Mike Heyman delivered a talk yesterday about Union General George W. Thomas. He said that it was appropriate for him to lecture on this subject at the Bear, Delaware location of the New Castle County Public Libraries because during his research he had met the great great great grandson of General Thomas. Owen works at the library in Bear, Delaware and we all know he is very helpful to patrons.
Have you ever heard of General George Thomas? More than one of us who has studied the subject of the Civil War in American History class has not.
He was from the western part of Virginia. Some northern politicians never trusted him as a Union general because he was from a southern family. His Virginian sisters disowned him and never spoke to him again after he went to war on the side of the Yankees.
As cadets at West Point William Sherman was the roommate of George Thomas. Everyone remembers General Sherman’s march to the sea and scenes from Atlanta, Georgia like those from “Gone with the Wind”.
As a general, George Thomas never lost a battle in the Civil War. He was the first American to build a Civil War Memorial which tourists can still look up in Mill Springs, Kentucky. General Thomas did not achieve notoriety until the end of the war when things really got tough and battles like Chickamauga resulted in the loss of 35,000 lives.
Lincoln was quoted as saying that “Finding a good general requires putting your hand in a barrel of rattle snakes before you find one eel”.
Mike Heyman liked Thomas because he was very respectful of his fighting men. Mike himself was once a deck officer in the Merchant Marines. He was the first to use two horse sleighs to remove the wounded from the battlefield. Hospitals for wounded soldiers were part of his strategy. Thomas was not one to sacrifice soldiers as was the case with the strategies of Lee and Grant. Some people said that Thomas was a good defensive general only. Mike Heyman who has studied his battles says that he was the first to put cavalry, infantry, and artillery all into one attack. He could go at his enemies from many angles in one battle; and he was a patient fighter, he was not known to attack until he thought the moment was right. He was known to be a man of nerve.
Mike Heyman described many of General Thomas’s battles in quite a bit of detail. However, the most interesting attribute of his presentation was how excited he was about his character and how much he respected people who know their own mind and don’t worry about what politicians say too much. What a great attitude to acquaint young Americans with today. At least a couple of kids caught his talk at the Bear Library, and the staff there should be careful to let parents know in advance what programs they have planned.