Georgia's Blue and Gray Trail Presents America's Civil War


Blue and Gray Trail
Civil War Encyclopedia
Civil War in Georgia
On the Blue and Gray Trail
Civil War by state
Today in the Civil War
This year in the Civil War
Battles
Images
Places
Feature Stories
Links
Search


George Thomas
Civil War Encyclopedia >> People - Union Military
July 31, 1816 George Thomas born, Southhampton County, Virginia Virginia
September 21, 1846
September 23, 1846
Battle of Monterrey, Mexico
  Mexican American War
  Zachary Taylor
February 22, 1847
February 23, 1847
Battle of Buena Vista (Mexican-American War)
  Braxton Bragg
  Jefferson Davis
  Mexican American War
  Zachary Taylor
March 3, 1855 The United States Army creates the First (Edwin Vose Sumner, Joseph E. Johnston) and Second Cavalry (Albert Sidney Johnston, Robert E. Lee).
  Robert E. Lee
  Joseph E. Johnston
  Albert Sidney Johnston
  Edwin Vose Sumner
  Earl Van Dorn
  William Hardee
August 17, 1861 George Thomas appointed brigadier general of volunteers, Army of the Cumberland.
September 10, 1861 George Thomas ordered to relieve Bull Nelson at Camp Dick Robinson. General Nelson is ordered to Eastern Kentucky. Kentucky
  William 'Bull' Nelson
January 19, 1862 Battle of Mill Springs Kentucky
  Battle of Mill Springs
  Felix Zollicoffer
April 25, 1862 George Thomas promoted to major general
September 29, 1862 George Thomas offered command of the Army of the Ohio. He refuses, unaware that Abraham Lincoln had made the offer after receiving a plea for Thomas from 20 officers in the Army of the Ohio.
  Army of the Ohio
  Confederate Invasion of Kentucky
  Don Carlos Buell
December 31, 1862 Battle of Stone's River [US]
Battle of Murfreesboro [CS]

Braxton Bragg forces William Rosecrans to retreat, but Rosecrans returns to defeat Bragg on January 2, 1863.

Union 13,249

Confederate 10,266
Tennessee
  Bloodiest Civil War battles
  Braxton Bragg
  William S. Rosecrans
  John Breckinridge
  Army of the Cumberland
  Philip Sheridan
  Stone's River
September 19, 1863
September 20, 1863
Battle of Chickamauga

General Braxton Bragg [CS] tries to split General William Rosecrans [US] forces as they try to return to the safety of Chattanooga. A second day breakthrough at the Brotherton Cabin forces the federals into a retreat, halted only by the Rock of Chickamauga, General George Thomas on Snodgrass Hill

The bloodiest two days in American history cost the Federals 1,657 dead, 9,756 wounded, and 4,757 missing for a total of 16,170 casualties out of 58,000 troops. The Confederate losses were 2,312 dead, 14,674 wounded and 1,468 for a total of 18,545 out of 66,000 troops.
Georgia
  Gordon Granger
  Bloodiest Civil War battles
  William S. Rosecrans
  Braxton Bragg
  John Bell Hood
  Army of the Cumberland
  Philip Sheridan
  Nathan Bedford Forrest
  Lafayette McLaws
  Battle of Chickamauga
  James Garfield
  Leonidas Polk
  Daniel Harvey Hill
  James Longstreet
  Chickamauga Campaign
September 21, 1863 After withdrawing from Chickamauga, Gen. George Thomas forms a line in Rossville. He abandons the position that evening. Georgia
  Battle of Chickamauga
  Chickamauga Campaign
October 19, 1863 William Rosecrans is relieved of duty. General Grant replaces him as commander of the Army of the Cumberland with George Thomas
  William S. Rosecrans
  Army of the Cumberland
November 23, 1863 Action at Orchard Knob, Chattanooga Tennessee
  Ulysses S. Grant
  Battles for Chattanooga
  Philip Sheridan
November 25, 1863 Battle of Missionary Ridge, Chattanooga

Three Union armies attacked the Army of Tennessee atop Missionary Ridge, east of downtown Chattanooga. Patrick Cleburne stopped William Tecumseh Sherman from the north, although outnumbered 10 to 1. Joe Hooker was seriously delayed by burnt bridges and failed to hit the southern end of Bragg's line near Rossville, Georgia. Thomas' Army of the Cumberland struck the center, breaking Bragg's line and forcing a retreat. Sheridan, ordered to pursue, was stopped dead in his tracks by William Hardee's rear guard action.
Tennessee
Georgia
  Ulysses S. Grant
  Battles for Chattanooga
  Braxton Bragg
  John Breckinridge
  Philip Sheridan
  Army of the Cumberland
  William Tecumseh Sherman
  Patrick Cleburne
  Joseph Hooker
  William Hardee
  Army of Tennessee
February 22, 1864
February 26, 1864
Battle of Dalton (First Dalton)

General George Thomas [US] demonstrates against Joe Johnston's [CS] entrenched line
Georgia
  Joseph E. Johnston
May 7, 1864
May 11, 1864
Battle of Rocky Face Ridge (Dalton)
Battle of Dug Gap
Georgia
  Joseph E. Johnston
  Atlanta Campaign
May 13, 1864
May 15, 1864
Battle of Resaca Georgia
  William Tecumseh Sherman
  Joseph E. Johnston
  Atlanta Campaign
  Battle of Resaca
  Leonidas Polk
  William Hardee
  James McPherson
May 27, 1864 Battle of Picketts Mill Georgia
  Joseph E. Johnston
  William Tecumseh Sherman
  Atlanta Campaign
  Oliver O. Howard
June 27, 1864 Battle of Kennesaw Mountain Georgia
  Joseph E. Johnston
  William Tecumseh Sherman
  Atlanta Campaign
  Kennesaw Mountain
July 20, 1864 Battle of Peachtree Creek

John Bell Hood [CS] attacks George Thomas after he crosses Peachtree Creek.
Georgia
  John Bell Hood
  Atlanta Campaign
December 15, 1864
December 16, 1864
Battle of Nashville Tennessee
  John Bell Hood
  Nashville Campaign
March 28, 1870 General George Thomas dies,


George Thomas

Born into Southern society, but driven by his belief that the Union must be strong, General George Thomas was the second-highest ranking southern-born officer in the United States Army at the start of the first major battle, Bull Run. Only Winfield Scott, also from Virginia, outranked him.

Following his graduation from West Point (where he roomed for a year with William Tecumseh Sherman), Thomas received his commission as Second Lieutenant and fought in the Second Seminole War, where General Winfield Scott commanded in-field troops. Scott approved his brevet to First Lieutenant in 1841. During the Mexican-American War he served under General Zachary Taylor, where he was brevetted to major for gallantry during the Battle of Buena Vista. In his report on the battle, General John Wool specifically mentions Thomas and states "Without our artillery, we would not have maintained our position a single hour."

In the 1850's Thomas served in Texas, fighting American Indians and taking a Comanche arrow during a charge in 1860. Following the election, Thomas took a long leave of absence from his current duties. The Virginian was dismayed when he found that in his absence his regiment had been surrendered to the Rebels. Thomas was ordered to New York to assume command of the regiment and move it to Carlisle, Pennsylvania. When his home state of Virginia seceded Thomas chose to stay with the Union.

His first engagement came on July 2, 1861 when he met Rebel Colonel Thomas Jackson not yet known as "Stonewall" at Hoke's Run in Virginia (present-day West Virginia). Jackson, as ordered, "fell back fighting" so the battle is viewed as an early Union victory. Unfortunately, Thomas's commander, General Robert Patterson did not follow orders and let Joe Johnston escape Winchester undetected before Bull Run. After Patterson was relieved of duty, Thomas found himself to be a brigadier general under the command of Robert Anderson. Quickly, Anderson was replaced by Don Carlos Buell and Thomas was order to advance on Sidney Albert Johnson's right flank. At Logan's Crossroads (Mill Springs), near Somerset, KY, Thomas withstood a Confederate attack, pursuing the enemy back to their Rebel entrenchments.

In September, 1862, General Thomas rejected an offer to command the Army of the Ohio. Following the battle of Perryville, William Rosecrans was offered the position and he accepted, renaming the Army of the Ohio to Army of the Cumberland. On December 31, 1862, Thomas held the Union center after Braxton Bragg had turned the right flank of the Union Army at the battle of Stone's River. Two days later Thomas attacked Bragg's line, forcing him back to a position near Manchester, Tennessee.

During the Tullahoma Campaign Thomas advanced virtually unimpeded to the west side of Lookout Mountain. Pushing through Stevens Gap, Thomas began to run into stiff Rebel resistance as he entered Georgia's Valley and Ridge section. His division moved towards Chattanooga at the head of the Army of the Cumberland. On September 19th he ordered Colonel John Croxton forward to sweep out a regiment of Confederate cavalry. Croxton ran headlong into rear elements of Bragg's Army of Tennessee, wiring back to Thomas "Which of the 4 or 5 brigades in front of me do you want me to attack."

Chickamauga was a dramatic Union loss that remains the worst defeat of the United States Army ever. Thomas was the lone bright spot in the Army of the Cumberland leadership, forming a weak line along Snodgrass Hill as the rest of the Union Army south of that position retreated. Withstanding repeated attacks, some without ammunition, Thomas and his men held the line until ordered to withdraw at 7:00 p.m.

With 5 days of rations remaining, General Ulysses S. Grant relieved William Rosecrans of command, giving the position to Thomas. His orders were simple: "Hold the city at all costs." Thomas's brief reply reflects the attitude of the general: "We will hold it until we starve." To both generals the first order of business was to resupply the men. Thomas, and later Grant, approved "Baldy" Smith's aggressive plan to open up a direct route to resupply the beleaguered city. In late October the "Cracker Line" was open.

Next came Orchard Knob and Missionary Ridge, where the Army of the Cumberland advanced without orders and took the heights overlooking the city.

The Army of the Cumberland was then assigned to the Department of The Mississippi under William Sherman. Thomas, commanding the largest of three armies, drew the workhorse duty, frequently at the center of battle as McPherson's Army of the Tennessee and Schofield's Army of the Ohio drew outflanking duty. Thomas played a significant role in almost every battle of the Atlanta Campaign.

Following the battle of Jonesboro, Sherman ordered Thomas back to Nashville at the head of a completely reformed army. Thomas repeatedly defeated John Bell Hood in the last major Confederate offensive of the Civil War, including the decisive battle of Nashville. Towards the end of the war Thomas organized the cavalry strikes that secured both Georgia and Alabama for the Union and captured Jefferson Davis.

After the war Thomas was placed in charge of the military division of the West, a command he held until his death in 1870.

More Information

George Henry Thomas

Links appearing on this page:

Bull Run
Mexican-American War
Tullahoma Campaign
William Tecumseh Sherman
Winfield Scott
Zachary Taylor

Civil War Encyclopedia >> People - Union Military

George Thomas was last changed on - January 27, 2010
George Thomas was added in 2005



Ancestry Magazine

Ancestry Store Books
The Blue and Gray Trail | The Civil War in Georgia | On the Blue and Gray Trail
Battles | Places | Events by year | Events by date | Feature Stories |
Bookstore | Links | Who We Are |