Wednesday, January 23, 2008


This Day in the History of Correcting Big Mistakes Way Too Late

On this day in 1865, General John Bell Hood was removed as commander of the Army of Tennessee. He had asked to be removed weeks earlier. Hood had fought well during the Seven Days and at Antietam. There are historians who think he saved Lee with a well timed counter-attack during the latter battle. He was a non-factor in the next two battles where he was severely wounded at Gettysburg and lost a leg at Chickamauga. He should not have been placed in charge of the 65,000 strong Army of Tennessee in July, 1864 because he didn't get the political situation (as the man he replaced, General Joseph Johnston, did). The South had merely not to lose big, while continuing to bleed the Yankees, and the Copperhead Democrats would win the November elections and quit the war. As was his idiom, however, he attacked and attacked and attacked and lost every time. With the victory he handed the North at Atlanta, Lincoln held on in the elections. But Hood wasn't finished. He lost badly at Franklin and at Nashville and by the time he was removed the once proud Army of Tennessee had at most 18,000 men many combat ineffective.


While I normally disagree with your political point of view, I am completely with you on this one. JB Hood was an outstanding brigade and divisional commander largely because he had the utter devotion of those in his command due to his steadfastness and was completely tenacious in battle. That being said, he needed to understand that the way to beat the North in Tennessee was by bleeding them and NOT giving battle unless he was able to pick the ground and the circumstances. He kept looking for that knockout blow, which makes sense for a brigadier or major general, but not when the 50-60 thousand troops is all you have in the entire region and the North added to their army every day. His recklessness cost the Confederacy more than he gets blamed for. That being said, if he were successful in one of his many attempted "knockout punches" we may all be singing a different tune about him today and the America we know today could be much different. I am sure that Hood defenders would say that given the constantly improving Northern Army, Hood had to roll the dice, but I believe that the knockout punch that could have won the war for the South would only come from destroying the Army of the Potomac.

Joseph E. Johnston was a largely overshadowed and entirely underrated Civil War General. He was light years ahead of his counterparts in the North on static defense and defensive maneuvering. He was faced with armies that outnumbered him in Cavalry, Infantry, Artillery and supplies, but was always able to position his men in the best possible defense in battle.

I always drew a parallel between the Confederacy and the German Army in WWII. Both were completely outnumbered and outproduced economically, but held on much, much longer because of their superior generals and superior fighting men (at least in the beginning of each conflict).
Exactly, whoever you are.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?