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.
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1. Civil War Treasury of Tales, Legends and Folk Lore, by B.A. Botkin pages 421-422
3. Sam Watkins, Company Aytch