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General George H. Thomas - George Thomas - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Sun Nov 4th, 2007 11:15 pm
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PvtClewell
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If Lee's men deserved all the credit, then does it stand to reason that anybody other than Lee could have commanded the Army of Northern Virginia with the same kind of success as Lee? Joe Johnston couldn't.

Lee's men loved him and he loved his men, a quality that can't be ignored.

Now, 150 years later, I don't think we need the glaze of the Lost Cause to appreciate Lee's generalship.



 Posted: Sun Nov 4th, 2007 11:30 pm
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Johan Steele
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Ole & Pvt Clewell... the reason I say that Lee's men deserve the credit for Lee's sucess is that too often we see the praise of Lee, or any other General for that matter and none of the men who were doing the actual fighting and dieing.

The glaze of the Lost Cause has turned Lee into something he wasn't... and frankly I don't believe he would have appreciated it. He knew what was important for his men and his men certainly appreciated him.

What would the Iron Brigade be w/out Gibbon or the Stonewall Brigade be w/out Jackson? Does it matter as both Generals wouldn't even be a footnote w/out the men that made their victories real.

That to me is one of the endearing qualities of Thomas, he never forgot the men that got him where he was, he appreciated the men who served under him and they idolized him for it. There are too few generals in history like that; but they stand out as among the finest in history. From Alexander, Julius Caesar, Subadei, Bayan, Timur in ancient times to the men of the CW like Lee, Sherman, Thomas and others whose men idolized them. Upon study of why their men thought so highly of them you beging to realize why they were so good at what they did.

BTW; Jackson's men... generally hated his guts.



 Posted: Mon Nov 5th, 2007 12:44 am
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slowtrot
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susansweet wrote: Why do you defend only Lee?


I dont' think I did .  What I wrote said  Both these men deserve to be honored and respected.  They gave up so much to follow the path they chose



Why do you accuse me of tearing down Lee?  I made one observation as to one character defect.  Does that destroy him?  Do you believe him perfect?  Do you think that he is to only characterized as 'perfect?'

 

 

don

 



 Posted: Mon Nov 5th, 2007 02:00 am
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Johan Steele
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Guys... I don't think anyone is tearing down Lee, myself I believe he is overrated in that he is so often made the heart and soul of the CSA.. IMO it was the private, NCO & company level officer that made the ANV & CSA Army in general the awesome fighting machine it was; the army that did so much w/ so little over four years of hell.

Poor leadership can destroy an army, but outstanding leadership w/ mediocre men don't make crud. Lee had outstanding material w/ an outstanding staff from Regt level on up. he was only part of what made that army great. The same IMHO is what makes Thomas so underated; Thomas lacks the press of the Lost Cause.

Thomas had the AoC, an outstanding collection of fighting men under a quality command staff... it made Thomas the General he was and he knew it. I think Lee knew the same thing and he took every opportunity to let his men know that he knew what they had given him and they adored him for it.

Sherman did the same w/ the AoT (US) knowing that it was the individual soldier that made the AoT the finest fighjting force in the US Army... if not the war.

That is what makes a great commander in my book, no egocentric "I won that battle" but a knowledge that the men under his command took or held that vital hill that won the battle.

THomas knew he had little to do w/ holding Snodgrass hill, it was the men under his command that made him the "Rock."

Too much pain and too much scotch... if I'm not making sense I apologize.

Lee was a great soldier in his own sense, so was Thomas. Both were children of Virginia and both did what they thought was right and both bloody well deserve the respect of the men they served so well. Can we do any less than to honor them for what they did?



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 Posted: Mon Nov 5th, 2007 05:08 am
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susansweet
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Johan Steele wrote:
Lee was a great soldier in his own sense, so was Thomas. Both were children of Virginia and both did what they thought was right and both bloody well deserve the respect of the men they served so well. Can we do any less than to honor them for what they did?


Exactly what I though I was saying Johan. Thank you for putting it in better words than I did.  I agree whole heartliy .

Susan



 Posted: Mon Nov 5th, 2007 05:09 am
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ole
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BTW; Jackson's men... generally hated his guts.

And they followed him, into the jaws, etc. Doesn't exactly follow, does it?

 



 Posted: Mon Nov 5th, 2007 12:40 pm
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Johan Steele
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ole wrote:
BTW; Jackson's men... generally hated his guts.

And they followed him, into the jaws, etc. Doesn't exactly follow, does it?

 

And had one of the highest desertion rates in the ANV... 60% at times.  THat men continued to do in the face of hell is still more testament to the men.



 Posted: Mon Nov 5th, 2007 06:41 pm
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j harold 587
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I understand where you are comming from Johan. A brilliant leader is sometimes not the best leader. The best of plans are worthless without a motivated loyal group of properly led individuals.  Thomas Jackson certinally had problems with some members of his command staff. And I agree the Stonewall brigade had a high desertion rate. Although I thought it was partially due to troops taking French leave to visit relatives during the valley campaign. To be successfull an army needs solid leaders from the command staff to the NCOs. Bottom line Thomas was a solid leader who made sure his men of all ranks were provided for and did not allow himself to be goaded into foolish actions by politicians. Gosh sounds a lot like General Lee.



 Posted: Tue Nov 20th, 2007 04:01 pm
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Don
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Other boards?  Yahoo CW groups?  Tell me more, please.



 Posted: Tue Dec 18th, 2007 01:04 am
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SamGrant
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There is a new book on Thomas titled George Thomas: Virginian for the Union by Christopher J. Einolf.



 Posted: Tue Dec 18th, 2007 05:17 pm
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Don
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"I am currently in the process of reading "Reading the Man," by historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor. It is a collection of previously unpublished letters and documents of Robert E. Lee, with commentary by Pryor.

I just finished the chapter on Lee resigning his commission. Lee, as we all know, struggled with his decision and did not take it lightly."

PvtClewell,

Does the book mention his reaction to events in Texas as he was leaving his regiment to go meet with Winfield Scott? From other sources, I've read that he was pretty disgusted by the way the Texans were handling things before the Twiggs surrender.

Don



 Posted: Tue Dec 18th, 2007 11:34 pm
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PvtClewell
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Don,

I finished the book a few months ago, and while your inquiry didn't ring any bells with me, I raced back to the book to check. Basically, what I found was that he was tormented by disunion upon his return from Texas. Here is what Pryor writes:

"Lee, shocked at the thought of dismantling the nation, maintained that disunion was 'anarchy' and that 'secession is nothing but revolution. Exasperated with extremists both north and south, he decried equally the 'aggressions' of the former and 'the selfish & dictatorial bearing' of the latter...Lee's distress was so acute that it fractured the correct demeanor he normally cultivated. Not only did he startle his colleagues by exploding with rage when secessionists tried prematurely to force his resignation, he broke down when he heard that Texas had actually left the Union. 'I shall never forget his look of astonishment...his lips trembling and his eyes full of tears,' a friend wrote that bleak February day."

There is no other mention of Texas prior to his meeting with Scott that I can find or recall.



 Posted: Mon Jan 21st, 2008 02:53 am
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Don
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PvtClewell,

Thanks for checking for me, I appreciate it. I've had a bad couple of weeks and hadn't visited the board.

Don



 Posted: Mon Jan 21st, 2008 03:00 am
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SamGrant
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Well put, (after I gave it some thought).



 Posted: Sun Mar 30th, 2008 07:44 pm
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OVVI
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One point that has not been mentioned in this discussion about Old Pap is that people dont understand that advancement in the Army during the CW (and Im talking about getting field command of armies) required political sponsors back in Washington to help.  Grant, Sherman and others had the benefit of these political backers from their home states.  Being from Virginia, Thomas had none and it hindered his advancement.  

 Christopher Einoffs new bio of GHT "George Thomas, Virginian for the Union" looks at the generals service in terms of being a Southern Unionist.  Thomas came from a slaveholding family, but he held more liberal views on Negros than did Sherman and used black soldiers as combat troops when others wouldnt.  Seeing their bravery and sacrifice transformed his views on the question of racial equality.   After the war he ably served as a military governor in Southern districts during Reconstruction working to protect the rights of the newly freed.

Thomas was a very proud and reserved individual who refused to stoop to self promotion.  He was not always rewarded as he thought he might have deserved but he complained little of it and did his duty as he saw fit.

He also knew where credit was due.   On the second day of the Grand Review in Washington DC, the Western troops marched past the reviewing stand.  When the 14th Corps, which Thomas had raised in KY, came into view, one of the other generals on the stand pointed his troops out to Old Pap.  With pride, Thomas simply replied..."They made me."

 

 



 Posted: Wed Apr 2nd, 2008 04:25 am
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ole
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Thanks, OVVI. We don't get much about Ol' Pap.

ole



 Posted: Wed Apr 2nd, 2008 04:15 pm
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Don
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Nice post, OVVI. Do you recommend Einolf's book? I've had my eye on it.



 Posted: Wed Apr 2nd, 2008 05:15 pm
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HankC
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OVVI wrote: One point that has not been mentioned in this discussion about Old Pap is that people dont understand that advancement in the Army during the CW (and Im talking about getting field command of armies) required political sponsors back in Washington to help.  Grant, Sherman and others had the benefit of these political backers from their home states.  Being from Virginia, Thomas had none and it hindered his advancement.   


 
It should also be noted that Thomas was offered command of the Army of the Cumberland in September 1862 and declined it.
 
 
HankC
http://civilwarmissouri.blogspot.com/



 Posted: Mon Apr 14th, 2008 08:44 pm
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On Saturday evening, April 19, 2008, there will be a special program at Arlington House.  The event title is "Lee's Great Decision: How Robert E. Lee's Resignation from the United States Army Shaped our Nation."

The event includes lectures by Lincoln Prize-winning author Elizabeth Pryor, as well as by NPS Rangers.  Guided walks by lantern will take visitors to the graves of Civil War soldiers.

After reading the discussion in here, I have a reservation for the walk at 7:40 PM.

Patty aka Widow



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