The General Whom the President Elevated Too High: Davis and John Bell Hood

Herman Hattaway

in Jefferson Davis's Generals

Published in print October 2000 | ISBN: 9780195139211
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199848799 | DOI:

Series: Gettysburg Civil War Institute Books

The General Whom the President Elevated Too High: Davis and John Bell Hood

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This chapter illuminates the factors that might have played a role in Major John Bell Hood's rise: a West Point training, an impressive physical size, association with Texas, and—possibly—personal recommendations from Albert Sidney Johnston, Hood's old commander in the Second United States Cavalry, as well as from Hood's distant relative, Gustavus Woodson Smith. From his first encounter, Hood rose to be the last of Jefferson Davis's generals, attaining an army command. Although Hood failed officially and unofficially in army command, he was a better general than many historians and students of the civil war have indicated. Hood was an honest man who simply rose two steps beyond his maximal level of competence—which was at division command. The tragedy is not that he could not see this but that Davis had so thoroughly overestimated Hood's capacity and that the South's resources of command below the very top echelons were so meagre.

Keywords: Major John Bell Hood; West Point; Texas; Albert Sidney Johnston; Second United States Cavalry; Gustavus Woodson Smith; army command; general; division command

Chapter.  6240 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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