A Last Letter to General Hood
The ten surviving Hood children after their parents’ death in 1879.
I was looking through Sam Hood’s The Lost Papers of Confederate General John Bell Hood, and wondered if there was any correspondence between Hood and William Tecumseh Sherman relating to the latter’s visit to New Orleans in 1879, when Hood and Sherman attended the theater together, and the former Confederate general made a speech in Sherman’s honor. Lost Papers doesn’t include correspondence from that visit, but does include a letter Sherman wrote a few months later, upon learning of the death of Hood’s wife, Anna Marie, from that perennial scourge of the Gulf coast, yellow fever:
Headquarters Army of the United States,
Washington D.C., Aug 26, 1879
General J. B. Hood
My family is all in the Allegheny Mountains and I am here alone at breakfast this morning at a hotel nearby. A friend read aloud the notice of the death of Mrs. General Hood.
Even yet though some hours have passed I cannot help thinking of that wonderful and beautiful group of children you paraded before us last winter at your home in New Orleans, and that you took my daughters Lizzie and Elly up to see Mrs. Hood in her sick bed. I know not why but I cannot banish the sight from my mind, and now write you this simple note to tell you that here in Washington there is one who thinks of you in your bereavement, and of those motherless children.
I shall send the paper to my daughter Lizzie to whom you committed the sacred trust of your war papers, which are I assure you absolutely safe and I believe she will write to offer you some words of consolation at a loss which touches the heart more than the loss of a father.
All we can do is to bow to the inevitable, and go on with the duties of life till we ourselves mark the Common destiny the Grave.
Accept the assurance of my heartfelt sympathy and of great respect.
Truly your friend,
John Bell Hood likely never read this letter; he himself succumbed to the fever four days later, on August 30, leaving ten orphaned children behind.
I hope those of you in the Houston area will be able to attend Thursday’s Houston Civil War Round Table Meeting, to hear Sam Hood speak on his famous collateral ancestor. The HCWRT meets at the Hess Club, with a meet-and-greet beginning at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m. Spaces are available for the meeting, but reservations are required. Costs are $30 for dinner and speaker, and $10 for the speaker/presentation only. E-mail Don Zuckero at Reservations-at-HoustonCivilWar-dot-com by 6:00 p.m. on Monday. The Hess Club’s address is 5430 Westheimer, a short distance west of the Galleria. The club is situated on the corner of Westheimer Way and Westheimer Court. Free, convenient, and handicap-accessible parking is across the street.