After spending two months convalescing in Richmond, Hood rejoined Longstreet’s corps, which had been transferred to the Western Theater to assist General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee. Only days after rejoining his old unit in September 1863, Hood led a charge during the Battle of Chickamauga. While the assault succeeded, Hood was wounded in the thigh by a musket ball, sustaining his second major injury in less than three months. The severity of the wound required his right leg to be amputated, but Hood survived against extreme odds and was promoted to lieutenant general for his bravery.
Hood returned to the field in the spring of 1864 despite his injuries, which required him to wear an artificial leg and ride strapped to his horse. He assumed a corps command in General Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee, which was then attempting to slow General William T. Sherman’s march toward Atlanta. The aggressive Hood was quick to criticize Johnston, whose strategy of strategic withdrawal had allowed Sherman to close in on the city. Furious at his commander’s cautious tactics, Hood wrote a series of letters to Richmond demanding that Johnston be relieved. His campaign succeeded, and in July 1864 Hood replaced Johnston as commander of the Army of Tennessee.
Temporarily promoted to full general, Hood promptly launched a series of bold offensives on Sherman’s forces at the Battles of Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, Ezra Church and Jonesborough, all of which failed. Hood abandoned Atlanta to Union control in September 1864, having suffered over 50 percent casualties in his once 65,000-strong force. Hood then moved the remnants of his army to the northwest, hoping to draw Sherman to Tennessee. The plan proved unsuccessful, as Sherman merely dispatched General George H. Thomas to take control of Union forces in Tennessee while he remained in Georgia to undertake his March to the Sea.
During the subsequent Franklin-Nashville Campaign, Hood was initially successful in driving back General John M. Schofield’s Army of the Ohio, but he suffered a devastating defeat at the Battle of Franklin in late November of 1864. In what is often known as the “Pickett’s Charge of the West,” Hood made the brash decision to dispatch almost 20,000 men in an offensive against a fortified Union position. The attack resulted in staggering casualties, and Schofield then succeeded in linking up with General George H. Thomas in Nashville. Despite his inferior numbers and battered army, Hood attempted to lay siege to the city. Thomas would eventually launch a major assault on Hood during the Battle of Nashville in mid-December 1864, crippling Hood’s forces and inflicting over 6,000 casualties. Having been decisively defeated, Hood was replaced as commander of the Army of Tennessee in January 1865. He was later sent to report on military affairs in Mississippi, where he surrendered to Union forces in May 1865.