JOHN BELL HOOD, CSA - History

JOHN BELL HOOD, CSA - History


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GENERAL JOHN BELL HOOD, CSA
VITAL STATISTICS
BORN: 1831 in Owingsville, KY.
DIED: 1879 in New Orleans, LA.
CAMPAIGNS: Yorktown, Peninsula, Gaines' Mill, Malvern Hill, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Getysburg, Chickamauga, Atlanta, Franklin, Nashville.
HIGHEST RANK ACHIEVED: General.
BIOGRAPHY
John Bell Hood was born in Owingsville, Kentucky, on June 1, 1831. He grew up hearing popular stories about the Mexican War and tales told by his grandfather about Indian fighting. With help from his uncle, Congressman Richard French, young Hood was able to obtain an appointment to the US Military Academy at West Point. Although he was a poor student with disciplinary problems, he managed to graduate in 1853. After graduation, he a was assigned to Fort Columbus, New York, then transferred to Fort Jones in northern California. In March of 1855, he was commissioned a 2d lieutenant in the 2d US Cavalry, which had officers including Col. Albert Sidney Johnston, Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee, Maj. William J. Hardee and Maj. George H. Thomas. Early in his military career, Hood began choosing aggressive military tactics over more passive ones. He also developed a boldness, often to the point of recklessness, which contributed to both his later successes and failures. In April of 1861, Hood resigned from the US Army and joined the Confederates as a 1st lieutenant of cavalry. Serving on recruitment duty in Kentucky for a few weeks, he was then transferred to Yorktown, Virginia. Hood quickly rose through the ranks, and was promoted to brigadier general on March 6, 1862. He took command of the Texas Brigade, which became known as Hood's Texas Brigade. With an aggressive leadership style, he led his troops in several engagements, and acquired an excellent reputation among Confederates for courage and effectiveness. Hood took part in the Peninsula Campaign, as well as the Battles of Gaines' Mill, Malvern Hill and Second Bull Run. Promoted to major general on October 10, 1862, he was given divisional command under Maj. Gen. James Longstreet. Hood led his division in the Antietam Campaign, and at Fredericksburg. Hood was wounded in the left arm at Gettysburg, but was later able to lead several divisions at Chickamauga. He was wounded again, and doctors had to amputate his right leg, after which Hood spent some time recuperating in Richmond. Hood was promoted to lieutenant general on February 1, 1864, to rank from the Battle of Chickamauga, he commanded a corps in the Atlanta Campaign. He was temporarily given command of the Army of Tennessee in July of 1864, but was reluctant to take over Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's position. When Confederate President Jefferson Davis insisted, Hood accepted, but was unsuccessful later that month at Peachtree Creek and the Battle of Atlanta. In September of 1864, at the Battle of Jonesborough, Hood retreated from Union Maj. William T. Sherman, trying to draw the Union troops away from Atlanta. This attempt was unsuccessful, as was a subsequent attempt to retake Tennessee and secure Kentucky north to the Ohio River. In the Franklin and Nashville Campaign, Hood and his troops lost many casualties at Franklin, He suffered a decisive defeat by Union forces at Nashville. In January of 1865, Hood was relieved, at his own request, and served in no further field command positions. He ended his military career when he surrendered at Natchez, Mississippi on May 31, 1865, while he was on orders to join the Trans-Mississippi Department. After the Civil War ended, Hood settled in New Orleans, and worked as a factor and commission merchant. Later, he entered the insurance business. He became moderately wealthy, but later lost much of his wealth when his business faired poorly. On August 30, 1879, a few days after the death of his wife and oldest child, Hood died of yellow fever. He was survived by 10 other children. Hood's friends arranged for his war memoirs to be published, and the proceeds were used to provide for Hood's orphaned children. The book, published in 1880, was entitled "Advance and Retreat," and it became a classic work of Civil War literature.

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Early Life & Career

John Bell Hood was born either June 1 or 29, 1831, to Dr. John W. Hood and Theodosia French Hood at Owingsville, KY. Though his father did not wish a military career for his son, Hood was inspired by his grandfather, Lucas Hood, who, in 1794, had fought with Major General Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers during the Northwest Indian War (1785-1795). Obtaining an appointment to West Point from his uncle, Representative Richard French, he entered school in 1849.

An average student, he was nearly expelled by Superintendent Colonel Robert E. Lee for an unauthorized visit to a local tavern. In the same class as Philip H. Sheridan, James B. McPherson, and John Schofield, Hood also received instruction from future adversary George H. Thomas. Nicknamed "Sam" and ranked 44th of 52, Hood graduated in 1853, and was assigned to the 4th US Infantry in California.

Following peaceful duty on the West Coast, he was reunited with Lee in 1855, as part of Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston's 2nd US Cavalry in Texas. During this time, he was struck in the hand by a Comanche arrow near Devil's River, TX during a routine patrol from Fort Mason. The following year, Hood received a promotion to first lieutenant. Three years later, he was assigned to West Point as Chief Instructor of Cavalry. Concerned about the growing tensions between the states, Hood requested to remain with the 2nd Cavalry. This was granted by the US Army Adjutant General, Colonel Samuel Cooper, and he stayed in Texas.

Lieutenant General John Bell Hood

  • Rank: Lieutenant General
  • Service: US Army, Confederate Army
  • Nickname(s): Sam
  • Born: June 1 or 29, 1831 in Owingsville, KY
  • Died: August 30, 1879 in New Orleans, LA
  • Parents: Dr. John W. Hood, Theodosia French Hood
  • Spouse: Anna Marie Hennen
  • Conflicts:Civil War
  • Known For:Second Manassas, Antietam, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Atlanta, Nashville

The Texas Brigade in Action

Dismounted, Hood effectively replaced Colonel John Marshal as the leader of the 4th Texas on June 27. Hood led the 500 men of the regiment on a march toward the Union left flank. Initially, Law’s Brigade was on Hood’s right in the battle line, but Hood ordered his men past Law’s on the Confederate right flank. The regiment was under constant fire from the well-positioned Union artillery. As they continued across the open field, the Federal enfilade grew to include sharp-shooters and infantry fire. Colonel Marshal was shot in the neck and fell from his horse. The wound was mortal. [5] The troops continued forward and obeyed Hood’s order to hold fire until he gave the command. The Federal position allowed for constant shell and shot to be pelted on the Confederate Texans, and “half way across the field, men began to drop, wounded or dead, from the ranks.” [6]

When Hood’s men reached the top of a rise in the terrain, approximately 150 yards from Boatswain’s Creek, they came upon numerous troops clinging to the ground who would go no further. It was at this point that Longstreet’s and A.P. Hill’s men were halted. The lieutenants of the companies the 4th encountered, thought to be Virginia troops, urged the Texans not to proceed further. Hood and his men ignored the warning and started down the other side of the rise toward the creek. Once the continued march began, there was an immediate eruption of Union firepower. Hood maintained the order to hold fire and urged his men forward. [7]

When the 4th Texas got to within one hundred yards of Porter’s line, Hood ordered to fix bayonets while on the move. Once that task was complete, Hood ordered the 4th Texas to charge at the double-quick. [8] With the gleaming steel of the bayonets and a Rebel Yell that rivaled the sound of the artillery, the 4th Texas reached the first Union entrenchment on the hill. It unnerved Porter’s men to the point that they “fled panic-stricken.” [9] According to Chaplain Davis, “it seemed as if every ball found a victim, so great was the slaughter.” [10]

When Porter’s troops in the first line of battle fled to the rear, the men in the second row of entrenchments followed suit. At this point, the 4th Texas regiment was joined by the right-wing of the 18th Georgia group. Together these men pursued the Federals further up the hill toward the rear of the Union defensive position. [11] As the 4th Texas and 18th Georgia chased the Yankee troops, the 1st and 5th Texas regiments, along with the South Carolina Legion at last reached the rise of the hill. These three regiments marched through heavily forested and swampy terrain, thus delaying joining the first two regiments on the attack. The united five regiments continued to pursue their enemy and finally collapsed the Federal left flank. The battle line crumbled, and the 4th Texas regiment reached the hill's summit and captured fourteen of the eighteen Federal artillery guns. [12]

As Hood’s troops continued their pursuit of the enemy, they were confronted by the 5th U.S. Cavalry. The brigade stood its ground. When the cavalry approached to within forty yards, the Rebels fired simultaneously, which effectively negated any threat of defeat at the hands of the cavalry battalion. Six of the seven Federal cavalry officers were killed or wounded in the attack, and of the 250 cavalry troops involved, only 100 survived. [13] By the end of the day, the Confederate troops pushed their enemy to the Chickahominy River's southern bank. This was due in large part to Hood’s Brigade, especially the 4th Texas regiment. The 1st and 5th also contributed greatly as both regiments took a significant number of prisoners. According to Private Polley, “The Fifth Texas captured two whole regiments of Yankees — the Fourth New Jersey, raised in Newark, and the Eleventh Pennsylvania, raised in Philadelphia.” [14]

Aftermath

  • Hampton’s South Carolina Legion: 2 Killed 65 Wounded
  • 5th Texas: 13 Killed 62 Wounded
  • 1st Texas: 13 Killed 62 Wounded
  • 18th Georgia: 14 Killed 128 Wounded 3 Missing
  • 4th Texas: 44 Killed 208 Wounded 1 Missing

In total, Hood’s casualties were 86 killed, 481 wounded, and 4 missing. Significantly, Colonel Marshall was mortally wounded, and the commander of the 1st Texas, Colonel Rainey, was killed in action. [15] The day after the battle, a young private who had been slightly wounded was sent on an errand that required him to cross over the battlefield at Gaines’s Mill. Years later, the private remembered, “‘there were still men on the field that had not been buried…some partly buried, with a hand or a foot sticking out.’” When he approached a building where doctors had been working, he saw “a pile of limbs four or five feet high and in other places, seven or eight large horses [lay] dead in a pile.’” [16]

Conclusion

The brigade men, especially those of the 4th Texas regiment, we're exceptionally proud of their accomplishment that day. They were lauded by generals such as Longstreet and Jackson for their skill and valor and played an enormous role in saving the Confederate capital. The battle lasted from early morning until “the night came on and human slaughter ceased.” [17] According to Historian and Hood scholar, Harold B. Simpson, June 27, 1862, was the “greatest day of valor for the Fourth Texas Infantry.” [18]

After Gaines’s Mill, Hood’s Texas Brigade participated sparingly in the Battle of Malvern Hill. They were then ordered to camp in Richmond. They were at last done fighting on the peninsula. They rested and recovered in the city until the end of July 1862.

Historians and military experts consider hood’s Texas Brigade to be second only to the Stonewall Brigade in terms of tenacity and valor of all of the brigades that fought for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Like Jackson, Hood was a leader who displayed no fear and projected a fierce sense of pride and determination among his men. Of the many leaders who commanded the brigade, Hood instilled an ethic and confidence in the men who comprised the brigade that still bears his name.


Time Periods:

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas W. Cutrer, &ldquoHood, John Bell,&rdquo Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 19, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hood-john-bell.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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John B. Hood

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John B. Hood, (born June 1, 1831, Owingsville, Ky., U.S.—died Aug. 30, 1879, New Orleans), Confederate officer known as a fighting general during the American Civil War, whose vigorous defense of Atlanta failed to stem the advance of Gen. William T. Sherman’s superior Federal forces through Georgia in late 1864.

A graduate of West Point who served in the U.S. Cavalry until the outbreak of hostilities, Hood rapidly rose to the rank of colonel in the Confederate Army. He was seriously wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1863), where he commanded an assault on the Federal left at Round Top, and lost a leg at the Battle of Chickamauga (September).

In the spring of 1864, Hood was appointed a lieutenant general under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston to help defend Atlanta against Sherman’s forces. Johnston’s continual withdrawals impelled Confederate president Jefferson Davis to transfer the command in July to Hood, whom he considered more aggressive. In a vain effort to save Atlanta, Hood promptly attacked but was forced back into the city, which he held for five weeks. He then led his men on a long march north and west, intending to strike Sherman’s rear. This plan was thwarted, however, when he was confronted by the Army of the Cumberland, under Gen. George H. Thomas, which had moved back to check him. Two battles ensued in Tennessee—Franklin (November) and Nashville (December)—both decisive defeats for Hood, whose retreating army was pursued by Thomas and virtually destroyed. His command ended at his own request the following month. He spent his retirement years in New Orleans in business and in writing his memoirs.


Fifth Texas Infantry

The Fifth Texas Infantry Regiment was organized by the Confederate War Department in Richmond, Virginia, in October 1861. The men of the Fifth Texas Infantry were recruited primarily from the Texas counties of Colorado, Harris, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Milam, Montgomery, Polk, Trinity, Walker, and Washington. The unit was organized into ten companies. These companies had nicknames attached to them to denote their area of origin. For example, Company A was known as the Bayou City Guards, Company C as the Leon Hunters, Company D as the Waverly Confederates, Company E as the Dixie Blues, Company F as the Invincibles, Company G as the Milam County Grays, Company H as the Texas Polk Rifles, Company I as the Texas Aides, and Company K as the Polk County Flying Artillery.

Along with the First and Fourth Texas Infantry regiments, the Fifth Texas Infantry made up the famous Hood's Texas Brigade of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. As part of Hood's Texas Brigade, the unit served under generals John Bell Hood, Jerome B. Robertson, and John Gregg. The Fifth Texas's original commander was Col. James J. Archer. The unit had numerous field officers during the war. These officers included: Walter B. Botts (major, lieutenant colonel), King Bryan (major, lieutenant colonel), Robert M. Powell (major, lieutenant colonel, colonel), Paul J. Quattlebaum (major), Jerome B. Robertson (lieutenant colonel and colonel before he became commanding general), Jefferson C. Rogers (major), John C. Upton (major, lieutenant colonel), and David M. Whaley (major).

The Fifth Texas participated in nearly every campaign waged by the Army of Northern Virginia. It saw its first action on May 7, 1862, in an engagement at West Point, Virginia. Over the course of 1862, the unit participated in numerous skirmishes and actions, including the major battles of Seven Pines, Seven Days, Second Manassas, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. On June 3, 1862, after the Seven Days battles, Col. James J. Archer was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and ordered to command a brigade of Tennessee troops. As a result, Jerome B. Robertson was promoted to the rank of colonel and took over command of the Fifth Texas. However, following the battle of Antietam, General Hood was promoted to the rank of major general. To fill the vacancy left by Hood, Robertson was promoted to brigadier general and assumed command of the brigade which he held until late summer of 1863. Thus, command of the Fifth Texas passed to Robert M. Powell.

In 1863 the Fifth Texas was involved in various actions in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Tennessee. It participated in the major battles of that year including Gettysburg where, of the unit's 409 effectives engaged, more than half became casualties. The Fifth Texas also participated in actions in the Western Theater as part of Gen. James Longstreet's Corps. While there, the unit was involved in the battle of Chickamauga, the siege of Chattanooga, and the siege of Knoxville. The Fifth Texas remained in the Western Theater through January 1864, after which it returned to Northern Virginia.

In Virginia, the Fifth Texas participated in actions against Ulysses S. Grant's Overland campaign of 1864. The unit fought in the battles of Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. As the Union Army encircled Richmond and Petersburg, the Fifth Texas was engaged in operations in defense of those two cities. When the defense of the Confederate capital broke down, the Fifth Texas—as part of the Army of Northern Virginia—retreated west and took part in the Appomattox campaign that resulted in the surrender of Lee's forces at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, on April 9, 1865. The unit surrendered 12 officers and 149 men at Appomattox. In spite of its low numbers, the Fifth Texas was the largest unit of the Texas Brigade to surrender its arms.

Joseph H.Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army (Midlothian, Virginia: Derwent,1987). Stewart Sifakis, Compendium of the Confederate Armies: Texas (New York: Facts on File, 1995). Harold B. Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade: Lee's Grenadier Guard (Waco: Texian Press, 1970). John F. Walter, "Histories of Texas Units in the Civil War," Ms., Historical Research Center, Texas Heritage Museum, Hill College, Hillsboro, Texas, 1981.


John Bell Hood

Hood was an excellent General of the CSA, despite his poor academic performance at West Point. He is mostly remembered for his for failing to get Sherman out of Atlanta, and his attack on Little Round Top at Gettysburg.

If you've seen Gettysburg the movie, you will remember a pretty powerful scene where he approaches General Lee asking for a reassignment. He was pissed off because he could have taken that hill before the Union reached it.

I believe he says something like "Give me one division, and I can take that hill. Give me one Brigade and I can take that hill. Sir, give me one Regiment and I will take that hill."

Lord_Cronus

If you've seen Gettysburg the movie, you will remember a pretty powerful scene where he approaches General Lee asking for a reassignment. He was pissed off because he could have taken that hill before the Union reached it.

I believe he says something like "Give me one division, and I can take that hill. Give me one Brigade and I can take that hill. Sir, give me one Regiment and I will take that hill."

Gustav II Adolph

I my opinion John Bell Hood was probablly the worst commander of the American Civil War (seconded or tied with Braxton Bragg)

As a corps commander during the Atlanta campaign he was dismal. After bad mouthing Joe Johnston to Jefferson Davis, and basically stealing command of the Army of Tennesee, over better suited Generals and senior generals like Hardee or Cleburne. He had the gaul to beg Johnston for his imput on leading that army. His inept handling of the Army of Tennessee at Peachtree Creek and Jonesboro lost most important rail hub, and second most important manufacturing center in the Confederacy, Atlanta.

Then rather attempt to block Shermans drive on Savanah he decided to make a push into Tennessee and Kentucky. In Tennessee Hood severly damaged his army at Franklin and then alowed it to be destroyed at Nashville.


JOHN BELL HOOD, CSA - History

By Roy Morris Jr.

When Confederate general John Bell Hood assumed command of the embattled Army of Tennessee at Atlanta in mid-July 1864, he was already grievously wounded in both body and spirit. He had lost the use of his left arm at the Battle of Gettysburg, and two months later he lost his right leg at Chickamauga. But he was suffering at least as much from a wound that no one could see—a frustrating and ultimately heartbreaking love affair with South Carolina belle Sally Buchanan “Buck” Preston. It was a battle the ill-starred Hood was least equipped to fight.
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The tall, handsome general from Kentucky had first met the beautiful young socialite in Richmond in the winter of 1862-1863, when she was in the Confederate capital visiting friends. At the age of 31, Hood was a dozen years older than Buck Preston chronologically, and even farther behind her in drawing-room polish and dance-floor flirtations. His first compliment to her was typical of his lack of romantic savoir faire. Miss Preston, he said, “stood on her feet like a thoroughbred.” What the cultured young lady thought about being compared to a horse is anyone’s guess.

Richmond doyenne Mary Boykin Chesnut, a longtime friend of the Preston family, observed Hood’s courtship of Buck Preston from across the room, so to speak. She was well aware of Buck’s capricious nature and its effect on impressionable young soldiers such as Hood. Buck, she said, had “a knack of being fallen in love with first sight, and of never being fallen out of love with” again. Certainly, she had that effect on Hood, who had barely gotten up on crutches before he was back at Buck’s side. He had no way of knowing that Buck had already confided to Mrs. Chesnut: “I never cared particularly about [Hood]. I would not marry him if he had a thousand legs instead of having just lost one.”

John Bell Hood

Hood persisted. Despite being turned down twice by Buck, the sad-eyed general kept after her, managing to win a somewhat shaky acceptance. “I am so proud, so grateful,” he told Mary Chesnut. “The sun never shone on a happier man.” The worldly Chesnut was not convinced. “So the tragedy has been played out,” she recorded in famous diary. “I do not think even now that she is in earnest.” It did not speak well of Buck’s devotion that when Hood attended church with President Jefferson Davis before leaving for Atlanta, Buck did not look at him once during the entire service.

After his subsequent military debacles at Atlanta, Franklin and Nashville, Hood visited Buck one last time at her home in Columbia, South Carolina. The visit did not go well. Buck’s parents, her sister and her new brother-in-law all opposed the marriage. Hood, in physical pain from his wounds and demoralized by the long string of defeats, gave up without a fight. He rode away, never to see Buck again. Sadly, Hood never realized how close he had come to victory—in love, if not in war. “If he had been persistent,” Buck told Mary Chesnut, “I was ready to leave all the world for him, to tie my clothes in a bundle and trudge after him to the ends of the earth. Does that sound like me? It was true that day.”

In the end, the “Gallant Hood” had not been gallant enough. He lost both the war and the girl. Who can say which hurt more?


Tennessee in Mourning

As the night turned cold, most of the surviving Confederates abandoned the outer ditches and withdrew to the line occupied earlier by Wagner’s men. By 11 pm, all was quiet, save for the moans and cries for water from the wounded. From the cotton gin across to the locust grove alone, perhaps 5,000 dead and wounded Confederates lay strewn in grotesque bundles. The death toll upon Hood’s field grade officers had now reached unprecedented levels. Of the 24 generals exposed to battle, six were dead or mortally wounded: Patrick Cleburne, John Adams, Hiram Granbury, Otho Strahl, John C. Carter, and States Rights Gist. Four others were seriously wounded, and another was captured. The army’s middle command structure, with 54 regimental commanders killed or wounded, had been shattered as well. The death toll on the Confederate side came to 1,700, a butcher’s bill that one writer said without exaggeration sent “the entire state of Tennessee into mourning.”

Although some subordinates broached the idea of a counterattack for the next morning, Schofield, after being surprised and shocked by Hood’s unexpected movements twice in two days, was content to escape with his army to Nashville. Hood marched his wrecked army to Nashville as well, where he established fortified lines south of the city on December 2, appealing in vain to Confederate authorities for reinforcements and supplies and waiting for Thomas to attack. Hood hoped to defeat his old West Point instructor and pursue the defeated foe back into Nashville and reclaim it for the Confederacy. On December 15 and 16, Thomas counterattacked and routed Hood’s depleted forces, using all his combat arms—infantry, artillery, cavalry with repeating rifles—to win one of the most decisive battles ever fought in North America. The hard-luck Army of Tennessee, what remained of it, fought and straggled its way back across the Tennessee River, hounded by Union cavalry and infantry. Only 18,000 Confederates crossed the river on December 25. Hood resigned in disgrace shortly thereafter.

After burying his son Tod in Franklin, Carter and his family turned to the task of restoring their shattered home and farm and reviving their livelihood. The Confederate government refused to compensate Carter for the considerable damages to his property—the cotton gin and eight outhouses were dismantled for breastworks, the fields were heavily damaged, and the farm was never again as profitable as it once was. Carter sold off much of his 288 acres of cotton and cornfields not long after the war he died in 1871, and his son Moscow sold the home and farm property in 1896. It had seemed haunted, anyway, after the events of November 30, 1864.


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