Fort Hood, Texas

...The Great Place


Post Named for Confederate General,
Commander of the Texas Brigade

Gen John Bell Hood

Editor's note: This article appeared in the Temple Daily Telegram, Sept. 18, 1960.

Fort Hood is named for a Confederate general who was almost court-martialed.

John Bell Hood was saved from court-martial and restored to command by the loyalty he inspired in the Texans he led.

The incident was during Second Manassas and Hood had risen to command a "half division," the Texas Brigade and another. During the battle, his Texans captured some field ambulances from the federals. He was ordered to turn the ambulances over to another unit. Having no ambulances of his own, he refused. He was relieved of command and was following in the rear of his half division as it marched towards Antietam. General Robert E. Lee was watching the march. As the Texas Brigade passed the Confederate leader, the Texans let Lee know in no uncertain terms that they wanted Hood in command in the coming battle.

Lee made one last effort to "save face" for the general who had ordered Hood to give up the ambulances. He told the Texas general that if he would apologize to the man whose order he had refused he would be restored to command. Hood refused to apologize, but Lee gave him back his command anyway.

Antietam was possibly the bloodiest battle of the war for the Texas Brigade. After the battle Hood was asked where his division was. His reply: "dead in the field." More than half the men of the brigade were killed or wounded in the battle.

Hood was in direct command of the Texas Brigade — known then and now as Hood's Texas Brigade — less than six months. But he commanded the 4th Texas Infantry Regiment — part of the brigade — from the time Texas seceded until he became commander of the brigade and the brigade continued as a part of his command as he rose to leadership of a "half division" and then a division. The Texans were still part of his command when he lost a leg at Chickamauga and was unable to continue as a field commander.

The ambulance incident was neither the first nor the last time that Hood did not exactly follow the orders he had been given. The first action of the Texans, while Hood commanded the 4th Texas Infantry is an example.

At Elthem's Landing on the York River, May 7, 1861, a force of federals estimated at three to five thousand disembarked from gunboats.

Hood's orders were to "feel the enemy gently and fall back, avoiding an engagement, and draw them away from the protection of their gunboats…"

Hood found the federals already away from the protection of their gunboats and attacked — driving them back a mile and one half until they were again under the protection of the boats.

His Texans killed or wounded 300 and captured 126. The Texans loss was 37 killed or wounded.

General Joseph E. Johnston, commanding the Confederate forces, said, "General Hood, you have given an illustration of the Texas idea of feeling the enemy gently and falling back. What would you Texans have done, sir, if I had ordered you to charge and drive back the enemy?"

Hood replied, "I suppose, general, they would have driven them into the river and tried to swim out and capture the gunboats."

He got off with a mild reprimand to the effect that soldiers are suppose to obey orders.

Lee thought highly of Hood's Texas Brigade. In a letter to a Texas member of the Confederate Congress, urging that more troops be raised in Texas, he wrote:

"I rely on those we have in tight places and fear that I have to call on them too often. They have fought grandly and nobly…With a few more, as an example of daring and bravery, I could feel more confident of the campaign."

On another occasion the Texas Brigade was passing in review to honor a visiting British colonel. The visitor noticed that the wear and tear of months in the field had taken the seat of almost every Texan's trousers. Some had patched them, but a good many more hadn't.

"Never mind their raggedness, Colonel. The enemy never sees the back of my Texans," said Lee.

The men in the regiment he first commanded — the 4th Texas Infantry — were from this area. Company E was recruited from Waco and McLennan County; Co. B from San Antonio and Bexar County.

When he was wounded at Chickamauga, Hood's last order to the Texas Brigade was in the spirit of the proud command.

"Go ahead and stay ahead of everything."

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