Franklin-Nashville Campaign: What was the point?

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wausaubob

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Nothing was accomplished, and nothing could be accomplished. If Rosecrans' army could survive Chickamauga, Schofield's group was going to survive even Spring Hill. They might have to run all the way to Nashville, but there was a fortified position there.
Those Confederate soldiers had proven all that honor demanded by November of 1864, shortening the war by surrendering would have saved lives and left property untouched.
 
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Rucker, Edmund Winchester.jpg
Nothing was accomplished, and nothing could be accomplished. If Rosecrans' army could survive Chickamauga, Schofield's group was going to survive even Spring Hill. They might have to run all the way to Nashville, but there as a fortified position there.
Those Confederate soldiers had proven all that honor demanded by November of 1864, shortening the war by surrendering would have saved lives and left property untouched.
My gg uncle lost his arm at Nashville. You might recognize him. Edmund Winchester Rucker, of Rucker's Legion.
 
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Drew

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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.
Thanks for weighing in, Gunny. Yes, it was a disaster but that's hindsight. I say again it wasn't a terrible idea to those present in 1864.
 
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Nothing was accomplished, and nothing could be accomplished. If Rosecrans' army could survive Chickamauga, Schofield's group was going to survive even Spring Hill. They might have to run all the way to Nashville, but there as a fortified position there.
Those Confederate soldiers had proven all that honor demanded by November of 1864, shortening the war by surrendering would have saved lives and left property untouched.
True that nothing was accomplished - but that is in great part due to the delays at Florence. No one believed that "nothing could be accomplished" - not even the Federals. That's why they sent an entire army corps to reinforce Nashville.

The fortifications at Nashville meant little if their weren't sufficient troops to man them.

True that we recognize that Rosecrans' army survived Chickamauga, but same can be said for the Army of Tennessee. They survived the Kentucky Campaign as "The Army of the Mississippi," the disaster at Missionary Ridge, and both failures in front of Atlanta.

True that the "Confederate soldiers had proven all that honor demanded by November 1864," but doesn't change the fact the war was still going on - and that their were nearly forty-thousand men ready and still willing to fight for the Confederacy in the AoT at that time.

I don't think we should speak in absolutes today - even if in hindsight. The situation in October - November 1864 was far different to the men and women of both sides than it is to us today.

There was a serious threat, and there was a serious response to that threat by Federal authorities as seen by their immediate, but rather tardy response. Luckily for the Federals - their response was just as tardy as the Confederate advance.
 
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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."
I expect a monument soon. Lol!

There is less mystery to Spring Hill than people perceive. It is truly simple. Command miscommunications, lack of unity of command, lack of initiative, poor judgement, lack of supervision, lack of decisiveness. Mission accomplishment is always number one - and number two is troop welfare. Mission accomplishment took a backseat to troop welfare on this occasion, and it resulted in the slaughter at Franklin the next day. The most important leadership trait is supervision - and Hood's failure to supervise on this occasion led to disaster.

Check out this book - I know the guy that wrote it! Hehe.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1470106817/?tag=civilwartalkc-20
 
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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.
So you're saying if everything had been totally different, it might have ended differently. Ya think?
 
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RochesterBill

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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...
I've been trying to think of a military campaign in all of history where that strategy worked.

Sure, Grant - and later Sherman - cut loose from their logistical tails for a time (and both always had an eye on reestablishing them as soon as possible; they knew how, where and when they would get their supply systems back), but they were foraging freely on a lush countryside,not desperately hoping to defeat a larger, better equipped army and take their stuff or else starve.

In any case, beating George Thomas in a set piece battle in a location he had months to fortify was a ridiculous concept, and even if by some miracle you broke through Thomas would have burned that town to the ground before giving up a single kernel of corn.

It was hopeless.
 

GS

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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?
Precisely!
 

jackt62

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The fact is that after Lincoln's re-election in November 1864, there was no realistic pathway for southern victory and independence. Therefore, any confederate military operations from that time forward (including Lee's in Virginia) were forlorn hopes. The leaders of the confederacy should have come to that conclusion and ended the war almost six months before Appomattox.
 
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JeffBrooks

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The war was definitively lost at Atlanta. What did Hood have to gain in a costly offensive?
We can see in hindsight that the war was lost at Atlanta, but that was far from clear at the time. We can see this in the sense of panic that Lincoln, Stanton, and even Grant seemed to feel at the prospect of a Confederate army moving into Tennessee (Stanton was especially concerned about the Union's fiscal situation, worrying that they would no longer be able to pay for the war if it lasted much longer). In November of 1864, Hood had never even heard of a place called Appomattox and thought he still had everything to fight for.

Fun Fact: When John C. Breckinridge was summoned to Richmond in January of 1865 to be appointed Secretary of War by Jefferson Davis, it caused a flurry of discussion among people about whether this made him the chosen successor of Davis and the natural shoe-in to be elected the second President of the Confederate States in the 1867 election. . . while Lee's army was starving in the trenches of Petersburg and the fall of Richmond was a mere three months away.

To us, all this seems silly, but that's only because we know the war is going to be over in a few months. The folks in late 1864 didn't know that.
 
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RochesterBill

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The fact is that after Lincoln's re-election in November 1864, there was no realistic pathway for southern victory and independence. Therefore, any confederate military operations from that time forward (including Lee's in Virginia) were forlorn hopes. The leaders of the confederacy should have come to that conclusion and ended the war almost six months before Appomattox.
I agree that the re election of Lincoln was the death knell, and whatever else you can say about the men who led the South - in and out of uniform - every soldiers death after that is on their hands forever.

For us looking bac,k, its pretty clear that after Vicksburg/Gettysburg the South had no hope aside from Northern war weariness, a loser strategy if ever there was one. Ask the Japanese.

But after Atlanta, anyone in the South who didnt see that there simpky was no longer a path to victory was simply blind.
 

wausaubob

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I doubt that Spring Hill was an accident, or a mistake. In Tennessee, by December 1864, people on both sides were wondering why was the war continuing? I suppose that is projection, but generals on both sides were very hesitant. Butler ducked a big battle at Fort Fisher, too.
It was Grant who wanted to collapse the Confederacy as fast as possible. He and Stanton were at the center of intelligence information that outlined that the end was near, but would require few more steps.
 
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Coonewah Creek

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But after Atlanta, anyone in the South who didnt see that there simpky was no longer a path to victory was simply blind.
Could have been a bit of apprehension in some minds that if more radical Northern politicians prevailed, a lot of surrendered Confederates might be shot for treason. That would tend to help keep ones resolve going beyond any reasonable hope of success. Just guessing of course...
 

leftyhunter

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We can see in hindsight that the war was lost at Atlanta, but that was far from clear at the time. We can see this in the sense of panic that Lincoln, Stanton, and even Grant seemed to feel at the prospect of a Confederate army moving into Tennessee (Stanton was especially concerned about the Union's fiscal situation, worrying that they would no longer be able to pay for the war if it lasted much longer). In November of 1864, Hood had never even heard of a place called Appomattox and thought he still had everything to fight for.

Fun Fact: When John C. Breckinridge was summoned to Richmond in January of 1865 to be appointed Secretary of War by Jefferson Davis, it caused a flurry of discussion among people about whether this made him the chosen successor of Davis and the natural shoe-in to be elected the second President of the Confederate States in the 1867 election. . . while Lee's army was starving in the trenches of Petersburg and the fall of Richmond was a mere three months away.

To us, all this seems silly, but that's only because we know the war is going to be over in a few months. The folks in late 1864 didn't know that.
Other than the Confederate soldiers deserting in large numbers.
Leftyhunter
 

diane

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Could have been a bit of apprehension in some minds that if more radical Northern politicians prevailed, a lot of surrendered Confederates might be shot for treason. That would tend to help keep ones resolve going beyond any reasonable hope of success. Just guessing of course...
For some it was a matter of honor, dedication to a cause. Forrest, for instance, knew the game was up with Vicksburg and Gettysburg. He continued to fight - he was a die-hard and that was why Sherman and Grant feared him. But he wasn't a stupid die-hard! After Wilson drew him a diagram at Selma, he was not interested in further pursuit of the war.

Forrest had told Hood what he thought about the situation at Franklin and Nashville but Hood chose to discard his input and sent him off to the boondocks somewhere. I've never quite gotten my head around why Hood would tell his best and most capable cavalryman to chase a goose over yonder. Forrest's reputation alone had a heavy weight with the enemy!
 
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Coonewah Creek

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Forrest had told Hood what he thought about the situation at Franklin and Nashville but Hood chose to discard his input and sent him off to the boondocks somewhere. I've never quite gotten my head around why Hood would tell his best and most capable cavalryman to chase a goose over yonder. Forrest's reputation alone had a heavy weight with the enemy!
I know this is a bit of a "pivot" on the theme of the original post, but yes, an exercise in futility attacking the Federal garrison at Murphreesboro. Forrest still saved his butt during the retreat from Nashville. I'm sure he was glad to have him in command of the rear guard of what was left of the Army of Tennessee.
 

diane

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I know this is a bit of a "pivot" on the theme of the original post, but yes, an exercise in futility attacking the Federal garrison at Murphreesboro. Forrest still saved his butt during the retreat from Nashville. I'm sure he was glad to have him in command of the rear guard of what was left of the Army of Tennessee.
That Murfreesboro was downright embarrassing - Forrest had never had his troops skedaddle on him before and he lost to Milroy! :x3:
 
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