Thomas, George Henry

Thomas, George Henry,

1816–70, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Southampton co., Va. He served in the Seminole War and in the Mexican War. Later he taught at West Point and served in Texas. As a brigadier general of volunteers, he was sent to Kentucky, where he defeated the Confederates at Mill Springs (Jan., 1862). Thomas served under General Buell at Shiloh, Corinth, and Perryville. In the Chattanooga campaign, his stand on Sept. 20, 1863, which saved the Union army from complete rout, won for him the sobriquet "Rock of Chickamauga." Appointed brigadier general in the regular army, he succeeded General Rosecrans in command of the Army of the Cumberland (Oct., 1863) and served under Ulysses S. Grant around Chattanooga and under General Sherman in the Atlanta campaign. With the fall of Atlanta (Sept., 1864), Grant ordered Thomas to pursue the army of General HoodHood, John Bell,
1831–79, Confederate general in the American Civil War, b. Owingsville, Ky. He resigned from the army (Apr., 1861) and entered the Confederate service 1862. He fought in the Peninsular campaign and at the second battle of Bull Run (Aug.
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 into Tennessee. Although accused by Grant of moving too slowly, and threatened with the loss of his command, Thomas waited and finally defeated Hood at Nashville (Dec., 1864). This victory brought him a promotion to major general in the regular army. After the war he held various commands. At the time of his death he was commander of the Military Division of the Pacific.


See biographies by F. F. McKinney (1961), W. D. Thomas (1964), and B. S. Wills (2012).

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Thomas, George Henry

(1816–70) soldier; born in Southampton County, Va. A West Point graduate (1840), he fought in the Seminole War, on the western frontier, and in the Mexican War. After teaching at West Point (1851–55) he joined a new cavalry division. Although a Virginian, he stayed with the Union and commanded units at several major campaigns and battles. His greatest moment came at Chickamauga (1863), where his stubborn defense earned him the sobriquet "Rock of Chickamauga." Forces under Thomas's command stormed Missionary Ridge at Chattanooga (1863), and his Army of the Cumberland decisively defeated a Confederate army under Hood at Franklin and Nashville, Tenn. (Nov.–Dec. 1864), for which he was one of 15 officers voted "Thanks of Congress." He stayed in the army after the war and died in San Francisco while in command of the Military Division of the Pacific.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.