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Re: Thomas at Nashville and Military favoritism

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  • genesispg <genesis@madbbs.com>
    Thanks for your response. I have not read anything more about the pontoon incident at Nashville than Sword s account and Van Horne s biography and the Army of
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 13, 2002
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      Thanks for your response. I have not read anything more about the
      pontoon incident at Nashville than Sword's account and Van Horne's
      biography and the Army of the Cumberland. It is unfortunate that Van
      Horne made the man perfect in his biography. Any later Thomas
      biographer has to use Van Horne as a primary source and it colors the
      biography to some extant. (Witness Warrior Generals by Thomas B
      Buell.)

      As for the pontoon bridge, one wonders how we would handle what in
      the 1860 were called pikes or roads. Probably, those were no more
      than a beaten down dirt path maybe half the size of a 2 lane country
      road.

      My first post to this group was message #14834-setting up defense
      line of Kelly field at Chickamauga. Anyway, Cozzens makes a critical
      comment about Thomas bunching up his troops. My comment was about
      the setup- the 2nd line was made up of units that had been used
      roughly during the first day of the battle. I do not believe anybody
      had any faith in those units to send them out where Adams and Stovall
      made the initial successful assault down the Lafayette Rd. Yet there
      are other considerations. I do not believe that Thomas ordered
      breastworks to be built. Therefore more men would be needed to cover
      the Kelly field salient. It was not until Isaac Suman (mentioned in
      Hazen's memoirs) suggested that breatworks be built that they were
      built along that line. This made the extra people superfluous.

      I have been to several of Dr William Glenn Robertson's military staff
      rides of the Chickamauga battlefield. I highly recommend it to
      anybody who is trying to understand that battle. It is amazing to
      see how much you learn when one keeps his mouth shut during the
      presentations and ask questions of the group while you are walking
      from one stop to another. It is a good walk done in all weather
      conditions. Unfortunately, I believe these things are now done in
      February and I can not attend during (tax season).

      Here is the letter in Blue Acorn Presses book Echoes of Battle the
      Atlanta campaign.

      Capt Henry Richards wrote to his father on July 11, 1864

      "The work of the army is very unequally divided and I think Thomas is
      very partial to the 14th Corps giving them all the post and garrison
      duty and less of the fighting than any other corps in the Dept.
      There is much grumbling amoung officers and men on this account, and
      when this campaign does end there will be more resignations offered
      than ever before from this corps. When General Baird's division
      relieved us yesterday the feeling was manifested by the men calling
      them Thomas's pets and saying there's no danger here boys; hold this
      position till we drive them away again, and build works, and then you
      can move up again. The boys will have their joke.

      Thomas was partial to units that stayed with him during the 2nd day
      of Chickmauga. One also wonders when the troops were being sent to
      Nashville after the Atlanta campaign how many of them decided to quit
      because of what happened to them during the Atlanta campaign.


      Roger









      --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "bjer50010 <bjewell@i...>"
      <bjewell@i...> wrote:
      > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "genesispg <genesis@m...>"
      > <genesis@m...> wrote:
      > > In my postings here, I have not commented on the Thomas vs
      > > Sherman/Schofield/Grant bruhahas that have occured.
      > >
      > > For your information, I am a Thomas supporter. So people can
      know
      > my
      > > bias.
      > >
      >
      > Genesis,
      >
      > I have no problem with Thomas supporters. Personally I believe he
      > was short changed in terms of the credit he received for his
      actions
      > during the War. What I have a problem with is the fact that the
      > slightest criticism of Thomas is enough to draw ridiculous
      > comparisons to Grant, etc. If a general makes a mistake, it is his
      > mistake, whether someone else made a bigger mistake or not is
      > irrelevant.
      >
      > > In a sense, it is comforting to know that not much has changed
      > since
      > > the remaining 30 years after the Civil War was fought because the
      > > participants themselves argued over their various roles. General
      > > Smith and Wilson argued with Grant over Chattanooga and
      Nashville.
      > > Arguments rages over if Grant was suprized at Shiloh or for
      letting
      > > Forrest escape at Donelson, Grant himself thought battle of
      > > Murfreesboro(or Stone's River) was no victory even though Lincoln
      > > thought it was at the time. (Undoubtably, his feelings of
      > amimousity
      > > toward Rosecrans had something to do with that statement.)
      > >
      >
      > I agree. And for a large part this is why, despite the fact that
      > they add immensely to our understanding of events and characters, I
      > find memoirs and other personal writings to be a little suspect in
      > affixing credit/blame for the events described. I don't think
      anyone
      > could have fought four yrs. in the Civil War and not have formed
      some
      > acrimonious relationships. The problem is some people voice their
      > opinions more freely than others so we often get a biased view of
      > incidents, etc. One problem with discussing George Thomas, is the
      > dearth of personal writings from the man, so we are left with only
      > other people's views of him; good or bad. I think however it is a
      > mistake to make unqualified statements about his motivations, given
      > that lack of first hand accounts. And lack of his own writings
      about
      > his relationships with other officers does not mean he did not have
      > strong opinions, only that he left no record of those opinions.
      >
      > > As to military favoritism, Thomas had his 14th corps. During the
      > > Atlanta campaign the peeople in that corps were known
      as "Thomas's
      > > pets". References are in Castel's Atlanta campaign book as well
      as
      > > Blue Acorn press Echoes of battle: The Atlanta campaign page 23.
      > >
      >
      > I think you make a very valid point here. Every commander had his
      > favorites, often a unit in which he got his first command
      position.
      > From reading unit histories and diaries, it is possible to
      understand
      > the closeness of those men. It would make sense that as a man rose
      > through the ranks he would maintain that closeness and those units
      > become their favorites. I see nothing wrong with that. They are
      > trusted because they are known quantities and they are known
      > quantities because the general has served with them for a long time.
      >
      > > Maybe Schofield had other reasons for wanting to leave Thomas.
      He
      > > could see that Thomas was being shunted aside by Grant. If he
      > stayed
      > > with Thomas, his career would not get the boost he believed he
      > needed.
      > >
      >
      > This is a valid point. Personally, after reading Sword's account,
      I
      > think it probably a combination of the two, but Schofield
      definitely
      > had a low opinion of Thomas after Franklin. He seemed to think
      > Thomas left him hanging, especially by ignoring (and I don't intend
      > that as an insult, it was the only word that came to me while
      writing
      > this) Schofield's request for reinforcements and the pontoon
      train.
      > That Thomas could not fulfill that request does not make Schofields
      > perception any less valid.
      >
      > > As to Thomas at Perryville and Chattanooga, maybe he did not want
      > > command because he did not want to clean up the messes made from
      > > other generals. He could not afford to lose. Maybe he wanted
      > > another command where he could start with a clean slate and then
      > > complete a military objective. As it was, he could have failed
      at
      > > Chattanooga or Perryville and his career would have been aborted.
      > > (because he would have failed.)
      >
      > I don't know if you read the original posts in this thread or not
      but
      > I feel that Thomas was fully justified in not assuming command at
      > Louisville prior to the Battle of Perryville. The reasons included
      > the poor command structure, poor morale, etc. That army was a
      mess.
      > I don't see how anyone would have wanted command under those
      > circumstances. I said it previously, it was Buell's mess to clean
      > up. At Chattanooga I think the situation was a little different.
      > Despite the condition of the army there was room for optimism. But
      > with Grant assuming command, Rosecrans had to go and Thomas was
      next
      > in line.
      >
      > >
      > > As to pursuit after Nashville, yes the pontoon was sent down the
      > > wrong road. We should be amazed that a pursuit was undertaken at
      > > all. The only 3 pursuits by major armies were Meade after
      > Gettysburg
      > > (sorry about Eastern mention), Grant after Petersburg, and Thomas
      > > after Nashville.
      >
      > I agree with you. I want to clear up one misconception about this
      > entire thread. Early on Mr. Rose asked a specific question about
      > Thomas. I answered him with an argument out of Wiley
      Sword's "Embrace
      > an angry wind." He pointed out the mistake with the pontoon
      train.
      > But you have probably read more about Thomas than I have, what do
      you
      > think of the idea that the order was not a mistake but a deliberate
      > attempt by Thomas to avoid crowding the other roads with infantry,
      > cavalry and the pontoon trains? Is it possible that he didn't
      > realize how bad the cross roads were and deliberately sent the
      > pontoons done the Murfreesboro Rd?
      >
      > >
      > > End of diatribe 123.
      >
      > I don't view it as a diatribe. It was a well-balanced analysis,
      > something which often doesn't occur in these discussions of
      > comparative generalship.
      >
      > JB Jewell
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