Report of General John B. Hood, C. S. Army, commanding Army of Tennessee, of operations July 18-September 6.
RICHMOND, VA., February 15, 1865.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the Army of Tennessee while commanded by me, from July 18, 1864, to January 23, 1865:
The results of a campaign do not always show how the general in command has discharged his duty. The inquiry 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 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.
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 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 re-enforcements 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,