American Historical Documents from Joe Rubinfine
Union General George Thomas is not that well remembered, though he certainly deserves to be. He was actually a quite remarkable man. Thomas was a Virginian, and among his superiors in the Union Army were people such as Robert E. Lee. However, when most southern officers defected, Thomas remained loyal, even though it apparently meant complete rejection by his own family. Through most of the war, Thomas led divisions but was under someone else's command. His record is one of triumphs, or holding onto ground while other Union troops were routed. However, he at least once declined an opportunity to replace his commander because of his great loyalty. In December of 1864, he did find himself in overall command, as he pulled together a force of his own troops and fresh recruits outside of Nashville. The Union wanted him to take on larger forces under Confederate General John Bell Hood, as it was feared that Hood might be able to disrupt Sherman's "March to the Sea." On December 6, General U.S. Grant sent Thomas orders to attack Hood, but Thomas stalled. On December 7, he told Grant that he thought he would be able to attack, but failed to do so. By December 9, an exasperated Grant ordered Thomas' removal. However, later that day, he had a change of heart. He prepared a telegram to Chief of Staff Henry Halleck, stating his frustration, but then rescinding his prior order. Says Grant, "I am very unwilling to do injustice to an officer who has done so much good service as Gen. Thomas has however and will therefore suspend the order relieving him until it is seen whether he will do anything." Item 11 is a signed draft of this message, which was sent to Halleck as a telegram.
However, this was not the end of Grant's frustration. After Thomas waited to regroup his troops, bad weather set in and Thomas delayed further still. On December 13, Grant sent General John Logan to Nashville to replace Thomas if he had not acted by Logan's arrival. Meanwhile, Grant headed to Nashville himself. None of this proved necessary, as on December 15, Thomas decided the time was right, and began the Battle of Nashville in which his forces soundly defeated Hood's. He knew when the time was right. Thomas was promoted to Major General and received the deserved recognition of Congress for his performance. $25,000.
William Herndon was Abraham Lincoln's last law partner, and knew him well. His experience evidently led him to hold his partner in the highest regard. In this 1886 letter to a Mrs. Blackman, Herndon states, "Mr. Lincoln is the living ideal man which the world will earnestly worship as long as goodness, kindness, honesty, integrity, courage, greatness & true nobility are admired by women and men." Herndon notes that he knew Lincoln for 35 years. "I ought to know something of the man..." Item 25. $2,000.