|Date(s):||August 12, 1864|
|Tag(s):||Crime/Violence, Law, Health/Death|
|Course:||“Civil War and Reconstruction,” Juniata College|
After Atlanta had been taken, General John Bell Hood commanded his Army of Tennessee to attempt to cut off William Tecumseh Sherman’s railroad supply lines to Atlanta. This resulted in Hood launching several attacks in Tennessee and destruction of the railroad which weakened his army greatly. Hood had hoped that this would lure Sherman and his troops to pursue them towards Tennessee, but Sherman recognized the plan and moved toward Savannah, Georgia in his famous march to the sea. While Union soldiers caused destruction in Georgia, stragglers from the Confederate troops, mostly of Wheeler’s cavalry, caused just as much destruction as the Union troops. The result was Hood’s Field Order 14.
In Hood’s Field Order 14 he made it unlawful for Confederate soldiers to destroy private property. He even went as far as to say anyone causing the destruction would be subject to arrest and even execution. He also ordered officers to take charge of the enforcement of this order, by saying “In any cases where it is shown that an officer, high or low, has permitted or failed to take proper steps to prevent such depredations as those complained of herein, he shall be deprived of his commission.” The major problem was in the Confederate cavalry members, therefore Hood went further to enforce that all horses must be branded and the sale and buying of horses by Confederate soldiers was only to be done in necessity by commanding officers or risk arrest. He warned citizens that they could not exchange horses with soldiers unless from the authority of officers. If citizens did not obey this order, their property could be seized and they would not have military support.
General Hood was appointed commander of the Army of Tennessee in July of 1864, during the siege of Atlanta by the Union army and General Sherman. As documented by Richard McMurry, Lee thought of Hood as “a bold fighter and very industrious on the battle field.” Lee also was quoted in a letter saying “I have a high opinion of his gallantry, earnestness, and zeal.” Hood enjoyed the respect of his fellow Confederate Generals. Hood attempted to implement some very aggressive tactics after the Union army had taken Atlanta, and they soon spun out of control.
The desperation of Hood’s offensive attacks in Tennessee and the desperation of the Confederate soldiers to destruct their own comrades’ property showed that the war had significantly turned in the Union’s favor. Sherman had control of Georgia and would soon turn his forces to the North to aid in the attacks on General Lee. General Hood was brilliant in his tactics, but he failed in his armies’ execution which resulted in the decimation of his army and the turning of his army to desperation in destructing their fellow neighbors’ property.