John Bell Hood and the Mysteries of Spring Hill - Eric Jacobson
Time & Location
About the Event
Confederate general John Bell Hood’s Tennessee campaign of 1864 is one of the most controversial of the Civil War. In particular, Hood’s frontal assault on an entrenched army led by John Schofield at Franklin, about twenty miles south of Nashville, on 30 November 1864, was an attack larger, bloodier, and more futile than Pickett’s charge, resulting in nearly 2000 Confederate dead. Private Sam Watkins of the 1st Tennessee called it "the blackest page in the history of the war." Yet the day before Hood had let Schofield’s army slip through his fingers at the Battle of Spring Hill. What bought about this extraordinary reversal of military fortunes?
On 29 November 1864, Hood’s infantry crossed the Duck River, where Schofield’s men had held them for five day, and converged on Spring Hill which would have placed them astride the Union supply line back to Nashville. Schofield began to withdraw, dividing his force in the face of the enemy. In the late afternoon, the Union troops repulsed several piecemeal Confederate attacks, preventing a decisive interdiction of their escape route. During the evening, the rest of Schofield’s command passed unmolested through Spring Hill to Franklin -- within a few hundred yards of Hood's men in their camps for the night. The engagement has been described as “one of the most controversial non-fighting events of the entire war." Hood had lost perhaps his best chance to isolate and defeat the Union army, and his anger at Schofield’s escape may have contributed to the tragedy the next day at Franklin. How was it that Hood and his army let Schofield escape their clutches?
Join us with historian Eric Jacobson to explore further the story of this fateful encounter.
About the Speaker
Eric A. Jacobson has been studying the American Civil War for nearly three decades. A Minnesota native, Eric moved to Tennessee in 2005. He is the author of For Cause & For Country: A Study of the Affair at Spring Hill and the Battle of Franklin, (2006), considered by some to be one of the most important books ever written about the 1864 Tennessee Campaign, The McGavock Confederate Cemetery (2007) and Baptism of Fire (2011) which details the roles of three Federal regiments at the Battle of Franklin.
He is the Chief Executive Officer of The Battle of Franklin Trust, which manages the Carter House and Carnton historical sites, and has worked with preservation organizations such as the American Battlefield Trust, Franklin’s Charge, the American Battlefield Protection Program, the National Park Service, and Save The Franklin Battlefield to reclaim and preserve important sections of the Spring Hill and Franklin battlefields. In recent years he has worked with the City of Franklin on the Fuller Story project, helping to tell more of the African American experience during and after the Civil War.
He lives in rural Maury County, Tennessee with his wife Nancy.
The event is free but we welcome donations to enable us to continue our education and conservation projects on both sides of the Atlantic.
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