Happy 200th, General Thomas

200 years ago this weekend George H. Thomas was born in Southampton County, Virginia. The link below is an appreciation of Thomas I did in 2014.

Pap Thomas to the Sledge of Nashville


3 Responses to Happy 200th, General Thomas

  1. George Thomas has long been a hero of mine; this Virginia Unionist gave up much for insufficient recognition from his government. As early as 1861, at Mill Springs, he showed that he could keep his head and deliver a well-coordinated, multi-brigade counterattack and rout the foe. Although the Battle of Nashville was an overwhelming victory, it did not go as he had planned and it was Thomas’ on-field changes to the plan that ensured that the victory would be complete. He could not work with the administration, and he was very early tagged as too balky, too meticulous, too careful to command an army charged with the main effort. Never forget his stand at Chickamauga, where he earned immorality, but also remember Nashville, where he showed his mastery of the military art.

    1. Ditto to David (and Chris).

      I just finished re-reading Albert Castel’s fabulous book, Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864. Castel rightly criticizes the tactics of many of the generals on both sides, including Sherman, Howard, McPherson (for the Union) and Johnston, Hood, Hardee (for the Confederacy).

      About the only general Castel praises is Thomas. Thomas’ advice to Sherman was prescient. If Sherman had fully implemented Thomas’ suggestions, Johnston’s army probably would have been nearly destroyed at several points in the campaign, and Atlanta would have been captured many weeks sooner at far less of a cost to the Union.

      Too bad Thomas earned Grant’s enmity by being named to replace him briefly after the Battle of Shiloh. Also, being a southerner, Thomas had few, if any, home-state political backers in Washington as did Grant, Sherman and many other Union generals.

  2. The interments [at Chattanooga National Cemetery] are made without regard to States, as we think justly, though members of same regiments are kept together as far as practicable, on a good suggestion of a distinguished Major-General, as we learn, that “there had been quite enough of State Rights; that these soldiers had died fighting for the Union, against rebellious States, and now we had better mix them up and nationalize them a little.” He thought our poor fellows would like that best, if they could have a voice in the matter, and we heartily concur in the opinion….

    It stands out a truly Union and national work as far as completed, simple but grand in its conception and execution; and General Thomas well deserves high praise and the united thanks of the army and the country for what has there been done so promptly and appropriately for our slain and dead soldiery.

    James F. Russling, “National Cemeteries,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. Volume 33, Issue 195, (August 1866), pp. 318-319.

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