Interview: Longstreet says John Bell Hood "was a splendid fighting soldier without guile"

lelliott19

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Longstreet on Hood.JPG

On the occasion of Longstreet's visit to Antietam in 1893, a correspondent of the Washington Post recorded the General's opinions and criticisms on a number of topics. This part of the interview is General Longstreet's remarks on John Bell Hood.

"General Hood was an officer of moderate talents and lacked experience for high command. He was a splendid fighting soldier without guile. What could have been accomplished early in 1863, as I had proposed, with a grand combined army in the West, say 100,000 men, under an able leader like General Johnston or Beauregard was demonstrated by General Hood's bold invasion with an emasculated force in the fall of 1864, when our cause was practically lost. He commanded the heart of Tennessee for weeks with less than 10,000 men."
Note: This post is Part 9 of a series on Longstreet's opinions of various Generals, expressed during an interview with a Washington Post corespondent in 1893. Longstreet's opinions on various generals are posted in separate threads so they can be easily located - Bragg, Jackson, A P Hill, Early, Ewell, Pickett, Sheridan, Joe Johnston, Beauregard, Hood, Jeff Davis, Lee, McClellan, and more. Here are the links to Parts 1-8, posted previously:
Part 1 - Intro to the article
Part 2 - Longstreet on Bragg
Part 3 - Longstreet on Jackson
Part 4 - Longstreet on AP Hill
Part 5 - Longstreet on Ewell & Early
Part 6 - Longstreet on Pickett, Sheridan, Five Forks & the Timing of the Surrender
Part 7 - Longstreet on Joe Johnston
Part 8 - Longstreet on Beauregard

Source: Reprinted from the Washington Post of June 1893, the interview appeared in The Times Dispatch. (Richmond, VA.), November 12, 1911, page 3.

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If you aren't tagged and would like to receive notification when these are posted, let me know and Ill tag you in future ones. <Up next, Longstreet on General Lee. Some of it might surprise you. Due to the volume of the narrative, this will be a multi-parter. The first part will be posted after I return from the CWT Chickamauga event this weekend.>
 

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#2
General Hood was an officer of moderate talents and lacked experience for high command.
There he goes again ... :confused:
Another less than perfect brother in arms....

Naw, to be true, this time I do agree with my buddy James "I said so" Longstreet. :D
Note the words "under an able leader like General Johnston" ... old love never dies!
 

lelliott19

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There he goes again ... :confused:
Another less than perfect brother in arms....
But I don't really see his comments as offensive to Hood. More like an honest assessment - strengths and weaknesses. Where I work, Longstreet would have been really good at completing employee performance reviews. :giggle:
 
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But I don't really see his comments as offensive to Hood. More like an honest assessment - strengths and weaknesses.
I do agree, apart from the term "moderate talents".
I must admit that I would be somewhat offended if someone would describe me as a librarian "with moderate talents" - Hood sure tried his best, and as we all have an inkling what came from it, that would have said enough about his talents...
That being said, I have a great respect for Hood.
 

ErnieMac

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For the most part I think Longstreet had it right. Hood was an exceptional division command who never had much time learning to be a corps commander before being handed the Army of Tennessee. That being said I believe Hood had a rather inflated sense of his own abilities.
 
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War Horse

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I think Longstreet’s comments were accurate. Hood was the youngest full General in either army. He was an exceptional Brigader and Divison commander. However he had some flaws. He had a tendency to be aggressive boarding reckless. Who better to point this out than his old Corp Commander.

Longstreet’s comments concerning his performance in Tennessee are high praise in my opinion. Hood did well considering his small army.

Hood simply lacked the experience needed to develope exceptional ability. By the time he arrived to the ball, the Confederacy was in decline.
 
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I'm no stranger to thinking more highly of certain commanders than the current orthodoxy does (McClellan and Bragg, for instance), but what are the arguments of Hood's supporters? Hood seems to have been, for lack of a better word, sloppy in his command style. This wasn't so bad at the brigade or divisional level, but once he reached corps and army command, it became disastrous. Cassville was an excellent opportunity to give the Union a beating, yet Hood, despite castigating Johnston for his cautiousness, aborted the attack as soon as saw enemy cavalry.
 
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It seems General Lee would agree with General Longstreet's assessment of John Bell Hood. When Jefferson Davis was thinking of relieving Joe Johnston and promoting Hood to succeed him in army command he sought General Lee's opinion and asked, “What think you of Hood for the position?” General Lee's telegraphed reply was: “Hood is a bold fighter. I am doubtful as to other qualities necessary.
 

rbasin

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#11
I do agree, apart from the term "moderate talents".
I must admit that I would be somewhat offended if someone would describe me as a librarian "with moderate talents" - Hood sure tried his best, and as we all have an inkling what came from it, that would have said enough about his talents...
That being said, I have a great respect for Hood.
But as an army commander Hood did have moderate talents. His elevation to command should not have happened.
 

rbasin

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#13
Had Longstreet stayed in the west, and then take command of a Corps under old Joe, I think Davis would have had no reasonable excuse to get rid of Johnston.
 

WJC

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I do agree, apart from the term "moderate talents".
I must admit that I would be somewhat offended if someone would describe me as a librarian "with moderate talents" - Hood sure tried his best, and as we all have an inkling what came from it, that would have said enough about his talents...
That being said, I have a great respect for Hood.
I, too, have great respect for Hood. Too many, in my view dismiss what Hood was able to accomplish and how close he came to great victory in the fall of 1864. Longstreet's assessment is, in my view, quite accurate.
 

WJC

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But I don't really see his comments as offensive to Hood. More like an honest assessment - strengths and weaknesses. Where I work, Longstreet would have been really good at completing employee performance reviews. :giggle:
I agree with that Longstreet would do well in writing assessments in today's business environment. In my experience, direct, accurate assessments are by far the best for both employee and employer/manager.
 



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