1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free!
Dismiss Notice
Join and Become a Patron at CivilWarTalk!
Support this site with a monthly or yearly subscription! Active Patrons get to browse the site Ad free!
START BY JOINING NOW!

Was Hood's Attack at Franklin Rational or Irrational?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by General Butterfield, Aug 11, 2017.

  1. General Butterfield

    General Butterfield Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    Messages:
    543
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Franklin-MAP.jpg

    Was Hood's Attack at Franklin Rational or Irrational?


    One more Hood thread :D, John Bell Hood's decision to attack General Schofield's Army of the Ohio is a hotly debated topic. The reasoning behind Hood's attack and whether it was rational or irrationality. Here seem to be the two arguments, which do you lean more towards? Was Hood correct or incorrect to attack at Franklin?

    Rational:
    Hood had no feasible alternatives available to him. He could not allow Schofield's army to reach Nashville intact. If Schofield escaped unmolested he would link up with Thomas and Hood would be faced with overwhelming numbers. The Union defenders at Franklin had not been given enough time to significantly fortify their position so a speedy frontal assault was justified. The battle of Franklin though costly, was a victory for the Confederacy, since Schofield was forced to withdraw. Hood's decision to attack was rational and was the only real course of action available.

    Irrational:
    Hood was furious over the failed attempt to envelope Schofield's army at Spring Hill. He had his decision to attack at Franklin out of emotions. He may have even wanted to punish his army, in particular Cleburne and Cheatham for failure at the previous battle. Instead of a frontal assault against fortified positions over open ground without artillery support, Hood should have listened to reason and attempted a flanking maneuver. In the ensuing battle casualties were awful and Cleburne was killed, Hood destroyed his army out of anger for no meaningful gain. Hood's decision to attack was irrational and based on emotion and stupidity rather than logic.

    Opinions?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 12, 2017

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. nitrofd

    nitrofd Colonel Forum Host

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2013
    Messages:
    13,119
    Location:
    north central florida
    I think Hood's anger and the idea he wanted to punish his army had been overplayed way too much mostly because of Wiley Sword's book "The Confederates Last Hurrah" which as most people have learned since it was published was a witch hunt .
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  4. Jamieva

    Jamieva 2nd Lieutenant Forum Host

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2006
    Messages:
    3,473
    Location:
    Midlothian, VA
    It was rational to try and stop Schofield from getting to Nashville. Not sure it was rational for that particular battle plan. He was in a rush and panicked. No artillery was up either.
     
  5. RobertP

    RobertP Major

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2009
    Messages:
    8,080
    Location:
    on the long winding road
    Every time I see a photo of Hood I think he must not have been the brightest bulb on the tree. I don't believe he would deliberately sacrifice his army as punishment but I do think his rashness and frustration got the best of him that day.
     
  6. bdtex

    bdtex Brigadier General Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2015
    Messages:
    4,735
    Location:
    Houston,TX area
    You ever been to Nashville and seen the terrain upon which Gen. Hood would've had to attack if he had allowed Schofield to get there untouched? The "Rational" argument is the winner.
     
    jgoodguy, J. D. Stevens, WJC and 4 others like this.
  7. Carronade

    Carronade 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2011
    Messages:
    3,427
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    At that point, with Lincoln re-elected, Richmond besieged, Sherman marching to the sea, etc. etc., they were basically throwing a Hail Mary. Risks were justified that would have been unthinkable had the war been going better for them. Hood didn't have the option of backing off and hoping to do better in the next campaign, or the one after that.

    I do agree with Jamieva that having to do something doesn't mean Hood might not have have found a better strategy - although we should note that the attack achieved a breakthrough, right in the center of all places. Unfortunately for the Confederates, the federals were able to plug the gap before they could exploit it.

    p.s. I've been to Nashville, had a great tour of the battlefield sites with member jpro who I haven't seen posting in a while; bdtex has a good point.
     
    Phiip McBride, jgoodguy, WJC and 3 others like this.
  8. Pat Young

    Pat Young Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Featured Book Reviewer

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2013
    Messages:
    19,263
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    At that point he was just throwing men's lives away. Sad.
     
  9. Carronade

    Carronade 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2011
    Messages:
    3,427
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I agree that lives were being thrown away for no good reason, but the blame does not lie with Hood or any other field commander. Davis and the Confederate government insisted on dragging on the war, indulging fantasies about British recognition and armies of slaves saving the day, and their people paid the price.
     
    jgoodguy, gunny, Joshism and 4 others like this.
  10. General Butterfield

    General Butterfield Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    Messages:
    543
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Interesting first hand viewpoint, I'll have to make a trip sometime.

    Hood would say he needed a quick attack because Schofield's position was being strengthened by the hour. On the other hand a poorly planned attack without artillery support seems doomed to failure. Its a bit of a conundrum.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  11. DanSBHawk

    DanSBHawk Corporal

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Messages:
    452
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    With the numbers in his favor, Hood attacking Schofield at Franklin seems rational. Proceeding to Nashville with a beat-up army, and the numbers favoring Thomas, seems irrational.
     
    WJC, leftyhunter, Jamieva and 4 others like this.
  12. Jimklag

    Jimklag Captain Silver Patron Trivia Game Winner

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2017
    Messages:
    6,573
    Location:
    Chicagoland, Land of Lincoln
    Hood's frontal attack at Franklin was no more irrational than any other similar attack. Fredericksburg, Pickett's charge and Grant's attack at Cold Harbor ended similarly. Terribly unimaginative, but not irrational.
     
    J. D. Stevens, Joshism, WJC and 7 others like this.
  13. highplainsdrifter59

    highplainsdrifter59 Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2015
    Messages:
    535
    Location:
    Talladega, Alabama
    Hoods attack at Franklin, turned out to be a slaughter house, especially for all the Confederate Generals lying dead in the fields.
    One of my favorite quotes from the Civil War was said to been in a conversation between Genl. Cleburne and Genl. Govan;
    “Well, Govan, if we are to die, let us die like men.”
     
  14. EricAJacobson

    EricAJacobson Corporal

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2012
    Messages:
    421
    I would argue he was not. The men in the ranks of the Army of Tennessee were, by and large, perfectly willing to die. Many of them said exactly that, and believed they were martyrs (yes, that was the word some used).
     
  15. major bill

    major bill Major Forum Host

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    Messages:
    9,473
    "Ring the alarum bell!--Blow, wind! come, wrack!
    At least we'll die with harness on our back."

    In the end, at some level. do not all military men hope to die with harness on their backs?
     
    WJC and General Butterfield like this.
  16. EricAJacobson

    EricAJacobson Corporal

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2012
    Messages:
    421
    Hood's decision was not irrational. One does not have to agree with the decision to understand he made a rational decision based on the available facts.
     
  17. EricAJacobson

    EricAJacobson Corporal

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2012
    Messages:
    421
    That's a great point, and one that too many people overlook. Civilian eyes and/or hindsight eyes are often clouded.
     
    Bee likes this.
  18. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    3,783
    Location:
    grumbling in the rear rank
    Rational. He was right to get to the enemy and and try prevent them from uniting.
    I do not know the campaign well enough to say a different approach by Hood around Franklin would have been better, but i do not know how much time he had.
    And Nashville was a fortress.
     
    General Butterfield likes this.
  19. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    Messages:
    29,130
    Location:
    Right here.
    As George Patton would tell us, a decent plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan delayed.
     
    Joshism, WJC, leftyhunter and 4 others like this.
  20. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2011
    Messages:
    26,273
    Location:
    Pelham, AL
    Good point. An unused army resulting in the defeat of its country is useless.
     
    WJC, leftyhunter, Bee and 3 others like this.
  21. EricAJacobson

    EricAJacobson Corporal

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2012
    Messages:
    421
    Hood had insufficient time to wait for the bulk of his artillery. It was either attack when he did, or not. Plus, as we all know, just because you have artillery and fire like mad does not guarantee anything. See July 3, 1863.
     

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Share This Page


(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)