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2 years ago#1
Taylor
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When President Davis replaced General Joe Johnston, commander of the AOT, with John Bell Hood, in July, 1864, it was initially an improvement to the Confederate army, as Hood was known to be a fighter and from July – September, 1864, General Hood stood up to Union commanders, including Sherman. But Hood lost thousands of men which he could ill afford, especially with the severe blow that was to come that fall in Franklin. For General Lee and the Confederate cause, Franklin was the last hurrah.

Patrick Cleburne was aware by late 1863 that the Confederacy was losing the war and despite his successes at Shiloh, Richmond, Perryville, Stones River, and Chickamauga, this courageous and outstanding general knew that the South could not continue to sustain manpower and resources. The re-election of Abraham Lincoln on November 8, 1864, did not bode well for the Confederate cause because now the North would continue to fight with better people and resources/material. All the North had to do was virtually out last the starving and depleted CSA, battle by battle. This was not the morale booster that the CSA needed by November, 1864, nor one that sat well with General Cleburne.

On the morning of November 30, 1864, Patrick Cleburne marched towards Franklin, Tennessee, angry that General John Hood was blaming him and others for the Confederate failure at Spring Hill, the day before. Later that afternoon, General Hood requested a conference with his commanders at the home of William Harrison, which stood approximately ½ mile south of Winstead Hill. General Hood asked for their opinions on a frontal attack against the Federal works and Major Generals Nathan B. Forrest, Benjamin F. Cheatham, and Patrick Cleburne all advised against an attack over open fields opposite Federal entrenchments and artillery. Regardless, Hood ordered the assault and his commanders knew full well that they were about to take part in a tragic bloodbath.

General Hood’s ultimate goal was to re-take Nashville, which had fallen to the Union in February, 1862. General Hood believed that this would revitalise the Confederate cause and bring in thousands of new Confederate soldiers throughout the South, especially Tennessee. Hood believed that General George Thomas only had about 11,000 troops, compared to his 23,000 troops. But on his way to Nashville, first was the catastrophe that took place at Spring Hill.

Hood’s forces were engaged at Spring Hill by U.S. General John Schofield and although neither side lost a lot of men, Schofield slipped away with his army before sunrise on November 30th, thus depriving Hood of an opportunity to deplete the Union army. By the time Hood learned that Schofield’s army had escaped, he pursued them to just outside of Franklin, but by 1:00 that afternoon, the Union army was firmly entrenched. Federal forces were anchored in a 2 mile arch around the horse shoe shape of the Harpeth River at Franklin, Tenn.

Hood gathered his trusted subordinate generals in the Harrison House behind Winstead Hill, and announced his intention of the Confederate army making the 2 mile open ground march through the Harpeth Valley as it headed north toward the Union line at Franklin. Hood was sure that his men would break through several points in the Union line and eventually drive Schofield’s army into the Harpeth. Though Hood’s definitive goal was Nashville, he believed that the opportunity to drive the Federals into the Harpeth would be victorious and make up for the Spring Hill disaster. Not a single general agreed with Hood’s assault. It was viewed as “unwise” at best, and suicidal at “worse.” Hood’s response was that "he would rather fight a Federal force that had only a few hours to build defenses," instead of Nashville where "they have been strengthening themselves for three years."

The charge would be made with no support from Confederate artillery, across nearly 2 miles of open ground, against a Union army of approximately 20,000 troops, securely protected by earthworks and artillery support provided by batteries across the river in Union Fort Granger, among other battery support. Pickett’s Charge comes to mind, without the benefit of artillery.

At 4:00 p.m. on November 30th, the entire Confederate army lined up east-west across the Harpeth Valley with Winstead and Breezy Hill , intersected by Columbia Pike, being the centre. Within 45 min, the Confederate assault was in full force. Initially the Confederates seemed to gain the upper hand as they overwhelmed Union brigades out in front, about a mile from the main Union line. The Union soldiers ran for their lives...the Confederates were ordered to shoot them in the back.

For the next few hours, from five until nine, approximately 40,000 Americans fought a horrific battle that has been considered the five bloodiest hours of the ACW. The Union army had the advantage of defensive earthworks and artillery support, thus the cards were stacked against the Confederates from the onset.

The Confederate army lost 6,500 of the 23,000 engaged –1,750 killed outright, the rest wounded, missing, or captured. The Union army had 2,500 casualties with less than 200 dead.

The loss of General Cleburne, along with fourteen other generals, was a plunder to the Confederate army and one that further crippled their cause.

I have always admired General Cleburne but in studying the Battle of Franklin it became clear just what a superior strategic and tactical commander he was. It’s no wonder that Patrick Cleburne earned the nickname of “Stonewall of the West” by President Davis, and that General Lee referred to this brilliant commander as “a meteor shining from a clouded sky.”

Patrick Cleburne died for his revered Confederate cause, loved by his men, and respected by all.

But looking in depth at just how disadvantaged the Confederates were at Franklin, along with the defensive breastworks set in place, Union weaponry caused absolute destruction, both long and short range. Three inch rifled guns, one of the first defenses encountered, were the artillery pieces located in Fort Granger. They were positioned within the earthen fort atop Figures Hill. Once Walthalls men emerged from the relative protection of the McGavock Woods, Union gunners unleashed a devastating fire upon the advancing Confederates.

Closer to the main line would be the powerful blasts of 12-pounder Napoleon smoothbore cannon situated in embrasures near the Cotton Gin and the Lewisburg Pike. And at under 400 yards, most of the Union guns switched over to deadly canister shells – short range killers. Some infantryman carried the 15 shot Henry repeating rifle – a trained rifleman could fire 28 rounds in a minute, rather than the standard Springfield or Enfield rifle of 2 – 3 rounds per minute.

Along the Union main line, Federal defenders had placed a thorn filled line of Osage orange abatis. These intertwined branches had been placed from their far left near the Harpeth River to within 300 ft. of the Cotton Gin, to slow the advance of the Confederate attackers. The abatis broke down unit cohesion since it was nearly impossible for large bodies of troops to pass through this obstacle together. Many men were left torn and mangled as they hung partially suspended in the thorny branches.

The great offensive determination of the Confederate army of the Tennessee met the grim realities of seasoned veteran defenders, fighting from behind well-built entrenchments, and deadly artillery. The Confederates didn’t stand a chance.

Two weeks after the defeat at Franklin, Hood’s AOT engaged George H. Thomas’s Union armies at Nashville on December 15 – 16. Hood was outnumbered 2 – 1 at Nashville and though his men fought valiantly, the outcome was no better than Franklin. Hood lost over 6,000 men at Nashville and the AOT was all but obliterated in just 2 weeks. Hood would retreat back into Alabama in late December and would give command of his men over to General Dick Taylor in mid January.

Hood’s objective to recapture Nashville was lost and his army was destroyed as an effective fighting force.

Thank you Andrew for offering the challenge of studying a battle in detail. I’ve enjoyed learning more about Franklin and why it was considered the ‘last hurrah’ for the Confederacy. To be sure, Hood’s recklessness cost him dearly, and he was out maneuvered by the defensive strategy of the Union army and their superior weaponry. They were well entrenched at Franklin and had every advantage. Sending his men across 2 miles of open terrain, especially with no artillery back-up, was sheer lunacy on the part of General Hood.

With the re-election of Abraham Lincoln just weeks before Franklin, and the defeat of the AOT at Franklin/Nashville, it was clear that the Confederate cause had run its course, at least in the western theatre, and Robert E. Lee would not be able to count on assistance or support from Confederate victories or armies west of Richmond, any longer. And a few short months later, it was finally over.

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2 years ago#2
macreverie
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Taylor,

95% of your post is spot on but I'm gonna have to strongly disagree with your initial statement:


"When President Davis replaced General Joe Johnston, commander of the AOT, with John Bell Hood, in July, 1864, it was initially an improvement to the Confederate army"


Joe Johnston's removal and Hoods appointment was a disaster from the first day. Hood tried to carry out Johnston's plan to cut Sherman's army in two at Peachtree creek. He had some initial success but in the end the assault resulted in nothing but thousands more causalities. I believe this attack failed for one reason and that is most of the rank and file of the Army of Tennessee had little if any of the confidence in Hood that they had in their beloved Uncle Joe. Sam Watkins stated that a third of the army deserted when they found out Joe had been replaced. Sam may have been exaggerating somewhat but this is a good measure of what the CS soldiers thought of their chances under Hood.
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2 years ago#3
macreverie
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I had never heard about the Mock Orange hedge at Franklin. Sam Watkins mentioned having to attack through one at Jonesboro, Georgia. He quipped that they suffered more causalities from the thorns than they did from yankee bullets.

It is interesting to note that Osage Orange (aka Mock orange and about a dozen other names including the French Bois d'arc, or "wood of the bow) is not native to Tennessee or to Georgia. It's native range is northern Texas, Western Arkansas and Southern Missouri and Oklahoma. It was widely planted in the South before the advent of barbed wire as a sort of "living fence"

As widespread as it had become by the WBTS there must have been a thriving trade in Osage Orange balls

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2 years ago#4
dylan
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First, a brief summary in case there are any teens who are trying at the last possible moment to make a report for school.

The Battle of Franklin was fought on November 30, 1864 in Franklin, Tennessee; in Williamson County. John Bell Hood's Army of Tennessee(around 33,000 men) faced off with John M. Schofield's Army of the Ohio and the Cumberland (around 30,000 men). Often cited as "the bloodiest five hours" during the American Civil War, the Confederates lost between 6,500 - 7,500 men, with 1,750 dead. The Federals lost around 2,000 - 2,500 men, with just 250 or less killed. Hood lost 30,000 men in just six months (from July 1864 until December 15). The Battle of Franklin was fought mostly at night. Several Confederate Generals were killed, including Patrick Cleburne, and the Rebels also lost 50% of their field commanders. Hood would limp into Nashville two weeks later before suffering his final defeat before retreating to Pulaski in mid December. Hundreds of wounded Confederate soldiers were taken to the John and Carrie McGavock home -Carnton - after the battle. She became known as the Widow of the South. The McGavock's eventually donated two acres to inter the Confederate dead. Almost 1,500 Rebel soldiers are buried in McGavock Confederate Cemetery, just in view of the Carnton house.


Gen. John Bell Hood had made his reputation with the ANV, but at a price; he lost the use of his left
arm at Gettsyburg, & lost his right leg at Chickamauga. The result: he could ride only if he was tied to
his saddle. He masked his pain with laudanum, which affected his judgment. In the South such injuries were viewed with much respect, but the ambitious general exploited his reputation/appearance to gain
command of one of the Confederacy’s greatest armies: the Army of Tennessee. He was the youngest (age 33)to have such a command, but he wasn’t suited for it. Jefferson Davis, whose noted ability to micro-manage didn’t help him either.

Hood abandoned Atlanta to Sherman’s army after about 4 mo. of constant campaigning in early Sept. and stopped his exhausted army at Palmetto Station, about 25 miles southwest of the city. Here, on Sept. 23rd, Davis reviewed the 40,000 troops, talked with Hood. He told him to temper his impetuousness with prudence. (In the 4 wks. he directed the Georgia defense, Hood had lost almost a quarter of his army. Davis urged Hood to harass Sherman’s supply line & draw the Feds out of Ga. Davis advised Hood to venture into Tenn. (This was Davis’ 3rd visit in as many years to the Army of Tenn. & both those earlier visits ended in battlefield failures.) Davis always responded to criticisms of the army commander by reassigning the critics. This time Lt. Gen. William Hardee, a corps commander, was reassigned. His replacement was Benjamin F. Cheatham, a good fighter but not a great commander; he’d never conducted a battle before.

Also, Davis limited Hood’s abilities by appointing a departmental commander (P.G.T. Beauregard) to oversee & coordinate the armies in the western theater. This was done mostly because he was the only one available other than Joseph E. Johnson, whom Davis disliked more than Beauregard. (Actually, Beauregard had almost no authority or power. By the time he took the post, Hood was already moving to attempt the strategy the president laid down.)

Disaster came in Davis’ love of speech. On his return to Richmond he made several speeches promising to reverse the Georgia setbacks. He even told exactly how Hood would do it; thus printed up in several Southern newspapers & reprinted in Northern newspapers gave U.S. Grant and Sherman blueprints of Hood’s plan. Sherman even said, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed”. It was the heighth of stupidity on Davis’ part.

Hood’s first attacks were more like raids, which puzzled Sherman at first. By attacking the Federal supply line between Chattanooga & Atlanta, Hood would thrust one way, pull back, etc. Soon Sherman realized there WAS no design, no strategy to Hood’s actions.

Against Sherman, Hood had hoped to draw him onto a battlefield of his choosing, then implement the flanking tactics he had seen work so successfully earlier in the war by R.E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Hood was no Lee. Yet, because of his talk with Davis, he’d determined to march through Tenn., seize Kentucky, then march to join Lee at Petersburg and defeat Grant. Though a grand scheme, he had neither the men or materials to execute it.

Sherman had his own plan: to march to the sea then link up with Grant and defeat Lee’s army at Petersburg. To handle Hood now though, he sent George H. Thomas to Tenn. with almost 27,000 men—John Schofield’s & David Stanley’s infantry corps and James Wilson’s cavalry. (More troops would come later to the Volunteer State to increase Thomas’ command to a huge force. Thomas went to Nashville at once to coordinate the effort; Schofield & Stanley moved to Pulaski, some 75 miles south of Nashville, to block Hood’s approach from Alabama.

The Army of Tenn. began to march along 3 separate routes. So, on Nov. 21 with little more than 30,000 men—3 corps led by Stephen D. Lee, Alexander Stewart & Cheatham, Hood’s plan began. Nathan Bedford Forrest brought cavalry support from 10,000 horsemen.

Scouts reported Hood’s movements to Thomas in Nashville & he ordered Schofield and Stanley to buy time until reenforcements arrived, by falling back to Columbia. Both North and South armies were hampered by cold, wet weather and some snow.

Now began the race toward Nashville. Nov. 23rd Schofield feared Hood was closer to Columbia then he;but his men reached Columbia on Nov. 24 & hunkered down before Confederates appeared. As Southerners deployed around Columbia on Nov. 27, Schofield pulled back & across Duck River, destroying the bridges.

Hood was very encouraged to see Schofield retreating, but he was wrong.. Schofield’s army stayed above Duck River, awaiting attack. This would be a fighting withdrawal so the army’s supply train & most of the artillery were sent north. During Nov. 29 a.m., 800 wagons & 40 guns were spread out for several miles between the 2 divisions & progressed northward. This movement changed quickly when firing was heard coming from Spring Hill. Forrest had reached Spring Hill by late morning & clashed
with about 200 of Wilson’s horse soldiers. Fighting was quick/one-sided. Though Wilson was a talented Union cavalry commander, he hadn’t shown his mettle so far in supporting Schofield.

Federal brigades moved quickly to support the two-regiment garrison in the town. Their superior numbers turned back the Confederate horsemen, who were also running low on ammo. Even so, Forrest managed to keep Stanley’s men occupied, forcing them to throw up makeshift breastworks.

Hood got to Spring Hill midafternoon, but issued conflicting orders to Cheatham and 2 of his divisional commanders. Cheatham believed that Spring Hill was the objective. Cleburne and Wm. B. Bate were ordered to block the nearby thoroughfare that Schofield’s army would be using. Hood had been in the saddle since 3 a.m. He retired to one of the grand homes nearby and stayed there until next morning, leaving Cheatham in charge. With Hood’s physical condition, he was probably in too much pain to know how tired he was & laudanum would help.

Cleburne skirmished with a Union brigade southeast of the town. He was turned back by heavy artillery. He hated when Cheatham ordered him to wait for the arrival of Stewart’s corps. The latter, however, was not as close as Cheatham thought, having taken a wrong road. All Confederate efforts stalled for the night.

Many questions arise here about Hood’s expectations. Almost ALL accounts of the misstep at Spring Hill are jaded by the participants’ desire to avoid culpability. No one seems to know if Hood hoped to reach Nashville before Schofield or if he planned to pin Schofield somewhere and destroy his army. What’s known is this: when Hood went to bed early that night in Spring Hill, he believed Schofield’s main force was still far to the south, and he probably anticipated battle the next day. Because he failed to tell his plans to his corps commanders, they blundered that night by leaving the Columbia pike wide open.

Schofield arrived 7 p.m. that night in Spring Hill, ahead of his army. The Union commander had begun to pull out from Duck River trenches as soon as he heard of the action at Spring Hill, but the Feds didn’t completely abandon the line. Units withdrew quietly, & a small rear guard remained to maintain appearances.

Federals marching made slow progress in the dark, but sometime after midnight they saw campfires & the sounds of their comrades who’d reached Spring Hill earlier that afternoon & were reinforcing the breastworks thrown up that day. Schofield’s army marched silently past the Southerners,encamped about a quarter mile off the roadway. Sometimes the Confederates fired an answer to some noise. Others who’d heard them thought they were a late-arriving division, possibly Lee’s, which had been in position at Columbia throughout the day. No one checked.

Schofield and Stanley were shocked at the seeming indifference the Southerners showed to the Union army’s presence. They agreed to move on, even daring to bring up the 800 wagons and ambulances and artillery & thus were gone by daybreak.

Hood, when learning of Schofield’s escape was livid. He dressed down his commanders over breakfast. In his mind Cheatham, Cleburne, & John C. Brown were at fault. Others have since looked at the embarrassment of the Army of Tennessee and place the blame entirely on Hood. But on Nov. 30, 1864, the only assessment that mattered was Hood’s.

Patrick Cleburne had first made his mark at Shiloh; his commanders had nothing but praise for his actions under fire. He might have been made a corps commander had he not encouraged the idea of freeing any slaves who would fight for the South. He’d not been there when Hood was tossing blame at everyone but he was very much offended that his commander chose to blame him for Schofield’s escape; he intended to look into the matter after the end of this present campaign.

Schofield stopped his army at Franklin, 12 miles above Spring Hill, hoping to find pontoons waiting for him at the Harpeth River, but none had arrived. He put some men to work improvising bridges across the river on the bridgehead remains of 3 earlier spans. Other troops set about reviving a line of entrenchments from an April 10, 1863 engagement & rejuvenating earthworks on the opposite bank of the river. When the telegraph was restored with Thomas in Nashville, Schofield indicated that he planned to get his army across the Harpeth right after dark. In meantime, his men needed to gather themselves after their nightlong march.

Franklin sits in a curve of the Harpeth River. The line of works invested by Schofield’s men was anchored to the river on both sides & formed an arc south of the city. The Union commander saw that the position could be outflanked if his opponent forded the river, so he made no plans to stay there. Still he positioned his men so he could withdraw without being completely vulnerable & installed artillery in Ft. Granger to protect his left flank.
Bisecting the line south of the city was the Columbus pike. The defensive works were left open at the roadway, but a 2nd line of breastworks was ***** to buttress the 1st; and marking the center of the line were several buildings of the Fountain Branch Carter family farm just inside the works; the main house was to the west of the pike and a large cotton gin building was to the east; The full line measured close to a mile and a half & sheltered roughly 17,000 troops.

Two brigades from the rear guard were deployed on the heights to the front of the earthworks, one on Winstead Hill & the other on Breezy Hill. From there they saw Hood’s army approach in two columns. At 2 p.m. the Federals on these 2 hills fell back to a smaller hill, known as Privet Hill and Merrill’s Hill, roughly halfway toward the main line. There they prepared to skirmish & fall back.

Cheatham’s and Stewart’s corps had taken most of the day to march to Franklin; Lee’s corps remained in Spring Hill but was to move up later. Again Hood moved in “light marching order,” (that is, without the encumbrance of all his wagons and artillery). Along the way the men’s spirits were lifted by the sight of discarded Federal equipment and abandoned wagons. Shortly after arriving near Franklin Hood quickly surveyed Schofield’s position from Winstead Hill, & called a council of war. He ordered an immediate assault on the Federal line. Head-on.

It was an all-or-nothing-gamble; Hood had seen Lee trust his fortune to fate on more than one occasion. The setting at Gaine’s Mill in June 1862 might have come to mind. Hood himself had led a frontal assault across open ground against Federal entrenchments. The breakthrough he achieved opened the way for the string of successes known as the Seven Days’ battles and marked Lee’s ascendancy. Hood now saw that he faced a similar scenario.

Stewart’s corps, supported by Forrest, would advance along the Lewisburg pike, which paralleled the river, and strike the left side of the Union line. Most of Cheatham’s corps would use the Columbia pike to hit the center of the Federal earthworks. The remainder of Cheatham’s men would follow the Carter’s Creek pike into the right side of the defenders. Cheatham, Cleburne & Brown—the 3 commanders whom Hood himself blamed for the failure at Spring Hill—would be thrown into the area most likely to be the worst fighting, where the Union line was strongest and the ground entirely open.

Forrest was the first to object, arguing that his cavalry with a single infantry division could flank Schofield’s army by crossing the river. Cleburne & Cheatham objected as well. Hood listened to none of them.
Addressing Cleburne, the Confederate commander specifically ordered that his men “not fire a gun until you run the Yankee skirmish line from behind the first line of works.” That was what he’d done at Gaine’s Mill. This army, Hood declared, had hidden so long behind the safety of breastworks during the fighting in Ga. that it had forgotten how to fight.

At 2:45 p.m. the lines of battle were formed and 18,000 infantrymen awaited the order to advance. The only Confederate artillery on the field were two six-gun batteries. As the men stood in the waning afternoon, it was clear that the weight of the attack would be focused on the left side of the Union line—4 infantry divisions and 2 cavalry divisions took position to the east of the Columbia pike. Against the Yankee right, Hood allotted 2 divisions of infantry and a single divison of cavalry.

The advance began with parade-ground precision. Both Union brigades at Privet Hill fell back again, roughly halfway to the main line. No one within the Federal line had seen a battle in the offing.
Most imagined that, if anything, they were more likely to be harassed by Forrest’s cavalry than assaulted by Hood’s infantry. Confident of that, the majority of the Federal soldiers behind the earthworks took little notice of the Confederate movement but focused on their first hot meal in days & pondered where to rest afterward. A sizable number were on the verge of fulfilling their term of enlistment, so the prospect of fighting was far from their minds. To these men, Nashville was but the final step toward home.

Cleburne ventured to the vacated Privet Hill & borrowed a sniper’s telescopic sight to look over the Federal position. “They have 3 lines of works,” he said aloud. “and they are all completed.” Seeing all this, he altered his battle formation, advancing his men in columns rather than in ranks abreast. Such positioning would expose as few men as possible to enemy fire; they would deploy when they were within small arms’ range.

They needed to move into position across the open field, which would take about 1 hour.. For the 1st time in combat the veteran of the Army of Tennessee could see the whole field of action before them. The spectacle of gaunt men in tattered clothes, threadbare uniforms, some wearing captured Federal clothing, some lacking coats or shoes or both, resembled an image of a ragged and dirty band of robbers more than an army preparing to attack.

Hood’s command post at Winstead Hill gave the signal to attack, the wave of a flag. As soon as it was given, a regimental band began playing “Dixie”, another offered up “The Bonnie Blue Flag”. The music was offset, an onlooker recalled, by the tramp of marching feet that rolled across the ground like the “low, hollow rumble of distant thunder.”

The approaching gray wall jolted the Federals into action. A section of 3-inch ordnance rifles opened up on the advancing ranks. Confederate sharpshooters replied, striking several gunners manning the weapons with the 2 brigades at the forward Union position. These 4,000 men were largely in the open and highly susceptible, but they had orders to hold their position. Coming straight toward them were 8,000 Southerners from Cleburne’s and Brown’s divisions, advancing along the Columbia pike.

Confederate guns opened on the forward Union position, and the Federal battery commanders there limbered their field pieces & fled to the main Union line. When Cleburne’s men were within 400 yards, they shifted into two lines of battle and ran forward with a shout of the bone-chilling Rebel Yell. The guns from Fort Granger opened on the Southerners as they charged, and the front-line Union brigades unleashed a volley when the Confederates were 100 yds away. Momentarily staggered, Cleburne’s men fell upon the Federals in hand to hand fighting. These Union troops had no choice but to fall back, fleeing for the safety of the breastworks. The Southerners now loosed a volley of their own then ran after the withdrawing Federals.
A human mass, wedge-shaped, rushed toward the Union line. Cleburne’s and Brown’s men mixing with the Federal infantry. At some point the shout was sounded for the Southerners to follow the fleeing Northerners into the works. The men behind the barricades held their fire, fearful of shooting down their own comrades. The situation was desperate. Finally, the units in the line fired as one, and gunners unleashed a storm of canister. The center position along the Columbia pike fell under a cloud of powder smoke, & for the moment the Confederates opened a 200 yd. gap in the Union line.

As soon as Schofield heard the firing and grasped that hood was attacking along his front, he urged his quartermasters to get his wagons rolling toward Nashville—minus the ammunition wagons and ambulances. Stanley was with him, and the 2 men separated, with Schofield going to Ft. Granger to coordinate the battle, which he anticipated would include an attack across the river. Stanley riding to the entrenchment below the city. The battle was upon them and, at the same time, out of their hands.

Earlier in the afternoon, Union Col. Emerson Opdycke’s brigade had found refuge behind the Carter house. Now they charged without ordersinto the oncoming Confederates in a full-scale melee. To the Federals advantage, Cleburne’s and Brown’s men had been scattered and tired during the lengthy run from the advance post to the main line. Opdycke’s men persevered through sheer weight of numbers.

“I never see[n] men fight…more determined than the Rebs did,” an Illinois sergeant later noted. “And I never see[n] enemy men fall so fast.” the number of men crowded into the confined space around the Carter house created ranks 4 and 5 deep. Weapons were fired then passed to the rear for reloading and passed forward again.

Finally the Southerners fell back to the outside of the entrenchments. Both sides fired so rapidly that their ammunition was nearly exhausted. The dead and wounded were searched for cartridges while, among the Union ranks, others went after ammunition wagons. Those Confederate brigades trailing the first to fall on the Union line now caught up with their comrades at the breastworks.

So many Southerners were taken prisoner during this fighting that, as they were moved to the rear, Stanley feared his line had collapsed. Powder smoke obscured visibility that one could see no further than 50 yds. On horseback, Stanley presented a conspicuous target. His horse was shot down, and as he fell, Stanley was hit in the neck. He refused to seek medical treatment until he had organized the defenders around the Carter house and the cotton gin building.

Brown, Cleburne & Stewart occupied the periphery of the works. As additional men advanced and crowded on top of those who were still alive there, they would launch additional pushes. Of the 18 Confederate brigades that fought at Franklin, 7 fought there.

The Carter garden was hotly contested territory. One Federal officer counted as many as 13 Confederate charges across this small patch. Part of the attraction was a set of 6 12-pounder Napoleons. So many gunners were shot down while they worked the guns that, after a while, anyone in blue took on the tasks of those who were felled. Later reports claimed that these weapons unleashed 169 blasts of canister at nearly point-blank range.

This fight died down after a half-hour then resumed with a fury. Men on both sides resorted to holding their rifles up over the top of the breastworks and firing blindly. By 5 p.m. the Union line stabilized around the Carter property. On the eastern side of the pike, near the cotton gin building, the defensive line was formed in such a way as to give the Federals an angle from which to open an enfilading fire on the approaching Confederates.

Confederate Gen. Otho F. Strahl , in a ditch 50 yds. west of the Columbia pike, was shot while passing reloaded weapons to the firing line. He was hit twice again as he was being carried to the rear. The 2nd of these wounds was fatal.

So many general officers and unit commanders were killed or wounded during this frontal assault that command fell to captains and lieutenants. More important, no unit commanders were able to send word of their situation to the rear, thus neither Hood nor Cheatham knew what was happening at the front. Neither man attempted to communicate with the other. Both could see the flashes of artillery and rifle fire, but they knew almost nothing of what it meant.

As darkness fell, the situation around the Carter farm had become a stalemate. The Southerners held the center of the main earthworks, and the Northerners occupied the line west of the Columbia pike.
The situation at the left side of the Union line was much different, even though only 5000 Federals faced more than 15000 Confederates. Here the guns of Ft. Granger proved highly effective against the flank of Stewart’s corps. At this segment of the line the onrushing Southerners also had to contend with a barrier of osage orange, highly prickly underbrush, which the Union troops had improvised as abatis. Further staggering the attackers was the fact that many defenders exercised 16-shot Henry repeating rifles.
Confederate penetration was greatest near the Carter cotton gin, where the main elements of Cleburne’s division overran a Union battery & seized loaded guns. They could not work them against the Federals, however, because the gunners had been thoughtfully not left behind any friction primers. By the time some ingenious Southerners devised a way to fire the guns, they were forced back when Union reserves rushed up. Many of these arriving Federals brandished 5-shot Colt revolving rifles.

During the fighting, Confederate Gen. Hiram Granbury was urging his Texas brigade into action when he was shot just below his right eye. He never knew what hit him.
Patrick Cleburne had already lost 2 horses in the fighting. At a point some 80 yds. in front of the Federal line he was trying to swing the weight of his brigade toward the gin. At approximately 40 yds. from the main works, he was fighting more like a private than a divisional commander when he disappeared into a cloud of powder smoke. This most favored son of the army was struck by a single bullet just below and left of his heart.

Brig. Gen. John Adams’ brigade was entangled in the osage abatis as he tried to guide his men toward the gin. Adams was on horseback and seemingly living a charmed life. He turned his horse toward the works and tried to leap the parapet, but both horse and rider were struck. The animal crashed atop the earthwork, and Adams, hit by 7 to 9 bullets, fell into the inner ditch. He lived long enough to ask for a swallow of water, to thank a soldier for making a small pillow and to ask to be returned to his lines. His last words were, “It is the fate of a soldier to die for his country.”

Of the 10 Confederate brigades arrayed here, elements of them continued to focus their efforts on the cotton gin building. The recaptured Union guns were emptied repeatedly into their ranks. At one point the bodies in front of the two guns were piled so high they obstructed the muzzles. Still the Southerners broke through in hand to hand fighting.

Gunners switched to double/ triple canister. A young Confederate, believed to be a drummer boy from Missouri, ran up to the guns and jammed a plank of wood into one of the gun barrels to prevent its use. The weapon was discharged, and the boy was no more.

Any Confederates who made it over the parapet were either shot, bayoneted, or captured. Lacking ammo, many were forced to surrender. The fighting around the gin lasted about 40 minutes.

On the Union right, west of the Carter house, the scene began far less chaotically. Bate’s command advanced along the Carter’s Creek pike, but because the line arced toward the river, these Southerners had at least a halfmile to three quarters of a mile farther to cross than the other attacking columns. They weren’t in a position until after sunset & then powder smoke from the other sectors of the fighting drifted here, obscuring what little visibility there was. When the gusts cleared away, the Federals found Bate’s men 40 yds in front of them and just as surprised as they were to encounter each other.

There were far more Union troops here than Bate expected, although some of the Federals were green troops who fled when the fighting began. Those who remained encountered ammunition shortages; when an ammunition wagon was brought up, their hesitancy changed to determination.

Confederate Brig. Gen. States Rights Gist’ horse was shot out from under him. Gist sprinted toward a locust grove just to the west of the Carter house, but he was shot down after only a few steps.
His men went on into the grove and into the Union line in hand to hand combat. They were supported by Gen. John c. Carter’s brigade, but their losses were heavy.

Carter was shot as he rode recklessly before his men. He slumped in his saddle and was helped down by an aide. Some men managed to carry him back, but his wounds were mortal and he died 10 days later. His troops were too shot up to accomplish anything; they occupied the ditches that fronted the earthworks. Among the casualties there was Capt. “Tod” Carter; he fell mortally wounded just 500 feet from the house in which he grew up.

Confederate divisional commander John C. Brown learned he had no support on his left flank and was then badly wounded himself and carried to the rear. The attack stalled. Federal artillery was diverted to the area and reinforcements strengthened the line. The southerners had no choice but to fall back. Across the river, Forrest was thrown back. Hood’s assault ended.

Twenty-four Confederate generals were exposed to fire on the Franklin plain. Six were killed or mortally wounded. Four were seriously wounded, and one was captured. 54 regimental commanders were either killed, wounded, or captured.

Lee’s corps arrived on the scene shortly after the fighting began at 4 p.m. He later insisted that, had he known of Hood’s plan, he would have moved up sooner. Hood ordered him to be ready to support Cheatham’s attack since his first reports from the battle were only that Cheatham had encountered “stubborn resistance”. Lee would put his division into the fight only if such deployment proved necessary.

Lee met with Cheatham closer to the front, grasped the direness of the situation, and made plans for a night attack although he was not sure of where he was supposed to attack. In the last formal assault of the battle, his first division advanced around 9 p.m. over the dead and wounded in the field. About 30 yards in front of the main Union line, the whole front lit up with a volley from the Federals. The Confederates were caught between the Yanks in front and their own artillery behind. They could do nothing but hug the earth and finally fall back.

The rest of the night was tense, the smallest noise brought a flurry of shots.

Confidence was high along the Union line. Unit commanders spoke of attacking in the a.m. and destroying Hood’s army. Schofield moved to the city to take in the situation, because so much was obscured from his view at Ft. Granger. There he heard of Wilson’s repulse of Forrest and sent word to Thomas in Nashville, “We have whipped them here at every point.”
Even while saying this, Schofield still saw he was vulnerable and was concerned that his ammo supply was low. He would pull back. Orders to that effect were issued early in the evening, stressing that the withdrawal be executed under the “strictest silence.” The wooden wheels of the cannon were wrapped with blankets to further muffle the noise.

Even though ambulances had been freed upby sending the sick and the wounded from Columbia and Spring Hill to Nashville by train, a large number of wounded was left behind. The evacuation was nearly compromised when a fire broke out at 11 p.m. in a livery stable in the city and spread. Flames threatened to illuminate the countryside but the blaze was extinguished after an hourlong fight.

Union pickets pulled back at 1 a.m. abandoning the earthworks. By 2 a.m. the army was out of Franklin and the bridges were fired. By 4 a.m. the Union personnel had withdrawn except for one company which acted as the rear guard.

Unaware of the beginning of Schofield’s withdrawal, Hood called a council of war at midnight in his headquarters. He announced the army would attack in the morning. 100 guns would open on the Federal position at daybreak, the general assault would begin at 9 a.m. The guns were moved up at 2 a.m. just as scouts returned from the front to say the Union army was gone. Hood ordered the guns to fire on Ft. Granger, but the shots fell into the city. His troops entered the town around 4 a.m.

Surgeons/burial crews went to work. almost every building was used as a hospital. Hood entered the city later that morning, but he was shaken by the sight of the battlefield. “His sturdy visage assumed a melancholy appearance, and for a considerable time he sat on his horse and wept like a child,” one of the men noted. When his grieving passed, he issued a statement of victory to his troops: “The commanding general congratulates the army upon the success achieved yesterday over our enemy…[W]hile we lament the fall of many gallant officers and brave men, we have shown to our countrymen that we can carry any position occupied by our enemy.”

A Missouri captain noted,”Two such victories will wipe out any army the power of man can organize.”

The assault at Franklin was the last great Confederate charge of the war. 18,000 men moved toward the Union line, more men than had been involved in Pickett’s Charge at Gettsyburg. Nearly 7,000 fell; 1700 never got up again.

The Carnton mansion, not far from the battlefield, was used as a hospital and accommodated as many men as the house and yard could hold. On the lower verandah the bodies of three of the five generals killed at Franklin were placed—Cleburne, Granbury, and Strahl—awaiting removal to Columbia. Many soldiers paid their last respects, but they could not linger long.

Hood marched on the Nashville with 19,000 men. At the time, the state capital was probably the most fortified city on the continent. There Hood found Thomas waiting—with 70,000 troops. The weather turned bitterly cold, & on Dec. 15 Thomas marched out his troops and swept Hood away.

The gamble at Franklin had gained nothing, but an army, which the South could not afford to lose, had been wasted.

Stephen D. Lee was generous in his assessment of his commander when he observed that Franklin was the price paid for the blunder at Spring Hill. The blunder, however, was Hood’s, and the price paid was in the lives of his men. No one can ever doubt their courage or valor, but Hood will always bear the stigma of the commander who wrecked his own army---as he should.

My assessment: After reading all I could find on this & on Hood himself, I came to these conclusions:
The horror of this loss of an entire Army was the fault of John Bell Hood.
His arrogance, his reliance on laudanum that impaired his judgement, and inability to face what he’d done all were part and parcel of this disaster.
Couple that with another example of Jefferson Davis’ micro-managing and his “big mouth” literally giving away Hood’s plans to Northern generals tremendously aided the Northern armies.
Hood’s complete ignoring of other officers’ opinions of his plan set them on the path to some of their own deaths.
His announcement of victory after he viewed the utter carnage makes me think he’s a little unhinged mentally, but that doesn’t excuse him, in my mind, from the deaths of all those men.
Hood wanted desperately to be another “Lee” but he was not of the same caliber as Lee.
The loss of the Army of Tennessee is more than just a stain on his name, it alienates him from any possible good he had done in the past.


Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Franklin_(1864);
http://www.johnbellhood.org/franklin.htm;
Strange Battles of the Civil War, Webb Garrison, Jr., Cumberland House Publishing, Inc., 2001, Chapter 22 FRANKLIN, pp.269-286.



Dylan

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2 years ago#5
Taylor
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Mac:
macreverie wrote:

I had never heard about the Mock Orange hedge at Franklin. Sam Watkins mentioned having to attack through one at Jonesboro, Georgia. He quipped that they suffered more causalities from the thorns than they did from yankee bullets.


I can't imagine running into a hedge full of these!



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2 years ago#6
dylan
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I thought this ought to be exhibited here at the Battle of Franklin since it was Patrick Cleburne’s last fight.

http://battleoffranklin.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/ cleburne-coat-to-be-exhibited-in-new-museum-march-31st/



Dylan

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2 years ago#7
Ajhall
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Outstanding job Dylan and Taylor. Very fine looks at Franklin/Nashville (for better or worse, I always link the two as a single entity. For operational purposes, they were indeed too closely linked to be coherently understood without the context of the other). Now another question. For all practical purposes, the Franklin/Nashville operations destroyed the AOT (CSA) as a coherent fighting force. However, the battles were not decisive in the sense that Vicksburg was decisive i.e. cohesive elements of the AOT did in fact remain, whereas the Vicksburg garrison was surrendered en masse. The question is why? Why were fighting elements of the AOT able to escape? Why didn't Hood simply surrender his army? Was it some failure of Union leadership? Was it a tenacious Confederate rear-guard? Or some combination thereof?

95% of your post is spot on but I'm gonna have to strongly disagree with your initial statement:


"When President Davis replaced General Joe Johnston, commander of the AOT, with John Bell Hood, in July, 1864, it was initially an improvement to the Confederate army"


I totally agree with Macreverie on this one. Replacing Joe Johnston with Hood was an unmitigated disaster from the get-go. Sherman's entire operational goal was to maneuver Johnston into a forced fight Johnston could ill afford to fight. Hood came on the scene and gave Sherman exactly what he wanted.
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2 years ago#8
macreverie
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Yep, Our "black belt" farmers still curse them today because they have so many tractor tire punctures from them. Although not native they grow well in fairly alkaline soil which much of the black belt is. They occur occasionally in just about every county in Alabama but are ubiquitous there.

Here is a list of the common names that I have heard used for them (there are probably more)

Osage Orange (after the Osage Indians)
Mock Orange
Hedge
Hedge Apple
Horse Apple
Bois d'arc
Bodock (most commonly used name in the prairie or
black belt of Alabama)
Bodark (these last two are of course "Southern versions"
of the French name)
Bow wood (many wooden bows are still made from it)
Indian Bow wood
arrow wood
Naranjo Chino
Brain tree (because of the fruit's resemblance to the
organ)

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2 years ago#9
dylan
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Andrew said:
The question is why? Why were fighting elements of the AOT able to escape? Why didn't Hood simply surrender his army? Was it some failure of Union leadership? Was it a tenacious Confederate rear-guard? Or some combination thereof?


I’ll have to come back to this. I need to think about it. One thing that comes to mind is Hood’s supreme arrogance wouldn’t allow him at that point to admit defeat, so he wouldn’t surrender. Also, when Hood arrived on the scene, Schofield’s army had already made their escape, thus saving what remnants of Hood’s army remained.

I don’t think it was any failure of Union leadership. As to its being the stubbornness of Hood’s rear guard, I think the Southerners had already shown that they would continue to fight despite the desperate circumstances of their situation. Certainly the rear guard by this point knew “something” of what had befallen their comrades.

I would have to say that it’s a credit to those remaining that they didn’t turn tail and run. But, as I said before, let me think about this.

Battles, flanking actions, the huge egos of commanders who hold the lives of thousands in their hands: this is all “Greek” to me. It appears almost like a huge game of chess, but with human lives, the pawns.

As for the “proverbial thorn in the South” I have only heard the term “mock orange”. People in “my neck of the woods” grow them as ornamental trees occasionally in their yards, but I’ve never seen them anywhere else.

I’m glad that Taylor and I didn’t let you down, Andrew. This has been more of a “challenge” than we realized.

Dylan

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2 years ago#10
Taylor
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Andrew:

"However, the battles were not decisive in the sense that Vicksburg was decisive i.e. cohesive elements of the AOT did in fact remain, whereas the Vicksburg garrison was surrendered en masse. The question is why? Why were fighting elements of the AOT able to escape? Why didn't Hood simply surrender his army? Was it some failure of Union leadership? Was it a tenacious Confederate rear-guard? Or some combination thereof?"


I don't think that surrender was ever an option for General Hood and what was left of his army was able to escape for a number of reasons - Forrest's dogged cavalry, luck, lack of supplies (Federal army) misdirection of Federal pontoon trains, and timing (Steeman's division arrives too late to prevent Confederate crossing).

After the defeat at Nashville, the remant of Hood's army left on the night of December 16th and headed south towards Franklin to two roads - Granny White Pike and Franklin Pike. The Federal cavalry followed on GWP but Lee's rearguard held off these attacks. Wilson's cavalry continued to pursue the Confederates as they retreated towards Columbia, but were slowed down because General Thomas had sent his pontoon bridge train towards Murfreesboro rather than Franklin and Columbia. Thomas' artillery and trains could not cross the Harpeth until the train arrived.

Wilson caused severe damage to Stevenson's rear guard on December 17th and 18th but was forced to stop due to lack of supplies. On December 18th General Forrest arrived from Murfreesboro with two cavalry divisions, thus further complicating problems for Wilson.

The Confederate infantry and artillery crossed the Duck River on December 19th at Columbia and destroyed the bridges behind them. General Forrest was in charge of the rear guard and because of the misdirected pontoon train, General Thomas was not able to cross the Duck River until December 23rd.

General Forrest continued to keep Wilson's cavalry at bay over the next three days at Richland Creek, Anthony's Hill, and Sugar Creek. General Hood was able to get his army across the Tennessee River on a pontoon bridge near Bainbridge, Alabama by December 28th. General Thomas had asked Admiral Lee, commander of the Tennessee River naval squadron, to destroy the Confederate bridge but low water and Confederate artillery prevented this from happening.

Steedman's provisional division was sent by rail from Nashville to Chattanooga and then from there by river boat to Decatur, Alabama to cut off General Hood's retreat, but arrived too late to interfere with the Confederate crossing. However, on December 30th, Steedman's cavalry captured the Confederate pontoon train along with a large number of supply wagons.

This hallmarked the end of the Federal pursuit.


Federal outer line on December 16, 1864
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2 years ago#11
N. Cook
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Very interesting posts.

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2 years ago#12
glorybound
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Taylor wrote:
When President Davis replaced General Joe Johnston, commander of the AOT, with John Bell Hood, in July, 1864, it was initially an improvement to the Confederate army, as Hood was known to be a fighter and from July – September, 1864, General Hood stood up to Union commanders, including Sherman. But Hood lost thousands of men which he could ill afford, especially with the severe blow that was to come that fall in Franklin. For General Lee and the Confederate cause, Franklin was the last hurrah.

Patrick Cleburne was aware by late 1863 that the Confederacy was losing the war and despite his successes at Shiloh, Richmond, Perryville, Stones River, and Chickamauga, this courageous and outstanding general knew that the South could not continue to sustain manpower and resources. The re-election of Abraham Lincoln on November 8, 1864, did not bode well for the Confederate cause because now the North would continue to fight with better people and resources/material. All the North had to do was virtually out last the starving and depleted CSA, battle by battle. This was not the morale booster that the CSA needed by November, 1864, nor one that sat well with General Cleburne.

On the morning of November 30, 1864, Patrick Cleburne marched towards Franklin, Tennessee, angry that General John Hood was blaming him and others for the Confederate failure at Spring Hill, the day before. Later that afternoon, General Hood requested a conference with his commanders at the home of William Harrison, which stood approximately ½ mile south of Winstead Hill. General Hood asked for their opinions on a frontal attack against the Federal works and Major Generals Nathan B. Forrest, Benjamin F. Cheatham, and Patrick Cleburne all advised against an attack over open fields opposite Federal entrenchments and artillery. Regardless, Hood ordered the assault and his commanders knew full well that they were about to take part in a tragic bloodbath.

General Hood’s ultimate goal was to re-take Nashville, which had fallen to the Union in February, 1862. General Hood believed that this would revitalise the Confederate cause and bring in thousands of new Confederate soldiers throughout the South, especially Tennessee. Hood believed that General George Thomas only had about 11,000 troops, compared to his 23,000 troops. But on his way to Nashville, first was the catastrophe that took place at Spring Hill.

Hood’s forces were engaged at Spring Hill by U.S. General John Schofield and although neither side lost a lot of men, Schofield slipped away with his army before sunrise on November 30th, thus depriving Hood of an opportunity to deplete the Union army. By the time Hood learned that Schofield’s army had escaped, he pursued them to just outside of Franklin, but by 1:00 that afternoon, the Union army was firmly entrenched. Federal forces were anchored in a 2 mile arch around the horse shoe shape of the Harpeth River at Franklin, Tenn.

Hood gathered his trusted subordinate generals in the Harrison House behind Winstead Hill, and announced his intention of the Confederate army making the 2 mile open ground march through the Harpeth Valley as it headed north toward the Union line at Franklin. Hood was sure that his men would break through several points in the Union line and eventually drive Schofield’s army into the Harpeth. Though Hood’s definitive goal was Nashville, he believed that the opportunity to drive the Federals into the Harpeth would be victorious and make up for the Spring Hill disaster. Not a single general agreed with Hood’s assault. It was viewed as “unwise” at best, and suicidal at “worse.” Hood’s response was that "he would rather fight a Federal force that had only a few hours to build defenses," instead of Nashville where "they have been strengthening themselves for three years."

The charge would be made with no support from Confederate artillery, across nearly 2 miles of open ground, against a Union army of approximately 20,000 troops, securely protected by earthworks and artillery support provided by batteries across the river in Union Fort Granger, among other battery support. Pickett’s Charge comes to mind, without the benefit of artillery.

At 4:00 p.m. on November 30th, the entire Confederate army lined up east-west across the Harpeth Valley with Winstead and Breezy Hill , intersected by Columbia Pike, being the centre. Within 45 min, the Confederate assault was in full force. Initially the Confederates seemed to gain the upper hand as they overwhelmed Union brigades out in front, about a mile from the main Union line. The Union soldiers ran for their lives...the Confederates were ordered to shoot them in the back.

For the next few hours, from five until nine, approximately 40,000 Americans fought a horrific battle that has been considered the five bloodiest hours of the ACW. The Union army had the advantage of defensive earthworks and artillery support, thus the cards were stacked against the Confederates from the onset.

The Confederate army lost 6,500 of the 23,000 engaged –1,750 killed outright, the rest wounded, missing, or captured. The Union army had 2,500 casualties with less than 200 dead.

The loss of General Cleburne, along with fourteen other generals, was a plunder to the Confederate army and one that further crippled their cause.

I have always admired General Cleburne but in studying the Battle of Franklin it became clear just what a superior strategic and tactical commander he was. It’s no wonder that Patrick Cleburne earned the nickname of “Stonewall of the West” by President Davis, and that General Lee referred to this brilliant commander as “a meteor shining from a clouded sky.”

Patrick Cleburne died for his revered Confederate cause, loved by his men, and respected by all.

But looking in depth at just how disadvantaged the Confederates were at Franklin, along with the defensive breastworks set in place, Union weaponry caused absolute destruction, both long and short range. Three inch rifled guns, one of the first defenses encountered, were the artillery pieces located in Fort Granger. They were positioned within the earthen fort atop Figures Hill. Once Walthalls men emerged from the relative protection of the McGavock Woods, Union gunners unleashed a devastating fire upon the advancing Confederates.

Closer to the main line would be the powerful blasts of 12-pounder Napoleon smoothbore cannon situated in embrasures near the Cotton Gin and the Lewisburg Pike. And at under 400 yards, most of the Union guns switched over to deadly canister shells – short range killers. Some infantryman carried the 15 shot Henry repeating rifle – a trained rifleman could fire 28 rounds in a minute, rather than the standard Springfield or Enfield rifle of 2 – 3 rounds per minute.

Along the Union main line, Federal defenders had placed a thorn filled line of Osage orange abatis. These intertwined branches had been placed from their far left near the Harpeth River to within 300 ft. of the Cotton Gin, to slow the advance of the Confederate attackers. The abatis broke down unit cohesion since it was nearly impossible for large bodies of troops to pass through this obstacle together. Many men were left torn and mangled as they hung partially suspended in the thorny branches.

The great offensive determination of the Confederate army of the Tennessee met the grim realities of seasoned veteran defenders, fighting from behind well-built entrenchments, and deadly artillery. The Confederates didn’t stand a chance.

Two weeks after the defeat at Franklin, Hood’s AOT engaged George H. Thomas’s Union armies at Nashville on December 15 – 16. Hood was outnumbered 2 – 1 at Nashville and though his men fought valiantly, the outcome was no better than Franklin. Hood lost over 6,000 men at Nashville and the AOT was all but obliterated in just 2 weeks. Hood would retreat back into Alabama in late December and would give command of his men over to General Dick Taylor in mid January.

Hood’s objective to recapture Nashville was lost and his army was destroyed as an effective fighting force.

Thank you Andrew for offering the challenge of studying a battle in detail. I’ve enjoyed learning more about Franklin and why it was considered the ‘last hurrah’ for the Confederacy. To be sure, Hood’s recklessness cost him dearly, and he was out maneuvered by the defensive strategy of the Union army and their superior weaponry. They were well entrenched at Franklin and had every advantage. Sending his men across 2 miles of open terrain, especially with no artillery back-up, was sheer lunacy on the part of General Hood.

With the re-election of Abraham Lincoln just weeks before Franklin, and the defeat of the AOT at Franklin/Nashville, it was clear that the Confederate cause had run its course, at least in the western theatre, and Robert E. Lee would not be able to count on assistance or support from Confederate victories or armies west of Richmond, any longer. And a few short months later, it was finally over.


Thanks for this post Taylor, especially since it's in your own words. I usually root for the Yanks in the civil war, but after reading about Franklin and Cleburne a few years back (and Cleburne at Chattanooga as well) I have to admit that on that day, 11/30/1864, I was rooting for Cleburne and the AOT. I also became much less of a John B. Hood fan after reading "The Confederacy's Last Hurrah" by Wiley Sword.

The heroism and sacrifice by southern troops, and Cleburne in particular, who died on that day, is extraordinary. It's difficult, even for a Yankee (me) to not acknowledge that, even if done so grudgingly.

Lee
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2 years ago#13
Ajhall
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Taylor, you have truly learned your lessons well. Your insights are astonishing for someone who had so little interest in combat operations a mere month ago. Dylan's right up there as well. I'll post some of my opinions later tonight. Right now, it's 80 degrees and the backyard is calling me.

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2 years ago#14
Taylor
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Andrew - you realize you've created a monster, right? While visions of battlefields danced in her head....

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2 years ago#15
Taylor
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Lee:

Thanks for this post Taylor, especially since it's in your own words. I usually root for the Yanks in the civil war, but after reading about Franklin and Cleburne a few years back (and Cleburne at Chattanooga as well) I have to admit that on that day, 11/30/1864, I was rooting for Cleburne and the AOT. I also became much less of a John B. Hood fan after reading "The Confederacy's Last Hurrah" by Wiley Sword.

The heroism and sacrifice by southern troops, and Cleburne in particular, who died on that day, is extraordinary. It's difficult, even for a Yankee (me) to not acknowledge that, even if done so grudgingly.


I have that much more respect for Patrick Cleburne and everything he stood for, now that I've taken a deeper look into the Battle of Franklin, and I can imagine him rallying his troops in that Irish brogue! There were many heroes on both sides of the war, and General Cleburne is certainly at the top of my list.
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2 years ago#16
Ajhall
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IMHO Patrick Cleburne is the most underrated and fascinating people of the war. Lee, as with you, I had a pretty fair bit of admiration for Hood until I read Sword's "Last Hurrah". You have to admit though, the images of Hood after the battle, a lonely cast-off, are quite poignant. I guess the man was simply in over his head with army command. He was a fine field leader, as good as any on either side, but a disaster as an Army commander.

Taylor, can I assume you read Wiley Sword's "The Confederacy's Last Hurrah" in your study of Franklin? If not, I highly recommend it. Some author's just have that innate ability to combine narrative skill with detailed scholarship, making the most complex operations interesting and relatively easy to grasp. Sword has that natural talent. So does Stephen Sears. A really fantastic read on the Chattanooga campaign, one that focuses ample attention on Cleburne, and dissects the madness that passed for Confederate high command in the west at that time, is Sword's "Mountains Touched With Fire." One of the beauties of Sword's work is that he approaches things from both sides of the aisle, Union and Confederate, without taking sides. He doesn't pull punches, nor does he sanctify one side or the other as more virtuous. Very even-handed, a rare skill in CW literature. Though they both wrote (write) from the perspective of the Union, Stephen Sears and Bruce Catton write with great admiration for the Confederates in the eastern theater. Indeed, IMO Catton tends to elevate Confederate leadership almost too highly, while savaging Union incompetency with an air of exasperation.

IMHO, if you want to grasp the strategic, operational and tactical side of things in the east, I'd recommend starting with Bruce Catton's AOTP trilogy, "Mr Lincoln's Army", "Glory Road" and "A Stillness at Appomattox". I suggest these simply because Catton was first and foremost a journalist. His writing style is exceptionally approachable and coherent, with a clear narrative thread throughout. He is able to seamlessly weave together high strategy, officer corps politics, operations, tactics and the life of the ordinary soldier (whom Catton clearly elevates, both Union and Confederate, well above most of their leaders) fairly and with emotion. Catton is an excellent writer to begin with as long as you keep in mind his overarching point-of-view is from the Union side of the fence.

IMHO, Stephen Sears is my generation's Bruce Catton. Again, his overarching POV is from the Union side, but he offers more Confederate views than Catton did, and he does so with respect and admiration. If you read Sears, I'd recommend you do so in order, starting with "To the Gates of Richmond" (which, BTW, is the weakest of his series, in both scope and detail), followed by "Landscape Turned Red" covering Antietam (and one of my personal Top 10 all-time favorite CW books), "Chancellorsville" and finally "Gettysburg". I wish he'd done a study of 2nd Bull Run and Fredricksburg, and I still have hopes he'll do the Overland Campaign in the future.

My exposure to the Western theaters is quite limited compared to the East, so I don't have much to recommend there beyond Sword's works. I've read several good books on the west, but not one's I'd suggest for the novice.

Take these suggestions for what they're worth. They all formed the base for my understanding, and I think I'm pretty well non-partisan. I may be more Union-centric in what I study, but given my circumstances, that's only natural.I find the Confederate side of the coin every bit as compelling and worthy of my admiration.

Time to turn off the faucet.

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2 years ago#17
glorybound
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Aj, I'm curious as to your thoughts on Sword's suggestion in his book that perhaps Hood's judgement was impaired at some crucial times because he was taking Laudanum for pain. Eric Jacobson, author of "For Cause & for Country: A Study of the Affair At Spring Hill & the Battle of Franklin" takes issue with that rather strongly in his book. In fact I brought up that topic on another board of which Jacobson is a member also, just mentioning the alleged drug use by Hood, and Eric soundly thrashed me for just mentioning it. He maintains that there is absolutely no credible evidence of Hood 'commanding while under the influence."

Lee

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2 years ago#18
Ajhall
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Lee, I think you raise a very valid point. I haven't read Jacobsen's book, so I can't comment on what evidence he presented to argue against it. However, from what I remember of Sword's suggestion, it seemed very plausible to me. I mean, Hood had every reason to use opiates, far more reason than most. Would he have been any less impaired if his thought process was befogged by severe, unrelenting pain? If you've ever had an abcessed tooth, you'd know how hard it is to function, and pain meds actually improve one's performance.

I will add an observation as a nurse with a fair amount of experience in Hospice. Used appropriately, opiates essentially spend their energy blocking pain receptors, and thus occupied they lose much of the ability to induce a high. Granted, opiate dosing was hardly an exact science in 1864. But my sense is Hood's impairment from laudanum fits into the same category as Grant's drinking. I highly doubt it had a significant impact on his command performance. I think even sans narcotics, his performance wouldn't have been any better. Hood was who he was.

I think it's counter-productive to dismiss the issue out of hand, or to overly dwell on it.

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2 years ago#19
glorybound
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Thanks AJ, you make a good point when you present the view that laudanum could most likely have enabled Hood to stay focused on the task at hand, rather than trying to manage the chaos through the fog of excruciating pain. (and yes, I agree that he must've suffered greatly from his previous injuries) The info about the opiates intercepting pain impulses and not necessarily causing an intoxicative state is something I hadn't thought of. Clearly your experience with such meds and working in a hospice have given you a different perspective than I had.

It's hard to pinpoint the genesis of Eric's vehement dismissal of any theory that suggests Hood's use of opiates, and I have no independent credible sources of my own that would even suggest that he is wrong in his views.

Considering the credentials and stellar reputations of both Sword and Jacobson as historians and writers, and who also are at polar opposites on this issue, I reckon I'll just take a seat in the middle of the theater until new information comes to light, if it ever does. Thanks for your very enlightening comments AJ.

Lee

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2 years ago#20
Ajhall
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Allow me to comment a little more on the subject, because as I think of it, the subject is a valid one when looking at the larger picture of the CW. A warning: most of this is boring and of little interest to forum members. You won't hurt my feelings if you skip it before falling asleep. It's just another instance of Aj thinking aloud and prattling on about obscure details.

First, a little bit more on the use of narcotics for pain control. Lee, your sense of opiates being intoxicants and highly addictive mirror the impressions the vast majority of the general public holds. I'll attempt to offer a Highly simplified clarification, because it matters when looking at, for example, Hood.

The class of meds we generally refer to as "narcotics" are actually derivatives of the sap from the opium poppy, hence the generic term "opiates". This sap, even unprocessed, contains a significant amount of raw morphine. The dried sap can be turned into such other drugs as heroin and codeine. Other parts of the plant can be used to make semi-synthetic pain meds such as hydrocodone (Vicodin)or hydromorphone (Oxycodone). They all work in the same basic way, blocking certain nervous system receptors responsible for propagating pain impulses. Today, most narcotics are synthesized rather than coming directly from the poppy (the huge exception being heroin, which because it's illegal is readily available only from its inherent botanical source -- note that heroin is essentially no different from any other opiate; it was originally used as a less addictive alternative to morphine! The use of oxycodone for the intoxicative effect is a slightly more above-board way of obtaining the same high one would get from heroin or morphine). Opiates are one of the oldest known class of medications, in use since antiquity for pain control AND as a treatment for diarrhea (a significant point when studying an era when chronic diarrhea was literally a potentially fatal problem). By the 1860s, medicines derived from opium were referred to variously as morphia, opium, and laudanum, among others.

Aside from their potent analagesic properties, and their tendency to slow the bowel and thus control diarrhea, opiates induce a generally very pleasant state of drowsy euphoria. However, as I noted before, the euphoric state is attenuated (though not eradicated) when the opiates are engaged in blocking pain receptors and not floating around looking for something to do, like buzzing the brain. Addiction is far less likely when opiates are used for legitimate pain control because they are actively competing with pain impulses for access to the same receptors. The problem arises when opiates are used in the relative absence of pain, which essentially turns off the body's natural pain control mechanisms -- pain actually has a very important physiological purpose. If we couldn't feel pain, we might not know if we stepped on a nail, or received a burn for example. Thus, very oversimplified, recreational use switches off the body's natural analgesics and takes over their vital function. No endogenous analgesic production, specifically the body's own "opiates" often referred to as "endorphins", necessitates external opiate analgesics to replace it.

I hope this makes sense. It's not easy to simplify something as complex as the pharmacological use of opiates, but it matters in this context.

Opium was (and is) an absolutely indispensable part of the combat medicine tool chest -- severe pain, especially in acute situations, potentiates the devastating effects of shock, leading to cardiovascular collapse and death. Controlling pain is a matter of life or death in combat. That's why even today morphine is carried by combat medics in the field. Opium was familiar to the Civil War physician. They well (at least most well-educated physicians did) understood what the good and bad effects of opium were. Aside from it's outstanding analgesic properties, opium is an excellent treatment for diarrhea -- we would be most familiar with it in this context under the name Paregoric.

Diarrhea or dysentary were extremely common in the CW, accounting for a significant number of deaths among the troops, probably as many, if not more, than from combat wounds. Chronic diarrhea was the result of drinking tainted water, eating spoiled food, generally poor camp hygiene leading to pollution of drinking water, etc.. It killed insidiously. Most of the body's water absorption occurs in the large colon, or the bowel. If all the water is leaving the body in the stool before it can be absorbed, dehydration results, as does the loss of vital electrolytes such as potassium and sodium. In addition, such hyperactive bowels do not allow nutrients to be absorbed by the small intestines, leading to malnutrition. Given the high mortality of diarrhea, an effective treatment was vital. The most effective treatments were opium derivatives (opiates also are very effective cough suppressants, which lead to their common use as a treatment for tuberculosis, or "consumption&quot. So all this is a roundabout way of saying the use of opiates in the CW was VERY common among both the rank-and-file and the officer corps. Hood's use of an opiate would hardly have raised an eyebrow among most of his contemporaries.

Here's an interesting thought. Aside from it's euphoric effect, opiates can also cause the user to become irritated and very easily angered, especially in several of the opium-based cocktails (laudanum most prominently) then in common use. I wonder if, rather than muddle-headed euphoria, Hood's opiate use caused his well-documented stubborn anger with his men and their inability to attain the goals he set. Let me say now that, as I think of it, it's almost inconceivable to me that Hood DIDN'T use opiates. I'd wager that as many as half the officer corps on both sides was using an opiate at any given time. It was that commonly used. Not everyone who used opiates suffered from the hair-trigger anger side effect, but it was and is a very common side effect. Might this be a more plausible possibility than muddle-headed euphoria? I know Hood's temper and his irrational anger at his troops is well-known. On the face of it, if his opiate use had any negative effect on him, I'd suggest this is the more likely scenario.

All this is speculation on my part. Like you Lee, I don't have enough evidence one way or the other to jump into the fight. Thinking of it, it's a very interesting subject, and not just with Hood. I'm content to watch from the middle, just like you, and wait to learn more.

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2 years ago#21
Seamuson
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General Cleburne's final resting place is relatively close to me, in his adopted hometown of Helena, Arkansas. A close friend and I are planning a trip to Helena to visit the General's grave.

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2 years ago#22
Ajhall
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I for one would love to see pictures. Can you take some?

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2 years ago#23
Seamuson
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Oh yes, pics are being planned & I'll post them here.

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2 years ago#24
Ajhall
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2 years ago#25
glorybound
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Here's an interesting thought. Aside from it's euphoric effect, opiates can also cause the user to become irritated and very easily angered, especially in several of the opium-based cocktails (laudanum most prominently) then in common use. I wonder if, rather than muddle-headed euphoria, Hood's opiate use caused his well-documented stubborn anger with his men and their inability to attain the goals he set. Let me say now that, as I think of it, it's almost inconceivable to me that Hood DIDN'T use opiates. I'd wager that as many as half the officer corps on both sides was using an opiate at any given time. It was that commonly used. Not everyone who used opiates suffered from the hair-trigger anger side effect, but it was and is a very common side effect. Might this be a more plausible possibility than muddle-headed euphoria? I know Hood's temper and his irrational anger at his troops is well-known. On the face of it, if his opiate use had any negative effect on him, I'd suggest this is the more likely scenario.


AJ, that makes total sense to me as a very possible, if not probable cause of Hood's often volatile, irritable disposition. I only need to reflect back on my own experience with opiates used for an extended length of time as prescribed by my doctor for a back injury. The parallels and similarities of my behavior compared wih that which you've described above are there for me to plainly see.

I lived and worked in constant pain for about six months while on narcotic pain meds until I was able to have surgery to repair the problem. I was subsequently kept on the same meds post-surgery while I recovered. I would say I was on them for a total of about ten months. This was in '93-'94.

My behavior while taking the medicine was very erratic and unpredictable. I was prone to the very same side-effects you've described - sudden, unnprovoked, unexplainable mood swings that were characterized by irrational outbursts of anger, that surprised not only my poor spouse and my dog, but myself as well. Let me be clear here and say that never once did I exhibit any violent tendencies towards anyone. Sometimes the mood swings were absent and I just went about my day in a very foul, dark, unpleasant frame of mind. I didn't know it at the time but I was also going through life as an undiagnosed bi-polar, which I'm certain didn't help matters any. I still am BP of course but since I was finally diagnosed correctly I now have the correct meds to treat it. It was a very unpleasant experience for both my wife and I, and my behavior utlimately cost me my marriage. Though my wife did everything she could to try to understand and be sympathetic it eventually proved to be too much for her, and I don't blame her in the least for leaving. If I could've found a way to leave me I would've been right behind her and the dog.

Anyway,so, to wrap this up, John B. Hood had a full plate to dine on it seems, being commander of an army fighting for a country that was losing the fight, suffering from chronic, significant pain, and most likely taking opiates to try to obtain a little relief. I'll have to reconsider my previous opinion of him in light of this new information I've picked up from you tonight. Of course it's impossible to know for sure what made JB Hood do and act as he did, but I'd say that if you are not a hundred percent correct in your evaluation, you're pretty darned close.
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2 years ago#26
Ajhall
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I understand where you're coming from. I also suffered from BP for years without knowing it (well-controlled now). It makes physiologic sense that BP would exacerbate any neurological adverse effects from an opiate. A couple years ago, I took oxycodone after ankle surgery. It was an excellent analgesic, but I experienced the same unreasonable yet uncontrollable bouts of irritation and anger. Even when it was occurring, I knew I had no rational reason to feel such anger, and I knew I was being an A* hole. I at least had the comfort of knowing it was the meds and not some basic flaw in my personality driving those feelings. Once I was able to stop the meds, the fits of anger disappeared.

I can't help but wonder if the subject wouldn't make an excellent topic for a master's or doctoral thesis. "The impact of opiate use by general officers on operational/tactical planning in the CW." Given my sense that opiate usage was widespread among all ranks in the CW hierarchy, and given the wide range of potential adverse effects inherent in opiates, it certainly seems it would be a valid subject to research in some detail.

Of course, in Hood's case, that anger side effect would have been but one piece in a larger puzzle. His actions in combat were the sum of many variables, not the least of which was the fact that he was likely in over his head in commanding an army. The stress involved in the burden of high command is not something ordinary leaders can manage well. It took a rare man, a Lee, Grant, Thomas or a Joe Johnston, to carry the burden and manage it effectively. Joe Hooker at Chancellorsville is an excellent example of someone done in by the stress of high command. He was a fine Corps commander both before and after Chancellorsville, but in command of the AOTP he was like a deer caught in the headlights. Add to that command burden any number of external environmental stressors, and it's no wonder so many men stumbled badly in times of supreme challenges.

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2 years ago#27
glorybound
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Ajhall wrote:
I understand where you're coming from. I also suffered from BP for years without knowing it (well-controlled now). It makes physiologic sense that BP would exacerbate any neurological adverse effects from an opiate. A couple years ago, I took oxycodone after ankle surgery. It was an excellent analgesic, but I experienced the same unreasonable yet uncontrollable bouts of irritation and anger. Even when it was occurring, I knew I had no rational reason to feel such anger, and I knew I was being an A* hole. I at least had the comfort of knowing it was the meds and not some basic flaw in my personality driving those feelings. Once I was able to stop the meds, the fits of anger disappeared.

Yeah, at this point and after all I've learned I think if prescribed a narcotic pain killer by a doctor for a legitimate condition I would press for a non-narc remedy instead...especially so if I were in a relationship at the time. Of course I say that now when I'm not in any pain, ask me again after a root canal.

I can't help but wonder if the subject wouldn't make an excellent topic for a master's or doctoral thesis. "The impact of opiate use by general officers on operational/tactical planning in the CW." Given my sense that opiate usage was widespread among all ranks in the CW hierarchy, and given the wide range of potential adverse effects inherent in opiates, it certainly seems it would be a valid subject to research in some detail.

That would be an excellent topic for a dissertation, or even just an article in one of the more prominent civil war periodicals. I know I'd read it for sure.


Of course, in Hood's case, that anger side effect would have been but one piece in a larger puzzle. His actions in combat were the sum of many variables, not the least of which was the fact that he was likely in over his head in commanding an army. The stress involved in the burden of high command is not something ordinary leaders can manage well. It took a rare man, a Lee, Grant, Thomas or a Joe Johnston, to carry the burden and manage it effectively. Joe Hooker at Chancellorsville is an excellent example of someone done in by the stress of high command. He was a fine Corps commander both before and after Chancellorsville, but in command of the AOTP he was like a deer caught in the headlights. Add to that command burden any number of external environmental stressors, and it's no wonder so many men stumbled badly in times of supreme challenges.


Yes I believe Hood was in over his head when in command of the AOT, which I'm sure compounded his difficulties with chronic pain and its remedies, which probably contributed a great deal to his stress level and his resulting poor disposition.
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2 years ago#28
dylan
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Andrew said:
Other parts of the plant can be used to make semi-synthetic pain meds such as hydrocodone (Vicodin)or hydromorphone (Oxycodone). They all work in the same basic way, blocking certain nervous system receptors responsible for propagating pain impulses. Today, most narcotics are synthesized rather than coming directly from the poppy (the huge exception being heroin, which because it's illegal is readily available only from its inherent botanical source -- note that heroin is essentially no different from any other opiate; it was originally used as a less addictive alternative to morphine!

I certainly don’t have the expertise that Andrew does to speak on this matter but today’s use of hydrocone and oxycodone for the relief of severe unrelenting pain is a godsend. As many doctors have explained to me, I don’t experience the “high” because the drug is doing what it’s designed to do: block the pain from my brain.It allows me to get what little sleep I do get. But some drugs (I won’t mention names here), although have huge advertisements as to the good they induce, also have horrid side effects. Two, in particular, will make you feel wonderful (I have friends who’ve experienced this. But the side effect is quick hefty weight gain. For someone who already suffers from osteoporosis or degenerative bone disease, this is really not the right drug. The pressure put on one’s knees have driven both my friends to surgery to correct this and one, who has always been stubborn, continues to take this drug!) I do recall Jerry Lewis’ horrible weight gain from his use of Prednisone. Personally I don’t recommend that drug for anyone. If you already have absolutely no immunity, this drug leaves you open to catch every germ that comes through your door.

ALWAYS check what a drug can do (side effects) because doctors are prone, in my opinion, to push a new drug onto their patients when an older one would suffice. I’m not supposed to take antibiotics at all because they interfere with a drug I need for severe RA (rheumatoid arthritis) which is one of many things wrong with me. My local doctor ALWAYS wants me to try one of the new ones that you take for five days. Amoxil works fine for me. He doesn’t even argue anymore with me anymore.

In Hood’s case certainly the man was suffering horribly from his wounds, having to be literally strapped into his saddle to carry on. And it’s possible that at day’s end he took enough laudanum to literally knock himself out so that he couldn’t feel the pain and could get some rest. (I’m in no way absolving him of the loss of thousands of lives and the Army of Tenn. I don’t think he should ever have been given command of such magnitude.)

But in those days, as I understand from reading, laudanum was even sold over the counter in pharmacies. Doctors even prescribed it for women with “female problems”. This could refer to something as mild as lacing their dresses to get to that unreasonable 18” waist which was de rigeur in that day. This could have easily caused a woman to faint from the slightest exertion. And women, after having several children naturally have a thickening of the waist. As age crept on, every reasonable woman today knows that an overall thickening of the body occurs. No matter how you try , you can’t fight “Mother Nature”.

Just as those pictures you see of the model housewife in that era, they all have their hair parted in the middle. Anyone with the brain of an ordinary housefly knows that if you don’t have an absolutely round face and look cherubic with wide-set eyes, this hairstyle makes you look dowdy, at best. The reason for all women conforming to such a ridiculous notion was that only “women of the street” (harlots) wore their hair with a side part.

Even if a side part would have made you look lovely, women followed the peer pressure of the day and wore that abominable middle hair part. And rather than put all that heavy hair in a snood at the nape of the neck, they should have plaited the hair and worn it like a crown on top of their heads like the Swedish/Norweigan (sp?) women did. The reason for not doing so: again, peer pressure. A woman’s neck was considered to incite lust as much as a well-turned ankle or shapely arms. (Although at night they were allowed to show their arms and the bosom, they still couldn’t show that lustful neck! Heaven knows but that men might be overcome with sinful desire. (What absolutel hogwash!)

Back to those drugs; since even Abraham Lincoln is mentioned in something I read as having bought some laudanum at a pharmacy (probably for that neurotic wife of his) It was not considered to be harmful until a few years later.)

Sorry to have got off track but I did learn that laudanum was helpful with diarrhea. Did it do anything for dysentery which killed thousands?

Although medicines were almost unheard of in the Confederate camps I also wonder if Immodium would have saved lives, had it been available? But that gets into "If games" and that's a dangerous path for serious amateur historians.

Back on track, I want to congratulate everyone who has shown me so much about battles. This was an area that I had no conception of before the “challenge” was made and it was certainly worth the effort to see “the other side of the war” rather than dwelling on slavery, tariffs, leaders. I appreciate all that I have learned here, Andrew, thank you.

And you're right. This would certainly be a valuable paper for any college student to write. It's certainly not been covered enough and I'm sure a professor would love hearing something in a completely different field !

Dylan

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2 years ago#29
Ajhall
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I love this fascinating little side door this discussion has opened. It's filled with treasures I never really thought of before.

You're absolutely right about the ability of meds such as Vicodin have to give people in chronic pain their lives back. I wish the politicians and bureaucrats who demonize the legitimate use of these meds in their war on recreational users had to spend one month in your shoes. They're quick to rant and rave against these meds because their lives aren't stolen by chronic pain. Personally, I know that drugs like morphine can literally be life-savers. I've given morphine injections literally hundreds of times to people on the brink of dying horrible, gasping, drowning deaths from congestive heart failure, and seen them miraculously drawn back from the edge. The benefits of legitimate opiate use FAR outweigh their risks. We as a society allow the misuse of these drugs by a small fraction of people to drive our regulation and political policies regarding them, and that's sad.

Opiates did not require prescriptions in the CW era. Their use for a wide variety of ailments was extremely common. Laudanum is actually a compound of opium, alcohol and other ingredients. Lincoln did in fact use laudanum in his younger days, probably in an attempt to deal with his depression. He stopped using it because he found it made him "cross". I think (not sure though) his wife used it chronically. You asked if Immodium might have been beneficial in controlling diarrhea, and perhaps saving lives had it been around. I think yes, it would have, but only in milder cases. It's not nearly strong enough to work in cases of marked dysentary. Even opiates were only marginally effective in severe cases, simply because the underlying cause (usually the presence of a pathogenic organism, i.e. infection) wasn't addressed.

Dylan, you speak from hard experience. What do you think? Was there as much chance that the issue of unrelenting pain (say an 8 or 9 on the scale commonly used to rate pain) as likely as opiate use to cloud Hood's thinking and judgement?

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2 years ago#30
dylan
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oops, didn't realize I wasn't signed in.

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