Say What Saturday: A Quote by General John Bell Hood in the Waning Days of His Military Career

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DBF

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The Battle of Nashville is over and General Hood leads his Army of Tennessee away from bitter defeat. Most of his soldiers are in a most desperate position. Richmond had not provided the basic needs for his army. In addition to food and military supplies, they are lacking life’s necessary items - clothing, shoes and blankets. Their clothes are worn or non-existent and his men are scarcely able to cover their bodies. They are wearing anything and everything they are able to find on their retreat.

One day General Hood and his staff come upon a retreating regiment. Among those marching was a young man who had discovered a long coffee sack. He managed to cut a hole in one end for his head and two for his bare arms. He carried his canteen and around him was his cartridge belt as he marched along carrying his musket.

As the story goes General Hood stopped his horse in front of the soldier and asked for his name and regiment, “Martin Brown, Company I, Texas” comes the reply. General Hood asks, “Well, have you no better uniform than that?”

The soldier lays down his gun, looks squarely into the eyes of his commander and replies: “Look here, General Hood, do you expect a man to have a thousand shirts?”

The marching resumed. On Christmas Day General Hood and the rest of his “fatigued, and starving army” crossed out of Tennessee. His army, numbering around 15,000 men, arrived in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 10, 1865.

Sam Watkins write in his journal: “I remember when passing by Hood, how feeble and decrepit he looked, with an arm in a sling, and a crutch in the other hand trying to guide and control his of his horse. I prayed in my heart that day for General Hood.” When members of the United States Christian Commission visited the Confederate prisoners captured taken by the Union, one member reported: “Hood’s army had endured fatigues and privations almost beyond belief.”

General John Bell Hood no longer had the respect from his army. General Hood - friend of Confederate President Jefferson Davis; the man that held the hopes of success; resigned from his Army of Tennessee on January 23, 1865.

He headed to Richmond and was eventually tasked by Jefferson Davis to journey to the Trans-Mississippi west to determine the feasibility of moving troops to the east in hopes of strengthening the Confederate war effort. His final act of service in the Confederate Army was on May 31, 1865 at Natchez, Mississippi when he surrendered to Virginia born and West Point graduate (1845) General John Wynn Davidson.

* * *​

Sources
1. Civil War Treasury of Tales, Legends and Folk Lore, by B.A. Botkin pages 421-422
2. https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/john-bell-hood.html
3. Sam Watkins, Company Aytch
 

bdtex

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His final act of service in the Confederate Army was on May 31, 1865 at Natchez, Mississippi when he surrendered to Virginia born and West Point graduate (1845) General John Wynn Davidson.
Although I have read a good bit about Gen. Hood and followed in a lot of his footsteps,I learned something new today. Thanks for posting this OP.
 
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rpkennedy

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The Battle of Nashville is over and General Hood leads his Army of Tennessee away from bitter defeat. Most of his soldiers are in a most desperate position. Richmond had not provided the basic needs for his army. In addition to food and military supplies, they are lacking life’s necessary items - clothing, shoes and blankets. Their clothes are worn or non-existent and his men are scarcely able to cover their bodies. They are wearing anything and everything they are able to find on their retreat.

One day General Hood and his staff come upon a retreating regiment. Among those marching was a young man who had discovered a long coffee sack. He managed to cut a hole in one end for his head and two for his bare arms. He carried his canteen and around him was his cartridge belt as he marched along carrying his musket.

As the story goes General Hood stopped his horse in front of the soldier and asked for his name and regiment, “Martin Brown, Company I, Texas” comes the reply. General Hood asks, “Well, have you no better uniform than that?”

The soldier lays down his gun, looks squarely into the eyes of his commander and replies: “Look here, General Hood, do you expect a man to have a thousand shirts?”

The marching resumed. On Christmas Day General Hood and the rest of his “fatigued, and starving army” crossed out of Tennessee. His army, numbering around 15,000 men, arrived in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 10, 1865.

Sam Watkins write in his journal: “I remember when passing by Hood, how feeble and decrepit he looked, with an arm in a sling, and a crutch in the other hand trying to guide and control his of his horse. I prayed in my heart that day for General Hood.” When members of the United States Christian Commission visited the Confederate prisoners captured taken by the Union, one member reported: “Hood’s army had endured fatigues and privations almost beyond belief.”

General John Bell Hood no longer had the respect from his army. General Hood - friend of Confederate President Jefferson Davis; the man that held the hopes of success; resigned from his Army of Tennessee on January 23, 1865.

He headed to Richmond and was eventually tasked by Jefferson Davis to journey to the Trans-Mississippi west to determine the feasibility of moving troops to the east in hopes of strengthening the Confederate war effort. His final act of service in the Confederate Army was on May 31, 1865 at Natchez, Mississippi when he surrendered to Virginia born and West Point graduate (1845) General John Wynn Davidson.

* * *​

Sources
1. Civil War Treasury of Tales, Legends and Folk Lore, by B.A. Botkin pages 421-422
2. https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/john-bell-hood.html
3. Sam Watkins, Company Aytch
I do have to question a detail in Watkins' account. Hood had regained full use of his arm by 1864 and should not have had his arm in a sling unless it was injured somewhere and was not recorded.

Ryan
 

jackt62

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Hood was known to have antagonized his troops for what he believed was their lack of aggressiveness and for relying on fighting from entrenchments. But this comment of Hood does surprise me somewhat because it shows a lack of concern for individuals, especially given the fact that Hood very well understood that the lack of proper clothing and footware had long bedeviled the Confederate armies and was not within the control of the rank and file troops.
 
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DBF

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But this comment of Hood does surprise me somewhat because it shows a lack of concern for individuals, especially given the fact that Hood very well understood that the lack of proper clothing and footware had long bedeviled the Confederate armies and was not within the control of the rank and file troops.
I have wondered what General Hood's "tone" was when he asked this question. I could find no detail on that particular aspect of the question, but I agree he certainly knew better than anyone the lack of supplies that he and his army were dealing with.
 

byron ed

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Pretty safe response to consider what the trooper might have said "...how's about ye take yer G-D 'federacy and stuff it up yer sleeve, Gen'l"
 
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