Discussion Why Did Hood's Memoir Get Such Bad Reviews?

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Rhea Cole

First Sergeant
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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Why did Hood's memoir get such bad reviews?

In a thread on this forum 'Hood's Atlanta Campaign Report' his memoir has become a topic of discussion. While I am well versed in what Hood said about the Tennessee Campaign, I haven't had any reason to look into the genesis of the animas with with Hood's memoir is regarded. It is appropriate to see where it came from.

Hood died of yellow fever in 1879. Unfortunately, Advance & Retreat was in what amounted to first draft form. What Hood had intended to be a history of his experiences in the Civil War was run off the rails by the publishing of Joseph Johnston's memoir. In typical Johnston style, he sought to blame Hood & others for loosing battles that should have been won because of Joe Johnston's military brilliance. In a sixty page rebuttal that any competent editor would have red penciled on sight, Hood went after Johnston. Unfortunately for Hood, General Beauregard took it upon himself to publish Advance & Retreat.

Beauregard's involvement was unfortunate, because it placed Hood's memoir directly into the crosshairs of the Southern Historical Society. In the 1870's the Society led by Jubal Early was busy rewriting the history of the Civil War to suit what they called The Lost Cause. Hood's contribution to the loss at Gettysburg dominated Southern Historical Society writing on the subject for the next twenty years.

General C.M. Wilcox maintained that Hood's three "inquires about a change of attack delayed the entire advance of the Confederate force." Which allowed Chamberlin's 2nd Main time to get into position. In his article in Southern Historical Society Papers in 1878, Wilcox's analysis laid a great deal of the blame for the loss at Gettysburg directly at Hood's feet.

The Gettysburg loss paled into insignificance compared with the Society's attack on Hood's Atlanta & Tennessee Campaigns. Hood & Hood alone was responsible for the great disaster. The Society insisted "the movement of General Hood, ill-advised & pregnant with disaster, left the state of Georgia fairly open to a Federal advance." Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 6 (1887), 104 & 114-115.

At the same time they were vilifying Hood, the Southern Historical Society was raising Forrest to the status of a Southern demigod. Another fair haired child of the Southern Historical Society was Joe Johnston. One of the ways they glorified Johnston at Hood's expense was to publish remarks from the Confederate Congressional Record by Tennessee Congressman Henry Foote who lamented that since, "the Army of Tennessee had been rudely deprived of its noble & gallant leader, General Johnston (by Hood) there had been nothing in that quarter but an avalanche of misfortune." This kind of thing was published by the Southern Historical Society as late as 1959.

It is curious that while the Lost Cause driven thrashing of Hood's reputation was ongoing well into the 20th Century, some Northern critiques of Hood at the same time were far more generous. It was admitted that given the state of Confederate arms in the West, Napoleon & Julius Caesar together couldn't have saved the day.

It was the zero sum thinking of the Lost Cause / Southern Historical Society's deification of Lee & Joseph Johnston that required a scapegoat. That scapegoat was John Bell Hood. Somebody had to take the blame for failures that might tarnish the highly polished gods they had erected. It is only in recent decades that Hood's military actions have been examined objectively. His Atlanta-Nashville Campaign was a disaster, but there was plenty of blame to go around & Hood's part in it was more nuanced than the Lost Cause writers would have us believe.

A friend who has read this post made a good point that I am going to include here. The reason that almost everyone who will read this post doesn't know about the claim that Hood's three requests to go around Meade's flank being a major contributor to the Gettysburg defeat is that modern scholars debunked the Southern Historical Society's narrative fifty years ago.


Note
I personally have found amusing when folks responding to my posts about General Hood's problems with telling the truth have dismissed them because I "don't like Hood." Of course, I neither like or dislike the man, he has been dead for a long time. It was the writers of the Southern Historical Society who made up stories about Hood's men calling him "Old Woodenhead" or having "a lion's heart& a wooden head." Historians who were crafting the Lost Cause wanted Hood to deflect the blame for the loss at Gettysburg from Lee & to vindicate Joe Johnston's generalship in Georgia. It was important for the Jubal Early Lost Cause writers to accuse Hood of being stupid, as well. It is not me that set out to paint Hood as an incompetent fool, it was the Lost Cause, Southern Historical Society set. My only beef with him is that he lied so much that it is impossible to rationally understand what he was thinking when he made his decisions on the battlefield.

Hood's West Point nickname was "The Sergeant" because of his loud carrying voice."Old Pegleg" was an Army of Tennessee moniker. War Like A Thunderbolt, p 77
 
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Rhea Cole

First Sergeant
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Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Lee's stated assesment of Hood we all know of, so wont repeat it again.
Lee was a very sound judge of military ability. Look at all the deadwood that he foisted off on other commands. He did something that Lincoln was good at, as well. Unfortunately for the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis held onto commanders no matter how disastrous their failures were. He even took Pemberton with him to Chattanooga in order to find him a place in the Army of Tennessee. The man simply had a tin ear where failures were concerned.
 
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Jamieva

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The problem with finding a competent army commander in the west is that the 2 ranking generals in the theater, Johnston and Beauregard, were hated by Davis. And the feeling was mutual. Beauregard had already gone awol once before when in army command. Options within the AoT were poor as well. Hardee didn't want the job, Polk was a disaster at every turn at corps command. Hood had worked the back channels to get himself in Davis good graces to be promoted, and Johnston knew that afterwards. So, he takes full aim at Hood.

Hood was the scapegoat in the west for the Lost Causers, just as they painted Longstreet that way in the east.
 

Rhea Cole

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Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The problem with finding a competent army commander in the west is that the 2 ranking generals in the theater, Johnston and Beauregard, were hated by Davis. And the feeling was mutual. Beauregard had already gone awol once before when in army command. Options within the AoT were poor as well. Hardee didn't want the job, Polk was a disaster at every turn at corps command. Hood had worked the back channels to get himself in Davis good graces to be promoted, and Johnston knew that afterwards. So, he takes full aim at Hood.

Hood was the scapegoat in the west for the Lost Causers, just as they painted Longstreet that way in the east.
The vilification of Longstreet, was, it seems to me, a reflection of Jubal Early's jealousy. Lee ditched Early & praised Longstreet. It must have been like a father throwing out a disgraced son & favoring his brother.... kinda biblical you might say.
 

uaskme

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Location
SE Tennessee
Hood deserves responsibility for his TN Campaign. He took control of the AOT too late during the ATL Campaign to change the outcome. He surely didn’t improve it. Nothing in his DNA to suggest he could command a Army. So, I don’t see any Lost Cause argument for Hood. War was lost in the West, with or without Hood. Hood did go behind Johnson’s back. Bragg instigated Johnson’s removal. Davis was complicit or stupid. Both I guess. Bragg’s final attempt to destroy his personal enemies and in the Process the AOT.

Havn’t read his memoir. Have read some of his defense. Good luck with that. He physically nor mentally had the capability to command the AOT. He should of rode off into the Sunset. I have studied the TN Campaign. It was a disaster. All of these post War memoirs are CYA. Why would you trash yourself? Don’t hate Hood. Think the end of his career was Tragic.
 
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Lubliner

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These men that were proponents of the Lost Cause, you must remember were under a great strain. To them with the loss of self-government came shame, and not to just their own, but to the history of the future world. No one can live in any limelight long while suffering such disgrace, and their doctrine of belief being strongly Christian, they frequently conversed upon the idea of meeting in the hereafter. These men led a rebellion that failed to achieve the purpose. They were guilty men, every one of them; but they were given amnesty and pardon, again due to Christian doctrine. It was not as if Robespierre stormed the Bastille and ushered in the Reformation; nor was it as Christ come in the flesh to redeem followers. These men did not succeed and their reputation was tarnished and beaten and unless continually polished, it would become irreparable. The blame and consequence is too hot to sit in one lap consistently, so it gets tossed around all the time. As the saying goes, "The devil made me do it so put the blame on him." And to this day we polish, set up to behold, and hope to learn from what was done. They met one more destructive and stronger than themselves. Will the Word prevail?
Lubliner.
 

Harms88

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Something as well is that his memory of what happened often conflicted with the reports of officers, both North and South. Spring Hill is one such example. He claims a particular sequence of events that for all intents and purposes either did not happen until later, or didn't happen like he said at all. Such as he supposedly gave orders to his division commanders who in turn would later say, "No, we never received such orders."

So it may have come across as retconning events to make himself out to be better than he actually was at the expense of making his officers look like the bad guys. No one likes a retconn, especially one that throws them under the bus.
 
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Rusk County Avengers

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One thing about Joe Johnston that should be pointed out, is that he had support from officers that were not Lost Cause types. We all know Sherman, but for example there's Longstreet in an 1879 interview by the Philadelphia Weekly Times and New York Herald where he stated he felt Johnston was the best General the Confederacy had and was never properly supported. As he put it when asked who he thought was the best Southern general:

"I am inclined to think General Joe Johnston was the ablest and most accomplished man that the Confederate armies ever produced. He never had the opportunity accorded to many others, but he showed wonderful power as a tactician and a commander. I do not think that we had his equal for handling an army and conducting a campaign."

After going into a long discussion reminiscing of Lee, Longstreet continued about Johnston:

"I loved General Lee as a brother while he lived, and I revere his memory. He was a great man, a born leader, a wise general, but I think Johnston was the most accomplished and capable leader we had."

The interview is a gold mine of information of the point of view from Longstreet, and I wouldn't say he was a Lost Cause type or popular with the Southern Historical Society hence why I'm bringing it up after reading the OP. I myself am not a great believer in Joe Johnston and feel there were times he could have been a bit more aggressive, but I wasn't there and Sherman did say he only did sensible things. So Johnston wasn't just supported by the Lost Causers.

As for the Beauregard and Hood connection, correct me if I'm wrong, but I do seem to recall reading that Beauregard looked after his children after yellow fever took Hood and his wife, and his publishing Advance and Retreat was for their financial benefit. I mainly bring this up because I would not call it unfortunate, and actually somewhat noble as the reason was pure if I've been properly informed. After all Beauregard didn't have to look after those kids.

But speaking of Hood, and Beauregard was somewhat similar in this regard, I think Hood's biggest enemy was Hood.
 

Rhea Cole

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
These men that were proponents of the Lost Cause, you must remember were under a great strain. To them with the loss of self-government came shame, and not to just their own, but to the history of the future world. No one can live in any limelight long while suffering such disgrace, and their doctrine of belief being strongly Christian, they frequently conversed upon the idea of meeting in the hereafter. These men led a rebellion that failed to achieve the purpose. They were guilty men, every one of them; but they were given amnesty and pardon, again due to Christian doctrine. It was not as if Robespierre stormed the Bastille and ushered in the Reformation; nor was it as Christ come in the flesh to redeem followers. These men did not succeed and their reputation was tarnished and beaten and unless continually polished, it would become irreparable. The blame and consequence is too hot to sit in one lap consistently, so it gets tossed around all the time. As the saying goes, "The devil made me do it so put the blame on him." And to this day we polish, set up to behold, and hope to learn from what was done. They met one more destructive and stronger than themselves. Will the Word prevail?
Lubliner.
On a purely personal level, I spent years of my life unlearning the rewrite of history that Jubal Early & Co. created. What could we have learned if generations of effort had been put into a frank, open & honest inquiry into what happened & why? My research into Southern slavery has left me with the firm conviction that the generation who created the Lost Cause false narrative were ashamed of slaveholding culture. They had every right to be. Ordinary everyday socially sanctioned behavior by slaveholding males was sexual abuse on an industrial scale. Facing up to the fact that their menfolk had gone to war to protect their unfettered sexual access was, I am sure, an extremely bitter pill to swallow. Mrs. Chestnut & Fannie Kimble's comments on the lookalike slave & white children come to mind.
 

Rhea Cole

First Sergeant
Joined
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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
One thing about Joe Johnston that should be pointed out, is that he had support from officers that were not Lost Cause types. We all know Sherman, but for example there's Longstreet in an 1879 interview by the Philadelphia Weekly Times and New York Herald where he stated he felt Johnston was the best General the Confederacy had and was never properly supported. As he put it when asked who he thought was the best Southern general:

"I am inclined to think General Joe Johnston was the ablest and most accomplished man that the Confederate armies ever produced. He never had the opportunity accorded to many others, but he showed wonderful power as a tactician and a commander. I do not think that we had his equal for handling an army and conducting a campaign."

After going into a long discussion reminiscing of Lee, Longstreet continued about Johnston:

"I loved General Lee as a brother while he lived, and I revere his memory. He was a great man, a born leader, a wise general, but I think Johnston was the most accomplished and capable leader we had."

The interview is a gold mine of information of the point of view from Longstreet, and I wouldn't say he was a Lost Cause type or popular with the Southern Historical Society hence why I'm bringing it up after reading the OP. I myself am not a great believer in Joe Johnston and feel there were times he could have been a bit more aggressive, but I wasn't there and Sherman did say he only did sensible things. So Johnston wasn't just supported by the Lost Causers.

As for the Beauregard and Hood connection, correct me if I'm wrong, but I do seem to recall reading that Beauregard looked after his children after yellow fever took Hood and his wife, and his publishing Advance and Retreat was for their financial benefit. I mainly bring this up because I would not call it unfortunate, and actually somewhat noble as the reason was pure if I've been properly informed. After all Beauregard didn't have to look after those kids.

But speaking of Hood, and Beauregard was somewhat similar in this regard, I think Hood's biggest enemy was Hood.
The reason it was unfortunate that Beauregard published Advance & Retreat is two fold. Firstly, Beauregard was a target of the Jubal Early Lost Cause & the Southern Historical Society, as well. Secondly, Hood's book needed editing. Believe you me, there is nothing more humbling than rereading a first draft. It served Beauregard's personal vendetta with Joe Johnston to publish Hood's denouncement of Johnston. A competent editor would have redlined those sixty pages on first sight.
 
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Rhea Cole

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Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Something as well is that his memory of what happened often conflicted with the reports of officers, both North and South. Spring Hill is one such example. He claims a particular sequence of events that for all intents and purposes either did not happen until later, or didn't happen like he said at all. Such as he supposedly gave orders to his division commanders who in turn would later say, "No, we never received such orders."

So it may have come across as retconning events to make himself out to be better than he actually was at the expense of making his officers look like the bad guys. No one likes a retconn, especially one that throws them under the bus.
The thing that makes Hood's mendacity stand out is that he lied to Beauregard & Richmond. It was not just the usual lapse of memory or someone else's story morphing into your own, he told his superiors things he had to know were untrue at the time.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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The reason it was unfortunate that Beauregard published Advance & Retreat is two fold. Firstly, Beauregard was a target of the Jubal Early Lost Cause & the Southern Historical Society, as well. Secondly, Hood's book needed editing. Believe you me, there is nothing more humbling than rereading a first draft. It served Beauregard's personal vendetta with Joe Johnston to publish Hood's denouncement of Johnston.
I think Hood had a healthy vendetta against Johnston as well...

Lets not forget Hood's going to Bragg and throwing Johnston under the proverbial bus during the war getting himself command of the army whether intentional or not, and the Army of Tennessee's love of Johnston and hatred of him a powerful factor in anyone's thinking of someone. I've not read Advance and Retreat, or am very familiar with the circumstances of its publishing, but first draft or second draft my money would be on Hood throwing Johnston under the bus at every turn.
 

Rhea Cole

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Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I think Hood had a healthy vendetta against Johnston as well...

Lets not forget Hood's going to Bragg and throwing Johnston under the proverbial bus during the war getting himself command of the army whether intentional or not, and the Army of Tennessee's love of Johnston and hatred of him a powerful factor in anyone's thinking of someone. I've not read Advance and Retreat, or am very familiar with the circumstances of its publishing, but first draft or second draft my money would be on Hood throwing Johnston under the bus at every turn.
You certainly have that right. I liken the behavior of Confederate General in the West to taking a long trip with six small girls crammed into the car. The behavior is about the same, but I doubt the generals hugged & made up later.
 
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Rusk County Avengers

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You certainly have that right. I liken the behavior of Confederate General in the West to taking a long trip with six small girls crammed into the car. The behavior is about the same, but I doubt the generals hugged & made up later.
Best example of western Confederate Generals I have seen yet!
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
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Location
SE Tennessee
Lost Cause was all about Southern Nationalism. After losing the War, the South still wanted a unique identity inside the Union. South still remains Unique to the Union. We have Southern Americans, African Americans, Native Americans etc.

Countries lie about their Nationality. The North, Federal Government, whatever label you want to put on it. Has done the same thing. North and South, East and West have lied about their past. The South just gets called out for it more. Yankee Racism has been hidden. Indian Wars lied about. Civil War was all about Slavery. Northerners fought for Black Rights. Founders wanted Equality beyond Whitey. It is all a pack of lies. I have studied this stuff for 5 years. I have learned, that whatever they tell you it is, that probably ain’t it.

People accept what they favor, Rail against what they don’t like. I just have to giggle.
 
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Rhea Cole

First Sergeant
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Lost Cause was all about Southern Nationalism. After losing the War, the South still wanted a unique identity inside the Union. South still remains Unique to the Union. We have Southern Americans, African Americans, Native Americans etc.

Countries lie about their Nationality. The North, Federal Government, whatever label you want to put on it. Has done the same thing. North and South, East and West have lied about their past. The South just gets called out for it more. Yankee Racism has been hidden. Indian Wars lied about. Civil War was all about Slavery. Northerners fought for Black Rights. Founders wanted Equality beyond Whitey. It is all a pack of lies. I have studied this stuff for 5 years. I have learned, that whatever they tell you it is, that probably ain’t it.

People accept what they favor, Rail against what they don’t like. I just have to giggle.
Actually, the Lost Cause narrative was very much the creation of a group of writers led by Jubal Early. It was a deliberate rewriting of history to plaster over the fact that the Southern States went to war to "prevent abolition" in the words of Georgia's declaration. As early as late 1863, Mrs. Chestnut & others remarked on the way some of the loudest proponents of secession to preserve slavery were claiming that the war was really about preserving state's rights. Mrs. C. was not amused. Your inclusion of the true complexity of The South is right on the money.
 
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