Was Hood's Attack at Franklin Rational or Irrational?

Joined
Jun 18, 2017
Messages
604
Location
Philadelphia
#1
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:

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Joined
Jan 20, 2013
Messages
13,893
Location
north central florida
#2
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 lend 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?
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:

Carronade

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Messages
4,230
Location
Pennsylvania
#6
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.
 

Carronade

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Messages
4,230
Location
Pennsylvania
#8
At that point he was just throwing men's lives away. Sad.
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.
 
Joined
Jun 18, 2017
Messages
604
Location
Philadelphia
#9
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.
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.
Interesting first hand viewpoint, I'll have to make a trip sometime.

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 paniced. No artillery was up either.
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:

Jimklag

Lt. Colonel
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 3, 2017
Messages
9,909
Location
Chicagoland
#11
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?
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.
 
Joined
Oct 15, 2012
Messages
529
#16
"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?
That's a great point, and one that too many people overlook. Civilian eyes and/or hindsight eyes are often clouded.
 

Yankeedave

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 3, 2012
Messages
4,603
Location
Colorado
#17
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.
 

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
33,526
Location
Right here.
#18
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.
As George Patton would tell us, a decent plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan delayed.
 
Joined
Oct 15, 2012
Messages
529
#20
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.
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.
 

Similar threads




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