Monday , July 13 2020
Home / Brad Delong, Berkeley / John Bell Hood Blames Everybody Else for His Failure to Win the Battle of Spring Hill—Weekend Reading

John Bell Hood Blames Everybody Else for His Failure to Win the Battle of Spring Hill—Weekend Reading

Summary:
The anti-Patton. Maybe he was a good regimental or brigade commander. Maybe. But no appreciation for the frictions of war in attempting complicated simultaneous actions, and no appreciation for the power of the defense and the rifle: John Bell Hood: Advance & Retreat: Personal Experiences in the United States and Confederate States Armies https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-hood-advances-%26-retreat.pdf: 'I dispatched a messenger to General Cheatham to lose no time in gaining possession of the pike at Spring Hill. It was reported back that he was about to do so.... I became somewhat uneasy, and again ordered an officer to go to General Cheatham.... I entrusted another officer with the same message... finally requested the Governor of Tennessee, Isham G.

Topics:
Bradford DeLong considers the following as important: , ,

This could be interesting, too:

Bradford DeLong writes This Is What a President Looks Like—For the Weekend

Bradford DeLong writes Black: Bedbug Stephens, the New York Times, & the Anti-Mask Brigade—Noted

Bradford DeLong writes Scalzi: Back Into Quarantine—Noted

Bradford DeLong writes Adam Smith Got There 250 Years Ago: “The Real Recompence of Labour…”—Twitter

The anti-Patton. Maybe he was a good regimental or brigade commander. Maybe. But no appreciation for the frictions of war in attempting complicated simultaneous actions, and no appreciation for the power of the defense and the rifle: John Bell Hood: Advance & Retreat: Personal Experiences in the United States and Confederate States Armies https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-hood-advances-%26-retreat.pdf: 'I dispatched a messenger to General Cheatham to lose no time in gaining possession of the pike at Spring Hill. It was reported back that he was about to do so.... I became somewhat uneasy, and again ordered an officer to go to General Cheatham.... I entrusted another officer with the same message... finally requested the Governor of Tennessee, Isham G. Harris, to hasten forward and impress upon Cheatham the importance of action without delay...

...I thought it probable that Cheatham had taken possession of Spring Hill without encountering material opposition, or had formed line across the pike, north of the town, and entrenched without coming in serious contact with the enemy.... When General Cheatham rode up... I exclaimed with deep emotion, as I felt the golden opportunity fast slipping from me, " General, why in the name of God have you not attacked the enemy, and taken possession of that pike?" He replied that the line looked a little too long for him, and that Stewart should first form on his right. I could hardly believe it possible that this brave old soldier, who had given proof of such courage and ability upon so many hard-fought fields, would even make such a report....

It was reported to me after this hour that the enemy was marching along the road, almost under the sight of the camp-fires of the main body of the Army. I sent anew to General Cheatham to know if at least a line of skirmishers could not be advanced, in order to throw the Federals in confusion, to delay their march, and allow us a chance to attack in the morning. Nothing was done....

I could not succeed in arousing the troops to action, when one good division would have sufficed to do the work. One good division, I re-assert, could have routed that portion of the enemy which was at Spring Hill; have taken possession of and formed line across the road; and thus have made it an easy matter to Stewart's Corps, Johnston's Division, and Lee's two Divisions from Columbia, to have enveloped, routed, and captured Schofield's Army that afternoon and the ensuing day....

Had I dreamed one moment that Cheatham would have failed to give battle, or at least to take position across the pike and force the enemy to assault him, I would have ridden, myself, to the front, and led the troops into action. Although it is right and proper that a Commander-in-Chief, in the event of disaster to a portion of his line during an engagement, should endeavor in person to rally the troops, it is not expected nor considered expedient that he should inaugurate a battle by leading a division or brigade. Had I done so, my opponents would have just cause for the charge of recklessness. I would, nevertheless, have risked my life in this instance, had I conceived the possibility of the disregard of my orders, on the part of this officer.

General Lee was in a measure thwarted by the same want of prompt action, at Gettysburg. Whilst I failed utterly to bring on battle at Spring Hill, he was unable to get the corps of his Army to attack and co-operate, as desired. He was thus checkmated for two days, and finally lost the battle. Had our immortal Chieftain foreseen the result of this inactivity, he would, doubtless, have ordered and acted differently...


Notwithstanding my endeavors to explain satisfactorily to myself my inability to procure co-operative action upon the 20th, and 22d, I remained somewhat perplexed upon the subject—especially in regard to the failure, on the 20th, of the best troops of the Army, Hardee'sCorps. Shortly after the beginning of the siege. Major General Cleburne, commanding a division in that corps, called at my headquarters. The occurrences of the hour were discussed, and, finally, the two late battles in which he had been a participant...

...Much was said pro and con, relative to the condition of the Army and the causes of failure in the above referred to engagements. I then unfolded to him the plans of action, together with the peremptory orders to halt at nothing on our side of Peach Tree creek. Cleburne seemed surprised, and thereupon informed me that as his Division was about to move forward to the attack, on the 20th, General Hardee rode along the line, and, in the presence of those around him, cautioned him to be on the lookout for breastworks.

I can recall no reply on my part at the time, save, perhaps, some expression of astonishment. I could say nothing, even to so worthy a subordinate. He left me to infer, however, from subsequent remarks, that his Division would have taken quite a different action on the 20th, had it not been for the forewarning of his corps commander.

I give the above narrative of facts with a full knowledge of my accountableness to the same Ruler before whom those two gallant soldiers have been summoned; and, as I avowed at the beginning of my task, would not have undertaken to write of these unpleasant subjects, were it not for the seeming perpetuation of injustice and misrepresentation in the guise of truth and history.

It is but reasonable to deduce from this unfortunate observation to Cleburne that General Hardee gave a similar warning to other officers. At all events, those who are able to realize the baneful effect of such a remark from the commander of a corps d'armee, upon the eve of conflict, know that his words were almost equivalent to an order to take no active part in the battle.

From the hour one of the main sources of our trouble was thus accidentally made known to me, I recognized that my power, upon any occasion, to deal quick and heavy blows to the enemy, would be greatly hampered, unless I could procure the relief of this officer and the appointment of one better qualified for the actual emergencies. Whilst General Hardee had, perhaps, no superior as a corps commander during retreat in presence of an enemy, or in defensive operations, he was wanting in that boldness requisite for offensive warfare. This his defect, which may be found in officers of undoubted courage and of every rank, was aggravated by the protracted "timid defensive " policy under my predecessor, and to this misfortune I attributed his non-observance of orders.

Long and gallant service had, however, endeared him to his troops, and, because of further demoralization which I feared might ensue in the event of his removal, I decided to retain him in command. Moreover, President Davis held in high appreciation his ability as a corps commander. Lee, Stewart, and G.W. Smith were very open in the expression of their opinion, in regard to his conduct which they imported to a less charitable notice than I was willing to concede. Their opinion of the consequences of his non-fulfilment of orders is recorded in the following extract from the official report of Major General G. W. Smith:

If they (the corps commanders) are not unanimous, there is but one, if any, who dissents from the opinion expressed above, viz : Sherman would have been beaten had your orders been obeyed on the 2oth of July, 22d of July, and 31st of August...


'[General Frank Blair:] "We congratulated ourselves on being able to hold our position, and we felt satisfied that Hood's Army could not stand much longer the terrible losses it was suffering from these brilliant but disastrous movements. The opinion in our Army was that the result would have been the same if Joe Johnston had continued in command, but that the denouement was hastened and expedited by the change of tactics adopted by General Hood. This I think, and indeed am sure, was General Sherman's opinion.... Sherman... wrote me back that [Hood's appointment to command]... was very good news, but to look out for an attack; that Hood would make it very lively for us, and that it was necessary to be exceedingly cautious...." General Blair was mistaken in pronouncing the attack disastrous, since, as I have stated, it greatly improved the morale of the Army, and arrested desertion. In connection with the battle of the 20th, it also enabled us to hold possession of Atlanta a prolonged period. He erred likewise in attributing the lack of spirit in Hardee's troops to fatigue from the march of the night previous. Decatur is but six miles from Atlanta, and the detour required to be made was but slight. Beside, those troops had been allowed almost absolute rest the entire day of the 21st...

...Stonewall Jackson made a hard march, in order to turn Pope at Second Manassas, and again to come up in time at Antietam, or Sharpsburg; as also at Chancellorsville, in order to fall upon Hooker's flank and rear. Longstreet likewise made hard marches, prior to the battles of Second Manassas and Gettysburg. The men were often required, under Lee, to perform this kind of service an entire day and night, with only a halt of two hours for sleep, in addition to the ordinary rests allowed on a march; and were then expected to fight two or three consecutive days.

Indeed, in movements of this char- acter, it is rare that a decided advantage is gained over an enemy, without the endurance of great fatigue and privation on the part of the troops. Neither Johnston's nor Sherman's Armies ever experienced the weariness and hardship to which Lee and Jackson frequently subjected their troops—the fruits of which, brought to perfection by their transcendent genius, won for them a fulness of

I am as thoroughly convinced at present as at the hour these events transpired, that had these same forces, at my disposal in these battles, been previously handled according to the Lee and Jackson school, they would have routed the Federal Army, and, in all probability have so profited by Sherman's blunders as to have altered signally the issue of these operations...

 .#moralresponsibility #orangehairedbaboons #weekendreading #2020-06-28
Bradford DeLong
J. Bradford DeLong is Professor of Economics at the University of California at Berkeley and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He was Deputy Assistant US Treasury Secretary during the Clinton Administration, where he was heavily involved in budget and trade negotiations. His role in designing the bailout of Mexico during the 1994 peso crisis placed him at the forefront of Latin America’s transformation into a region of open economies, and cemented his stature as a leading voice in economic-policy debates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *