General John Bell Hood Invades Tennessee – 11/22/1864

US History |


Have you ever wondered if you would do something desperate despite the odds say it will end in failure? Can such a cause exist where someone would follow through with the old saying that “desperate times calls for desperate measures?” Centuries ago, a cause did exist where people would do things that normally would have been ignored or even attempted because failure was not an option; the Civil War was such a cause. One person who could attest to this was Confederate General John Bell Hood who on November 22nd, 1864 made the decision to invade Tennessee even though knowing this was a desperate attempt to lure out of Georgia Union General William T. Sherman.

This action regarding Hood’s Army of Tennessee was part of a saga in 1864. The army during the spring was commanded by Joseph Johnston was able to block Sherman’s path from Chattanooga to Atlanta. Sherman attempted to flank the Rebel army by engaging Johnston in basically small battles during the summer. Johnston was able to keep his army whole as he was forced to retreat to Atlanta. Confederate President Jefferson Davis could no longer sit by and watch the Yankees obtain more territory, so in July he decided to relieve the defensive Johnston with Hood who was more aggressive. Hood quickly ordered several attacks outside of Atlanta against Sherman but all that was accomplished was losing the capabilities of his own army. Eventually, Hood had to order a retreat from Atlanta one month later after his unsuccessful siege.

Hood decided to attempt to cut off Sherman’s supply line by moving his army first south and then swung around to arrive at Atlanta from the west. This line was familiar as it covered the same route where during the summer; both armies had fought before as it ran down from Chattanooga. Sherman was forced to use a large portion of his army to defend the lines; however, the only thing Hood could do was to merely pick at them. Hood traveled and found a place to rest his exhausted troops in Atlanta.

Hood committed to a daring expedition in hopes that he could save the west for the Confederates. His goal was to head toward Nashville, then to Kentucky and possibly into the Northern states before heading east and arriving where the army of General Robert E. Lee was; his army was currently under attack at Petersburg, Virginia. Hood was committed to succeed despite it being a huge task.

The start of the new mission that marked what would be disastrous for the Confederates was going into Tennessee on November 22nd. Cutting away from his supply lines, Sherman took part of his troops to begin his march to the sea; the result was Savannah, Georgia being captured right before Christmas. Sherman wanted to be on guard against Hood, so he sent what remained of his army to Nashville under the command of George Thomas. Thomas was ready as Hood ordered a charge on November 30th and battled some of his troops at Franklin, Tennessee. Despite suffering a destructive loss, he decided on December 15th to press on against Thomas at Nashville. Hood’s once-proud Army of Tennessee was now depleted as a result of the attack.

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