General Order No. 6, Department of the Army of Ohio, ordered General George H. Thomas, one of the Union Army's most capable generals, to establish his headquarters at Lebanon, Kentucky by November, 1861.
His headquarters were on the second floor of the M.S.Chuck Building on Main Street. This building was built by Dr. Shuck in 1859, and still stands on Main Street today.
At the time General Order No. 6 was being sent, Thomas was at Crab Orchard, Kentucky. Thomas had moved his headquarters there from Camp Dick Robinson following the battle of Wild Cat in October of 1861.
At Lebanon's "Camp Crittenden", General Thomas saw the forming of the the 10th Kentucky Infantry. This unit, along with General Thomas, clashed with the Confederate Army under General Feliz Zollicoffer on Jan. 19th, 1862 in what is known as the Battle of Mill Springs of Logan's Crossroads. Although Thomas' routed Zollicoffer, it was Zollicoffer who became the central figure of the battle. Zollicoffer, a Tennessee legislator and journalist, mistakenly rode into Union lines during the heat of the battle and was killed.
Despite his abilities, Thomas never received the credit that he deserved. Several factors contributed to this. First, because Thomas served in the Western Theater of the war, he did not receive the press coverage
that other commanders received. Second, Thomas' loyalty was doubted by some until late in the war. A native of South Hampton, Virginia, like Robert E. Lee, he had to choose between conflicting loyalties. Thomas' choice would cost him 100 years of animosity from his native state. When the Union Army enlisted Thomas, little did it know that it gained as much as it had lost by not enlisting Robert E. Lee.
Thomas' family disowned him because of his decision to stay in the Union Army. One of his sisters said in later years after the war, "I have no brother," and went to her death bed never speaking to her brother again.
In September of 1863, General George H. Thomas would make his make in the Civil War where he got the nickname the "Rock of Chickamauga". Along the banks of what was called Chickamauga Creek, about 12 miles south of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Union Forces were soundly defeated suffering many casualties. Had it not been for a bold stand by General Thomas and his men, the entire Army of the Cumberland might have been destroyed.
Today, the city of Lebanon is proud to have been, if only for a short times so long ago, "Home to George H. Thomas".
Thomas was only 54 years old when he died of a massive stroke brought on by an anonymous letter printed in the New York Times on March 12th, 1870. In this letter, Thomas was criticized over
the battle of Nashville by General Schofield or be someone else close to him.
When the time came to lay the general to rest, thousands came, including President Grant, Generals Sherman, Sheridan, Meade, the cabinet members, a join committee from Congress, plus thousands of soldiers and former veterans. General Schofield was not present, nor any members of the general's family. "Our brother George died to us in 1861", his sisters told neighbors.
In Washington, a bronze monument in honor of Thomas graces the intersection known as Thomas Circle. Here, the Rock, astride a great horse, gazes silently over the Potomac River.
In addition, there is a potential Battlefield Memorial in Lebanon, Kentucky.