Book Chat
For Cause & For Country
A Study of the Affair at Spring Hill and the Battle of Franklin
Eric A. Jacobson and Richard A. Rupp

This chat took place in the Civil War Home Chatroom on 02/25/07 and covered Chapters 5 and 6.  This discussion was participated in by "Eric A. Jacobson", one of the authors of the book.

2/25/2007 8:02 pm (et) Basecat: Welcome to the Sunday Night Book chat. Tonight we will be discussing Chapters 5 and 6 of Eric's book For Cause & Country: A Study of the Affair at Spring Hill and the Battle of Franklin Reminder, please no using the PM box during the discussion. Thanks.

2/25/2007 8:03 pm (et) ks: Some of you may have noted this in the log where shotgun reminded us that, by hitting the log button, you can always check for the updated posts. Even if they've not appeared in the list of text here, they will be updated in the log.

2/25/2007 8:04 pm (et) Basecat: Lets start with any questions or comments from Chapter 5 "The Legend and Legacy of Spring Hill".

2/25/2007 8:04 pm (et) Widow: Excellent analysis of what went wrong and right. It was much easier to understand that confusing mess at Spring Hill.

2/25/2007 8:05 pm (et) ks: The commentary concerning John Brown's papers or letters on Spring Hill were curious. For him to not publish those papers and his family (following his death) to destroy them sure gets the imagination going.

2/25/2007 8:05 pm (et) Widow: Eric, your research clarified who said what when. To the extent possible.

2/25/2007 8:06 pm (et) Basecat: I agree widow, and I tend to think as was written in the book that Cheatham wanted noting to do with another night attack.

2/25/2007 8:06 pm (et) ks: Eric emphasized it was SPECULATION. :) What do you all speculate that the Brown papers said?? ;)

2/25/2007 8:06 pm (et) Babs: I definitely got the impression that there was something going on that no one wanted to reveal.

2/25/2007 8:06 pm (et) Widow: Ks, could've been a case of "Who wants that old junk anyhow."

2/25/2007 8:07 pm (et) ole: Like Robert burning Mary Todd's letters.

2/25/2007 8:07 pm (et) ks: Might have been just that, Widow. But the later speculation on drinking having possibly been the factor does cause one to wonder. Causes this one anyway.

2/25/2007 8:07 pm (et) Basecat: IIRC, it was customary at that time when someone passed away, they would burn any papers belonging to the deceased. I don't think it was a sign of any funny business going on.

2/25/2007 8:08 pm (et) Widow: KS, possibly Brown's surviving family didn't know, or didn't believe the rumors about his drinking.

2/25/2007 8:08 pm (et) ole: Maybe as Widow said, "Who wants that old junk?

2/25/2007 8:09 pm (et) ks: ole, which are you saying? I don't imagine Robert having seen his mother's letters as old junk. I'd think he was out to avoid further potential embarrassment. Not that I'm wanting to discuss MTL. Just the sequence of posts...I don't know which point you were making.

2/25/2007 8:09 pm (et) ole: Or destroying things that are just not said.

2/25/2007 8:09 pm (et) ole: Never mind. Let's get back to Spring Hill.

2/25/2007 8:11 pm (et) Widow: Eric, in one of your footnotes, I don't remember if chap. 5 or 6, you mentioned an intriguing explanation for the discrepancy between two reports. Something about one man said two units came up, and the other man said one. You speculated that the second man may have known about only one. That kind of explanation makes a lot of sense.

2/25/2007 8:11 pm (et) ks: Have said previously that this is the first Spring Hill reading I've done. The idea of the outcome being due to providence was new to me. "Only God could have saved the Yankees." Of course action taken by the federals would have had something to do with it.

2/25/2007 8:11 pm (et) Widow: Not that the men were wrong, or lying, just didn't have all the facts. Nobody had all the facts.

2/25/2007 8:12 pm (et) mobile_96: And the lack of actions by the Confederates at the same time.

2/25/2007 8:13 pm (et) Widow: When you've been humiliated like that, you'd rather blame it on somebody else. In that case, it was God.

2/25/2007 8:14 pm (et) Babs: Must have been tough to think God was on the other side.

2/25/2007 8:14 pm (et) ole: There were a few providential screw-ups. Of such, delayed, obscured, and missing reports seem to sprout. Of course, Franklin didn't leave too many report-writers left.

2/25/2007 8:14 pm (et) Basecat: I know I had a problem with how Hood remembered it, and that line about his soldiers unwilling to fight without having protection shows he had no clue about the men in his army, IMHO. Eric aptly described that just a few months before they attacked and attacked during the Battles around Atlanta. Hood just could not shoulder the blame himself for the lack of action there.

2/25/2007 8:14 pm (et) Widow: Eric, you cite Advance and Retreat often. Do you think Hood was deliberately trying to rewrite history, of was it just faulty memory and lack of documentation?

2/25/2007 8:16 pm (et) Basecat: Widow, IMHO, Hood was easy to blames others for the mistakes made...and it does not just happen at the events of Spring Hill.

2/25/2007 8:16 pm (et) Widow: Come again, Base? Hood was easy to blame others?

2/25/2007 8:17 pm (et) ks: Widow, your comment reminds me of a quote by shotgun on his website concerning "truth". "I wish to remind you that there are three truths in life; (1) The truth as you see it, (2) The truth as others see it and (3) The truth as it really is. The odds against all three coming together at the same time are astronomical."

2/25/2007 8:17 pm (et) Basecat: Sorry...Hood easily blamed others for the mistakes made, and rarely took the hit for them.

2/25/2007 8:17 pm (et) EricJacobson: Widow - Tough to say. Hood is an interesting writer; amidst his sloppy writing and finger pointing he often takes responsibility. I think, to quote him, he said "I failed utterly to bring on battle at Spring Hill." So he throws around the blame, but then accepts it fully. His memoirs are a must read, but they must be read carefully and with an open mind.

2/25/2007 8:17 pm (et) Basecat: ks...and that's especially true in many of the post Civil War memoirs these guys wrote.

2/25/2007 8:18 pm (et) Widow: Eric, for a beginner like me, I'm glad to have your objective study first, then plunge into Hood's memoir.

2/25/2007 8:19 pm (et) ks: I'm sure that was the case, Basecat. I'd think it often not an attempt to mislead, but a different view of what one felt was THE truth.

2/25/2007 8:20 pm (et) EricJacobson: One other quick thing about Hood's memoirs....

2/25/2007 8:20 pm (et) Basecat: ks...It reminds me when we read Grant's Memoirs, but that's for another discussion.

2/25/2007 8:20 pm (et) ole: Mislead; no. CYA; yes.'

2/25/2007 8:20 pm (et) Widow: Sure. What I saw must be true. Of course, if I didn't see everything, ....

2/25/2007 8:22 pm (et) ole: Had forgotten about Wagner's fairly decent performance at Spring Hill.

2/25/2007 8:22 pm (et) Widow: Eric, please, tell us.

2/25/2007 8:22 pm (et) ks: CYA? Sorry, that's what?

2/25/2007 8:22 pm (et) ole: Cover your a...

2/25/2007 8:22 pm (et) EricJacobson: You should note Hood have few primary sources to use when he was writing his book. God knows practically no one on the Rebel side filed any official reports and the OR's were not yet published. Hood was trying to piece together a night from 15 years earlier practically from memory. Not that he didn't slop the facts around somewhat, but how many of us could say exactly what happened in 1991 on a particular night in detail. Well I could for one night, but that was the night my baseball team won the World Series.

2/25/2007 8:23 pm (et) ks: Aha. Got it. Thanks. :)

2/25/2007 8:23 pm (et) EricJacobson: Wagner and his guys did much to save the Union army on November 29.

2/25/2007 8:23 pm (et) Widow: KS, standard abbreviation in Federalspeak, Armyspeak.

2/25/2007 8:23 pm (et) Basecat: Eric, which is a good point, and was just gonna ask if any one on the Rebel side did file a report. I think you mentioned maybe one officer did, but I can't recall.

2/25/2007 8:24 pm (et) ole: I have trouble with last week -- let alone 15 years ago. But his memory was a bit selective and self-serving.

2/25/2007 8:24 pm (et) EricJacobson: Cheatham never did. He claimed he lost it, no kidding.

2/25/2007 8:24 pm (et) Widow: OK, Eric, that makes a lot more sense than a desire to distort for self-protection.

2/25/2007 8:25 pm (et) ole: What do you think, Eric? Never did? Or lost it? Either results in none.

2/25/2007 8:25 pm (et) EricJacobson: Stewart did, but he always toed the middle ground and didn't say much. Bate did, but Brown didn't and, of course, Cleburne couldn't. Leaves a great many gaps in the record.

2/25/2007 8:25 pm (et) ole: Speculate.

2/25/2007 8:26 pm (et) Widow: And even if they filed their reports, where were they sent? To Richmond? That big fire just before the evacuation probably wiped out several years of ORs.

2/25/2007 8:26 pm (et) EricJacobson: I believe Cheatham when he said he lost it. But doggone it, he should have filed another. But as far as administrative issues Cheatham was as sloppy as Hood could be.

2/25/2007 8:27 pm (et) Widow: Aggressive fighters don't necessarily enjoy paperwork. McClellan loved administrative issues.

2/25/2007 8:27 pm (et) EricJacobson: The reports would eventually make their way to Richmond.

2/25/2007 8:27 pm (et) ks: That's a possibility I'd not previously considered, Widow. Seems a good point.

2/25/2007 8:28 pm (et) ole: Discovering even one of them moldering in someone's attic would be a treasure.

2/25/2007 8:28 pm (et) EricJacobson: McClellan and Joe Johnston together probably couldn't get an attack started. Oops, that might fire someone up.....

2/25/2007 8:28 pm (et) Basecat: And IIRC, some officers made copies of their reports...One to Richmond, and one to be kept with their staff paperwork.

2/25/2007 8:28 pm (et) ks: Doubt it would in here, Eric. ;)

2/25/2007 8:29 pm (et) ole: :)

2/25/2007 8:29 pm (et) ks: Another example of CYA, Basecat. :)

2/25/2007 8:29 pm (et) EricJacobson: War Department paperwork like official reports were for the most part saved from the fire in April '65. No evidence any of the reports from the Tennessee Campaign were lost, they simply were not filed.

2/25/2007 8:29 pm (et) Basecat: Heck I would have made a copy if I found myself in that position.:)

2/25/2007 8:30 pm (et) EricJacobson: Good point Basecat

2/25/2007 8:30 pm (et) ole: Was the AoT a bit lax in observing the military requirements? Seems so.

2/25/2007 8:30 pm (et) Widow: Those brigade and division commanders were pretty busy. Reckon they had other things on their minds.

2/25/2007 8:31 pm (et) Widow: Ole, my impression is that most everything in the western theater was more lax than the eastern

2/25/2007 8:32 pm (et) ks: Probably known fact to many if not all here, but I found it interesting that Abraham *was* a cousin to John Buford. Looked that up as I read the homework and found it interesting.

2/25/2007 8:33 pm (et) ole: Wasn't a bit more distant than "cousin"?

2/25/2007 8:33 pm (et) ks: I only know what Google told me, ole. "cousin" was the word I found repeatedly.

2/25/2007 8:34 pm (et) ole: Great. On to Franklin!

2/25/2007 8:34 pm (et) Widow: Eric, in chapter 6, I was intrigued by your description of how Wagner's good sense broke down. Do you have any ideas what was going on?

2/25/2007 8:34 pm (et) ks: GDG says they were first cousins. Just found that.

2/25/2007 8:35 pm (et) EricJacobson: Abe Buford committed suicide in 1884

2/25/2007 8:35 pm (et) ks:

2/25/2007 8:35 pm (et) Widow: I mean when he told his men to hold at all costs and put them out in the cotton fields, no shelter.

2/25/2007 8:35 pm (et) EricJacobson: Widow - only speculation and try to steer clear of that most of the time...

2/25/2007 8:36 pm (et) EricJacobson: I think, as far as positioning the men goes, he was simply trying to form a strong advanced position, almost like a bold skirmish line. The problem was he waited too long to call them back.

2/25/2007 8:36 pm (et) Widow: OK. Did you find any info about any impairments? Sleep deprivation? Confusing orders from above? Fog of war?

2/25/2007 8:37 pm (et) ole: You're among friends. Speculate.

2/25/2007 8:37 pm (et) ole: Oops. You did.

2/25/2007 8:38 pm (et) EricJacobson: Wagner had been hurt at some point on Nov 30 by a fall from his horse. Obviously he was exhausted. Give a tired man who's hurting a bottle and see what happens. I found a post-war letter from David Stanley who said Wagner was blasted drunk. It's secondary info, but worth mentioning.

2/25/2007 8:39 pm (et) ole: Almost like Sickles at G'Burg.

2/25/2007 8:39 pm (et) Widow: Another thing in chap. 6 was Hood's anger when he learned the enemy had slipped away unnoticed.

2/25/2007 8:39 pm (et) ole: Having a bottle when I'm hurting is a comfort.

2/25/2007 8:39 pm (et) EricJacobson: I think Hood was understandably upset

2/25/2007 8:39 pm (et) mobile_96: On his 'disagreement with Opdycke, think he ignored it because of the battle outcome, or another reason?

2/25/2007 8:39 pm (et) EricJacobson: So were the Confederate soldiers...

2/25/2007 8:39 pm (et) Widow: Southern Comfort, ole?

2/25/2007 8:40 pm (et) ole: Northern Comfort, Widow.

2/25/2007 8:40 pm (et) EricJacobson: I don't think Opdycke or Wagner thought it worth mentioning. They were big boys, both got mad, and that was that.

2/25/2007 8:40 pm (et) ole: Thought maybe Eric had meant "battle." Guess not.

2/25/2007 8:41 pm (et) Widow: That shouting match between Wagner and Opdycke all the way into Franklin. Must have been quite a sight for the boys.

2/25/2007 8:42 pm (et) ks: Eric, in the notes you mention having visited the remains of Ft. Granger. What remains of Ft. Granger to visit??

2/25/2007 8:42 pm (et) Widow: And then each man put his own spin on the way it ended.

2/25/2007 8:42 pm (et) ole: I forget (after all, it was a few days ago), did Schofield seek to correct Wagner's positioning?

2/25/2007 8:42 pm (et) Basecat: :) I tend to think Cleburne was even madder when he found out what he was accused of not doing at Spring Hill. I would not want to have Cleburne steamed at me, as he took those things personally, and I often wonder had he survived just what the outcome would have been had he had the chance to discuss this a lot more intensely.

2/25/2007 8:42 pm (et) EricJacobson: A good portion of the earthen walls are still present. What a view when the leaves are not on the trees!!!

2/25/2007 8:42 pm (et) ks: Agreed, Widow. Quite a good description of their exchange. Must have been a memorable sight for the soldiers who witnessed the exchange.

2/25/2007 8:43 pm (et) ole: That entire division must have been quite exhausted.

2/25/2007 8:44 pm (et) EricJacobson: Neither Schofield or Cox ever ordered Wagner directly to pull back. This was a huge point of contention among those of Lane's and Conrad's men who survived. Almost to a man they did not blame Wagner, they point at Cox and Schofield.

2/25/2007 8:44 pm (et) EricJacobson: Cleburne's behavior at Franklin shows just how mad he probably was

2/25/2007 8:45 pm (et) Basecat: Eric, I agree, and sadly for him.

2/25/2007 8:45 pm (et) mobile_96: For anyone with the time life Illustrated Atlas of the Civil War (1998) there is a decent map of Franklin showing U.S. Divisional positions,

2/25/2007 8:45 pm (et) Widow: Wagner's men saw the situation up close and personal. They knew the ground truth if anybody did.

2/25/2007 8:46 pm (et) ole: And, Widow, it's very difficult to keep veterans from knowing what's going on.

2/25/2007 8:47 pm (et) Widow: Ole, their survival depends on knowing what's going on in the general's head. So they watch him closely and try to stay one jump ahead.

2/25/2007 8:49 pm (et) Widow: Eric, I like the way you finished chap. 6. You've described the frantic race to Franklin, the excellent defenses set up, and Hood is on the move. The suspense is thrilling.

2/25/2007 8:50 pm (et) Basecat: I get more of a sense of foreboding here Widow.

2/25/2007 8:51 pm (et) EricJacobson: Thanks Widow. Every now and then even a writer figures he or she has written something good. I like the paragraph on page 250 which ends the chapter.

2/25/2007 8:51 pm (et) ks: Setting up the defenses and the descriptions of the entrenching were the most memorable parts of Chapter 6 to me. Someting about mentioning the use of the Osage Orange tree really resonated here.

2/25/2007 8:51 pm (et) Widow: Yeah, Base, Eric keeps saying stuff like, But they ain't seen nothin' yet.

2/25/2007 8:52 pm (et) EricJacobson: I have been in a place just moments before a tornado hit. Absolute silence, no birds, no bugs, no wind. Just abject silence. Like you're going to die and you know it.

2/25/2007 8:52 pm (et) mobile_96: Was a good paragraph, sets up the next phase pretty well.

2/25/2007 8:53 pm (et) Basecat: Heck, I liked the last sentence on Page 194...but Page 250 ain't bad either. :)

2/25/2007 8:53 pm (et) EricJacobson: It's the only thing I could personally relate to Franklin right before all hell broke loose. Many wrote of how eerily quiet it was.

2/25/2007 8:54 pm (et) Widow: Nice phrase, the gathering storm. Churchill thought it was good too.

2/25/2007 8:54 pm (et) EricJacobson: Best compliment I can get is that the book is a good read. Facts are fun, but you have to be able to read and enjoy to appreciate the facts.

2/25/2007 8:55 pm (et) mobile_96: Would have to add my appreciation on that point also.

2/25/2007 8:55 pm (et) ole: OK. Good read.

2/25/2007 8:55 pm (et) Widow: And facts are NO fun without some "soft" stuff like a person's background, experience, attitudes.

2/25/2007 8:56 pm (et) Widow: The description of the elegant house and the tattered soldiers -- vivid and memorable.

2/25/2007 8:56 pm (et) ks: This may seem an odd question, but I'd like to know from one who's viewed it...what color are the Carter House bricks? Photos I see seem a orange-ish red, perhaps faded some.

2/25/2007 8:56 pm (et) Basecat: Which is a good segue as the book is a fine read, and now for homework next week. I know the next 2 chatpers are 125 pages. What's the consensus of the group..1. To just read Chapter 7 or 8. Read both Chapters 7 and 8. It's up to you my fellow readers...Choose wisely. ;)

2/25/2007 8:57 pm (et) ole: Brick red -- with some mottling.

2/25/2007 8:57 pm (et) ks: Chapter 7 alone is only 20 pages and has 8 pages of pictures IIRC.

2/25/2007 8:57 pm (et) ole: Let's get 'er done.

2/25/2007 8:57 pm (et) Widow: As a wise old lady, I choose both. We're big kids now.

2/25/2007 8:58 pm (et) ks: Plus, knowing it's more than the usual amount of pages we'd read for a Sunday night might compel some of us to start reading it earlier in the week. ;)

2/25/2007 8:58 pm (et) ole: Less than 20 pages per day.

2/25/2007 8:58 pm (et) Basecat: Knowing me...I would not stop at just Chapter let's do them both.

2/25/2007 8:58 pm (et) Widow: Right, Patricia. Mixed metaphors.. Again.

2/25/2007 8:59 pm (et) Widow: Patricia meaning me, not our respected lady in Kansas.

2/25/2007 9:00 pm (et) ole: The question is, how many pages we can discuss in an hour.

2/25/2007 9:00 pm (et) ks: ;) I was looking back at what I'd said to garner a mixed metaphors comment. ;)

2/25/2007 9:01 pm (et) ks: We don't have to stick to an hour, ole. Discussion can continue beyond 60 minutes if there's desire to do so.

2/25/2007 9:01 pm (et) Widow: A wise old lady who's a big kid now.

2/25/2007 9:01 pm (et) ole: OK. There was a lot going on there.

2/25/2007 9:01 pm (et) Basecat: Ole...Agreed...and usually is the case we don't hit everything during the hour. That said, I do feel we cover as much as we can with the time allotted, and as ks just posted, there is no reason to stop at 9 PM either.

2/25/2007 9:02 pm (et) Widow: Sounds good to me, Basecat.

2/25/2007 9:03 pm (et) Basecat: Any last thoughts, questions and comments on the homework for tonight....and I use the term homework loosely as this book has been a pleasure for me to read, and I hope all agree with me.

2/25/2007 9:04 pm (et) Widow: The picture on the book cover, the Carter gin house. Now I recognize it from the picture on p. 215.

2/25/2007 9:04 pm (et) ks: The homework for next week is posted on YODB. But also posted there are the titles for our next book up for discussion and the book after that as well. Makes one or two of us very pleased to see that kind of information, eh, Babs? ;) Please note and get your copies if you plan to participate.