19 thoughts on “Hood, A. P. Hill, and Ewell … The Ranking Game

  1. jfepperson July 24, 2013 / 7:16 am

    Level of command matters. Hood was one of the best brigade commanders of the war, but was increasingly out of his depth as he advanced. Hill was a solid division commander and occasionally good corps commander whose health issues probably hindered him a lot. I think Ewell peaked as a division commander. On an overall level, I’d probably take Hill.

  2. Talmadge Walker July 24, 2013 / 9:19 am

    My Great Great Granddad served with Hood during the Nashville campaign. I’d put him at the bottom of the list.

  3. Al Mackey July 24, 2013 / 9:19 am

    For what it’s worth:

    1. Ewell
    2. Hood
    3. Hill

    Hill might be rated higher if he wasn’t sick so often.

  4. Lyle Smith July 24, 2013 / 9:23 am

    1. Ewell – I thought he did will during the Gettysburg campaign. I think the AofP had a lot to do with Ewell looking unsuccessful as a corps commander in 1864 too. Him not being perceived to be a strong character probably worked against him.

    2. Hill – If not so oft sickly, maybe he’s a better General

    3. Hood – I don’t know enough to put him above the others

  5. Joe Fafara July 24, 2013 / 10:38 am

    Hood, Ewell, then Hill

    And Hood distance between Hood and Ewell is far greater than between Old Baldy and Powell

  6. Patrick Young July 24, 2013 / 11:03 am

    Frankly, today we would understand that Hood was suffering from severe PTSD. Before that, he ranks first. After, it is a tossup.

    • John Foskett July 25, 2013 / 7:33 am

      I’d be interested in what you’re relying on for the PTSD diagnosis. (And not simply because I’m now plowing through Sam Hood’s just-released book and the new information from that recently-discovered crop of Hood’s papers).

      • Patrick Young July 25, 2013 / 4:13 pm

        After years of working with PTSD sufferers, if someone was brought to me who had suffered two severe woundings in 90 days, lost the use of an arm as a result and had a leg amputated, I would send him for an assessment. Mary Chestnut’s description of him as a sad man after his first wounding is further evidence of PTSD. I can’t make the diagnosis myself, but the facts of his case would indicate a strong possibility.

        • John Foskett July 26, 2013 / 8:30 am

          Possible, I suppose. But when you examine his performance closely, it’s hard to pinpoint any symptoms there. The long-accepted urban legend has always been the “disciplining”/”spite” orders at Franklin. But the new book by Sam Hood, taking up from Eric Jacobsen’s work, casts real doubt on that. Whether it was a wise or well-thought.-out tactic is an entirely different proposition, of course. As I note elsewhere.here, it’s hard to distinguish Franklin from AP Hill’s fiasco at Bristoe.

  7. Joshism July 24, 2013 / 5:20 pm

    Awkward to rank, especially Hood: he was a great division commander and a good corps commander, but a terrible army commander.

    AP Hill was an excellent (if difficult) division commander, but I would call him a failure as a corps commander – owing probably more to his health problems than any battlefield decision.

    I think Ewell’s promotion to corps command upon return from injury was a mistake. I’d call him a mediocre corps commander (I don’t blame him for Gettysburg). Considering the events between August 1862 and May 1863, I’d argue that Early should have gotten corps command and Ewell should have returned to his pre-injury division command.

  8. Mark Weitz July 24, 2013 / 6:48 pm

    Little Powell rules! Well maybe not. In all honesty, promoted beyond his ability. But, at Cedar Mountain and Antietam as a division commander, when you had to have it, he was there. Ewell never got an entire army decimated, so that works in his favor. Hood, man, its hard to get past Franklin and Nashville. The reality is that by the time all three reached corps command they were either sick, amputees, or both. I am biased, I always liked Hill, he understood that it was about getting in the fight, something a lot of those in command during the war never grasped. So, based on that criteria I go Hill, Hood and Ewell.

  9. Bert July 25, 2013 / 4:35 am

    Hill, Ewell, Hood.

    Subjective opinion, of course, but I think Hill was just a little more consistent overall, and did arguably save the day at Antietam.

    I think it was Shelby Foote who made the observation that if Longstreet had died of his Wilderness neck wound, he might have been revered as the CSA’s second best general. Instead, he lived to become a reviled Republican. Similarly, had Hood died of his Chickamauga wound (or at some other point before Atlanta fell), there wouldn’t be Atlanta, Franklin, and Nashville to negatively counterbalance a pretty solid record up until then.

  10. John Foskett July 25, 2013 / 7:30 am

    Ewell, Hood, and then Hill.assuming that we’re talking aboit corps command or higher. Frankly, I’d have put Hill slightly above Hood had I not started plowing through Sam Hood’s recently-released book. I’m still not sold on his views regarding the battles outside Atlanta or at Franklin, but Hill was consistently inept once he rose to corps command and his stunt at Bristoe was hardly better than Franklin. Ewell was probably the best of a bad lot .

  11. Peter July 25, 2013 / 8:27 am

    Hill, Hood, Ewell

    The small elephants in the room are Early and D. H. Hill however.

  12. James F. Epperson July 25, 2013 / 2:56 pm

    FWIW, there is a new book that supposedly attempts to repair Hood’s reputation. Didn’t McMurry sort of do that some years past?

  13. Michael Confoy July 26, 2013 / 8:51 pm

    How can any rate the general that got Patrick Cleburne killed anything but last?

  14. TF Smith July 29, 2013 / 4:09 pm

    Can we add Bragg, Hardee, and Polk to the mix?

  15. TF Smith July 29, 2013 / 10:43 pm

    In round and very rough numbers, at the max in 1862, the CSA fielded a field army about 90,000 in Virginia (~three corps equivalents); and a smaller one in Tennessee (~60,000, so call it ~two corps equivalents in 1861-62, with the equivalent of a third chewed up at Henry/Donelson/Shiloh)…the Gulf Coast force is included in the Tennessee army (as it mostly was historically) and the Trans-Mississippi gets maybe a corps equivalent

    Davis needs two field army and six corps commanders, plus the equivalent of a seventh west of the Mississippi – so who, of those available historically in 1861-62, were the best available?

    Putting aside Cooper and Twiggs, presumably the choices are Beauregard, AS Johnston, JE Johnston, and Lee in the “senior” group, followed by Bragg, Crittenden, Hardee, Holmes, Huger, Jackson, Longstreet, Lovell, Magruder, EK Smith, GW Smith, Polk, and Van Dorn, based on date of rank in 1861.

    So early on, the historical choices are pretty understandable – although Polk still makes me scratch my head.

    But the above also puts Hood’s rise into perspective, as well as the discussions of the assignments of Early, Ewell, AP Hill, and DH Hill in 1863 and after.

    It seems like Beauregard, Hardee, and a couple of the other senior major generals from 1861 (Magruder? EK Smith?) could have been better used later in the war than they were historically.


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