Book Review: Major General George H. Thomas

Major General George H. Thomas:  An Address, by William H. Lambert

This address is a short one of less than 30 pages published ten years after the death of the noted general [1] who was most famous for his defensive abilities at Chickamaua and Stones River but also was an offensive general of considerable ability as demonstrated at Mill Creek and Nashville.  As might be expected, this particular address focuses on Thomas’ career in the Civil War, which is justly famous.  What is remarkable is that the author does not lengthen the address by talking about the human cost that Thomas had to pay as a result of his loyalty to the United States, where he continued to support his relatives even after they had disowned him because he would not betray his country for his state.  Thomas’ loyalty despite continual suspicion is remarkable, as it requires a rock-solid character to overcome the natural resentment that this would cause, which is all the more remarkable given Thomas’ lack of selfish ambition in a very ambitious army where people were continually angling for position.  Given Thomas’ stolid character, though, and his Virginia background, it is surely flattery to think that the nation would have rewarded him with the highest office had he lived longer than he did by even a couple decades.

The nature of this address was that it was given in Pennsylvania before the Grand Army of the Republic on Decoration Day (the predecessor to Memorial Day) ten years after Thomas’ death in 1880, and it was published soon afterwards.  The address begins with Thomas’ decision to remain loyal to the Union and then quickly moves to his battlefield success as well as his refusal to angle for position against other officers.  The address deals with his relationships with brother officers and spends a great deal of time looking at his Nashville campaign and the drama that was involved with Thomas’ careful preparations.  The second part of the address then looks at Thomas’ nobility of character after his war heroism has been covered, pointing out his attention to detail and his concern for the well-being of his soldiers as well as his own heroism.  The address ends with an appendix that discusses a chronology of Thomas’ life and rise through the ranks.  The result is a thoughtful address, though an all-too brief account of a very worthwhile and interesting life.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American Civil War, American History, Book Reviews, History, Military History. Bookmark the permalink.

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