General George Thomas gravesite rededicated today – TTG

“TROY – A gathering Saturday morning paid tribute to a Union general disowned by his Virginia family during the Civil War and marked the progress to repair surroundings at his Oakwood Cemetery gravesite.”

“The Colonel George L. Willard Camp #154, Department of New York, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, has led a 10-year restoration project at the final testing place of Gen. George Thomas – the “Rock of Chickamauga” A descriptive tablet of Gen. Thomas was also raised off the ground and fencing was reconstructed. The rededication came on the anniversary of Thomas’ 1816 birthday and included costumed reenactors, including the laying of a laurel wreath on the grave by the wife of General Thomas, as portrayed by a reenactor.”

“General Thomas died in California in 1870, and his body was transferred back east and buried in Oakwood Cemetery at a service attended by President Ulysses S. Grant, generals William Sherman, Philip Sheridan and George Meade and thousands of soldiers and veterans.” (Times Union)

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23 Responses to General George Thomas gravesite rededicated today – TTG

  1. Pat Lang says:

    George Thomas was an admirable man. He paid a high price for sticking with the Union. He was a close friend of RE Lee. He had applied for the job of Commandant of Cadets at VMI before the war. This was a state job and having the job would have required resignation from the US Army. His Virginia family disowned him when he made his choice, turned his picture to the wall, never spoke to him again, etc. A very capable man.

  2. Leith says:

    10,000 mourners! Thanks for this. Was his wife’s family from Troy or nearby?

    I always thought one of Thomas’s other great achievements was at Missionary Ridge. He was thought of as too slow by Grant. He had to give up XI Corps to Sherman to support the so-called main attack. And yet while Sherman dithered, Thomas’s troops stormed up the extremely steep 330 foot high ridge and captured 40 cannon and 4000 troops of Breckenridge’s Corps.

    Interesting that there were three Confederate Generals that also had the surname of Thomas. Not related or perhaps distant cousins I assume.

    • TTG says:

      Yes, his wife’s family, the Kelloggs, were from Troy. His troops’ performance at Missionary Ridge was all the more remarkable because they weren’t ordered to take the ridge. It was supposed to be a feint. Both Thomas and Grant were surprised to see it unfold the way it did.

      • SAC Brat says:

        I was always inspired by Thomas’s troops feeling that Thomas took care of them and was careful how they were used, and also the troops being confident and informed enough to use initiative when needed. A true model of leadership.

        • SAC Brat says:

          A slight re-do please: replace feeling with knowing. Everything I ever read about Thomas was he took care of his troops and we can see the results.

          • Leith says:

            SAC Brat – He did and they loved him for it.

            Thomas’s refusal to move out of Chattanooga and take the offense until his men were supplied with decent rations earned him some serious grievances by Grant and Secretary of War Stanton. But he was right. His troops were starving because of the Confederate dominance on the railroad between Bridgeport and Chattanooga. Thomas built a new road and it was his troops that made an amphibious landing across the Tennessee River in order to open his supply lines. That broke the siege.

            Before that his army within the city was on half rations of nothing but hardtack for a considerable time. They were without sufficient shoes and warm clothing for the advancing fall and winter and had little to no fuel for campfires. Horses without forage died by the thousands, there were none to pull artillery or even ambulances.

            Chattanooga and possibly all of Tennessee could easily have been lost without Thomas.

  3. scott s. says:

    TTG, you are totally neglecting Gordon Granger. But Thomas, like Granger having come up under Rosecrans was as a result a “marked man” to Grant and his cronies. I guess we can argue about who did what, but Nashville will always be remembered.

    Thomas was also innovative in developing a staff organization, in particular what we might call a G-6, to operate as a field army.

    • TTG says:

      Yes, Thomas was the very model of the modern major general. It’s also true that the Union had no shortage of good leaders in the western theater.

  4. Leith says:

    TTG – I’ve got to agree with SAC Brat about the initiative of General Thomas’s officers and troops. After taking the Confederate rifle pits at the base of the ridge they were under heavy cannon fire from the top of the ridge. Thomas’s artillery could not give them counterbattery fire because like the XI Corps they had been given over by Grant to support Sherman’s main assault. So Thomas’s troops had to either stay and die, or retreat, or take the ridge. Good thing for them that the opposing forces were on the topographical crest rather than the military crest. That gave them a lot of cover while charging up the ridge.

    Some claim the initiative to attack the ridge came from Brigadier August Willich – an immigrant and former Prussian officer and an early republican in the Communist League during the German revolutions of 1848 and 1849 (although he was an anti-Marxist). Willich’s troops were the first to move out of the killing ground and move up the ridge. His 32nd Indiana, a German regiment, was first on the top. It was also Willich’s brigade that earlier had taken Orchard Knob, which turned out to be an observation point for both Thomas and Grant during the battle.

    Willich was quite a character. At Shiloh when his troops ”became unsteady under fire, he stood before them, his back to the enemy, and conducted the regiment through the manual of arms”. Then he had the regimental band play “La Marseillaise”. Hmm – I wonder if Beauregard or the many french speaking Louisiana troops that were there heard them?

  5. Suresh says:

    How long before he is cancelled?

    • TTG says:

      Cancelled by who?

      • Suresh says:

        Coming from a Virginia family BLM will find some slave connection – Perhaps he liked sugar produces by slaves or his family or relations once upon a time owned slaves

        • TTG says:

          Thomas’ family did own about two dozen slaves on the farm in Southampton, Virginia. He, his siblings and mother had to flee into the night during the Nate Turner slave rebellion. When stationed in Texas before the war, he bought a slave because he couldn’t hire a servant. After the war, that former slave and her now family refused to leave Thomas so he hired her and worked to prepare her and her family for life beyond himself. He eventually got her employment with his brother.

          He was never thrilled with the institution of slavery, but he was as ambivalent about it as many other Unionists. His attitude changed dramatically after witnessing the performance of USCT at Nashville. He also thought the Army was an excellent place for former slaves to learn to live as freedmen. During Reconstruction he “acted to protect freedmen from white abuses. He set up military commissions to enforce labor contracts since the local courts had either ceased to operate or were biased against blacks. Thomas also used troops to protect places threatened by violence from the Ku Klux Klan. In a November 1868 report, Thomas noted efforts made by former Confederates to paint the Confederacy in a positive light, stating:”

          “The greatest efforts made by the defeated insurgents since the close of the war have been to promulgate the idea that the cause of liberty, justice, humanity, equality, and all the calendar of the virtues of freedom, suffered violence and wrong when the effort for southern independence failed. This is, of course, intended as a species of political cant, whereby the crime of treason might be covered with a counterfeit varnish of patriotism, so that the precipitators of the rebellion might go down in history hand in hand with the defenders of the government, thus wiping out with their own hands their own stains; a species of self-forgiveness amazing in its effrontery, when it is considered that life and property—justly forfeited by the laws of the country, of war, and of nations, through the magnanimity of the government and people—was not exacted from them.”

          He’s just as likely to be cancelled by Neo-confederates, who see him as a traitor to his state, as BLM for his connection to slavery.

          • Pat Lang says:

            How interesting. So, if he had gotten the Commandant of Cadets job (someone else was selected), his woman slave would have lived in Lexington and would undoubtedly have known Major Jackson’s house slaves.. They were several aged and crippled people and the feeble minded son of one of the women. It is a small town. Jackson has been thoroughly cancelled. It would seem that Thomas was lucky not to get the job.

          • Mark Logan says:

            That is interesting. At an early age Thomas was exposed to the “wolf by the ears” aspect of the institution, the wolf damn near got him and his family, but he didn’t come out of it with a blind hatred of wolves. A good man.

            I would imagine his apparent ambivalence on the subject may have been similar to Jefferson’s, due to a lack of any feasible idea of how the situation could be fixed, but emotionally he was anything but.

          • Pat Lang says:

            Mark Logan
            “the wolf damn near got him and his family” Sanctimonious BS

          • Mark Logan says:

            I don’t grasp how my comment is so. Thomas’s family had to flee the Nat Turner rebellion in great haste. Is it that Jefferson’s description is sanctimonious BS?

          • Pat Lang says:

            Mark Logan

            Nat Turner’s effort to murder a handful of people in their beds and the Union Army’s devastation across Virginia are equivalent and equally justified in your mind. OK, so be it. Jefferson wished to find a solution to the larger sociological problem. Not you. You want to score points. You do know that all the northern states had slavery before they discovered that large scale agribusiness did not work work for them. You do know that I hope.

          • Mark Logan says:


            I understand now, but you take me wrong there. I did not intend nor do I feel the those two incidents are equivalent, comparable, or even related.

  6. Suresh says:

    At present it is BLM doing the cancelling. If they can cancel Lincoln they can cancel anyone

    • TTG says:

      Anything is possible. BLM has successfully pushed for the removal of some monuments and called for some boycotts, but BLM doesn’t control any legislatures. That’s where some serious cultural cancelling is being attempted. The Texas school curriculum bill would remove requirements to teach about civil rights work by Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Martin Luther King Jr. and Frederick Douglass. Works by women’s suffragists are also no longer required to be taught. It would also remove requirements to teach “the history of white supremacy, including but not limited to the institution of slavery, the eugenics movement, and the Ku Klux Klan, and the ways in which it is morally wrong.” Painting this as an effort to prevent CRT in the schools is the same kind of “political cant” that Thomas wrote about in his 1868 report.

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