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Civil War Series

The Campaign for Atlanta

   

HOOD FIGHTS FOR ATLANTA

In all likelihood he was relieved at being relieved; should Atlanta fall, not he but would be blamed and his cherished military reputation would be preserved.

Johnston and Hood received their respective telegrams on the night of July 17. Early in the morning Hood went to Johnston's headquarters. There he joined with Hardee and Stewart, who now with the rank of lieutenant general headed Polk's Corps, in sending a telegram to Davis asking him to retain Johnston in command until a battle deciding the fate of Atlanta was fought. Davis refused. To suspend the order relieving Johnston, he telegraphed back, would make "the case worse than it was before the order was issued." Hood thereupon formally assumed command and Johnston went to Atlanta from whence, the following day, he and his wife took a train to Macon. In all likelihood he was relieved at being relieved: should Atlanta fall, not he but Hood would be blamed and his cherished military reputation would be preserved.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL JOHN B. HOOD (USAMHI)

In his July 15 report to Davis, Bragg had also asserted that naming Hood to command would give "unlimited satisfaction." This too was a lie. Reaction in the Army of Tennessee to Johnston being superseded by Hood was generally, although not universally, negative. Like his good friend George B. McClellan, Johnston had a knack for making himself popular with the rank and file. On the other hand, Hood's well-known penchant for the offensive filled many veterans with apprehension. Last, but not least, Hardee bitterly resented not obtaining the command himself and having to serve under a man who was his junior in rank as well as years.

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