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FW:Thomas Wood ANB - Bio of the Day

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  • Bob Huddleston
    Take care, Bob Judy and Bob Huddleston 10643 Sperry Street Northglenn, CO 80234-3612 303.451.6376 Huddleston.r@comcast.net ... From: biod-request@www.anb.org
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2004
      Take care,


      Judy and Bob Huddleston
      10643 Sperry Street
      Northglenn, CO 80234-3612
      303.451.6376 Huddleston.r@...

      -----Original Message-----
      From: biod-request@... [mailto:biod-request@...]
      Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2004 12:50 AM
      To: ANB bioday mailing list
      Subject: ANB - Bio of the Day

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      American National Biography Online

      Wood, Thomas John (25 Sept. 1823-25 Feb. 1906), soldier, was born in
      Munfordville, Kentucky, the son of George T. Wood, an army officer, and
      Elizabeth Helm. Wood was raised at his parents'
      home in Kentucky. In 1841 he was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at
      West Point, and he graduated as a member of the class of 1845. He stood in
      the upper half of his class and received a commission in the Corps of
      Engineers upon graduation.

      In 1846 Wood joined General Zachary Taylor's staff and fought in the
      campaign against Mexico. Later that year he transferred to the cavalry
      branch and took an assignment to the Second Dragoons Regiment, a formation
      of mounted infantrymen. He received notice for his bravery under fire in the
      battle of Buena Vista (22-23 Feb. 1847), where he personally reconnoitered
      the Mexican positions.
      After the war he advanced in the peacetime army and served in a succession
      of cavalry postings on the frontier.

      After the outbreak of hostilities in the Civil War in 1861, Wood assisted
      the state authorities of Indiana in organizing, training, and equipping
      volunteer regiments. On 11 October 1861 he was appointed brigadier general
      of volunteers and given command of a brigade of Indiana volunteers he had
      helped raise. In November
      1861 he married Caroline E. Greer. They had no children.

      In early 1862 Wood was given command of a division in the Army of the Ohio,
      then led by General Don Carlos Buell, and took part in the Union invasion of
      Tennessee. In February 1862 he participated in the capture of Nashville,
      Tennessee, the first Confederate state capital to fall to the Union army. He
      fought with distinction at the battle of Stones River (30 Dec. 1862-2 Jan.
      1863), where he was wounded. The Army of the Cumberland (formerly the Army
      of the Ohio) repulsed Confederate general Braxton Bragg's strongest effort
      to clear the Union army out of central Tennessee.

      In 1863 Wood's role in the battle of Chickamauga provoked fierce
      controversy in the Union high command. In October 1862 Abraham Lincoln had
      relieved Buell and replaced him with Major General William S. Rosecrans. On
      the second day of the battle, 20 September 1863, Rosecrans personally and
      vehemently ordered Wood to move his division, which Wood promptly did, even
      though it left more than a quarter-mile gap in the Union line. Confederate
      general James Longstreet's corps, on loan from the Army of Northern
      Virginia, attacked into this gap, cutting Rosecrans's army in two and
      threatening to destroy the entire army. Rosecrans was furious with Wood and
      blamed him for the blunder. General Ulysses S. Grant, however, saw the
      incident in a different light and chose, with the advice of Major General
      George H. Thomas, to keep Wood but relieve Rosecrans.

      Wood repaid the confidence of Grant and Thomas in spectacular fashion
      during the attack on Missionary Ridge, the key to the Confederate defense of
      Chattanooga. On 25 November 1863, after William T. Sherman's flank attack on
      the Confederate entrenchments began to falter, Grant ordered divisions
      commanded by Wood and Philip Sheridan to launch a hasty attack at the base
      of the well-defended Confederate ridge line. In one of the most remarkable
      and heroic incidents of the entire Civil War, Wood's men disobeyed orders to
      halt after they overran the Confederate line and raced to the top of the
      hill, throwing the entire Confederate army into confusion and winning a
      victory that astonished Grant himself.
      It was, Wood later said, "the proudest, most exultant moment of my life"
      (Sword, Mountains Touched with Fire, p. 290). It was also a vindication of
      Wood's military prowess, which had been called into question ever since

      In 1864 Wood took part in Sherman's invasion of Georgia. He was wounded
      again, this time at Lovejoy's Station on 2 September 1864, but again refused
      to leave his command. After the fall of Atlanta his division accompanied
      General Thomas back to Tennessee to defend Nashville against John B. Hood's
      final offensive. Promoted to commander of the IV Corps, Wood participated in
      the defense of Nashville on 15 December 1864 and pursued the remnants of the
      Army of Tennessee after Hood was defeated. His contributions to this
      decisive Union victory earned him promotion to major general on 27 January

      After the Confederate armies surrendered, Wood was assigned to military
      occupation duty in Mississippi, where he was departmental commander in 1865
      and 1866. He was also appointed assistant superintendent of the Freedmen's
      Bureau for that state in 1866. Though he was considered by many to be an
      impartial administrator in a difficult situation. Wood did not care to be
      involved in the contentious politics of Reconstruction, and his war wounds
      prevented him from being assigned to more active duty with the frontier
      He therefore retired from the army on 9 June 1868 and lived the rest of his
      life in his wife's home town of Dayton, Ohio. His later years were spent as
      an active and enthusiastic officer in the Grand Army of the Republic, the
      Union veterans' organization, and he also served as a member of the board of
      visitors at the Military Academy. He died in Dayton.

      Wood was a fierce, effective, and tactically capable battlefield commander
      for the Union in the Civil War. He led his soldiers from the front, as his
      repeated wounds attested, and they rewarded him with one of the most
      thrilling performances in the Civil War and U.S. military history--the
      heroic charge up Missionary Ridge. His quarrel with Rosecrans over the
      blunder at Chickamauga probably prevented his rise to higher command in the
      war, but he did not appear to brood over it, as many of his contemporaries
      often did.


      Two books by Wiley Sword treat the Army of the Cumberland in scholarly
      fashion and place Wood's career of 1862 to 1865 in the context of the
      military operations in Tennessee. His Mountains Touched with Fire:
      Chattanooga Besieged, 1863 (1995) covers the Rosecrans-Wood controversy and
      also gives an exhaustive account of Wood's assault on Missionary Ridge in
      1863. His Embrace an Angry Wind: The Confederacy's Last Hurrah: Spring Hill,
      Franklin, and Nashville (1992) gives a similar treatment of Wood's command
      of the IV Corps under Thomas and his role in the pursuit and
      destruction of Hood's army after the battle of Nashville.

      James K. Hogue

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      James K. Hogue. "Wood, Thomas John";
      American National Biography Online Feb. 2000.
      Access Date:
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