Confederate President Jefferson Davis meets with General John Bell Hood at Hood’s Palmetto, Georgia, headquarters to discuss the recent misfortunes of the Army of Tennessee. Since Hood had assumed command of the army in July, he had launched an unsuccessful series of attacks on Union General William T. Sherman’s forces, endured a month-long siege in Atlanta, and was finally forced to abandon the city. Now, Davis journeyed to Georgia to shore up the sagging morale of his leader and troops.
The most pressing problem was dissent within the Confederate command. Leading generals began feuding and pointing fingers to assign blame for the disastrous Atlanta campaign. Hood blamed General William Hardee, commander of one of Hood’s three corps, for the loss of Atlanta, and Hardee demanded removal from Hood’s authority. After conferring with Hood, Davis reassigned Hardee to the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Even though Hardee was the most able corps commander, Davis personally selected Hood to command the Army of Tennessee in July, and refused to admit his mistake. Unfortunately for the Confederates, Hood invaded Tennessee in the late fall, and by Christmas he saw his once-grand army virtually destroyed.
On his return trip to the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, Davis gave a speech at Columbia, South Carolina, in which he gushed about Hood’s prospects. In doing so, he let slip important information, saying that Hood’s eye was set “upon a point far beyond that where he was assailed by the enemy.” Sherman read the quote in a newspaper a few days later and guessed, correctly, that Hood intended to move back into Tennessee to cut Sherman’s supply lines. Sherman planned his fall strategy accordingly, sending part of his army to deal with Hood while he took the rest across Georgia.