Advance and Retreat: Personal Experiences in the United States and Confederate States Armies

Synopsis

John Bell Hood may be the South's most famously unfortunate soldier. With his reckless charges that broke Union defenses at Gaines's Mill, Second Bull Run, South Mountain and Antietam, Hood became the beau ideal of the Southern cavalier. However, his heroics contained the seeds of his own downfall: trusting too much in sheer courage and dash, Hood schemed against General Joseph E. Johnston and supplanted him as commander of the Army of Tennessee in the defense of Atlanta; Hood's suicidal charges at Franklin and Nashville destroyed his army. Hood was, if nothing else, fiercely courageous; he lost both an arm and a leg in combat, and finally had to be strapped to his horse to ride. In Hood's recollections, we find his unwavering loyalty to the Confederate cause and his unshakable admiration for Lee and Davis. We can follow his implacable dislike for his former friend and comrade, Joe Johnston, as well as his penchant for blaming reverses on his subordinates. Like many of the surviving Confederate generals, Hood believed that somehow the Confederacy would have triumphed were it not for the mistakes and negligence of others. In 1879, bankrupt and the father of eleven children, he lost his wife and eldest daughter, and later his own life, to the same yellow fever that had ruined his business. General P. G. T. Beauregard arranged for the publication of Hood's memoirs to benefit Hood's orphaned children.