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Re: [civilwarwest] Some thoughts on Thomas-- Lots and lots of supposition

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  • Bob Redman
    Steve, ... I don t think I ignore it. I simply feel that his unique position in the Union hierarchy explained the decision of a man who was trying to avoid
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 3, 2000
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      At 09:02 9/3/00 -0500, you wrote:

      > 1. The 'passing' on the order of command in September 62 I feel is a
      >critical action the significance of which many Thomas was the GREATEST
      >advocates overlook or ignore.

      I don't think I ignore it. I simply feel that his unique position in the
      Union hierarchy explained the decision of a man who was trying to avoid
      "all appearance of impropriety". There weren't many of his contemporaries
      who had the same scruples.

      >The two most
      >prominent victims of the coup were Little Mac and his friend and protege

      Were they really all that close?

      >When Thomas 'passed' with words to the effect I am not up to it-- it simply
      >had to have marked him in Lincoln's mind.

      Maybe, maybe not. Lincoln was pretty good at taking the longer view, and he
      understood politics very well.

      > whatever motivated Thomas (personal loyalty as his supporters suggest
      >or lack of self-confidence as Thomas himself seemed to state)

      Neither as far as I am concerned. I think he was trying to protect his
      effectiveness as he went about building the world's first modern army,
      still a model today.

      >irretreiveable member of the McClellan-Buell -Porter crowd who apparently
      >did not really believe in civilian command of the military or was at worse
      >not really commited to winning of the war.

      That is not fair to Buell.

      >2. Thomas' personality we are told was somewhat reserved, somewhat
      >aristocratic and perhaps a tad standoffish?

      That's a fine reason for putting Sherman in charge for the campaign against

      >Neither Grant nor Sherman would have
      >taken to a subordinate who seemed to desire to dominate them from his
      >subordinate position. Even Thomas' supporters I think have to admit that
      >Thomas seemed to excell in this exact role with both Buell and Rosey.

      That was part of the problem. Thomas was right so often. That Patterson,
      Rosecrans, and Sherman too often did not accept his advice lengthened the

      > 3. Thomas unquestionably lacked any political base.

      It's hard for us today to correctly estimate the importance of this base in
      those times. I try.

      >4. Thomas' battle field successes as a subordinate where like many in the
      >war acheived with a healthy dose of commander support, good luck and enemy
      >ineptitude. Thomas' holding of the center at Murfreesboro was certainly
      >aided by Bishop Polk's performance.

      Also by the work of Thomas's subordinates whom he had assiduously trained.

      Thomas' holding of the left at
      >Chickamauga was some might argue initially acheived at the expense of unduly
      >weaking of the right and that even after Thomas had been given all the
      >support he had asked for

      Thomas was protecting the only road back to Chattanooga, Thomas had warned
      Rosecrans about chasing Bragg too precipitously, Thomas knew they were in
      hot water, and Thomas did not underestimate Bragg (fashionable even back

      Breckenridge did belatedly open the battle on the
      >20th by partially flanking Thomas' position. Further Thomas' heroic and
      >justifiably admired defense on the 20th was made possible by Granger's
      >totally unexpected and incredibly fortutious arrival.

      Not entirely fortuitous. He was placed by Rosecrans with a corps a couple
      of miles to the north specifically to be the reserve. He could hear what
      much of what was going on. Even with Granger's addition, it was about
      35,000 Union troops against about 60,000 Confederate troops, all afternoon
      long. The achievement was without parallel because the level of training of
      Thomas's troops was without parallel. After the battle, Thomas is reported
      to have got down from his horse to shake the hand of a private and thank
      him for having won the battle for him.


      Bob Redman
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