Franklin-Nashville Campaign: What was the point?

James N.

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#81
… I am of the opinion that Hood's entire career is coloured retrospectively through the lense of the Franklin-Nashville Campaign, that the utter disaster that Campaign turned out to be ruined his reputation forever more, and his good reputation as divison commander could not offset the damage.
It's interesting that this is a development of just the past half-century - prior to relatively recently, at least here in Texas, Hood's name was always linked with the other Heroes of the Confederacy. For example, Hood's statue graces the large and ugly Confederate Monument in downtown Dallas that's the bane of the current liberal city council that wants to remove it, along with those of Lee, Jackson, and Albert Sidney Johnston. Hood's Texas Brigade (which doesn't really need his name attached to it) remains renowned, and there's a Texas county named in his honor. Even his old soldiers forgot and forgave, rallying to help support his orphans after he, his wife, and one of the children died in the New Orleans yellow fever epidemic.

I think the reason for his decline has been the recent scholarly concentration on the war in the west as a cause for Confederate failure, with an emphasis on things like the Atlanta Campaign as a whole, and the campaign we're considering here. Around the time of the Centennial, the war, apart maybe from Shiloh, Vicksburg, Atlanta (the battle, not the campaign), and Ol' Bedford had all been fought in the East by Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, with a little help from John S. Mosby. Other than the Carter House and Carnton, there was no reason at all to remember Franklin and Spring Hill was just the place where the new Saturn plant got built. As long as those attitudes remained, Hood's reputation as a heroic fighting general, famous for his charges at Gaines' Mill, Second Manassas, and Antietam's Cornfield, also remained secure.
 
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Nytram01

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#82
It's interesting that this is a development of just the past half-century - prior to relatively recently, at least here in Texas, Hood's name was always linked with the other Heroes of the Confederacy. For example, Hood's statue graces the large and ugly Confederate Monument in downtown Dallas that's the bane of the current liberal city council that wants to remove it, along with those of Lee, Jackson, and Albert Sidney Johnston. Hood's Texas Brigade (which doesn't really need his name attached to it) remains renowned, and there's a Texas county named in his honor. Even his old soldiers forgot and forgave, rallying to help support his orphans after he, his wife, and one of the children died in the new Orleans yellow fever epidemic.

I think the reason for his decline has been the recent scholarly concentration on the war in the west as a cause for Confederate failure, with an emphasis on things like the Atlanta Campaign as a whole, and the campaign we're considering here. Around the time of the Centennial, the war, apart maybe from Shiloh, Vicksburg, Atlanta (the battle, not the campaign), and Ol' Bedford had all been fought in the East by Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, with a little help from John S. Mosby. Other than the Carter House and Carnton, there was no reason at all to remember Franklin and Spring Hill was just the place where the new Saturn plant got built. As long as those attitudes remained, Hood's reputation as a heroic fighting general, famous for his charges at Gaines' Mill, Second Manassas, and Antietam's Cornfield, also remained secure.
I wonder if the fondness that Hood retained was the reason why the unfounded allegations of laudinum abuse arose - that to rationalize how Hood could have overseen such a string of disasters at the Franklin-Nashville Campaign despite having been such a good divisional commander people invented an outside influence that changed who he was and clouded his judgement because it was more...palatable to believe that something was hindering him and ability than to believe that he was simple out of his depth.
 

gunny

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#83
Even as big a critic of John Bell Hood as Capt. Samuel Foster (in the book One of Cleburne's Command) wasn't dismayed by the assault at Franklin - until the next morning where he surveyed the carnage. He at first seemed satisfied that the Federals had been driven in retreat and the Confederates had evidently "won" the battle!
Yep. It's amazing how many Confederates that participated in the battle reflected on Franklin as a victory. I've seen many an account that labels it as such - even as horrific as the casualties were!
 

gunny

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#84
At times I tend to think too much blame is placed at the top of the AOT during this period, certainly a substantial problem was the subordinates who repeatedly showed little initiative and were slow to carry out what was ordered. Hood may have been right at Franklin in that the AOT seemed incapable of conducting any flanking or complex attack maneuver in any type of a coordinated and timely matter to be able to succeed.
I have read somewhere that Lee's biggest failure as a commander was expecting more than he should of his army. If that is the case, it is too the case with Hood. All of his operations - or nearly so - required nearly impossible feats. The march of Hardee's corps on the evening and morning of the 22nd of July - expecting them to be in position at an unreasonable time. Expectations that were - in his mind only - practical. The reality is that the battlefield is fluid and always in motion - things change and plans have to adapt to the changes. His subordinates did all they could under the circumstances and still failed. Hood would see these failures as their fault - when in reality - the plans didn't anticipate and include other possibilities.
 

Nathanb1

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#85
I defer to the Jacobson's & Cartwright's of the world when it comes to this topic. I've loved learning about it over the years and reading several works on the subject, but they know a lot better than I do.

I was hoping to see the reenactors do their usual walk from Winstead Hill up Columbia Pike to the Carter House for the Anniversary last week, but working late & the probable rain intruded, and sort of ruined that for me, sadly.
I was thinking about two years ago, on our way to the Hood's Texas Brigade Reactivated Association seminar in Galveston on the anniversary of the battle...an absolutely beautiful Indian Summer day, just like that afternoon before the battle; it suddenly struck me that so many young men, including my relatives, saw their last day on earth--or their last free day, as some of them ended up in Camp Douglas, where they died a dreary and unnecessary death. Franklin is a special place to me, and I would give a lot to be able to be there on the anniversary.
 

Nathanb1

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#86
Hood's overall plan to capture Nashville, march north through Kentucky to the Ohio then take a hard right and cross WV and the Valley to help Lee is some of the most fantastical craziness of a plan you will ever read in the annals of military history.

Oh did I mention he plans to start this in the winter?!!!! And Davis endorses and encourages it. Amazing.
Davis--the great military mind who Ben McCulloch and the Rangers had to bail out in Mexico, or he'd have been taco meat. 'Nuff said.
 

Nathanb1

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#87
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.
Shoulda been a rule...if Beauregard approves, DON'T. :smile:
 

Jamieva

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#89
It's interesting that this is a development of just the past half-century - prior to relatively recently, at least here in Texas, Hood's name was always linked with the other Heroes of the Confederacy. For example, Hood's statue graces the large and ugly Confederate Monument in downtown Dallas that's the bane of the current liberal city council that wants to remove it, along with those of Lee, Jackson, and Albert Sidney Johnston. Hood's Texas Brigade (which doesn't really need his name attached to it) remains renowned, and there's a Texas county named in his honor. Even his old soldiers forgot and forgave, rallying to help support his orphans after he, his wife, and one of the children died in the New Orleans yellow fever epidemic.

I think the reason for his decline has been the recent scholarly concentration on the war in the west as a cause for Confederate failure, with an emphasis on things like the Atlanta Campaign as a whole, and the campaign we're considering here. Around the time of the Centennial, the war, apart maybe from Shiloh, Vicksburg, Atlanta (the battle, not the campaign), and Ol' Bedford had all been fought in the East by Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, with a little help from John S. Mosby. Other than the Carter House and Carnton, there was no reason at all to remember Franklin and Spring Hill was just the place where the new Saturn plant got built. As long as those attitudes remained, Hood's reputation as a heroic fighting general, famous for his charges at Gaines' Mill, Second Manassas, and Antietam's Cornfield, also remained secure.

Referring to it as Hood's Texas brigade was a decision made by the men in that brigade. So yes it does need his name attached to it, because it honors the men that fought more than him personally. This also explains why a monument in Dallas...in Texas...would have him on it
 

Jamieva

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#90
Yep. It's amazing how many Confederates that participated in the battle reflected on Franklin as a victory. I've seen many an account that labels it as such - even as horrific as the casualties were!

Because in an old school way of looking at a battle, whoever held the field won the battle. Schofield retreated after the battle, hence some Confederates viewed it as a win. It wasn't
 

Jamieva

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#91
I have read somewhere that Lee's biggest failure as a commander was expecting more than he should of his army. If that is the case, it is too the case with Hood. All of his operations - or nearly so - required nearly impossible feats. The march of Hardee's corps on the evening and morning of the 22nd of July - expecting them to be in position at an unreasonable time. Expectations that were - in his mind only - practical. The reality is that the battlefield is fluid and always in motion - things change and plans have to adapt to the changes. His subordinates did all they could under the circumstances and still failed. Hood would see these failures as their fault - when in reality - the plans didn't anticipate and include other possibilities.

And ironically Hood modeled his leadership style completely on Lee. No oversight just give out the general design and let everyone do their job. Lee could do that, Hood could not
 

James N.

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#92
Referring to it as Hood's Texas brigade was a decision made by the men in that brigade. So yes it does need his name attached to it, because it honors the men that fought more than him personally. This also explains why a monument in Dallas...in Texas...would have him on it
Of course having his name attached to it helps to separate it from the other Texas Brigades: Waul's Texas Legion; Smith's/Granbury's Brigade; Ector's Brigade; Walker's Brigade; and probably others that don't come as readily to mind. But if the men weren't at least respectful of Hood they could just as well have been Wigfall's, Robertson's or Gregg's Texas Brigade too.
 

OpnCoronet

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#93
As noted by others, the campaign was strategically sound, up to a point(the AoT, was probably too small and underequipped at that stage of the war in the West).

Schofield's force was to be the veteran core of a polyglot army being assembled at Nashville from all over the Union Military Dept's of the West. The loss of this force at Spring Hill or Franklin would be serious blow to Sherman's original plan.

From the perspective of Washington and the War Dept. losing Nashville would be a great military loss and severe psychological and Propaganda blow to public morale. Lincoln had learned from bitter experience that he could not trust Union commanders to perform adequately in times of crisis(the exception being Grant, who was not at Nashville) and it was too far away for him, or Grant to take a personal tour and see the real facts. Lincoln had learned to take military assurances, with a large grain of salt.

Lincoln and, even Grant, were not completely convinced that Sherman's plan was really all that good. Grant allowed himself to be convinced by Sherman and Lincoln went along, because he had enough confidence in Grant to agree. The destruction of Schofield's force and a siege of Nashville would almost certainly have drawn quick and strong response from Lincoln.

Grant's reaction to the perceived slowness of Thomas to attack(partly fueled by his fear that if the attack did not occur soon, and impatient Lincoln, would order reinforcements from the Union forces besieging Richmond), one can imagine his reaction of a disaster at Spring Hill or Franklin and resulting siege of Nashville.

Without hindsight, Lincoln and the War Dept, would have to look at what was happening through the imperfect view from long distance reports from those Lincoln could not completely trust. After the event, we can see it was bound to fail, but at the time, who could know for sure?
 
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#94
As noted by others, the campaign was strategically sound, up to a point(the AoT, was probably too small and underequipped at that stage of the war in the West).

Schofield's force was to be the veteran core of a polyglot army being assembled at Nashville from all over the Union Military Dept's of the West. The loss of this force at Spring Hill or Franklin would be serious blow to Sherman's original plan.

From the perspective of Washington and the War Dept. losing Nashville would be a great military loss and severe psychological and Propaganda blow to public morale. Lincoln had learned from bitter experience that he could not trust Union commanders to perform adequately in times of crisis(the exception being Grant, who was not at Nashville) and it was too far away for him, or Grant to take a personal tour and see the real facts. Lincoln had learned to take military assurances, with a large grain of salt.

Lincoln and, even Grant, were not completely convinced that Sherman's plan was really all that good. Grant allowed himself to be convinced by Sherman and Lincoln went along, because he had enough confidence in Grant to agree. The destruction of Schofield's force and a siege of Nashville would almost certainly have drawn quick and strong response from Lincoln.

Grant's reaction to the perceived slowness of Thomas to attack(partly fueled by his fear that if the attack did not occur soon, and impatient Lincoln, would order reinforcements from the Union forces besieging Richmond), one can imagine his reaction of a disaster at Spring Hill or Franklin and resulting siege of Nashville.

Without hindsight, Lincoln and the War Dept, would have to look at what was happening through the imperfect view from long distance reports from those Lincoln could not completely trust. After the event, we can see it was bound to fail, but at the time, who could know for sure?
And yet, even if he annihalted Schofield's Army, and took Nashville with only minimal casualties sustained (highly doubtful), what does that gain the confederacy? Would it have pushed Lincoln into taking the seat and signing an armistace? Because from my view, the most likely result for the Confederacy is that it has a couple more months to live. They were utterly dry when it came to manpower
Assuming that they make up for their lack of manpower by finally putting slaves in the field, they lack the disposable officer corps to command these new units; the weapons to arm these new units; etc. This is not even beginning to factor in desertions, which will likely be relatively high in those units.
 
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#95
And yet, even if he annihalted Schofield's Army, and took Nashville with only minimal casualties sustained (highly doubtful), what does that gain the confederacy? Would it have pushed Lincoln into taking the seat and signing an armistace? Because from my view, the most likely result for the Confederacy is that it has a couple more months to live. They were utterly dry when it came to manpower
Assuming that they make up for their lack of manpower by finally putting slaves in the field, they lack the disposable officer corps to command these new units; the weapons to arm these new units; etc. This is not even beginning to factor in desertions, which will likely be relatively high in those units.
Using an oppressed minority as armed soldiers is tricky at best. Giving said minority weapons is always fraught with the danger of defection. The only evidence that has been thinly documented about even a small amount of black Confederate soldiers is Paynsville,Virginia where after a few volley's the black troops quickly surrendered to the Union.
I have a PM thread if your interested that explores the actual use of segregated troops world wide.
Leftyhunter
 

OpnCoronet

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#96
And yet, even if he annihalted Schofield's Army, and took Nashville with only minimal casualties sustained (highly doubtful), what does that gain the confederacy? Would it have pushed Lincoln into taking the seat and signing an armistace? Because from my view, the most likely result for the Confederacy is that it has a couple more months to live. They were utterly dry when it came to manpower
Assuming that they make up for their lack of manpower by finally putting slaves in the field, they lack the disposable officer corps to command these new units; the weapons to arm these new units; etc. This is not even beginning to factor in desertions, which will likely be relatively high in those units.


You are reading too much into my post. I do not think the destruction of Schofield and his force would lead to Hood's taking Nashville, if its commander kept his head and, I think we can safely assume Thomas would not panic or not know what to do to adequately protect his base.

The effect of the loss of Schofield's force, and the advance of Hood and the AOT(both names well known to Lincoln and the War Dept., to be names not to be taken lightly)would be most felt in Washington and the War Dept.

As I noted, Lincoln was nearly so convinced of Sherman's success as Sherman himself. The loss of Schofield and even the threat of losing Nashville, would be intolerable both militarily and politically and just as Lincoln would not take any commanders word on the safety of Washington D.C. unless he was convinced in his own mind that, so, also, I believe he would not accept Grant's or Thomas' assurances of the safety of Nashville and would preferrr to err on the side of too much rather than too little. So, IMO, the threat of reinforcement from Grant(or even worse, Grant, himself)would probably have been the result of the hypothetical events I described.

Even Grant was nervous concerning the events at Nashville, in the event, much less if the threat was even more serious in actuality than it was.
 

jackt62

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#97
The point of the Franklin-Nashville campaign is that there were very limited options for the confederacy at that point in time. Hood could have pursued Sherman through Georgia, but by that time the AOT had already made the decision to go after Sherman's communications line northwards from Atlanta. Sherman's decision to break away from his communications and live off the land effectively checkmated the AOT's then strategy. So the AOT was better positioned to go after Schofield and Thomas in Tennessee. A victory there would have been of deep concern to the Lincoln administration, although whether Hood could have continued onward to the Ohio River and Kentucky was probably nothing but a pipe dream.
 

OpnCoronet

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#98
In wars(especially Civil Wars) Politics is just as important, if not more important, than battles. The political ramifications of military operations(victories or defeats) and vice versa, are well known to histoy.

In a Democracy such as that of the united States, it is what the president thinks(not necessarily, what he knows) that controls military operations., i.e., If Lincoln thinks it intolerable to lose Nashville, then it is, no matter the reality. and military action will conform to his thinking.

In the Civil War,Political expediency and military operations are seldom divorced from the other.

Militarily, Sherman's plan gave the commander of the AOT(whomever he might be) two equally unpalatable choices. He could follow Sherman and finally meet Sherman's more powerful army, in open battle(which Sherman had been trying to do since taking Atlanta), or, stay and fight the more powerful Army Thomas and Schofield would be assembling in Nashville. /eutger /watm Sherman would be rid of the AOT and the war in the West would be complete ... and in Historical Terms, that is how it worked out, all according to Sherman's Plan.
 

James N.

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#99
The point of the Franklin-Nashville campaign is that there were very limited options for the confederacy at that point in time. Hood could have pursued Sherman through Georgia, but by that time the AOT had already made the decision to go after Sherman's communications line northwards from Atlanta. Sherman's decision to break away from his communications and live off the land effectively checkmated the AOT's then strategy. So the AOT was better positioned to go after Schofield and Thomas in Tennessee. A victory there would have been of deep concern to the Lincoln administration, although whether Hood could have continued onward to the Ohio River and Kentucky was probably nothing but a pipe dream.
Hood had already gotten a bloody nose at Allatoona trying to interdict Sherman's supplies and had given up on that tack; for more on the small but pivotal battle: https://www.civilwartalk.com/thread...battlefield-october-2018.151668/#post-1927462
 



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