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The Civil War's Unheralded Hero: George Henry Thomas

Evening Seminar

Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Code: 1M2652

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So you’ve never heard of George H. Thomas? That’s understandable.

 A native of Virginia, he was an undefeated Union general who played a key role in winning the Civil War. He and his family were almost killed in Nat Turner’s slave revolt of 1831. When he chose to remain loyal to the Union at the beginning of the war, his spinster sisters turned his picture to the wall and never spoke to him again.

After many victories and much fine fighting, he earned recognition as “The Rock of Chickamauga" by saving a Union army at that battle when his commander and most of the army fled. Later, he virtually destroyed a Western Confederate army in December 1864, a victory earned him the sobriquet "The Sledge of Nashville."  Unfortunately, he and Ulysses S. Grant were like oil and water—they did not mix or get along very well. Thomas also had the unfortunate and unfair nickname of "Slow Trot" because of his alleged slowness going into battle. In the end, he was cut off from end-of-war glory and postwar army leadership positions by the Grant–Sherman–Sheridan clique of generals.  

Edward Bonekemper, author of five books on Civil War leaders, analyzes the reasons for Thomas’ greatness and for his exclusion from the Union’s inside circle of wartime leaders—and his absence from popular memory.


S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Drive, SW
Metro: Smithsonian Mall Exit (Blue/Orange)