Cheatham's response, to me, is very clear and concise. Its in Battles and Leaders Volume 4.I would certainly agree that Johnston became an enemy during and after the war, but there has been the birth of a misconception concerning Hood's relationship with Cheatham in the last few years.
Cheatham was in fact recommended for promotion to Lieutenant General on more than one occasion by Hood prior to the failure at Spring Hill. Hood saw Cheatham as a competent, reliable subordinate - and never had to recommend him for promotion. That changed however on the night of November 29, 1864. Hood arrived with the majority of his infantry at 4 p.m. in the vicinity of Spring Hill. The sun set at 4:30. Cheatham quickly deployed his troops and commenced an attack, but as the action increased, the sun sank, and due to a failure of Hood communicating orders to one of Cheatham's subordinates, the opportunity to seize the pike passed with darkness.
Hood had failed. He - however - was reluctant to accept the responsibility and chose his lead commander to take the fall. This is something that Cheatham was never made aware of until the army was in front of Nashville. Hood had sent two telegrams to the War Department. The first was sent on the 7th of December that read, "I withdraw my recommendation in favor of the promotion of Major General Cheatham for reasons which I will write more fully." That was the entirety of that telegram. The next morning, Hood sent another telegram that read, "A good Lieutenant General should be sent here at once to command the corps now commanded by Major General Cheatham. I have no one to recommend for the position." That was the entirety of the second telegram.
However, later in the day, Cheatham - after hearing rumors that the general was displeased with him - went to Hood's headquarters at the John Overton House. What exactly was said there will never be known, but at the end of the meeting, Cheatham apparently left under the impression that all was well. Hood had in fact left him that impression, and had even written him a note similar to the one he gave Stewart absolving him of any blame for the failure at Spring Hill.
Lastly, the third telegram that Hood sent was apparently sent immediately following his meeting with Cheatham. This telegram stated, "Major General Cheatham made a failure on the 30th of November, which will be a lesson to him. I think it best he should remain in his position for the present. I withdraw my telegrams of yesterday and to-day on this subject."
To me, this is like when testimony in a trial has to be struck, and the jurors are told to forget what they just heard. Ridiculous... huh?
Three days later, on December 11th, Hood wrote a letter to Secretary Seddon that stated:
"Major General Cheatham has frankly confessed the great error of which he was guilty, and attaches much blame to himself. While his error lost so much to the country, it has been a severe lesson to him, by which he will profit in the future. In consideration of this, and of his previous conduct, I think that it is best that he should retain, for the present, the command he now holds."
From my many moons of researching Cheatham and Hood on this specific subject, I can unequivocally state that there was at least a rumor in the army that Cheatham had been drunk at Spring Hill, but that same rumor included Hood. But what I do know, is that Cheatham walked away from that meeting feeling good. In fact, Cheatham never learned that he was being held responsible for the failure at Spring Hill until after Hood's report was published in the newspapers. But, the war was practically over, and when it passed, so did any ill feelings that Cheatham may have had. He doesn't appear to be the type that would really hold a grudge - he would just punch you in the face and get on with it. But with the war over and no one in his face to punch, Cheatham let it go. That is until after Hood's death and the publication of Hood's memoirs that Cheatham undoubtedly heard about through old war colleagues.
When Cheatham finally read what Hood wrote - it made his blood boil. He had not said anything about the war since its end. He just wanted to get back to living, which is what he did. Cheatham couldn't help it if Hood had died and wouldn't be able to defend himself against Cheatham's "attacks." But in fact, what Cheatham would write in the end, was far from any attack, but a defense of himself, but more-so the men that Cheatham led. By December, 1871, Cheatham delivered his reply to Hood's attacks on himself and what he considered were against the "rank and file." Cheatham's arguments are hard to decipher - he jumps around in his dialogue so much, that it is tough to figure. But one thing that is clear in all my studies: Cheatham didn't give a **** until Hood attacked his men. Then and only then did he defend himself and his men against the "querulous calamities" of General Hood's "attempt at history."
The odd thing is, there are newspaper accounts that report that Hood attended Cheatham's wedding in March of 1866. Only other thing I have to add, is that Cheatham's Division never had any other official designation other than Cheatham's division. Brown was given command of that division at the reorganization in September, 1864 and I have not seen any official documents that named it "Brown's" with the organization of Carter's, Strahl, Gist's and Gordon's brigades. In the end, Cheatham did retain command of his old division, but that was only because there were so many generals at Bentonville and immediately following it at the surrender. Just 2 cents!