The Rock of Chickamauga, the Sledge of Nashville
Note: this marker is weathered and partly illegible. Some words are inferred and others are indecipherable.
George Henry Thomas was born in Southampton County, Virginia, July 31, 1815. At the age sixteen he was forced to flee his home along with his sisters and widowed mother, during Nat Turner's "slave rebellion." He attended West Point and graduated in 1840, 12th in his class. He stayed in the army until his death. He saw action in the Seminole and Mexican wars and prior to the Civil War was stationed in Texas under the command of Albert Sidney Johnston. In 1861 he rejected an offer to become Virginia's Chief of Ordnance and instead remained loyal to the Union: as he put it " ... turn it every way (I) could, the one thing that was uppermost (was) duty to the government of the United States." Thomas' decision for the Union so disgusted his sisters that they never spoke to him again.
Because Thomas was from a prominent slave-holding Virginia family, .?.s in the Federal government, including President Lincoln, questioned his loyalty, and only through his meritorious service to the Union were these questions dispelled. He advanced rapidly and was promoted to brigadier general in August 1861 and in September he came to Kentucky to take command of Camp Dick Robinson about twenty five miles south of Lexington.
On January 1, 1862, Thomas left Lebanon, Kentucky to strike Zollicoffer. The sixty five mile journey took two weeks because of rains which turned the roads into a muddy morass. He arrived at Logan's Cross Roads on January 18th and at dawn on the 19th the battle began. Colonel Mahlon Manson of the 10th Indiana rushed to Thomas with news of the battle. Thomas, in a fit of anger, spat back, "Go back to your troops and fight!". Dressed in his new brigadier's uniform, Thomas ordered the 2nd Minnesota and 9th Ohio regiments forward. He then rode to the sound of the fighting. Thomas positioned himself at "a point where the roads fork leading to Somerset." From here, not more than twenty paces from the rear of the 2nd Minnesota's line, Thomas directed the battle. After a morning of hard fighting Thomas' small army had won a resounding victory for the Union.
After Mill Springs, Thomas received the congratulations of the Commander of the Army, the states of Kentucky, and from the President. He was promoted to major general for his victory and later fought at Shiloh, Corinth, Perryville and Stones River. He saved the Union army at Chickamauga, thus earning the sobriquet "Rock of Chickamauga." He was given command of the Army of the Cumberland in 1863 and fought at Chattanooga, in the Atlanta campaign, and at Nashville. In March 1865 he became one of thirteen officers to receive the thanks of Congress. He remained in Tennessee until 1867 when he was transferred to California. He died in San Francisco on March 28, 1870 and was buried in Troy, New York, his wife's home.
In Memoriam: Thomas at Chickamauga
It was that fierce contested field when Chickamauga lay / Beneath the wild tornado that swept her pride away; / Her dimpling dales and circling hills dyed crimson with the flood / That had its source in the springs that throb with human blood.
"Go say to General Hooker to reinforce his right!" / Said Thomas to his aide-de-camp, when wildly went the fight; / In front the battle thundered, it roared both right and left, / But like a rock "Pap" Thomas stood upon the crested Cleft.
"Where will I find you, General, when I return?" The aide / Leaned on his bridle-rein to wait the answer Thomas made; / The old chief like a lion turned, his pale lips set and sere, / And shook his mane, and stamped his foot, and fiercely answered, "Here!"
Excerpted from In Memoriam, Thomas at Chickamauga
by Kate Brownloe Sherwood, 1841-1914
"The general commanding congratulates the troops on the splendid victory!" - General George H. Thomas
A block of illegible text concerning Army of the Cumberland Medals
with two faded-out illustrations.
General George Thomas with his signature, Geo. H. Thomas, Maj Genl - from Library of Congress
Lower Left Map
Battle of Fishing Creek, Kentucky, January 19, 1862
Wartime flags including the USA Stars & Stripes and the CSA Stars & Bars