Discussion What was the working relationship like between Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Bell Hood during the Franklin-Nashville Campaign?

General JJ

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Did they respect one another? What did they think of each others performance during the campaign?
 

Harms88

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In fairness, Forrest didn't get along very well with a lot of his superiors. He was outstanding on his own but had trouble working within the structure of an army.

Ryan

Nor did he get along well with many subordinates. There's the story of him and one of his subordinates having a running gunfight through a small town after the officer lost a cannon and ended up with Forrest badly wounded and one of his command getting hit by a ricochet bullet.
 

farrargirl

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Will withhold my personal opinion of Hood as the Commander of the AofT. From the time Davis replaced Joe Johnston with Gen. Hood, although I understand the Bragg, Davis, political climate, Hood failed to lead, from Atlanta to Nashville.
I have walked the battlefield at Franklin where my 17 year old great-grandfather was shot in the head with a minie ball.
Back to question at hand:
Here are two of my favorite books on the Spring Hill-Franklin-Nashville campaign, and a passage relevant to your question fro the Wiley Sword book.

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Ole Miss

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Forrest was prickly with incompetent individuals, in his opinion, regardless of their rank or standing but he was honest and fair. He did not belittle those who could do no more and he husband the lives of his men fiercely.
Forrest was a genuis and like all of them he saw things so clealry and he was inpatient with those who don't see his vision.
Regards
David
 
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samhood

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Will withhold my personal opinion of Hood as the Commander of the AofT. From the time Davis replaced Joe Johnston with Gen. Hood, although I understand the Bragg, Davis, political climate, Hood failed to lead, from Atlanta to Nashville.
I have walked the battlefield at Franklin where my 17 year old great-grandfather was shot in the head with a minie ball.
Back to question at hand:
Here are two of my favorite books on the Spring Hill-Franklin-Nashville campaign, and a passage relevant to your question fro the Wiley Sword book.

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I wrote an entire book on the falsehoods and unfounded things written about Hood; mostly by Sword, although McDonough and Connelly are guilty as well. Sword made many factual assertions that had no source; he often misrepresented and mis-portrayed sources; and at other times would give a source that had no relationship whatsoever to his statements. Five Tragic Hours is not footnoted. It is odd that two academicians like McDonough and Connelly would publish something without footnotes, and after researching the book, I found out why.

Specifically, regarding the meeting at the Harrison House, there were no records kept at the time, only later recollections. In any case, Forrest's proposal (if he indeed make it) to attempt a flank at Franklin was undoable. With only three hours of daylight remaining, Forrest would have had to fight his way across a river so swollen and swift that Schofield's army couldn't cross it, fight 6,000 of Wilson's cavalry and an entire infantry division, and go cross country in a 12-15 mile circuitous route to avoid the Union artillery at Ft Granger. In fact, at the beginning of Hood's assault, half of Forrest's cavalry tried to cross the river and were driven back.
 

samhood

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Forrest was prickly with incompetent individuals, in his opinion, regardless of their rank or standing but he was honest and fair. He did not belittle those who could do no more and he husband the lives of his men fiercely.
Forrest was a genuis and like all of them he saw things so clealry and he was inpatient with those who don't see his vision.
Regards
David
Late in the evening of Nov 29 at Spring Hill, after Cheatham had failed to follow orders to seize the road and cut off Schofield's retreat, Hood ordered Forrest to gain control of the pike. Forrest sent Sul Ross to do so, but Ross failed at Thompson's Station. Ross never reported his failure back to Forrest, who, like Hood, hearing nothing to the contrary, believed the road was blocked. The next morning Forrest was furious. Chaplain James H. McNeilly of the 49th Tennessee Infantry described Forrest’s intense anger during the march to Franklin, stating, “He seemed to be in a rage . . . his face was livid, his eyes blazed. . . . He seemed to me the most dangerous animal I ever saw.” John Copley, also of the 49th Tennessee, described Forrest’s reaction to news that the Federals had escaped in much more detail: "When we discovered their successful escape on the morning of the 30th, our chagrin and disappointment can be better imagined than described. General Forrest was so enraged that his face turned almost to a chalky whiteness, and his lips quivered. He cursed out some of the commanding officers, and censured them for allowing the Federal army to escape. I looked at him, as he sat in his saddle pouring forth his volumes of wrath, and was almost thunderstruck to listen to him, and to see no one dare resent it." Copley did not identify the "commanding officers" who Forrest cussed out.
 

farrargirl

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I wrote an entire book on the falsehoods and unfounded things written about Hood; mostly by Sword, although McDonough and Connelly are guilty as well. Sword made many factual assertions that had no source; he often misrepresented and mis-portrayed sources; and at other times would give a source that had no relationship whatsoever to his statements. Five Tragic Hours is not footnoted. It is odd that two academicians like McDonough and Connelly would publish something without footnotes, and after researching the book, I found out why.

Specifically, regarding the meeting at the Harrison House, there were no records kept at the time, only later recollections. In any case, Forrest's proposal (if he indeed make it) to attempt a flank at Franklin was undoable. With only three hours of daylight remaining, Forrest would have had to fight his way across a river so swollen and swift that Schofield's army couldn't cross it, fight 6,000 of Wilson's cavalry and an entire infantry division, and go cross country in a 12-15 mile circuitous route to avoid the Union artillery at Ft Granger. In fact, at the beginning of Hood's assault, half of Forrest's cavalry tried to cross the river and were driven back.
I thought your name was familiar. When my son and I visited Franklin several years ago, a very gracious gentleman who owned a quaint book shop in downtown Franklin told me about you. He highly recommended your new book, which I think was titled The Rise, Fall and Reconstruction of Gen. John Hood, or something to that effect.
After reading your great interview with the Blue and Gray Educational Society, I am sure you were thrilled to be beneficiary to Gen. Hood’s lost papers. Congratulations on your current book, Patriots Twice.
Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy Sword, McDonough, and Connelly’s books on the AoT. I did not feel that Sword’s Confederacy’s Last Hurrah was scantly foot-noted. The 32 pages of detailed reference notes, primarily drawn from the OR, was quite enough documentation for me :wink: .
Thanks so much for your comments!
 

Rhea Cole

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Of course, we don't have any first hand transcriptions of what Hood & Forrest said to each other. What we do know is what Forrest did while under Hood's command. Forrest was raiding in West Tennessee when Hood started northward. Ed Bearss & many others cite this as a prime example of Forrest's talents being wasted on backwater operations. Be that as it may, when Forrest reported to Hood his horses & men were jaded. He was short on ammunition. At Spring Hill, the shortage of ammunition was a limiting factor in Forrest's operations. As has already been established, had Forrest proposed a flanking maneuver at Franklin, the time of day & the lay of the land ruled it out.
Forrest & General Bate were sent east to Murfreesboro where Fortress Rosecrans held about 12,000 soldiers & mountains of supplies. It says something that Hood recognized that Forrest's gifts lay in operating on his own & that he knew the ground. Forrest & Bate were not there to attack the fortress. They were there to prevent the unknown number of soldiers from attacking Hood's rear.
As it was, Forrest tore up the rail road & along with Bate was thumped by the garrison under Milroy in the Battle of the Cedars. In the midst of the debacle, Bate stood up to Forrest’s bullying & they almost went at each other with swords. Sanity prevailed, Forrest barely escaped the ensuing melee with his life.
Bate was called to Nashville where his command was all but exterminated on Shy's hill. Forrest's command was just about the only unit of Hood's army that was intact after the second day of the Battle of Nashville. Hood put the rearguard under Forrest's command. Once again, Forrest was operating largely on his own initiative. Whether that was because Hood was in no position to give any orders or because he wanted Forrest to use his initiative is, again, unknown. What is known is that the rearguard action was Forrest's finest hour.
What was left of Hood's army gathered on the south bank of the Tennessee River. It was described as nothing but a mob of unarmed men by an A.G. Hood was left to dream of glory in the Trans-Mississppi & Forrest to the receiving end of a blitzkrieg. I am not aware of them ever meeting post war or if they did what was said.
To directly address the question, Hood obviously recognized where Forrest's talents lay & used him where he could do the most good. What their personal relations were is unknowable.
 
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James N.

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Nor did he get along well with many subordinates. There's the story of him and one of his subordinates having a running gunfight through a small town after the officer lost a cannon and ended up with Forrest badly wounded and one of his command getting hit by a ricochet bullet.
That's a mangled account of what seems to have happened between Forrest and one Lt. Gould who was nursing a grudge because he had been chewed out by the former for losing one of his guns. The aggrieved officer asked for an interview, and when he entered Forrest's headquarters, shot him at point-blank range. The maddened Forrest seized the lieutenant with one hand, and with the other reached into his pocket, retrieved his pocketknife, opened it with his teeth and plunged it into the struggling Gould, who then staggered away. Forrest, thinking his wound was mortal, sought out his medical officer, who upon examining the serious injury, nevertheless assured the general that it wasn't. Forrest then looked for Gould who he found collapsed in a heap and had him carried to be treated; unfortunately for the lieutenant, it was his knife wound that was to prove mortal and he died soon afterwards, after having reconciled with Forrest.
 
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Irishtom29

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Yes, & he had the good sense to recognize that having bloodied Bate & Forrest to withdraw back into Fortress Rosecrans.

The 8th Minnesota Infantry was in that fight and campaigned over a wide range: fighting Sioux in Minnesota and then as far west as Montana, then back farther east and the Nashville campaign and then by sea to North Carolina with the 23rd Corps.
 

Rhea Cole

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I have read through what I have on the Battle of the Cedars. I doubt anybody has heard of it. For one thing, my Forrest worshiping friends don’t dwell on his defeats, especially one that ended in a howling retreat. Coupled with the descriptions of Forrest’s demeanor at Spring Hill, I have concluded that Hood would have been well advised to treat Forrest as a pressure cooker about blow.

Full blown battles were really not Forrest’s thing. He was splendid where he could set up & control the fighting on his own terms. The Springhill-Battle of Franklin-Battle of the Cedars-retreat from Nashville was anything but that. Forrest behaved like a man under long term stress. Hood was wise to keep him at arms length. No good could have come from getting too close to Forrest at that time.

Due to intel that Milroy received from a woman who lambasted him & told him in detail exactly where Bate & Forrest were & how they were going to give him the beating he richly deserved; he was able to hit Bate’s line square on the flank while He & Forrest were bemused by a demonstration in their front.

When the infantry quite sensibly broke & ran for it, Forrest completely lost it. He rode into them flailing away with his sword. Bate, who was attempting to bring some order to things was confronted by a furious Forrest. General Bate was the real deal (this is where the question of Hood & Forrest comes in) who was in no way going to put up with Forrest’s patented bully boy behavior.

In full view of their staffs, with the sounds of the battle all around, Bate stood up to Forrest. Warm words were exchanged & physical violence was eminent. Forrest was behaving like a man too stressed out to control himself, very understandable that. Depending on the observer’s memory of the confrontation, swords were withdrawn partially, fully or waved about before sanity prevailed. You can imagine it as you like. Instead of hacking away at each other, they rallied their men Milroy very sensibly withdrew back into Fortress Rosecrans & Bate’s men marched off to their doom on Shy’s Hill. Forrest, who was in no mood to play well with others at the best of times, was left on his own to cool off.

The evidence of Forrest’s behavior during November & early December did not bode well for any one v one confrontation with Hood. I know that the image of Forrest in a frenzy hacking away at one armed one legged Hood does call up Monty Python & the Holy Grail, but it isn’t as far fetched as it might seem. Forrest the slave driver was never all that far below the surface. Under the extreme & unrelenting stress of those wintery weeks, there is no telling what Forrest might have done if provoked by Hood.
 
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samhood

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I have read through what I have on the Battle of the Cedars. I doubt anybody has heard of it. For one thing, my Forrest worshiping friends don’t dwell on his defeats, especially one that ended in a howling retreat. Coupled with the descriptions of Forrest’s demeanor at Spring Hill, I have concluded that Hood would have been well advised to treat Forrest as a pressure cooker about blow.

Full blown battles were really not Forrest’s thing. He was splendid where he could set up & control the fighting on his own terms. The Springhill-Battle of Franklin-Battle of the Cedars-retreat from Nashville was anything but that. Forrest behaved like a man under long term stress. Hood was wise to keep him at arms length. No good could have come from getting too close to Forrest at that time.

Due to intel that Milroy received from a woman who lambasted him & told him in detail exactly where Bate & Forrest were & how they were going to give him the beating he richly deserved; he was able to hit Bate’s line square on the flank while He & Forrest were bemused by a demonstration in their front.

When the infantry quite sensibly broke & ran for it, Forrest completely lost it. He rode into them flailing away with his sword. Bate, who was attempting to bring some order to things was confronted by a furious Forrest. General Bate was the real deal (this is where the question of Hood & Forrest comes in) who was in no way going to put up with Forrest’s patented bully boy behavior.

In full view of their staffs, with the sounds of the battle all around, Bate stood up to Forrest. Warm words were exchanged & physical violence was eminent. Forrest was behaving like a man too stressed out to control himself, very understandable that. Depending on the observer’s memory of the confrontation, swords were withdrawn partially, fully or waved about before sanity prevailed. You can imagine it as you like. Instead of hacking away at each other, they rallied their men Milroy very sensibly withdrew back into Fortress Rosecrans & Bate’s men marched off to their doom on Shy’s Hill. Forrest, who was in no mood to play well with others at the best of times, was left on his own to cool off.

The evidence of Forrest’s behavior during November & early December did not bode well for any one v one confrontation with Hood. I know that the image of Forrest in a frenzy hacking away at one armed one legged Hood does call up Monty Python & the Holy Grail, but it isn’t as far fetched as it might seem. Forrest the slave driver was never all that far below the surface. Under the extreme & unrelenting stress of those wintery weeks, there is no telling what Forrest might have done if provoked by Hood.
Hood spoke highly of Forrest after the war. If there was any animosity between the two it was never recorded.
 
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