the tactical moves during the Overland Campaign, and the failed assault on Petersburg were handled without having all the pieces lined up (even though Meade had direct control, it was still Grant's hand directing all). I'm not saying either commander had the absolute right approach; but therein lies the conflict between Grant and Thomas.
 

JeffBrooks

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2009
Location
Manor, TX
Grant's mindset, in particular, was very much different from that of Thomas, which is where a lot of the problems between them begin. Thomas was a cautious but brilliant commander, who insisted on ensuring the most effective conditions before commencing battle. Grant was more willing to take quick action, without necessarily getting all the planning right. Many of the tactical moves during the Overland Campaign, and the failed assault on Petersburg were handled without having all the pieces lined up (even though Meade had direct control, it was still Grant's hand directing all). I'm not saying either commander had the absolute right approach; but therein lies the conflict between Grant and Thomas.
The conflict between Grant and Thomas was deeper than differences in tactical approach. There was obviously a personal element as well. I think Grant saw Thomas as a rival for high command. I think Thomas resented the plaudits showered upon the Army of the Tennessee while the Army of the Cumberland never received the credit he thought it deserved. Promotions always came more easily to AotT officers than they did to AotC officers.

There was a telling incident during the Chattanooga Campaign. Thomas was in command of the Army of the Cumberland when Grant arrived to take overall command. Apparently Grant showed up at the headquarters wet and cold and Thomas ignored him for a few minutes, until a staff officer suggested that perhaps Thomas offer Grant a place to get warm and cleaned up. It sounds so silly, yet such things can change the course of history.
 

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
There was a telling incident during the Chattanooga Campaign.
That incident is very telling, although I have also come across accounts that have Thomas' seemingly ill treatment of the tired and hungry Grant as being exaggerated to the extent that Thomas was not purposely intending to be rude. But who knows; in any case, Grant could very well have taken it that way. It is also telling that in November 1863, when AoC troops began to climb Missionary Ridge after having seized the low lying rifle pits, Grant immediately seemed to accuse Thomas of the unauthorized action by angrily asking "who ordered that." Of course, the troops impulsive assault was not ordered by Thomas, and ended up being a success anyway.
 

Dave DuBrucq

Corporal
Joined
Oct 28, 2020
Location
Tennessee
Could Hood Have Taken Nashville?

View attachment 384209

As the anniversaries of the Battles of Spring Hill, Franklin, Third Battle of Murfreesboro & the Battle of Nashville concentrate the mind amongst those of us interested in the Civil War here in Middle Tennessee, have a lot to discuss.
Hood's army made its fatal Franklin charge on the same day that ladies in Nashville
shopped for glassware at Campbell & Squires.



Very interesting. I always enjoy reading the old newspaper ads and this one of Dr. Jones is particularly interesting to me. That a significant number of Tennessee soldiers simply went home is not surprising. By December of 1864, most clear thinking Tennesseans knew the war was lost. One can imagine sitting our a winter storm in the open, being hungry, poorly clothed, homesick and battered and bloody from Franklin that morale would have been at ebb tide.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The conflict between Grant and Thomas was deeper than differences in tactical approach. There was obviously a personal element as well. I think Grant saw Thomas as a rival for high command. I think Thomas resented the plaudits showered upon the Army of the Tennessee while the Army of the Cumberland never received the credit he thought it deserved. Promotions always came more easily to AotT officers than they did to AotC officers.

There was a telling incident during the Chattanooga Campaign. Thomas was in command of the Army of the Cumberland when Grant arrived to take overall command. Apparently Grant showed up at the headquarters wet and cold and Thomas ignored him for a few minutes, until a staff officer suggested that perhaps Thomas offer Grant a place to get warm and cleaned up. It sounds so silly, yet such things can change the course of history.
David Powell’s recent book & others debunk the Thomas being rude to Grant story. What they did not know was that they observed Grant & Thomas warming up at the fireplace after a welcoming meal. Needless to say, the more dramatic story has been repeated endlessly.
 

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