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 Posted: Sun Mar 8th, 2009 11:44 pm
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slowtrot
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[size=“Master of War]


[size=The Life of ]


[size=General George H. Thomas][size=”]


[size=By]


[size=Benson Bobrick]


[size= ]


[size= ]

[size="Time and History will do me justice," said Major General George H. Thomas to his biographer Thomas Budd van Horne!]

[size= ]

[size=Well maybe the time is here!  ]The History has always been there, but very few were reading it.

[size= ]

[size=Most of those writing about Thomas and the Civil War had a stake in maintaining the slander created by Sherman and picked-up by Grant that Thomas was “slow.”  ]Most sought to perpetuate the myth that Grant and Sherman were the greatest generals of the war.  A myth easily disproven.  Why would they lie about “History?”  Easy – to sell books.  The profit motive is very strong in liberal academia and it supplements their salaries.

[size= ]

[size=Since Thomas Budd van Horne’s “Life of Major General George H. Thomas” the first biography of Thomas written in 1882, to the first 20th Century effort, “Education in Violence” by Francis F. McKinney, in 1961, several books have been written about Thomas.  ]Of these McKinney’s still stands as that which others are measured.  In 1997 Thomas Buell wrote “The Warrior Generals - Combat Leadership in the Civil War.”  In it he presented a case for several Civil War Generals.  One of which was George H. Thomas.  It was the first time a compelling case was made for the elevation of Thomas’ Generalship over Grant’s by a major author.  Now, in the space of five years two books on Thomas have appeared and a third will be out in the summer of 2009.  Yes, the “Time” may be here!

[size= ]

[size=Well, I received my copy of Benson Bobrick’s “Master of War - Life of George H. Thomas” and have finished it.]

[size= ]

[size=The book is a healthy respite from the current pseudo historical writings that, for the most part, curiously seek to devalue and demean General Thomas’ contributions to the Union civil war effort.  ]You can find more detailed descriptions of some of those efforts on Robert Meiser's "General George H. Thomas" Web Site.

[size= ]

[size=Mr. Bobrick writes in an engaging, straightforward style making for easy reading.  ]He has so far “not” commented on whether General Thomas made any military errors as authors of the last two books on Thomas did.  Mr. Bobrick, in fact, is sympathetic to Thomas!  I always thought it interesting how writers having no military experience (the first a Reverend and the other a schoolteacher), felt capable of criticizing the deployments, tactics, strategies and actions (and in the case of the holy man, Generals Thomas’ physiognomy), of a man trained and fighting in the 19th Century.  Although tactics and strategies may apply throughout the centuries (in the 1st Gulf war Schwarzkopf used Thomas Nashville tactics in reverse), criticizing troop deployment has to be dependent on knowledge of conditions andcircumstances of the moment.  It also has to be cognizant of what is happening at that moment influencing the commander’s actions.  To imply a commander is mistaken because he deploys his units in a particular fashion, without knowing what he is seeing or has seen, is unsustainable criticism.  The critic can only know what has been told him or written by the commander, military reports (O.R.’s), who may or may not supply all the facts or a correspondent, or historian who may or may not know the whole story.  We see plenty of that in histories written by authors with a viewpoint (e.g. Sherman’s and Grant’s “Memoirs”).  A guesstimate may be offered and should include the conditions known to the one making the criticism whose guess it is!

[size= ]

[size=However, while Mr. Bobrick goes over much material known to Thomas scholars, he intersperses new items I have never seen.  ]Original material!  He also brings into focus many of the slanders perpetrated by Sherman and Grant.

[size= ]

[size=He blows Sherman’s story that he nominated Thomas to Robert Anderson as a Brigadier to go west and build an army.  ]The truth being that Lincoln asked Anderson about Thomas and he without equivocation vouched for Thomas’ loyalty.  Sherman in writing this fabrication in his “Memoirs” also told Anderson added “Thomas was slow.”

[size= ]

[size=He goes through several lies perpetrated by the two officers and gentlemen and explains the untruthfulness of them all.  ]In my first go though, he seems to have missed Halleck’s contributions to the slander scheme.

[size= ]

[size=Bobrick points out that after the charge up Missionary Ridge Thomas mixed with his troops and congratulated them.  ]To one regiment he remarked “that the men had made a fine race up the hill, and one of the soldiers, who had felt the want of food for weeks, cried out, “Yes, general, you have been training us for this race for several weeks.”  At that moment, looking around, he observed a steamboat puffing and snorting up the river, and he replied, “That is so; but there comes full rations, and in future the Army of the Cumberland shall have full rations.” [size=[1]][size=    ]

[size= ]

[size=Combine this with the fact that Thomas had his Corps and Divisional commanders in for meetings to discuss their orders from Grant.  ]Plans to charge up the hill were designed and discussed.  With the meetings and discussions and the comment by the trooper, and Thomas’ response, I do not understand why there is any discussion as to their origin.  They were planned and the troops were following orders!  This is another case of authors failing to do their research.  Or, as historian, Martin van Creveld, claims  “. . . Much of what we are given to believe is based on . . .a sad testimonial to the readiness of many historians to copy each other's words without giving the slightest thought to the evidence on which they are based"  Obviously, Thomas prepared his men for the final charge up Missionary Ridge to Sherman’s right as directed by Grant.  Of the eleven brigade commanders engaged in the assault only one stated positively that he was to halt at the foot of the Ridge and await orders.  Two seemed to feel that to continue the advance or to halt was optional.  Four stated that their commands were under orders from the division commander to continue to the crest of the Ridge.  The remaining four considered the top of the Ridge to be their objective.[size=[2]][size=]

[size= ]

[size=This was Thomas’ appointed task in all save Grant’s last plan given orally two hours before the attack.]

[size= ]

[size=In my opinion, based on the information above, the men were following orders.  ]They were inspired by their commanders careful planning not the divinity.

[size= ]

[size=Soon after this heroic demonstration by Thomas’ men, Sherman and Grant began their campaign of slander.]

[size= ]

[size=While Bobrick skillfully demolishes the slanders against Thomas, he also lays out the case for a re-appraisal of the Confederate General Joseph Eggleston Johnston.  ]As with his appraisal of Thomas, I agree with his statements about Johnston.  “The second best Rebel general.”  Johnston has been unjustly maligned almost as much as Thomas has. 

[size= ]

[size=Mr. Bobrick starts on page 355 a discussion of the characters of Sherman and Grant that deserves careful reading.  ]He demolishes a number of rumors, fictions and outright balderdash created by our alleged historians.  Good book Mr. Bobrick, keep them coming.  There’s lots more to clarify.

[size= ]

[size=I hope that Mr. Bobrick will follow up this fine effort with additional endeavors.  ]It’ll take more than one book to refute a century and a half of repeated falsehoods and poor research.




  1. [size=Memoir of Maj.‑Gen/ George H.  ]Thomas, Richard W. Johnson, Brigadier General, U.S.A. (Retired), Philadelphia: J.  B.  Lippencott & Co.  1881 p.  131
 


[2]
      McKinney, “Education in Violence”, p 295



 Posted: Sun Mar 8th, 2009 11:52 pm
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The Iron Duke
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I don't understand why Thomas partisans always feel it's necessary to bring down Grant and Sherman in order to raise up their own man. They are doing the same things that they accuse Grant and Sherman of doing.



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 Posted: Sun Mar 15th, 2009 05:19 pm
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slowtrot
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Well putting down Grant and Sherman is so easy.

Thomas never got blotto!

Never had to resign from the service for alchoholism!

Never was nuttsy!

Never blamed others for his mistakes!

Admitted his mistakes!

Never slandered a comrade in arms!

Never lost a battle he commanded and never lost a fight he was involved in!

Never dodged a fight!

Never fought his commands without concerns for his men's life!

Never had any political handlers or political help!

Understood that the object of war is to destroy the enemies means to fight, which Sherman never did!

 

Slowtrot:D

 

 

Last edited on Wed Apr 15th, 2009 01:31 pm by slowtrot



 Posted: Mon Mar 16th, 2009 03:43 pm
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HankC
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Thomas never overused exclamation marks ;)


HankC



 Posted: Mon Mar 16th, 2009 09:59 pm
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Captain Crow
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Chickamauga?........



 Posted: Thu Apr 2nd, 2009 07:00 pm
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slowtrot
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"There is nothing in History as magnifcent as Thomas at Chickamauga!"

B/Gen. Henry Cist

Thomas, with 25,000 (less than half the Army of the Cumberland) troops who gathered around him at Horseshoe Ridge held off the Army of Tennessee from about 1:00PM till dusk, until he could withdraw.  Until then, he fought off Longstreet, who claimed he made 25 attacks against the Union lines.  His troops fought almost continuously and were running out of ammunition when he gave the orders to withdraw.

He pulled out under orders from Rosecrans and marched to Rossville where he posted his weary army to guard against Confederate attacks.  None came and he made camp and he and his Army slept.  Thomas had not slept since he pulled XIV Corps out of McLemore's Cove and joined the rest of the AOTC. 

Garfield, who joined him while Lonstreet was attacking, claimed Thomas was "standing like a rock"  Thus the name "The Rock of Chickamuga."

If you mean to imply that "Thomas" was defeated at Chickamauga you are wrong.  Thomas was subordinate to Rosecrans, who as CO is responsible for the loss.

If your criteria is applied, then Thomas won the battle of Chattanooga.  Only his forces fought the battle.  Sherman had given up.

Don

 

 



 Posted: Fri Apr 3rd, 2009 10:32 pm
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buzzard
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Slowtrot wrote about Thomas:

"Understood that the object of war is to destroy the enemies means to fight, which Sherman never did."

This is like saying Michael Phelps doesn't know how to swim.

The entire campaign for Atlanta, and the follow up march to the sea and through the Carolina's are a testament to depriving the CSA the means to fight.



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 Posted: Sat Apr 4th, 2009 01:54 pm
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slowtrot
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Buzzard said:

"Slowtrot wrote about Thomas:

"Understood that the object of war is to destroy the enemies means to fight, which Sherman never did."

This is like saying Michael Phelps doesn't know how to swim.

The entire campaign for Atlanta, and the follow up march to the sea and through the Carolina's are a testament to depriving the CSA the means to fight."


___________________________________________________

The “Atlanta Campaign” as laid down to Sherman by Grant was to “. . . move against Johnston's army, to break it up and to get into the interior of the enemy's country as far as you can, inflicting all the damage you can against their war resources.”  Sherman did neither.  He screwed up a good plan by Thomas, which could have ended the campaign two weeks after it started. 

Johnston fought him to a draw at Resaca and withdrew without Sherman knowing what had happened.  He could have trapped Johnston in Resaca by blowing up the bridges over the Oostanaula with Logan's artillery. 

He got jealous of Grant’s butchery in Va. and, thought he’d try it at Kennesaw, and failed.  He failed to destroy the Army of Tennessee at Jonesborough and within two weeks, Hood was moving back to Dalton to fight again.  Sherman chased him around for a month and then decided he couldn’t catch him and detached Thomas to do the job.  Some warrior, admitting defeat w/o even trying.

His march to the sea almost lost the war in the west.  His orders from Grant were to leave Thomas an adequate force to fight Hood.  He didn’t!  He took two of Thomas Corps, the XIV and the XX (which he had disparaged earlier in a letter to Grant) on his trip south and left Thomas the wounded, weak and new troops.  He took all the best equipment and wagons and left Thomas the damaged.  He left Thomas 7,000+ cavalry - - - - without horses.

His march was without event.  His opponents were children and old men.  The Rebels had already drafted those fit and able to fight.  Wheeler showed up occasionally with a couple companies of cavalry.  In fact, Sherman boasted he reached Savannah with more cattle than when he started.

As to destroying the Rebel war resources, he burned a few towns, destroyed a few railroads (in many cases unusable by the Confederates) and avoided the larger defended areas of the south.

In fact, the only significant losses by the Confederacy during that period were by Lee in the east and by the destruction of the Army of Tennessee by Thomas in the west.  Once Hood was gone, the war in the west was over and Lee’s fate was sealed.

As to the march thru the Carolinas.  If not for the bumbling of Bragg, he would have lost a good portion of one of his wings to Joe Johnston.  Even then, he tried to avoid a fight.

 

Don

 





 Posted: Sat Apr 4th, 2009 04:30 pm
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buzzard
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I will differ to the sympathy that "The Iron Duke" expressed earlier and not participate in slandering or demeaning of another great general for the benefit of elevating another.

This is the second thread in as many days that present to this board how the majority of historians have gotten it all wrong for a hundred plus years. I bow down to you and others that have been able to interpret the final presentation of what history should be for the rest of us.

Thomas was indeed a great general in all regards and as history records a man of modesty and remarkable ability. Kind consideration for the feeling of others was one of his marked characteristics. You would think that one assuming to take his sobriquet honored the example he set in life.

Buzzard



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 Posted: Sat Apr 4th, 2009 06:10 pm
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slowtrot
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“I will differ to the sympathy that "The Iron Duke" expressed earlier and not participate in slandering or demeaning of another great general for the benefit of elevating another.

 

Why is telling the truth defined as demeaning?  I can prove all that I have said.  After Chickamauga and Chattanooga, your heroes, Grant and Sherman demeaned Thomas at every turn.  Would you like to see the easily verifiable truths in the Official O.R.’s?

 

This is the second thread in as many days that present to this board how the majority of historians have gotten it all wrong for a hundred plus years. I bow down to you and others that have been able to interpret the final presentation of what history should be for the rest of us.

 

What makes you think all historians are infallible?  Some historians claim Grant didn’t drink or drank only a little.  Yet Sherman said he drank to excess.  So did his wife as well as Lincoln’s wife along with many others.  If I’m upsetting some hero worship I sincerely apologize.  But, I prefer to deal in truths or what I perceive to be truth.  After the battle of Chattanooga, Grant wrote that “the battle was fought as planned.”  As big a falsehood that was ever claimed!

 

Thomas was indeed a great general in all regards and as history records a man of modesty and remarkable ability. Kind consideration for the feeling of others was one of his marked characteristics. You would think that one assuming to take his sobriquet honored the example he set in life.

 

He was also truthful and did what he thought was right and fought his battles with his men’s lives at the forefront as opposed to others!

 

I’m sorry to have offended you but the truth will out!

 

 

 

Slowtrot

 



 Posted: Sat Apr 4th, 2009 10:13 pm
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buzzard
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Slowtrot:

You assume way too much, Sherman & Grant are not my heroes. Historical documents prove that then Col. Grant found a way to get his commission back into the Army in 1861 on the back of my ancestor he replaced in Illinois. Our family has no love for the man. I never agreed with Sherman's tactics for "Hard War", but it does not change the fact those tactics were effective.

Yes Grant and Sherman demeaned Thomas. SO WHAT. Grant was a drunk. SO WHAT. Sherman was a little nutty. SO WHAT.

Historians are not always correct nor get it right, but more often than not they do. What your crying about is that history didn't favor YOUR hero over the two men that were perceived by the world at the time to be the heroes.

No hero worship hear my friend. Your perceived truths are just that perceived. The people of the North bet on Sherman and Grant and history records them fulfilling those bets. Grant received Lee's surrender, Sherman received Johnston's surrender, and Thomas received the surrender of who??

Yes, Thomas was a good General that played in the second theater of war that no one much cared about in the North. Your claim to his fame, is his standing his ground in the middle of a defeat while the rest of the Northern Army panicked. Okay, Go Rock It still stands that Chickamauga was a terrible defeat for the North. You rave about Missionary Ridge, but Old Slowtrot himself said he had nothing to do with his men going up the ridge. :shock: Hey, Who's in command here!

General Hood decides to murder his own Army to teach them that breastworks can be charged at Franklin. NO ONE expected this including his own generals whom he left dead on the field or wounded. Schofield certainly didn't expect it, he was just trying to get the hell out of town. So Hood takes what's left of a battered, shell shocked, and demoralized army with but few veteran commanders of any rank to Nashville. We all know the begging that went on to get Old Slowtrot out of his breastworks to take on the remnants of this Army. For the life of me how this was considered a brilliant victory for Thomas, I will never know. Not much of a challenge at this point in the war, with an inept commander that just murdered his own army.

Go Rock of Chickamauga!

Yes, when it was all said and done in 1865 Grant and Sherman got all the glory. One was a drunk, the other a nut, but together they are perceived in truth by most to have won the war. Like you everyone is entitled to their own truths.

Thomas, just overlooked I guess. A third rate general in a second theater of war.

Is this the response you were looking for?

Buzzard

Last edited on Tue Apr 7th, 2009 08:10 pm by buzzard



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 Posted: Sun Apr 5th, 2009 01:37 am
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slowtrot
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Are there any more like you around?

Bye Bye!


Slowtrot



 Posted: Mon Apr 6th, 2009 02:33 am
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HankC
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slowtrot wrote: After the battle of Chattanooga, Grant wrote that “the battle was fought as planned.”  As big a falsehood that was ever claimed!


 

What was the plan and how did the execution differ? 

 

HankC



 Posted: Mon Apr 6th, 2009 03:16 pm
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slowtrot
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http://home.earthlink.net/~oneplez/majorgeneralgeorgehthomasblogsite/index.html

The above is the URL for my web site!  Go to the site and on the Title page is an index on the left.   About halfway dow is a list of battles Thomas participated in.  Click on that and you will go to a description of the battle.

Grant issued several orders for the battle, most are explained there.

If that is not satisfactory you can go to:

http://aotc.net/Chattanooga.htm

for another description.  A bit longer than the first but similar in definition.

 

Slowrot



 Posted: Mon Apr 6th, 2009 04:34 pm
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ole
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One might also go to Brett Schulte's web site wherein Bobrick's book gets a scathing review. Bobrick commented on the review and some remarkably pleasant dialogues were entered.

Ole



 Posted: Mon Apr 6th, 2009 06:52 pm
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HankC
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Here's my idea of the plan. Am interested in your differences:

1) Hooker to hold Bridgeport, maintain the cracker line and the right of the US line.
2) Sherman arrives, providing the US numerical superiority (60K to 50K), he marches behind Thomas to the left flank.
3) Hooker moves around the shoulder of lookout mountain and advances the US right flank.
4) Sherman prepares to cross the river
5) Hooker and Sherman attack the respective CS flanks
6) Thomas maintain the center and prepare to exploit any advantage.


HankC



 Posted: Mon Apr 6th, 2009 10:58 pm
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ole
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Thomas assails the center while Hooker, on the right, makes a looping roundhouse. Sherman is ineffective on the left, but the plan is coming together.

Seems to me that the plan worked, somewhat. So there is this or that adjustment. (Plans allow for adjustments?) It remains that howevermuch Sherman's assault on the Confederate right came up short. The plan did work.

Ole



 Posted: Mon Apr 6th, 2009 11:33 pm
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slowtrot
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Mr. Hank C and Ole It appears to me that you didn't go to the sites I listed therefore you have no idea why I stated the proposition I did. If you are that close minded there's no point in discussing my statement that Grant lied about his Chattanooga plan. Pointless arguements aren't my bag.


Slowtrot



 Posted: Tue Apr 7th, 2009 02:13 am
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The Iron Duke
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Chickamauga was a draw? I'm sure that would be news to the men of the Army of the Cumberland. And please explain how the Battle of Nashville is comparable with the battles of Old Fritz.



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 Posted: Tue Apr 7th, 2009 05:09 am
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slowtrot:

I must concur with The Iron Duke's first post above. In defending Thomas, you're guilty of the same things you accuse Grant and Sherman of doing, namely slander. Thomas was always right, but Grant was a lying drunk. Thomas had the best plans, but they were corrupted by that crazy Sherman who got jealous of Grant's butchery back East. You do your argument no justice if you rely on ad hominem attacks in order to make it.

That being said, Thomas was an excellent commander. (I like to think of him as the Union Longstreet. :P) He performed ably throughout the war, and was superb at Chickamauga. I do agree that he has often gotten short shrift by history, though I don't believe it's because of some "liberal academic" conspiracy, as you mentioned in your initial posting.



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