Movement against Allatoona — letter from General S. G. French.
Major — Yours of the 24th instant is just at hand. I have carefully examined your article on General Hood's campaign in Tennessee, that you read before the Southern Historical Society of Kentucky. I appreciate the motive that induced you to write the article to vindicate the army that he commanded against some unjust accusations he made to shield his own errors. In this you have well succeeded. You have also vindicated General Cheatham; and yet, I never thought he needed it, for General Hood being present at the front, in person, from 2 P. M., till sun-rise the next morning, of itself vindicated the command for not doing that which it came so cheerfully to do. Hood told me that he “pointed out to Cheatham the enemy's wagons passing along the turnpike in his front, and said to him, ‘Turn those wagons into our camp!’ ” and yet the silence of the day, and the quietness of the camp all night long, told him but too well it was not being done. You may remember, that when he said to me the next morning: “General French, we have let the greatest opportunity of the war slip through our hands,” I replied to him rather figuratively, “Yes, I understand, the Yankees were passing along all night, lighting their pipes at our camp fires.” In General Hood's book, (and which will be referred to by future historians,) in regard to myself, he has departed so unnecessarily from the truth to vindicate himself, when no vindication was necessary, that I will refer to his statements. Let us see how he did this. And now just here you will pardon me while I point out to you — as a warning to historians — wherein you have perpetuated his errors in your article. You repeat, in reference to Allatoona, “Hood ordered French's division to move up the railroad to Allatoona mountain, and destroy the railroad at that point, capture the garrison, supposed to consist of three and one-half regiments, and destroy the depot of army stores accumulated there; and also, if possible, burn the bridge across the Etowah river.” Now, Hood says on page 257, in Advance and retreat, “I had received information — and General Shoup records the same in his diary — that the enemy had in store at Allatoona, large supplies, which were guarded by two or three regiments. As one of the main objects of the campaign was to deprive the enemy of provisions, Major-General ”