Franklin-Nashville Campaign: What was the point?

Luke Freet

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Aside from Hood's characteristic aggressive behavior, I see little point in going on the Franklin-Nashville Campaign. If it succeded, what would Hood have gained for the Confederacy, if not a few more dead and a few more days before the final surrender. The war was definitively lost at Atlanta. What did Hood have to gain in a costly offensive?
 

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jackt62

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Hood truly believed he could fight his way through Tennessee, Kentucky and into Ohio, a fantasy that had also been espoused at one time or another by General Beauregard. Under this fantastic scenario, federal pressure on the Virginia front would have been relieved, and the northern will to continue fighting dealt a severe blow. But by the end of the Atlanta campaign in September 1864, the AOT had been seriously depleted, not least of which was a result of Hood's reckless generalship.
 

TomV71

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Aside from Hood's characteristic aggressive behavior, I see little point in going on the Franklin-Nashville Campaign. If it succeded, what would Hood have gained for the Confederacy, if not a few more dead and a few more days before the final surrender. The war was definitively lost at Atlanta. What did Hood have to gain in a costly offensive?
I believe the offensive could have worked, if handled differently by another General who would not let the Union forces slip by the Confederates at Spring Hill, not ordered the disastrous frontal assault at Franklin or trying to lay siege to a much larger army like at Nashville. So many tactical errors where made during that Campaign.
 

BlueandGrayl

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I doubt the offensive would have worked because at this point it was too late for the Confederacy to win in 1864 unlike say Bull Run July 1861 to post-Trent Affair January 1862 or Seven Days Summer 1862-Mud March early January-February 1863 where there was the possibility of a Confederate victory through the polls in addition to the battlefield.
 

Coonewah Creek

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Once Hood decided to let Sherman go "Marching Through Georgia" virtually unopposed, he really had few choices left that could have made any real difference in the war's outcome. I don't think anyone will ever figure out exactly what went wrong at Spring Hill. The historian who could accurately decipher that fiasco should have a monument built to his memory...then came Franklin...then Nashville. For Hood's fantasy offensive to have had a snowball's chance in h*** of working, he would have had to take Nashville and replenish from captured Federal stores. How was that going to happen with the wreckage of an army he moved out of Franklin with? Anyway...just my "two-cents."
 

Luke Freet

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Once Hood decided to let Sherman go "Marching Through Georgia" virtually unopposed, he really had few choices left that could have made any real difference in the war's outcome. I don't think anyone will ever figure out exactly what went wrong at Spring Hill. The historian who could accurately decipher that fiasco should have a monument built to his memory...then came Franklin...then Nashville. For Hood's fantasy offensive to have had a snowball's chance in h*** of working, he would have had to take Nashville and replenish from captured Federal stores. How was that going to happen with the wreckage of an army he moved out of Franklin with? Anyway...just my "two-cents."
Spring Hill was Hood's greatest missed opportunity. If he pushed the attack and captured the highway, or one of his subordinate commanders had taken the initiative and camped on the road, could he have pulled a victory against the Army of the Ohio? Itd only be a local victory; hood wouldn't have the strength to even dream of taking Nashville.
 

RochesterBill

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The point was, to draw Sherman's attention away and to cut his Nashville railroad supply lines. As ever, folks give too much credit to hindsight in the aftermath. It wasn't a bad plan at the time.
Agreed.

the fact that it didn't work doesn't necessarily mean it couldn't have worked. There were plenty of Union commanders - and plenty more politicians - who would have panicked when Hood moved towards Ohio and gone after him. Even Grant was uneasy about the situation.

Problem is, the commander on the scene was Sherman, who wasn't that easy to scare.

On top of that, Hood and his pal Jeff in Richmond were faced with a problem which kept recurring for the South during the war, namely the need to do something.

Joe Johnston's solution, which Davis detested, was to basically do nothing until some Union commander made a mistake. Which is why he got sacked and why they got Hood and why that army got trashed. They knew that Hood would do something.

Problem is, Hood had no really good alternatives; they were all bad. We can criticize the man all day - there's certainly more than enough cause, and his execution was simply atrocious - but he was charged with using the army he was given and, within those parameters, there was nothing that was anymore promising.

The fact is that Jeff Davis killed that army. He wanted it used to attack the Federal forces, and got what he wanted. Unfortunately,there was never any real chance of success against a numerically superior, vastly better supplied, veteran (to a man) force led by as shrewd a guy as Sherman.

They didn't like Johnston's approach, and Hood's didn't work out too well either. The bottom line is that, by that time, there was no solution for the South. Wiser men would have surrendered after July 1863 when anyone could see that they were doomed.

But wiser men wouldn't have started that war in the first place.
 

wausaubob

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The US overwhelmed one Confederate army after another, starting with Cedar Creek. Tactical surprises no longer mattered, because the US armies could absorb a blow and reclaim the ground, from that point forward.
How many battles did the Confederates win after October 1, 1864? Did any of them lead to any strategic result?
 

James N.

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The US overwhelmed one Confederate army after another, starting with Cedar Creek. Tactical surprises no longer mattered, because the US armies could absorb a blow and reclaim the ground, from that point forward.
How many battles did the Confederates win after October 1, 1864? Did any of them lead to any strategic result?
Keep in mind that like everything else, this campaign, bad as it turned out in the end, wasn't conceived in a vacuum. When it began in October, 1864, following Hood's failure at Allatoona Pass to sever Sherman's supply line, there were still at least three small Confederate armies operating outside Lee's Richmond-Petersburg defenses: Hood's own Army of Tennessee; Early's Army of the Valley that had recently been trounced at Third Winchester and Fisher's Hill but was still very much alive; and Sterling Price's force in Arkansas. All were poised to attack even though their chances were slim. Beauregard had by that time assumed command of the department that included Hood's army and he at least thought the plan had merit and agreed to it. Unfortunately, by the time Hood moved into Tennessee Price's Missouri raid had failed and his army dispersed and Early's masterful counterstroke at Cedar Creek had also backfired and his army routed. But those things were still in the future when Hood set off into Alabama - it's possible, even though unlikely that had ALL these succeeded it might have made a difference, even if only in lengthening the eventual outcome.
 
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Coonewah Creek

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Spot on! Even better, turned east bypassing Nashville and closer to Lee's Army.
Maybe...but I don't think his logistical situation would have supported bypassing Nashville. His offensive was based on capturing Nashville and reprovisioning his army. In the middle of winter, he wouldn't have been able to forage that far north...not like Sherman could marching through Georgia anyway...
 

James N.

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Spring Hill was Hood's greatest missed opportunity. If he pushed the attack and captured the highway, or one of his subordinate commanders had taken the initiative and camped on the road, could he have pulled a victory against the Army of the Ohio? Itd only be a local victory; hood wouldn't have the strength to even dream of taking Nashville.
Spring Hill was admittedly an unmitigated failure and disaster - however, that falls into the realm of tactics, and I assume by asking the question in the first place you were talking about strategical matters.
 
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The campaign actually stood a chance. It was the two week delay at Florence that doomed the operation. A.J. Smith's 16th Corps didn't arrive at Nashville until the evening of November 30. Until then, the operation could have accomplished a considerable amount. Only garrison troops and the 4th and 23rd Corps confronted the Army of Tennessee.
 

diane

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The campaign actually stood a chance. It was the two week delay at Florence that doomed the operation. A.J. Smith's 16th Corps didn't arrive at Nashville until the evening of November 30. Until then, the operation could have accomplished a considerable amount. Only garrison troops and the 4th and 23rd Corps confronted the Army of Tennessee.
Gunny, with Spring Hill - if Forrest had had use of Whitehall's brigade, could he have taken 'the whole she-bang' as he said?
 

mofederal

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There is always fault, and there is always someone to blame. Hood being in charge is in the end responsible. I don't know if he shoulder the whole blame or not. The problem is it was poorly laid out, by whoever really planned the whole campaign. It's been a long time since I read an account of the early stages of the campaign. Spring Hill was a lost opportunity, but the rest of the campaign was just ill conceived. The disaster at Franklin and Nashville followed. The blame, well we all know where that is laid. It seems as if there were better uses for the Army of Tennessee at the time. Which is the real question.
 
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Gunny, with Spring Hill - if Forrest had had use of Whitehall's brigade, could he have taken 'the whole she-bang' as he said?
I don’t doubt it. All they had to do was block the pike just north of the town, but Walthall’s brigade wasn’t near the pike till after 9 p.m. The opportunity had passed by then as there were troops north at Thompson’s Station by then.
 


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