Was Hood's Attack at Franklin Rational or Irrational?

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One can reasonably think that being unsuccessful makes a commander bad.
Haha, well that depends on your definition. Say a general is put in a situation with very little chance of success, he preforms well but is ultimately unsuccessful. Does that make him a bad commander? In my opinion is no as long as he presented skill and ability.
 

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Irishtom29

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Haha, well that depends on your definition. Say a general is put in a situation with very little chance of success, he preforms well but is ultimately unsuccessful. Does that make him a bad commander? In my opinion is no as long as he presented skill and ability.
Let's talk turkey. Like with any job success is being good, failure is being bad. Some people surmount difficulties and are good, others can't and are bad. That might be cruelty but I can't refine it.
 
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Let's talk turkey. Like with any job success is being good, failure is being bad. Some people surmount difficulties and are good, others can't and are bad. That might be cruelty but I can't refine it.
I suppose but I don't think even the best civil war generals could have held Atlanta and alot would have lost it even sooner than Hood. I guess he is still a failure but perhaps a talented failure....
 
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"Lt. General" but it would be very hard to support an argument against your claim given Hood's leadership over those four months from Peach Tree Creek to Nashville.
Actually Hood was promoted to a full General when he took over command after Johnston. Be it was of the rank of temporary general. As long as he held the command as overall commander of the AoT. So during the Tennessee Campaign, Hood was of the rank Full General.
 
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I'm still undecided myself, I don't think Hood was entirely ready but I find it hard to fault him. He was thrown into an almost unwinnable situation but still managed to hold Atlanta for over a month, far longer then I think Johnston would have. His numerous counterattacks though unsuccessful and costly show an understanding of military tactics. They were not simple frontal assaults, at Peach Tree Creek he attempted to smash an exposed enemy and in the Battle of Atlanta he launched a Jackson style flank attack on the Union left wing. He was then able to escape destruction in Atlanta and keep his army alive for a renewed offensive into Tennessee. During the Franklin-Nashville campaign he outmaneuvered Schofield, won the Battle of Columbia, and nearly enveloped him at Spring Hill. The final engagements that followed at Franklin and Nashville were desperation moves, similar to Lee's assault at Fort Stedman, but did make some sense.

So while an unsuccessful commander I'm not sure he was a bad one. I think if Hood was given an army in better shape with able subordinates he would have probably done well.
Actually Hood wasn't "thrown" into the situation--he actively lobbied for the leadership of AoT by undercutting Johnson with Jefferson Davis, no Johnson fan. This is a strange interlude, first Longstreet lobbies for the position, coming west to lead part of his corps at Chickamauga and then turning against Bragg but is unsuccessful in getting that command. Hood, tho wounded at the same battle, manages both get a promotion and helps to unseat his commander, Johnson, Bragg's successor. The whole command structure of the AoT was rife with unprecedented backbiting and dissatisfaction.
The idea that Hood was somehow thrust into a bad situation isn't quite the case--like his old corp commander, he worked hard for the independent command of the AoT.
It reads as being very unseemly--first comes Longstreet seeking an independent command and then Hood -- both of them involved in some really underhanded actions to achieve those goals.
 

christian soldier

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It is very interesting to read the books on Franklin written by Wiley Sword and James Lee McDonough and then compare the footnotes as well as the text to the newly found letters of Hood and the book written by his namesake and distant cousin by the same name. This is what makes history so fascinating when historians can examine certain primary documents and come up with different conclusions. David.
 

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I don't think Schofield wanted to fight at Franklin, or expected to fight there, or was satisfied in facing Hood's army alone with the United States' armies in the west to help him.
But he also was not going to be caught on the move.
One of the Union Officers,and I can't remember which one,even told the Carter family that there wasn't gonna be a fight there in Franklin.
 
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"Lt. General" but it would be very hard to support an argument against your claim given Hood's leadership over those four months from Peach Tree Creek to Nashville.
The order naming Hood to replace Johnston gave him the temporary rank of general. It wasn't confirmed as Hood resigned before it could be. Otherwise, he couldn't legally give Hardee, who ranked him as a lieutenant general, orders. When Hood resigned, he reverted to his permanent rank.
 
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Speaking of Winstead Hill.....Hood did have a great place to watch his army get destroyed right before him. I have stood atop that hill and really wondered, just what he was thinking.......
It's one my of favorite places to go to in the Fall, sometimes during lunch break on work days, seeing as it's not too terribly far from the office. But just to enjoy the solace, the view, the surroundings, always very enjoyable, indeed.
 
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In thinking of the tactics infamously followed by Hood’s mentor Lee at Gettysburg, and the enemy through Grant at Cold Harbor and Burnside at Fredericksburg, all grand attacks easily repulsed with appalling casualties, I must grudgingly concede that Hood’s attack at Franklin was justified. Maybe not rational, but justified. Man, I hate writing that.

I’m a writer of historical novels about Confederate soldiers, and Hood’s attack at Franklin is the climax of Whittled Away, my novel that traces the dozen battles of the 6th Texas Infantry regiment. That means I researched Hood and his army at Franklin and the days and night before, in a way that is sort of like pouring lots of black gunpowder into a wide mouthed funnel, with the intent to wind up with only 65 grains in a single musket cartridge. I needed to find the viewpoint of a single regiment in Granbury’s Brigade of Cleburne’s Division at Franklin— a regiment that was right smack in the middle of the Rebel line.

The maps and the officers’ after-action reports are important to understand on a grand scale what prompted Hood to attack, but the memoirs of the enlisted men have been even more revealing, at least to a novelist who in the end has to describe such a horror through the eyes of a single soldier.

Anyway, the order to attack with virtually his whole army seems to me to have been very much in line with Hood’s aggressive tendencies already demonstrated as a Division and Corps and Army commander, and in the context of the time and place—justified and perhaps rational.
 

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I'm surprised that you would take the media's spin over the men's experience and knowledge. I get it that you have studied the diaries in depth, but when three soldiers have corroborating stories, and one being an officer, I must say they knew what they were talking about. Also, the newspaper journalist had a few other things wrong, meaning Sherman was not tailing Hood's Army, but driving to the sea at this point. And the Army did indeed pass over Sand Mountain. Maybe you have Hood's Army, including Alabama Regiments 27th, 35th and 49th, confused with a different army?
John Bell Hood, Advance and Retreat, p. 270.

"With twenty days' rations in the haversacks and wagons, we marched, on the 22nd of October, upon all the roads leading from Gadsden in the direction of Guntersville, on the Tennessee River, and bivouacked that night in the vicinity of Bennetsville.

I here received information that General Forrest was near Jackson, Tennessee, and could not reach the middle portion of this State, as the river was too high. It would, therefore, be impossible for him to join me, if I crossed at Guntersville; as it was regarded as essential that the whole of Wheeler's cavalry remain in Georgia, I decided to deflect westward, effect a junction with Forrest, and then cross the river at Florence. General Beauregard sent orders to him to join me without delay; also dispatched a messenger to hasten forward supplies to Tuscumbia."

p. 271.
"The succeeding day [October 23] , the movement was continued toward Florence, in lieu of Guntersville as I had expected. Lieutenant General Lee's Corps reached the Tennessee River, near Florence, on the 30th; Johnson's Division crossed the river, and took possession of the town. My headquarters were during the 27th and 28th at the house of General Garth, near Decatur, where also stopped General Beaurgard. While the Army turned Decatur, I ordered a slight demonstration to be made against the town till our forces passed safely beyond, when I moved toward Tuscumbia, at which place I arrived on the 31st of October."

I know this is a long time after, but was reviewing this thread and remembered this excerpt of Hood's memoir. This is clear by the above, that Hood had determined to cross at Tuscumbia/Florence on the evening of October 22. Decatur was never intended to be a crossing point. It was too far from any supply lines. It would have been a waste of lives to conduct a full fledged attack, thus Hood kept the small Federal force busy while his main army passed by Decatur to prevent any harassment of his movement.
 

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Anyway, the order to attack with virtually his whole army seems to me to have been very much in line with Hood’s aggressive tendencies already demonstrated as a Division and Corps and Army commander, and in the context of the time and place—justified and perhaps rational.
I agree that the decision was both rational and, under the circumstances justified. Similar assaults occurred in the conflict, ordered by talented military leaders on both sides. Sometimes they succeeded, and live on as proof of the leader's greatness. Other times they failed and are a reason to condemn the leader as stupid, ill or irrational. It very much depends on the outcome. it's not unlike risky plays executed in sports: the coach is either a "genius" or 'dumber than a box of rocks'.
 
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John Bell Hood, Advance and Retreat, p. 270.

"With twenty days' rations in the haversacks and wagons, we marched, on the 22nd of October, upon all the roads leading from Gadsden in the direction of Guntersville, on the Tennessee River, and bivouacked that night in the vicinity of Bennetsville.

I here received information that General Forrest was near Jackson, Tennessee, and could not reach the middle portion of this State, as the river was too high. It would, therefore, be impossible for him to join me, if I crossed at Guntersville; as it was regarded as essential that the whole of Wheeler's cavalry remain in Georgia, I decided to deflect westward, effect a junction with Forrest, and then cross the river at Florence. General Beauregard sent orders to him to join me without delay; also dispatched a messenger to hasten forward supplies to Tuscumbia."

p. 271.
"The succeeding day [October 23] , the movement was continued toward Florence, in lieu of Guntersville as I had expected. Lieutenant General Lee's Corps reached the Tennessee River, near Florence, on the 30th; Johnson's Division crossed the river, and took possession of the town. My headquarters were during the 27th and 28th at the house of General Garth, near Decatur, where also stopped General Beaurgard. While the Army turned Decatur, I ordered a slight demonstration to be made against the town till our forces passed safely beyond, when I moved toward Tuscumbia, at which place I arrived on the 31st of October."

I know this is a long time after, but was reviewing this thread and remembered this excerpt of Hood's memoir. This is clear by the above, that Hood had determined to cross at Tuscumbia/Florence on the evening of October 22. Decatur was never intended to be a crossing point. It was too far from any supply lines. It would have been a waste of lives to conduct a full fledged attack, thus Hood kept the small Federal force busy while his main army passed by Decatur to prevent any harassment of his movement.
The only problem i have is that this is from his memoirs,which always tend to correct mistakes made in their past so take his words with a grain of salt.
 

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Hood should not have been named as a LG, much less a full one. His failure at Atlanta and this campaign proves that. But that's on Davis.

This campaign had no end game. Once Hood had to move west to meet Forrest, it was over.

There's a good report by cheatham in battles and leaders, in the fourth book, concerning Springhill. Hood aide failed to send Hood's order to block the road.
 

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View attachment 153260

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?
The common rule of thought for attacking an entrenched enemy was that you need several times as many men as your enemy. Hood did not have that so it was a grievous error, whether he was of sound mind at the time or not. The same applies to his actions at Nashville.
 



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