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Re: Thomas and command offers

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  • bjer50010 <bjewell@iastate.edu>
    ... (and any ... needed civilian ... system and ... damage ... Exactly true. This is very definitely a problem with how the army was run early on. But by the
    Message 1 of 12 , Jan 2, 2003
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      --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, DORR64OVI@a... wrote:
      > I think you have to look at Thomas's command opportunities
      (and any
      > Federal officer's) within the context of Army protocol as well as
      > civilian/military politics. Army officers in that day really
      needed civilian
      > political sponsors in order to gain commands. This was a horrid
      system and
      > we all can name poloitical generals in any theater who did far more
      > than good for the war effort.

      Exactly true. This is very definitely a problem with how the army
      was run early on. But by the same token some political generals
      became very competent leaders.

      > Unlike most of his Federal comtemporaries, Thomas came from a
      > state and thus had no "hometown" backers with clout who could go to
      bat for
      > him.

      I agree with this assessment. He very definitely lacked political
      clout. But as a point of discussion, prior to Perryville, had he
      really performed anything notable, even if he had had such backing,
      to justify placing him in command of the army? IIRC, outside of Mill
      Springs, he had not seen much combat; he missed the biggest show in
      the west to that point, Shiloh.

      >Secondly, despite his being loyal to the Union, many politicians
      > distrusted him especially at the beginning of the war.

      But he did have strong allies, including his ex-roommate, WT Sherman,
      who strongly recommended him to his brother early on in the war. In
      fact, it could be argued that without Sherman, Thomas might never
      have gotten a commission in the Union army. Perhaps Thomas should
      have made more of that connection.

      > Having said that, it makes me feel that GHT made a costly
      mistake when he
      > turned down command of the Army of the Ohio. We have gone over the
      > for this on this forum recently and given the situation, it is
      > why GHT refused the offer. The AotO was a mess at this point and
      > might've said no. Unfortunately not being a military man attuned
      to the
      > politics of the system he was in, I think GHT cost himself dearly.

      It was certainly unfortunate that the decision to remove Buell was so
      untimely. Had it been done several weeks earlier Thomas would have
      had time to do something with the AotO and may have won a big
      victory. But given the timing of the actual attempt to replace
      Buell, Thomas made the correct decision. But do you think if his
      performance at Perryville had been better that he might have been the
      choice later on?

      > When Buell was replaced after Perryville, Thomas was bypassed
      in favor of
      > Rosecrans. GHT's objection was not to Rosecrans personally but to
      > manipulation of the seniority system, especially when the dates of
      > rank were changed. GHT made his beef, then shut his mouth and took
      the job
      > to help Rosy.

      Which does him a great deal of credit. GHT was an extremely loyal
      officer, just being a Southerner in the Union army shows that. But
      again for the sake of argument, what had Thomas accomplished of note
      to that point? Mill Springs and good, not outstanding service with
      the AotO. But Rosecrans, in addition to some political clout, also
      had Iuka/Corinth behind him. ISTM, that political clout is one
      thing, but a general also had to show some battlefield successes to
      get noticed. Thomas simply did not have those at the time.

      > I dont recall a sense that GHT didnt want command of the AotC
      > Rosecrans was sacked . IIRC, he felt loyalty to Rosecrans and I
      think any
      > hesitancy he may have displayed was due to disappointment that Rosy
      was being
      > removed. I think he felt it unfair that Rosy had lost his job and
      wanted to
      > show support. By this time GHT was more than ready to assume
      command of the
      > AotC.

      I agree with this point. Rosy had unfortunately fallen afoul of US
      Grant, who was rapidly on the rise and that meant he was gone. Of
      course the debacle at Chickamauga didn't help Rosy, but it did bring
      GHT to the fore. He had finally accomplished something which made
      him stand out from the pack.

      > Kent Dorr

      JB Jewell
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