Contemporary accounts of Hood at Franklin

Sergeant Major Sumner A. Cunningham wrote of the demeanor of Hood’s troops in “Confederate Veteran” magazine in April, 1893,

“…the march to Spring Hill, where the Federal retreat was so nearly cut off, a failure for which it wasGeneral John Bell Hood understood General Hood was not to blame, created an enthusiasm for him equal to that entertained for Stonewall Jackson after his extraordinary achievements. The soldiers were full of ardor, and confident of success. They had unbounded faith in General Hood, whom they believed would achieve a victory that would give us Nashville.”

“The next (Nov 30) morning, as we marched in quick time toward Franklin, we were confirmed in our impressions of federal alarm. I counted on the way thirty-four wagons that had been abandoned on the smooth turnpike. In some instances whole teams of mules had been killed to prevent their capture.”

Arriving at Winstead Hill, two miles south of Franklin, at about 2:00 P.M., Hood observed the situation. Sergeant Major S. A. Cunningham, standing near to Hood on the hill as Hood contemplated the attack, recalled,

“The enemy were greatly excited. We could see them running to and fro. Wagon trains were being pressed across the Harpeth River, and on toward Nashville…but I was absorbed in the one man whose mind was deciding the fate of thousands. With an arm and a leg in the grave, and with the consciousness that he had not until within a couple of days won the confidence which his army had in his predecessor, he had now a very trying ordeal to pass through.”

Battle of Franklin veteran L.A. Simmons wrote in his 1866 work, The History of the 84th Regiment Illinois Volunteers,

“In speaking of this battle, very many are inclined to wonder at the terrible pertinacity of the rebel General Hood, in dashing column after column with such tremendous force and energy upon our center — involving their decimation, almost their annihilation? Yet this we have considered a most brilliant design, and the brightest record of his generalship, that will be preserved in history. He was playing a stupendous game, for enormous stakes. Could he have succeeded in breaking the center, our whole army was at his mercy. In our rear was a deep and rapid river, swollen by recent rains — only fordable by infantry at one or two places — and to retreat across it an utter impossibility. To break the center was to defeat our army; and defeat inevitably involved a surrender. If this army surrendered to him, Nashville, with all its fortifications, all its vast accumulation of army stores, was at his mercy, and could be taken in a day. Hence, with heavy odds — a vastly superior force — in his hands, he made the impetuous attack upon our center, and lost in the momentous game. His army well understood that they were fighting for the possession of Nashville. Ours knew they were fighting to preserve that valuable city, and to avoid annihilation.”

Hood pondered thet critical dilemma that Nashville lay unprotected, and with only three hours of daylight remaining, decided to order an immediate frontal assault. As Cunningham later wrote,

“While making ready for the charge, General Hood rode up to our lines, having left his escort and staff in the rear. He remained at the front in plain view of the enemy for, perhaps, half an hour making a most careful survey of their lines. It was all-important to act, if at all, at once. He (Hood) rode to Stephen D. Lee, the nearest of his subordinate generals, and, shaking hands with him cordially, announced his decision to make an immediate charge.

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