What’s in a Name? The Unlucky Military History of the Name ‘Hood’
Drowned in a storm: Capt. Arthur Hood _(1755–1775) _
Three Hood brothers (Arthur, Alexander, and Samuel) all served in the Royal Navy in the latter half of the 18th century. They were the second generation of the Hood family to go to sea; two of them did not survive to retire from the service. Arthur Hood served aboard the 18 gun sloop of war HMS Pomona in the West Indies.
When the _Pomona _was caught in a hurricane in the West Indies, Hood drowned in the storm. He was the first of the Hood family to die at sea.
Killed at the Last Minute: Capt. Alexander Hood _(1758–1798) _
Alexander Hood was the younger brother of Capt. Arthur Hood. On April 21, 1798, Hood was captain of HMS Mars , a 74-gun third class ship of the line, when he engaged the French ship Hercule off the Brittany coast. Despite the two ships being nearly evenly matched in firepower, mounting 74 guns each, the French got the worst of the fight, losing more than 300 men to British losses of 31 men killed and 60 wounded.
Capt. Hood did not live to savor his victory—he was mortally wounded in the final moments of the battle and died as he was being presented with the French captain’s surrendered sword.
Family ravaged by yellow fever: Lt.-Gen. John Bell Hood _(1831–1879) _
John B. Hood served as a Confederate general officer during the American Civil War. He was a bold fighter and excelled as a combat leader at the brigade and division levels, but in more senior positions of command his boldness verged on aggressive foolhardiness. His appointment to the command of the Army of Tennessee in the last year of the war was a poor choice by the Confederate government, because in a matter of weeks his repeated assaults on much stronger Union forces all but destroyed the ranks of the army that his predecessor, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, had managed to keep intact in the face of overwhelming odds. The poet Stephen Vincent Benet was not far off the mark when he described Hood as “all lion, none of the fox.”
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Hood was twice severely wounded: his left arm was crippled by shrapnel at the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, and he lost his right leg at Chickamauga two months later. After the war ended he took up work as a cotton trader and insurance broker in New Orleans, but in 1878 his business was ruined during an outbreak of yellow fever.
Within a single week, Hood, his wife, and his eldest child all died of the disease. His other 10 children were left orphaned.
Lost At Sea: Rear Adm. Sir Horace Lambert Alexander Hood _(1870–1916) _
Another scion of the British Hood family of Royal Navy fame, Horace Hood began his naval career in 1882 at the age of twelve. As a commander of riverine gunboats on the Nile he served in the Mahdist War in 1898, and in 1903 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for action against the Dervishes in Somaliland. By 1908 he was commanding the battleship HMS Commonwealth , and as a flag officer in 1916 he took command of the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron with the rank of rear admiral.
On May 31 of that year, aboard his flagship HMS Invincible , Hood led his squadron into action against the German fleet at the Battle of Jutland. In the first exchange of fire Invincible succeeded in fatally damaging the German cruiser SMS Wiesbaden , before she herself was targeted by the combined gunnery of battlecruisers SMS Lützow and SMS Derfflinger. A shell from one of Derfflinger’ s 12-inch guns penetrated Invincible ’s starboard “Q” turret and denotated its store of cordite propellant, causing a massive explosion that literally cut the ship in half.
Invincible went down in minutes. Rear Admiral Hood perished with his ship and all but six of his 1,021 men.
Catastrophic explosion: HMS Hood _(named for Adm. Samuel Hood) _
HMS Hood was an Admiral class battlecruiser of the Royal Navy, laid down in September 1916 at the height of the First World War. Originally planned as a class of four ships, Hood was the only ship of the four to actually be constructed. By the outbreak of the Second World War, Hood was overdue for modernization; advances in gunnery and range finding made her particularly vulnerable to plunging fire from heavy guns on account of her thinner deck armor, and problems with her steam condensers meant that she was unable to attain full speed when maneuvering.
In 1941 Hood was dispatched as the flagship of the battle group sent to intercept the German battleship Bismarck. On May 24, the British brought Bismarck and her escort, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen , to bay in the Denmark Strait. The two German ships concentrated their combined fire on Hood. Hood sustained repeated hits, and then just before 6:00a.m. she was struck by a salvo that blew up her aft magazine in a catastrophic explosion.
Hood went vertical in the water, going down by the stern, and she sank in less than three minutes with a loss of 1,415 men. Only three members of her crew survived.
More than 40% Casualties: Hood Battalion, Royal Naval Division _(1914–1919)
The Royal Naval Division (RND), one of the most unique combat units ever fielded by the British military, was an idea conceived by Winston Churchill during his tenure as First Lord of the Admiralty (1911–1915). Initially comprised of sailors from the Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Marines, each of the RND’s battalions were named after famous British admirals such as Hawke, Drake, Nelson, Howe, and of course, Hood. The Hood Battalion fought with the RND in some of the most important battles of the First World War including Gallipoli, the Somme, Gavrelle, and Passchendaele.
Twice, the Hood Battalion nearly fought itself out of existence as a combat effective unit, sustaining casualty rates of almost 50 percent until its ranks could be replenished.
Even though the RND represented only 5% of the Royal Navy’s total strength during the First World War, the division’s combat losses accounted for more than 40% of the naval service’s total casualties, and those losses occurred on land, not at sea. When the RND was formally disbanded in June 1919, the Hood Battalion was one of only four of the original eight battalions remaining in the division.
A troubled History: Fort Hood, Texas
A US Army installation named for Confederate Lt.-Gen. John Bell Hood, Fort Hood is located outside Killeen, Texas. Covering an area of 214,000 acres, it is one of the largest military installations in the world. Founded in 1942, the post has long been a training center for armor warfare and since 1971 it has been home to the famous 1st Cavalry Division.
Fort Hood was the scene of social activism and soldier protests during both the Vietnam War and more recently the War on Terror. It also has a troubled history of incidents of scandal and criminal violence, one of the worst occurring on November 5, 2009. A self-described jihadist named Nidal Hasan, who was then a US Army medical corps major, carried out a shooting attack in the post Soldier Readiness Center, killing 13 people and wounding 32. Hasan was sentenced to death by court martial in 2013 and is currently on the military death row at the Fort Leavenworth prison.
In recent years Fort Hood has gained a grim notoriety for sexual assault and sexual harassment problems, so egregious that in 2020 the Secretary of the Army relieved 14 senior leaders on the installation for “leadership failures.” In May 2022 the Army announced that as part of the decision to redesignate any post bearing the name of former Confederate soldiers, Fort Hood will be renamed Fort Cavazos in honor of General Richard E. Cavazos, the first Hispanic soldier to ever hold four star rank.