Thursday, May 21, 2015

General John Bell Hood and the Texas Brigade

John Bell Hood was born in Owingsville, Kentucky on June 1st or 29th 1831, and died August 30th 1879. He was a cousin of Future Confederate General G. W. Smith and was a nephew of U.S. Representative Richard French. French managed to obtain an appointment for his nephew to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Hood's father was a doctor and reluctantly supported his sons decision on a military care Hood graduated West Point in 1853. He ranked 44th in a class of 52. The class originally numbered 96 but four years took its toll.. At West Point and later in his Army career he was known this friends as "Sam." Classmates at The Point included James B. McPherson and  John Schofield. He was instructed on artillery by George H. Thomas. These three men would become Union Generals that would oppose him in the western theatre. The Superintendent from 1852-55 was a Colonel Robert E. Lee.

He served in California and in Texas.
While in Texas he received his first of what would be many wounds in his military service. He took an arrow through his left hand fighting Comanches at Devil's River.
Hood resigned from the U.S. Army immediately after the bombing of Fort Sumter. Dissatisfied with the neutrality of his native state of Kentucky he decided to serve his adopted state of Texas.
He joined the Confederate Army as a cavalry captain but in Sept 1861, was promoted to Colonel of the 4th Texas Infantry Regiment. This was followed by his promotion to lead the Brigade and It was thereafter known as Hood's Texas Brigade.
General John B Hood on left with General Wade Hampton.
Hood and his Brigade fought through the Peninsula Campaign and every campaign afterward in the Army of Northern Virginia. Hood earned a reputation as a aggressive commander and his Texans were considered elite troops in the army. As a division commander during the Battle of Second Manassas, His assault on John Popes left flank nearly destroyed the Union Army.
In pursuit of Union forces, Hood was involved in a dispute over captured ambulances with his superior, Brig Gen Nathan "Shanks" Evans. Evens had Hood arrested, but General Lee intervened and retained Hood in service. During the Battle of South Mountain Hood's Texas boys cried out to general Lee. "Give us Hood!" Lee restored Hood to command despite Hood's refusal to apologize for his conduct to Evans.
At Gettysburg, He was wounded by an artillery burst. Although he didn't have it amputated, he lost the use of his left arm for the rest of his life.
In the Western Theater, Braxton Bragg was attempting to mount a massive assault. Lee dispatched two divisions of General James Longstreet's Corp to Tennessee. Hood, newly recovered from his Gettysburg wounds lead his division on the field and helped saved Bragg's army from defeat. Once again Hood was severely wounded. This time his right femur was fractured and his leg was amputated 4" below the hip. Hood's condition was so grave that the surgeon sent the severed leg along with the general in the ambulance assuming that they would be buried together. He once again survived and recuperated in Richmond Virginia. Members of his old Texas Brigade collected over $3,100 dollars in a single day and purchased an artificial leg made of cork for their beloved commander.
Later he was appointed by Jefferson Davis to replace Joseph Johnston in Atlanta. He lost Atlanta and lead what was left of the Army of Tennessee to its destruction at Franklin and Nashville Tennessee in December of 1864. Hood proved his value and worth as a brigade and division commander, but became less effective in higher command positions.

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