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General Hood's report.

The operations of the Army of Tennessee.

Richmond, Va., Feb. 15th, 1865.
General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.
General:--I have the honor to submit the following Report of the operations of the Army of Tennessee, while commanded by me, from July 18th, 1864, to January 23d, 1865.

The results of a campaign do not always show how the General in command has discharged his duty. Their enquiry should be not what he has done, but what he should have accomplished with the means under his control. To appreciate the operations of the Army of Tennessee, it is necessary to look at its history during the three months which preceded the day on which I was ordered to its command. To do this, it is necessary either to state in this report all the facts which illustrate the entire operations of the Army of Tennessee in the recent campaign, or to write a supplemental or accompanying report. I deem the former more appropriate, and will therefore submit in a single paper all the information which seems to me should be communicated to the Government. [318]

On the 6th of May, 1864, the Army lay at and near Dalton awaiting the advance of the enemy.

Never had so large a Confederate Army assembled in the West. Seventy thousand (70,000) effective men were in the easy direction of a single commander, whose good fortune it was to be able to give successful battle, and redeem the losses of the past. Extraordinary efforts had been used to secure easy victory. The South had been denuded of troops to fill the strength of the Army of Tennessee. Mississippi and Alabama were without military support, and looked for protection in decisive battle in the mountains of Georgia. The vast forces of the enemy were accumulating in the East, and to retard their advance or confuse their plans, much was expected by a counter movement by us in the West. The desires of the Government expressed to the Confederate commander in the West were to assume the offensive. Nearly all the men and resources of the West and South were placed at his disposal for the purpose. The men amounted to the number already stated, and the resources for their support were equal to the demand. The reinforcements were within supporting distance. The troops felt strong in their increased numbers, saw the means and arrangements to move forward, and recover, not abandon our own territory, and believed that victory might be achieved. In such condition was that splendid Army when the active campaign fairly opened. The enemy but little superior in numbers, none in organization and discipline, inferior in spirit and confidence, commenced his advance. The Confederate forces, whose faces and hopes were to the North, almost simultaneously commenced to retreat. They soon reached positions favorable for resistance. Great ranges of mountains running across the line of march, and deep rivers, are stands from which a well-directed Army is not easily driven or turned. At each advance of the enemy the Confederate Army, without serious resistance, fell back to the next range or river in the rear. This habit to retreat soon became a routine of the Army, and was substituted for the hope and confidence with which the campaign opened. The enemy soon perceived this. With perfect security he divided his forces, using one column to menace in front, and one to threaten in rear. The usual order to retreat, not strike in detail, was issued and obeyed. These retreats were always at night,--the day was consumed in hard labor. Daily temporary works were thrown up, behind which it was never intended to fight. The men became travellers by night, and laborers by day. They were ceasing to be soldiers by the disuse of military duty. Thus for seventy-four days and nights that noble Army, if ordered to resist, no force that the enemy could assemble could dislodge from a battle field, continued to abandon their country, to see their strength departing, and their flag waving only in retreat, or in partial engagements. At the [319] end of that time after descending from the mountains when the last advantage of position was abandoned, and camping, without fortifications, on the open plains of Georgia, the Army had lost twenty-two thousand seven hundred and fifty (22,750) of its best soldiers. Nearly one-third was gone, no general battle fought, much of our State abandoned, two others uncovered, and the organization and efficiency of every command by loss of officers, men, and tone, seriously diminished. These things were the inevitable result of the strategy adopted. It is impossible for a large Army to retreat in the face of a pursuing enemy without such a fate. In a retreat the losses are constant and permanent. Stragglers are overtaken; the fatigued fall by the wayside, and are gathered by the advancing enemy. Every position by the rear guard, if taken, yields its wounded to the victors. The soldiers always awaken from rest at night to continue the retreat, leave many of their comrades asleep in trenches. The losses of a single day are not large. Those of seventy-four days will embrace the strength of an Army. If a battle be fought, and the field held at the close, however great the slaughter, the loss will be less than to retreat in the face of an enemy. There will be no stragglers. Desertions are in retreat, rarely, if ever, on the field of battle. The wounded are gathered to the rear, and soon recover, and in a few weeks the entire loss consists only of the killed and permanently disabled, which is not one-fifth of the apparent loss on the night of the battle. The enemy is checked, his plans deranged, territory saved, the campaign suspended or won. If a retreat still be necessary, it can then be done with no enemy pressing, and no loss following. The advancing party loses nothing but its killed and permanently disabled. Neither straggler nor deserter thin its ranks. It reaches the end of its march stronger for battle than when it started. The Army commanded by General Sherman, and that commanded by General Johnston, not greatly unequal at the commencement of the campaign, illustrate what I have written. General Sherman, in his official report, states that his forces when they entered Atlanta were nearly the same in number as when they left Dalton. The Army of Tennessee lost twenty-two thousand seven hundred and fifty (22,750) men, nearly one-third of its strength; I have nothing to say of the statement of losses made by General Johnston in his official report, except to state that by his own figures he understates his loss some thousands, that he excludes the idea of any prisoners, although his previous official returns show more than seven thousand (7000) under the head, “absent without leave,” and that the returns of the Army while he was in command, corrected and increased by the records of the Army which has not been fully reported to the Government, and the return signed by me, but made up under him as soon as I assumed command, show the losses of the Army of Tennessee to be what I have stated, and a careful [320] examination of the returns with the Army will show the losses to be more than stated.

This statement of the previous conduct of the campaign is necessary, so as to show what means I had to retrieve the disasters of the past. And if the results are not such as to bring joy to the country, it is not the first time that the most faithful efforts of duty were unable to repair the injury done by others. If, as is untruly charged, the Army of Tennessee ceased to exist under my command, it is also true that it received its mortal wound when it turned its back in retreat in the mountains of Georgia; and under different management it lingered much longer than it would have done with the same daily loss occurring, when it was placed under my direction.

The Army was turned over to me by order of the President at Atlanta on the 18th July, 1864. Its effective strength was: Infantry, thirtythree thousand seven hundred and fifty (33,750); artillery, three thousand five hundred (3500); cavalry, ten thousand (10,000), with one thousand five hundred Georgia militia, commanded by Major General G. W. Smith, making a total effective of forty-eight thousand seven hundred and fifty (48,750) men. The Army was in bivouac south of the Chattahoochee river, between Atlanta and that river, and was advancing — the right near Pace's Ferry and the left near Roswell. On the evening of the 18th our cavalry was principally driven across Peach Tree creek. I caused line of battle to be formed, the left resting near the Pace's Ferry road, and the right covering Atlanta. On the morning of the i9th the dispositions of the enemy were substantially as follows: The “Army of the Cumberland,” under Thomas, was in the act of crossing Peach Tree creek. This creek forming a considerable obstacle to the passage of an Army, runs in a northeasterly direction, emptying into the Chattahoochee river near the railroad crossing. The “Army of the Ohio,” under Schofield, was also about to cross east of the Buckhead road. The “Army of the Tennessee,” under McPherson, was moving on the Georgia Railroad at Decatur. Feeling it impossible to hold Atlanta without giving battle, I determined to strike the enemy while attempting to cross this stream. My troops were disposed as follows: Stewart's Corps on the left; Hardee's in the centre, and Cheatham's on the right, entrenched. My object was to crush Thomas's Army before he could fortify himself, and then turn upon Schofield and McPherson. To do this, Cheatham was ordered to hold his left on the creek in order to separate Thomas's Army from the forces on his (Thomas's) left. Thus I should be able to throw two corps, Stewart's and Hardee's, against Thomas. Specific orders were carefully given these Generals, in the presence of each other, as follows: The attack was to begin at 1 p. m.; the movement to be by division in en echelon from the right, at the distance [321] of about one hundred and fifty yards; the effort to be to drive the enemy back to the creek, and then towards the river, into the narrow space formed by the river and creek, everything on our side of the creek to be taken at all hazards, and to follow up as our success might permit. Each of these Generals was to hold a division in reserve. Owing to the demonstrations of the enemy on the right, it became necessary to extend Cheatham a division front to the right. To do this, Hardee and Stewart were each ordered to extend a half division front to close the interval. Foreseeing that some confusion and delay might result, I was careful to call General Hardee's attention to the importance of having a staff officer on his left, to see that the left did not take more than half a division front. This unfortunately was not attended to, and the line closed to the right, causing Stewart to move two or three times the proper distance. In consequence of this, the attack was delayed until nearly 4 p. m. At this hour the attack began as ordered. Stewart's Corps carrying the temporary works in his front; Hardee's failed to push the attack as ordered, and thus the enemy remaining in possession of his works on Stewart's right, compelled Stewart by an enfilade fire to abandon the position he had carried. I have every reason to believe that our attack would have been successful had my order been executed. I am strengthened in this opinion by information since obtained through Brigadier General Govan, some time a prisoner in the enemy's hands, touching the condition of the enemy at the time. The delay from one to four o'clock, p. m., was unfortunate, but would have not proved irretrievable had the attack been vigorously made. Ascertaining that the attack had failed, I caused the troops to retire to their former positions.

The position and demonstration of

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