Date of Award
M.A. in History
Arch Dalrymple III Department of History
John R. Neff
University of Mississippi
This thesis examines the role of memory in the American Civil War. More importantly, it discusses the relationship between history and memory and the role that historians play in carving out that relationship. It looks at how historians and the collective memory shaped the reputation of John Bell Hood, a Confederate Civil War officer, who experienced both the glory of victory and the agony of failure. I have reexamined Hood through historiography, a wide base of memories found in newspapers, memoirs and the writings of the Southern Historical Society, as well as archival materials from across Tennessee, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
It is my contention that Hood has been misrepresented in the historiography for a number of reasons: First, historians, through the process of writing history backwards, seek to find the moment that led to Hood’s ultimate failure, ignoring his early success in the war. Secondly, army rumors, usually undocumented, have been added into the collective memory of Hood as facts, thus making the accurate truth of Hood’s history clouded and, at times, difficult to locate. Thirdly, historians have focused their research on a body of negative memories. By discriminating history and re-exploring the body of positive memories. Hood emerges as a tragic figure that received an unfair and unjustified amount of blame for Confederate failure late in the war. Through exploring the fluctuating reputation of Hood, I conclude that Hood received command of the Army of Tennessee at a moment in the course of the war where attaining ultimate victory was nothing more than a forlorn hope.
Miller, Brian Craig, ""So Strangely Misrepresented”: Rethinking John Bell Hood and the Fight for Civil War Memory" (2002). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2305.