A Holy War Against Wiley Sword?

sc00175ec3[Hat-Tip to David Woodbury]

This is one of those jaw-dropping stories that makes you wonder about the collective mental stability of our little Civil War community.  Apparently, the John Bell Hood Society is troubled by historian Wiley Sword’s characterization of Hood’s personal, intellectual, and battlefield skills.  To share this disgust the organization decided to take out an ad in Civil War News, which includes a link to a site where you can read their detailed critique harangue against Sword.  They accuse Sword of “engaging in an unholy Jihad against Gen. Hood, filtering from historical records any and all documented evidence that does not support his biased, agenda-based premise.”

I will leave it to you to read through their objections to Sword, but what I find disturbing is their overall tone.  Their choice of language reflects a misunderstanding of what is involved in historical analysis and ultimately reflects poorly on the members of the organization and renders their position as highly suspect.  They have every right to challenge a historical interpretation and anyone who is a serious student of history ought to welcome it.  Ultimately, any objection stands or falls based on whether it exposes an obvious oversight or mistake made during the research and writing process or offers a reasonable alternative interpretation of the same evidence.  Again, you will have to read through their response to Sword and judge for yourself.

Perhaps I am overly sensitive to this kind of language, but as someone who is constantly attacked and even threatened on occasion, I call on the publisher of Civil War News to pull this ad from their next issue if it is slated to appear.  There should be no toleration for this kind of incendiary language.

This attack against Sword is reminiscent of a similar response to Alan Nolan’s Lee Considered, which was first published in 1991.  A quick swing through the website of the John Bell Society reveals a group of worshippers rather than serious students of history and no doubt helps to explain the religious overtone of their response against Sword.  I guess this is what happens to people who are exposed to the study of history at an early age along the lines outlined by John J. Dwyer.  They no longer see history as a discipline that is continually in flux and open to revision as opposed to a holy text that must be defended against all sinners and non-believers.

Update: As a way of making my point here, I encourage all of you to read Victoria Bynum’s review of a new book on the State of Jones. It is an excellent example of what a critical review looks like without resorting to hyperbole and insult.

Civil War Memory has moved to Substack! Don’t miss a single post. Subscribe below.

39 comments… add one
  • Mike Jul 4, 2013 @ 17:18

    Best way to sum up John Hood is as society looks at sports coaches. What’s the win/loss record. Nuff said. Hood’s later life after the war is a sad story in itself. I’m sure losing use of an arm and leg had a significant effect upon his psyche and subsequent command decisions. No questioning his courage just his judgement.

  • Thomas Beach Jun 4, 2013 @ 5:00

    I have read Mr. Hood’s review of Sword’s book via the web site for his own forthcoming book in defense of his relative, General Hood. It’s quite clear to anyone who reads this scathing criticism what the weaknesses are. In every case of taking on Sword’s words, Mr. Hood quotes soldier’s whose loving praise of J.B. Hood are from those who were in the ranks of regiments or perhaps in command of them. I don’t recall the use of a single supportive quote from a staff officer of Hood’s headquarters or from any of his immediate subordinate generals at the corps, division or even the brigade level. Quoting colonels, captains and staff sergeants who’s miopic view was from a regimental front and engagement, or from Confederate officer’s residing in Nashville as prisoners hardly can be taken seriously when the matter of Hood’s conduct at army level is considered. I also noticed the severe avoidance by Stephen Hood to take on any of Cleburne’s voiced concerns and a lack of serious criticism of Hood’s appaling misuse of Forest’s cavalry throughout the entire Tennessee invasion. Additionally, I noticed that nearly all of the quotes from Hood’s supporters were far removed from the events themselves. The passage of time creates distortions and breeds passionate rebuttals for those with an agenda. When considered in total, I think these consistent realities of Hood’s supporters and their use by his descendant, Mr. Hood, reveals a lack of credibility concerning his attack against Sword as characterized here by Mr. Levin.

  • Kevin Apr 24, 2013 @ 5:47

    It is interesting that Levin takes the opportunity, while taking the the Hood Society to task for attacking Sword, to attack Dwyer. I have no dog in either fight, but hypocrisy is hypocrisy.

    • Kevin Levin Apr 24, 2013 @ 6:12

      You mean this Dwyer? I have no idea what point you are trying to make.

  • Joanne Apr 1, 2010 @ 5:29

    This is probably a closed discussion, considering the dates of the comments are almost a year old,
    but I had to weigh in on how amazing Hood brings out the best or worst in Southerners. I did a Civil War show in Richmond last year, and I had a tintype image in a double-cased Union case. One of the images was of a man who looked remarkably like John Bell Hood… civilian clothes, no revenue stamp. The other tintype was of a woman with an ID’d Tennessee Revenue stamp affixed to the back. A man walked by and stopped to look at the image so I started to mention the resemblance to Hood, went on to cite some facts about who Hood was, and at that point the man snarled “I know exactly who he was” and stomped away from my table. I was amazed at how angry he was. This was August of 2009, not 1864.

    • Kevin Levin Apr 1, 2010 @ 5:41

      Welcome to Civil War memory. 😀

      • Joanne Apr 2, 2010 @ 5:47

        I don’t think any other War has the same effect on people. I do a lot of research on the items I carry, and am always pleasantly surprised by the amount of information you can find in internet data banks. It makes research so much easier. You start out looking for a small piece of information and sometimes stumble on really fascinating life stories, or end up on a blog like this. I am really impressed with the knowledge and passion expressed by dealers and collectors alike, and while they see these items as investments, it really isn’t about the money. The people and battles of the Civil War do take a hold on you.

  • M Hightower Jul 8, 2009 @ 19:24

    There seems to be plenty of over zealousness going around. The Hood group’s overzealous tone toward Sword, Sword’s overzealous fact-filtering of historical records and vitriolic treatment of the honor and integrity of a dead man, and your blog’s overzealous call for the Civil War News to censor the Hood group.

    If you feel that strongly exposing errors and omissions by an author and fully footnoting the evidence is “hurling insults” then we will just have to agree to disagree.

    • Kevin Levin Jul 9, 2009 @ 1:16

      This is starting to get just a little silly. Thanks for your comments, but I am going to end this little exchange for now since it’s not going anywhere.

  • M Hightower Jul 8, 2009 @ 17:36

    Messers Simpson and Levin:

    You may be right, but frankly I think Sword hit Hood below the belt in his Courage Under Fire essay much more than the Hood group did with the tone of their article. Tough as they might be on Sword the Hoodites didn’t call him a drug user, a murderer or claim that he sired his children merely to prove to the world that his penis or testicles hadn’t been shot off.

    Nor did they do anything as harmful as Sword inflating Hood’s Tennessee Campaign casualty figures by thousands.

    Maybe Sword will get some sympathy over then article and maybe not. Probably readers will reconsider their opinions-positive and negative- of both Sword and Hood, and that’s not a bad thing.

    • Kevin Levin Jul 8, 2009 @ 17:43


      Hitting below the belt simply means that you do not agree with the historian in question. That is very different from assuming nefarious motives and hurling insults in a public forum. There is no comparison between the two. You may be right that some people may question Sword’s conclusions based on the article and, than again, it may be worth asking how many people will brush it off because of the overly zealous language.

      • Samuel Hood Nov 3, 2011 @ 0:24

        But wasn’t the author assuming nefarious motives and hurling insults in a public forum (his book is available to the public)? There was no documentary evidence for hoods reasons for sireing his children. So either both attacks are okay and good for the advancement of history or both are wrong and should be treated as useless tripe. To use a double standard in judging them because one is a noted author and the other took the insult to his ancestor personally is the worst kind of double standard.

  • Kevin Levin Jul 8, 2009 @ 11:14

    Thanks Brooks.

  • Brooks Simpson Jul 8, 2009 @ 11:08

    There is another way for critics of Sword’s handling of Hood to go about their business, as has been suggested.

    Back in the 1980s I read William McFeely’s biography of Ulysses S. Grant, and I had serious problems with it. I thought he was flat wrong on several critical issues, especially Grant’s views on race and toward the carnage of the battlefield, in what I saw as a rendering of a Grant indifferent to the suffering around him. It helped that I had a great deal of material to counter that interpretation, including documents drawn from collections with which McFeely should have been familiar, given his own notes.

    The result was an article that ran in the March 1987 number of Civil War History. What I did was to demonstrate that McFeely had handled/mishandled or failed to consider evidence that offered a different take on the issues he was exploring.

    What I refused to do was to speculate on McFeely’s motives in writing as he did. My mission was to argue that his interpretation was wrong, not that he was some sort of monster.

    I should note here that McFeely seemed to me to take this all very professionally in my face-to-face encounters with him, unlike several other people interested in Grant who held far more positive views on Grant. In turn, the article was cited in a number of books, and I have to think that was due in part to my tone and approach.

    Having looked at the website under discussion, I think that the critics have a point, and had they crafted their message differently, I think it would have made far more of an impact. They way in which they have gone about this, however, serves only to boomerang on them, in the fashion typical of overheated arguments. I doubt this was their intention. We’ve seen this in cases involving discussions of George McClellan and George Thomas, so this isn’t a “Confederate thing,” either.

  • Kevin Levin Jul 8, 2009 @ 10:46

    M Hightwower,

    Let me say again that I don’t think anyone has suggested that an individual or organization doesn’t have the right to respond in an appropriate manner. I think it’s great that we now have additional tools that allow for increased communication on these and other matters. You can find fierce intellectual debates between historians in plenty of places. No doubt, this is not the first time that Sword has dealt with a disagreement over interpretation, but if I were Sword I wouldn’t give these people the time of day.

    That is not the point. My problem is with the way the society went about this and their choice of words. For example, if you can’t demonstrate that Sword intentionally ignored certain evidence than you have no basis to make the claim one way or the other. That is a very serious charge.

    I will close by stating again that if the author of this essay stuck with laying out the areas of disagreement and announcing it in an appropriate way I would not have written this post or made any fuss whatsoever.

    You are obviously not a fan of Wiley Sword and that is fine. There are plenty of historians that I’ve disagreed with on a host of issues. That is the nature of the discipline.

  • M Hightower Jul 8, 2009 @ 10:26

    I have no problem with any organization running an ad informing the public of the URL of an editorial or informational web site. You have every right to feel it is poor taste, but I am more concerned with the appropriateness of an author compromising academic and journalistic standards and being praised for it because of it is stylishly packaged.

    Like this blog, a web site isn’t truncated or edited at the whim of a magazine editor. I think what the Hood group did was simply using modern media.

    Whether or not Sword intentionally or unintentially concealed historical evidence will never be known, but based upon the Swordexposed essay and other evidence I can’t give him the benefit of the doubt. The essay is full of detailed examples of Sword’s errors and/or omissions. He is too skilled and thorough a researcher to have missed 100% of everything supportive that was ever written by both Confederate and Federal veterans about Hood. Further, if Sword allowed his publisher to corrupt the scholastic credibility of his book by editing out credible and corroborated historical evidence then I have even less respect for Sword.

    I’m not sure the article was intended to be a typical book review. If it was submitted to any of the major magazines I suspect they would have required it be reduced to a fraction of its length.

    I am not impressed with Wiley Sword. Notwithstanding what the “Hood worshippers” contend, he made errors in his first book on Shiloh that had to be corrected in the second edition, and Eric Jacobson’s book on Spring Hill and Franklin found many major factual and statistical errors by Sword.

    Hood’s memoirs has errors, but if you excuse Sword’s errors and omissions as being unintentional, why doesn’t Hood deserve equal consideration? Surely John Bell Hood showed as much personal character and integrity in his life’s endeavors as Wiley Sword has. Also, if Hood’s memoirs are a personal defense, he certainly wasn’t alone. Johnston, Sherman and others were as bad or worse. I don’t have a problem with a 19th century character not wanting to defer his place in history to his enemies and detractors, especially given the environment in the American south in the post war years. If I knew an author like Wiley Sword was going to write my biography, I would darn sure write my own autobiography as quickly as possible.

  • Kevin Levin Jul 8, 2009 @ 7:06

    M Hightower,

    What evidence do you have that Sword “intentionally” concealed evidence that challenges his conclusions? There is a difference between covering something up and not using it or downplaying its veracity for any number of reasons. A number of the claims in the essay were critical of his handling or ignoring of Hood’s memoir, but as someone who has spent a great deal of time with memoirs and other postwar accounts I am sympathetic with Sword. Many are simply self serving and/or shaped by conditions present when the account was written. This is not to suggest that all postwar accounts should be summarily dismissed, but that like all evidence they must be handled with care. In short, I do not consider postwar sources like memoirs to be secondary sources.

    I agree with James Epperson who suggests writing a careful review and sending it to one of the magazines rather than taking an advertisement out. It reflects poorly on the organization.

  • James F. Epperson Jul 8, 2009 @ 7:03

    Mr. Hightower — The appropriate response to published poor history is to publish better history. If Mr. Sword handled his sources poorly (and what you described is, IMO, a poor handling of sources, although it may be more the publisher’s fault) then the thing to do is write and publish a corrective article. An article in one of the several Civil War magazines which defends Hood against Mr. Sword’s claims is much more appropriate than this response. Or, as I suggested previously, write a letter to the editor of each and every such magazine, pointing the readers to the online article.

  • James F. Epperson Jul 8, 2009 @ 6:54

    “Was it the factual content of the JBHHS article that you object to, the tone, or both?” — For me, it was both. Hood’s memoirs have long been considered to be little more than an apologia for his tenure in command of the Army of Tennessee, so it was hardly remarkable for Sword to say what was objected to in the ad. And I frankly find it ridiculous for an historical society to stoop to this kind of thing (taking the ad in Civil War News) in the first place. I have no objection to the longer article whose URL is in the ad—that is the kind of thing one should do in response to what is perceived as errors/unfair treatment elsewhere. (I haven’t fully digested it so I make no judgement as to the claims in the article.) But the JBHHS could have simply posted the article and then written a polite letter to Civil War News (and other publications) pointing folks to the online article. Not only is this more professional, but it is cheaper!

  • M Hightower Jul 8, 2009 @ 6:22

    Mr Epperson:

    It is not Sword’s conclusions that are being criticized, it is the fact that he wrote a nonfiction book and seemingly intentionally concealed historical evidence that did not support his theme. (Seemingly because on numerous occasions he would quote a diarist or memoirist who wrote something critical of Hood, yet concealed comments from the same diarist/memoirist that were supportive of Hood.) This isn’t analysis and commentary, it is deception pure and simple. I think it was Cicero or some other ancient historian who wrote something to the effect that the first duty of historian is to conceal nothing that is true. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to read cherry-picked or fact-filtered “history” because it really isn’t history, regardless of how impressively beautifully written it might be.

    Hood may or may not have been a crappy army general, but to attack the personal honor and integrity of a man who gave half his limbs for his principles, and charge money for it as Sword does, would seem to me more inappropriate than posting an internet expose’ and running an ad in a magazine.

    When defending Hood against the conduct of Sword one is also defending historiography. Call that foolish if you like

  • Thomas Brown Jul 8, 2009 @ 5:26

    Okay, okay! You armchair historians have had a nice bull session; now I would like to see you write something more substantive. Was it the factual content of the JBHHS article that you object to, the tone, or both? My challenge is for you to be specific. I am not interested in a lot of rhetorical beating around the bush.

  • James F. Epperson Jul 8, 2009 @ 4:22

    Kevin does not want his blog to be turned into a forum for a debate on the merits (or not) of this controversy, so I will refrain from making a full response to some of the recent comments. However, it needs to be said that Mr. Sword has done *nothing* beyond what an historian is supposed to do: look at the evidence and sources, draw *his* conclusions (not those of the JBHS), and write it up. The fact that his conclusions are at odds with what the JBHS would like is, perhaps, unfortunate, but there is a long line of historical figures with grievances against modern writers. If ghosts could stand in line, it would be a long one, and Hood’s place might not be near the front! So my advice to the members of the JBHS is: Chill. You are making yourselves (and, by proxy, your chosen historical figure) look foolish.

    • Kevin Levin Jul 8, 2009 @ 5:00


      I actually don’t mind if readers want to debate the merits of the JBHS’s charges as well as Wiley’s own interpretation. My interest in this issue was hopefully made clear in the post and subsequent comments. Unfortunately, I can’t really add much to the discussion as I am not familiar with Wiley’s book or much of the scholarship related to Hood.

  • Kevin Levin Jul 8, 2009 @ 1:19

    M Hightower and Kygirl,

    Thanks to both of you for taking the time to comment on this issue. It is apparent that both of you are invested in this issue. Let me be clear that I am not advocating censorship of any kind. I fully support the JBHS’s right to issue a statement that calls into question the scholarship of Wiley Sword. In fact, such challenges are necessary in the world of historical studies.

    My problem is with the choice of words that the website employs, which I find to be inappropriate. More to the point, they undercut the entire point of a thorough review. If there are problems with Sword’s characterization of Hood than it will be shown based on an alternative reading of the evidence.

    MT-you said: “He insulted Hood as a child, calling him an “ill mannered hellion”, accused him of essentially being a cheater at West Point (”managed to prod and squirm his way through”), called him a murderer (”a fool with a license to kill his own men”), and asserted that Hood sired his children to prove his war wounds hadn’t made him “a lame lover.””

    While you may not agree with Sword’s characterization of Hood at different points this is quite different from employing the language of a “holy war” against the author. As I stated if there is a problem with Sword’s interpretation than make the case for it. I have never read Sword’s biography of Hood and have only read a few of the essays in his book, _Southern Invincibility_ so I do not claim to be an authority on the subject.

    I hope that clarifies my position. Thanks again for adding your voice to this issue.

  • Kygirl Jul 8, 2009 @ 0:27


    My husband and I read this post and were shocked at the call for The Civil War News to pull the ad for http://www.swordexposed.com. The article on that site is fully footnoted and says nothing nearly as insulting and nasty about Wiley Sword as Sword writes about Gen Hood.

    Will the blog advocate that Sword’s books no longer be offered by book sellers and that all copies be removed from libraries because the tone is harsh toward Gen Hood, calling him a drug crazed, rejected lover who murdered of his own soldiers?

    Would the Hood group using the word “vendetta” rather than the common expression “Jihad” to describe Sword’s obsessively relentless attacks on Hood’s personal character make the article acceptable?

    Wiley Sword writes false things about a Confederate commander and conceals historical records from his readers. The Hood Society harshly criticizes Wiley Sword for doing it. Civil War Memory then calls for censorship. As far as I know even Sword and the Hood group aren’t calling for censorship of the other.

    “Sword worshippers” criticizing “Hood worshippers” is fine, but calling on the publisher of a Civil War publication to pull their ad? Talk about extremism.

  • toby Jul 8, 2009 @ 0:09

    My own antipathy to Hood is more or less a product of my admiration for Cleburne.

    On the morning of his death at Franklin, Cleburne seemed to be shaping up as the scapegoat for the Spring Hill fiasco. Certainly, his behaviour in the Franklin attack was out of character, behaving (if I can remember McDonough’s description) “more like a private than a general”.

    Having declared my bias, I suppose you can discount my opinions of Hood. It seems that every Confederate general has a team of fanatical admirers who flame at anyone who maligns their particular hero. Maybe even Gideon Pillow and Leonidas Polk have their own little coterie.

    Come to think of it, I was once in a group discussing the ACW online when Fort Donelson was the topic. I received an e-mail from one of the group warning me to be careful what I said about John B. Floyd as another of the group was a flaming defender of the traitorous ex-Secretary of War. “Asbestos underwear” was the recommendation. Sad, really.

  • M Hightower Jul 7, 2009 @ 22:48

    If the Hood article is in such poor taste that Civil War News is being called upon to pull the ad, what should be done with Sword’s books? Sword attacks Hood’s personal character with a vengeance. He insulted Hood as a child, calling him an “ill mannered hellion”, accused him of essentially being a cheater at West Point (“managed to prod and squirm his way through”), called him a murderer (“a fool with a license to kill his own men”), and asserted that Hood sired his children to prove his war wounds hadn’t made him “a lame lover.” These accusations are much more harsh than anything said about Sword in the article. Should amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Borders, etc. be called upon to pull Sword’s books off their shelves because of their tone?

    Additionally, a new book on Spring Hill and Franklin “For Cause and For Country” revealed many major errors by Sword.

    A JBHHS member met with Sword in 2004 and asked him why all historical quotes and excerpts that were supportive of Hood were omitted from his 1992 book “The Confederacy’s Last Hurrah.” Sword stated that his publisher culled out a large part of his book and all the pro-Hood material was cut out. Yet curiouslySword writes of Hood again in “Courage Under Fire” in 2007 and repeats the same stuff. With both JB Hood and his publisher, Sword seems to always blame people who aren’t around to respond or explain.

    If Sword has made errors of fact and omission, why is he beyond criticism and censure?

    Seems there is as much Sword worshipping going on as Hood worshipping.

    The article details Sword’s errors and omissions and they are fully sourced. Assuming the sources are accurate, what’s the problem? Sword writes very vile and caustic things about Hood (that are factually suspect) and nobody seems to care, yet Sword gets called out in an internet essay and it is an outrage.

    Sword clearly has a hidden bias (as one amazon reviewer said, “An Ax to Grind”) and sells books to a trusting Civil War audience. The Hood group writes a hard-hitting yet apparently factually accurate rebuttal, making clear their agenda, and it is called inappropriate. Seems to me they have as much or more credibility than Sword.

  • Brooks Simpson Jul 7, 2009 @ 17:56

    Trust me when I tell you that this sort of rabid fanaticism/personal hatred of imagined foes is not limited to admirers of Confederate generals, as you’ll find if you ever come across the peculiar devotees of George Henry Thomas.

  • Mike Jul 7, 2009 @ 17:01

    In my work on Cleburne so far this summer, I will not say that Hood was a laudanum addict but some thing changed the man from a Hero to his fellow Texas troops to a man who acted insane at the battle of Franklin and bleed the once solid Army of Tennessee dry.

  • Thomas Brown Jul 7, 2009 @ 15:41

    All of you folks are concentrating too heavily on the final six months of a four year career. If you can open your minds up to some objective thinking, and put in some time doing some really solid research, you will find, perhaps to your dismay, that Hood was actually an excellent battlefield commander. I don’t think anyone in the JBHHS is claiming that he was an excellent army commander; that he was promoted too fast is not being disputed. Wiley Sword has skillfully taken parts of quotations out of context, and used them to support his thesis that Hood was some kind of drug addicted loon. Dig a little deeper people!

    • Kevin Levin Jul 7, 2009 @ 15:46


      Critical analysis of other people’s work is essential to the continued evolution of historical studies, but this goes beyond that. If Sam Hood is responsible for this webpage than he needs to take responsibility for it. Couching the critique in the language of a “holy war” is unacceptable and I once again call on the publishers of Civil War News to cancel this ad if it slated for their next issue. Whether Mr. Hood is “sincere” about the rehabilitation of his ancestor is beside the point as far as I am concerned.


      I am not going to weigh in on this debate because I am not an expert on Hood. My interest in this story has to do with the way in which this organization went about publicizing their differences with Wiley’s conclusions. Perhaps Sword has taken passages out of context and perhaps he has simply arrived at a different conclusion based on the available evidence.

  • Eric Wittenberg Jul 7, 2009 @ 15:39


    The leader of this organization is a fellow named Sam Hood, who is a collateral descendant of the general. I actually know Sam personally and can vouch for the fact that he’s a good guy. Sam is quite dedicated to the rehabilitation of his ancestor’s historical reputation, and he really takes a great deal of issue with Wiley Sword’s portrayal of Hood conduct during the 1864 Tennessee Campaign, including the idea that Hood was a laudanum addict. Sam is very sincere about what he believes and what he does, and I respect that.

    Having said that, I’m not sure that taking out an ad in a national publication announcing that you’re attacking someone is an especially wise thing to do. I also know Wiley Sword, and wouldn’t be surprised if Wiley didn’t take steps to respond.

    This could well turn ugly.


    • David (RANDY) Bryan Jun 24, 2019 @ 17:19

      Stephen “Sam” Hood’s book on John Bell Hood is an extremely well documented refutation of Wiley Sword’s unwarranted denigration of General Hood, whose promotions to superior rank were recommended by none other than Stonewall Jackson, James Longstreet, and Jefferson Davis. One MUST read Sam Hood’s biography to get the truth.

  • Kevin Levin Jul 7, 2009 @ 11:17


    Indeed, it is an excellent example of how many identify with and consume the past.

  • Michael Lynch Jul 7, 2009 @ 8:30

    I seem to recall reading some Amazon reviews of Sword’s book on Franklin and Nashville that were kind of similar–Hood was being treated unfairly, the book was biased, etc. I wonder if some of the folks from this group might have posted them.

    This is a pretty interesting example of historical memory at work. Thanks for the post, Kevin.


  • Kevin Levin Jul 7, 2009 @ 7:22


    I guess I’ve never spent enough time on their websites to get a sense of at least one group’s level of nuttiness.

  • Craig Jul 7, 2009 @ 7:18

    I’m somewhat surprised you had not run across this before. There are several groups which have similar affiliations to western theater CS generals. In particular, there’s a following of Patrick Cleburne which nears “Elvis” levels of devotion. Recall what happened when one historian suggested the Irish-Arkansan had shared more than his canteen with fellow soldiers?

    There’s one author in particular whom never allows a harsh word to be said of Cleburne. My advice is to avoid discussion of Cleburne/Hood/Forrest (you pick) unless you have cleared the audience.

  • toby Jul 7, 2009 @ 2:39

    I think Bruce Catton called the replacement of Johnston by Hood as the “worst executive decision of the war”.

    While Hood may deserve more sympathy than his worst detractors give him, he clearly was a disaster in command of an army. He bled his army white, then set off on his hopeless foray into Tennessee. He was not even straight about the army’s losses to Jefferson Davis, who had appointed him to command.

    Now, Johnston probably needed to be replaced as he was become completely dominated by Sherman. The fact that Hardee did not accept the job signifies that the high command of the Army of Tennessee was messed up since Bragg’s time. And that points a finger of blame back to Davis. Lee did not give a ringing endorsement to Hood’s appointment, something that should have made Davis pause.

  • Matthew Donnelly Jul 6, 2009 @ 17:04

    It sounds like the Hood Society needs a desperate dose of reality. Even Hood’s contemporaries thought little of him. Robert E. Lee told Davis his only good quality as an army commander was boldness, and nothing else. IIRC, Otis Howard was happy Hood was elevated to army command because of his well-known (from the old army) lack of mental ability. The disastrous results of the Atlanta and Tennessee offensives underscore this.
    Hood really is one of the best embodiments of the Peter Principle: an excellent brigade and division commander becoming a conniving and backstabbing corps commander, finally becoming a poor army commander.
    I’ll even pass on the 500-pound gorilla in the room, as I am starting to believe that Hood the dope addict is a little bit like Grant the drunk – too much unsubstantiated to have the label stick.
    Maybe it’s the Yankee in me, but I can’t see the point of having a society to celebrate failure (Hood, Pickett, etc. ). The Hood Society people need to accept their hero’s ultimate failure, rather than toss mud at the messenger.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.