Was Hood's Attack at Franklin Rational or Irrational?

Joined
May 23, 2016
Messages
556
It's been noted previously in the thread that the federals were lucky that Opdycke had put his brigade in the right spot, without orders, to save the day at the critical moment.

I think the confederates also experienced some luck as well, with Wagner blundering by leaving his other two brigades out in front too long. If Wagner had followed orders, he would have had those two brigades plus Opdycke's, all in reserve behind the union center. It would have been less likely that the confederates would have broken through, and likely they would have suffered even higher casualties during the approach.
I mentioned it earlier in the thread, but it was also for the short time that the Confederates were breaking through, very beneficial that the center of the Confederate attack was made up of Cleburne's and Brown's divisions, the two best divisions in the Army of Tennessee. Bate's division, for instance, in the same position may have faltered as it did on other fields. Though this was purely circumstantial dictated by the order of march, I can't imagine having better troops than Cleburne's and Cheatham's men to make that attack, with the very vaunted Missouri brigade of French's division just to their right. The cream of the Army of Tennessee.

That's truly the nature of war. It is a mixture of chaos, blundering, stupidity, and luck, and with the winner often being the side most fortunate or at least the most fortunate to make the least mistakes.
 

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Joined
May 26, 2017
Messages
723
There are a lot of "if's" when it comes to Franklin--if the great blunder had not happened at Spring Hill the night before the battle, if Hood and moved faster and had not, as his mentor Longstreet stated at Gettysburg, fought the battle with "one boot off" by not waiting for Lee to come up, and if he had also waited for his artillery to arrive Franklin may have been a different matter. Scofield might have lost or he might have simply taken his army on to Nashville and waited another four weeks for the entire Army of Tennessee to starve in the south hills of that city.
Still there is a legitimate question about Hood and his use of this army--it all starts back at the gratuitous promotion of Hood to Lt. General after Chicamauga--which prevented him getting a command in the Army of Northern Virginia (no place for another general of that rank) and his taking on Polk's corp while also, imitating his mentor Longstreet again, conspiring against leadership of the Army of Tennessee. As earlier stated Hood wore that army down to almost nothing by the time Franklin came around--the battles in and around Atlanta, featuring suicidal frontal attacks must have rattled his corp and division commanders --in that awful four months the carefully husbanded army, by Johnson, was literally thrown away by Hood. Obviously the men could see the ultimate result of Hood's tactics so of course they would treat that two or three miles at Franklin as the end of the line,--which it really was for that army. How could they have believed they could win given their history of only one head on victory in their crown and that under very different circumstance and terrain? Hood had plenty of experience, some very successful, in utilizing aggressive head on attacks, the Army of Tennessee did not.
Franklin is, to me, a really sad example of how ill used much of the Confederate army was subject to the last couple of years of that conflict--perhaps the saddest battle of them all.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Messages
10,317
Schofield was on his way to Nashville, as soon as he could. If Hood had waited a few hrs., he could have had Franklin for the taking, with Schofield's blessing. If taking Franklin was what the battle was all about.
 
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Messages
7,921
Location
Denver, CO
Schofield was waiting for the bridges to be finished. He had already sent some of the artillery across the river and was just holding the best position to prevent being caught in the middle of crossing the river.
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.
 

diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Messages
20,341
Location
State of Jefferson
I think that Hood was banking on the idea that he could approach the advance and rout them before they withdrew. That may be one of the reasons he decided to attack the way he did. I would hope he never would have attempted it without that being the case, but who knows.
That's why I've never believed Hood was punishing his troops - his generals might be another story, but not the men. Similar high casualty disasters such as Cold Harbor, Pickett's Charge, the salient at Spotsylvania and even the go-for-broke attack on Ft Stedman were based on that core belief of the commander. Hood had very much the same type of veterans Lee had as far as seasoned and loyal to the cause. Like Lee and Grant, Hood was thinking if I can get just that one extra drop out of them it's a win!
 

Jamieva

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 7, 2006
Messages
4,107
Location
Midlothian, VA
Schofield was on his way to Nashville, as soon as he could. If Hood had waited a few hrs., he could have had Franklin for the taking, with Schofield's blessing. If taking Franklin was what the battle was all about.
it wasn't at all. he needed to stop Schofield from getting to Nashville. Franklin just happened to be where he finally got a chance to go at him.
 

Jamieva

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 7, 2006
Messages
4,107
Location
Midlothian, VA
Schofield was waiting for the bridges to be finished. He had already sent some of the artillery across the river and was just holding the best position to prevent being caught in the middle of crossing the river.
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.
Schofield didn't want to fight at all if he could have avoided it. He wanted to get within the works at Nashville asap.
 
Joined
May 26, 2017
Messages
723
That's why I've never believed Hood was punishing his troops - his generals might be another story, but not the men. Similar high casualty disasters such as Cold Harbor, Pickett's Charge, the salient at Spotsylvania and even the go-for-broke attack on Ft Stedman were based on that core belief of the commander. Hood had very much the same type of veterans Lee had as far as seasoned and loyal to the cause. Like Lee and Grant, Hood was thinking if I can get just that one extra drop out of them it's a win!
Actually, in terms of military success, there was quite a difference between the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of Tennessee, with the exception of Chickamauga the latter had few offensive successes and, in the case of Missionary Ridge, one completely devastating defeat--a "bug out" of monumental proportions. The AOT never enjoyed the kind of consistent careful leadership that the Army of Northern Virginia enjoyed.
In terms of leadership and stewardship there was an enormous difference between the two armies--now how much that difference had to play in the devastation at Franklin cannot be measured but considering what that army had to endure under Hood from August to December of '64 there had to be some doubts in those men's spirit that their Eastern counterparts never had to overcome.
 

diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Messages
20,341
Location
State of Jefferson
Actually, in terms of military success, there was quite a difference between the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of Tennessee, with the exception of Chickamauga the latter had few offensive successes and, in the case of Missionary Ridge, one completely devastating defeat--a "bug out" of monumental proportions. The AOT never enjoyed the kind of consistent careful leadership that the Army of Northern Virginia enjoyed.
In terms of leadership and stewardship there was an enormous difference between the two armies--now how much that difference had to play in the devastation at Franklin cannot be measured but considering what that army had to endure under Hood from August to December of '64 there had to be some doubts in those men's spirit that their Eastern counterparts never had to overcome.
Oh, I understand there is a big difference between the two armies. The ANV is still considered one of the finest small armies in history. It would not have been without Lee, and, unfortunately for the AoT, Hood was no Lee. But Hood did know he had solid soldiers, and he expected much of them.
 

AUG

Brigadier General
Moderator
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 20, 2012
Messages
7,346
Location
Texas
Actually the AoT came pretty close at Shiloh, Perryville, Stones River... fought rather well and drove the Federals across a large area of ground. The rank and file were just as capable as those in the ANV, for the most part. Its just that the army and corps commanders couldn't get it together. Also gotta take into account who they were up against.
 
Joined
Jun 18, 2017
Messages
604
Location
Philadelphia
Hood simply wasn't up to the job of full general rank .
"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.
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.
 



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