FW:Thomas Wood ANB - Bio of the Day
- Take care,
Judy and Bob Huddleston
10643 Sperry Street
Northglenn, CO 80234-3612
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
Special Announcement: OUP is pleased to announce that ANB Online is now
available by individual subscription for $14.95 a month. For more
information or to subscribe, please visit http://www.anb.org
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
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
Back to the top
James K. Hogue. "Wood, Thomas John";
American National Biography Online Feb. 2000.
Copyright (c) 2000 American Council of Learned Societies. Published
by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
Note: This email has been sent in plain text format so that it may be read
with the standard ASCII character set. Special characters and formatting
have been normalized.
Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the American
National Biography of the Day and Sample Biographies provided that the
following statement is preserved on all copies:
From American National Biography, published by Oxford University
Press, Inc., copyright 2000 American Council of Learned Societies.
Further information is available at http://www.anb.org
American National Biography articles may not be published commercially (in
print or electronic form), edited, reproduced or otherwise altered without
the written permission of Oxford University Press which acts as an agent in
these matters for the copyright holder, the American Council of Learned
Societies. Contact: Permissions Department, Oxford University Press, 198
Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016; fax: 212-726-6444.
To unsubscribe please send an email message (from the account that you wish
to unsubscribe) to biod-request@... and include the word "remove" in the