Lieutenant General John Bell
Army of Tennessee Commander
Aggressive tactics produced disasters for Lieutenant General John Bell Hood as the army commander at the Battles of Franklin and Atlanta. Limited men and resources made aggressive frontal assaults inappropriate for the Confederates. This was in-spite-of the fact that there was extreme political pressure for victories. When General Hood was given command of the forces defending Atlanta, Confederate Adjutant General Samuel Cooper wired him to "be wary no less than bold." General Hood was chosen to command at Atlanta because of his successful history of the use of offensive tactics at the Battles of Gaines Mill, Second Manassas, and Chickamauga.
John Bell Hood was born to a rural doctor in Owingsville, Kentucky on June 29, 1831. His desire for a military career was probably encouraged by his grandfathers. His fraternal grandfather was a veteran of the Indian Wars, and his maternal grandfather was a veteran of the American Revolutionary War. He graduated 44th out of a class of 52 from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1853. Second Lieutenant Hood served with the elite Second Cavalry Regiment commanded by Colonel Albert Sydney Johnston. He was wounded in the left hand by an Indian arrow in a battle with the Comanche in 1857.
Lieutenant Hood resigned his U. S. Army commission when the Civil War began, and he joined the Confederate Army as a lieutenant. He received rapid promotions. He was given command of the Texas Brigade on March 7, 1862 as a Brigadier General. This unit made significant contributions to victories at the Battles of Gaines Mill and Second Manassas. They also saved the Confederate left flank at the Battle of Antitem. For his last action, John Bell Hood was promoted to major general. He fought at the Battle of Fredericksburg. At the Battle of Gettysburg, General Hood lost his left arm while leading an attack. At the Battle of Chickamauga, Hood's division broke the Union line which lead to the Confederate victory. For this action, John Hood was promoted to lieutenant general. He also lost his right leg in the battle. In 1864, General Hood was given command of a corps in General Joseph Johnston's army in Georgia. Displeasure with General Johnston's retreating tactics caused President Jefferson Davis to relieve General Johnston of command. He placed General Hood in command. General Hood counterattacked against General Sherman's Union forces. There were many casualties on both sides, but Atlanta was not saved. In an attempt to relieve the pressure on Georgia, General Hood pushed into Tennessee. General Hood's frontal attack against fortified positions at the Battle of Franklin virtually destroyed his army. He pushed on to Nashville where he was defeated again.
John Bell Hood successfully entered the cotton brokerage and insurance businesses in New Orleans after the Civil War. On April 30, 1868, he married Anna Marie Hennen. They had eleven children. The yellow fever epidemic of 1878-1879 caused closure of the New Orleans Cotton Exchange, and John Bell Hood's business failed. On August 30, 1879, he died of yellow fever. His wife and oldest child also died of yellow fever.
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