THOMAS, George H. (1816-1870), General, U. S. Army. Autograph telegram signed ("Geo. H. Thomas") to Adm. S. P. Lee, Hd. Qrs., D. C., Nashville, 30 November 1864. 1 page, 8vo, telegraph stationery. -- FEARING, Banjamin Dana (1837-1881), General, U. S. Army. ALS ("Fearing") to Col. C. H. Grosvenor, Headquarters 3rd brigade 2d Division, 14th Army Corps, Station No. 1. S. and A. R. R., Ga., 21 January 1865.
GRANT RELIEVES THE ROCK OF CHICKAMAUGA, LEAVING THOMAS'S MEN INDIGNANT
Thomas, "the Rock of Chickamauga," was one of a handful of Virginia generals to remain loyal to the United States in 1861. He fought at Shiloh and Stone River before his famous stand at Chickamauga in 1863. He led the Army of the Cumberland at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, and was promoted to Maj. General for his exploits at Franklin and Nashville in December 1864. In the Atlanta campaign, however, Grant lost patience with what he thought was excessive caution or disloyalty, when Thomas refused to move against Hood's forces to support Sherman's march to the sea. After rough fighting at Franklin on 30 November, Thomas repaired to Nashville. From there he sent this telegram: "As soon as the Ironclads return to Paducah please order them into the Cumberland to patrol that river and convoy transports up and down. Hood at present has a cavalry force so much larger than mine that I have been compelled to fall back and concentrate on Nashville. But as soon as I can get my cavalry back from Louisville I feel confident I can drive him back."
Grant ordered him to attack Hood immediately, but Thomas said he needed more time to prepare for a decisive battle. On 9 December Grant ordered him relieved, but Thomas said he was ready to move and the order was suspended. When weather caused another delay, Grant ordered Logan to replace Thomas. Before he arrived, however, Thomas launched his attack--a successful one--and destroyed Hood's force on 15-16 December.
Judging from Fearing's letter, Sherman, not Grant, bore the brunt of the angry reaction from Thomas's devoted subordinates. "There was quite an indignation, running all through the 14th A. C.," Gen. Fearing writes, "when they heard Genl. Thomas was to be relieved and that, too, by Genl. J. A. Logan....I do think, much as I admire the brilliancy and genius of Sherman, that history will give the palm to Genl. Thomas as the General who has never failed...."Together 2 items. (2)