Item: In Stephan Ambros' biography of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Vol. 1, page 475, the author reports that Eisenhower, on preparing to write his memoir of his WW II experience, read Grant's memoirs for guidance. Ambrose then concludes that the resulting product, Eisenhowers Crusade For Europe, was as great as Grant's product. This was a valid observation only if by this Ambrose meant that its style or readability and success as a commercial product was as great as Grant's. If however Ambrose meant the content as history was as greatly presented, that is, accurately presented, it is another egregious error on a noted historian's part. In any event, Ambrose's failure to make clear which it was is unforgivable, as his writing can be interpreted as concluding the latter, in which case it is yet another gross historical injustice to George Thomas, given the shoddy nature of the content of, nay, the downright fabrications that run throughout and characterize Grant's memoirs.
Item: The Pulitzer Prize winning resident book reviewer of the Washington Post, Jonathon Yardley, on reviewing a book on Washington's monuments in that paper's November 8, 2009 edition, cited four such monuments worthy of note, those of Generals Grant, Scott, Logan and George H. Thomas. First he made the egregious error of stating that of those, only Grant and Scott are remembered at all [the necessary implication being that Thomas is not remembered at all]. I had previously emailed Yardley about Thomas and he answered my email, expressing interest in what I had to say, and I had also sent him recently a copy of my Compilation, which appears on the Source page of this web site, in its new book form. Thus, his statement that Thomas was not remembered at all was an intentional slap in the face of we many Thomas revelers, including Benson Bobrick, whose own very fine book on Thomas was only recently reviewed in the very same Washington Post. But it gets worse. Yardley then goes on to describe Grant as quote * * * the greatest of all American generals. Unquote. Nuff said. Except I believe that this puts Yardley easily up there high in the Grant/Sherman myth makers Hall of Fame, right next to Ken Burns and the others.
Item: In a review in the Washington Post of May 3, 2009, by Ernest B. Ferguson of the book Vicksburg 1863, by Winston Groom, the reviewer refers to General Grant as possessing qualities that enabled him to command all Union armies and "win the war in the East". The clearly intended implication here is that the entire Civil War was won by Grant, and that it was done in the Eastern theater. Neither of those statements is true. The fact is, as demonstrated, that the Civil War was won certainly politically not in the East but in the West with the capture of Atlanta, which led directly to Lincoln's ensuing reelection. Arguably the War was won militarily in the West as well, primarily with the Union's Atlanta campaign victories. (Nods should of course be given toward the later Nashville and earlier Vicksburg Union victories in the West, along with the Gettysburg victory in the East, as important contributions to the North's winning, as well.) The salient fact is that, as we have seen, among these major determinants of the War, Grant was responsible for Vicksburg only, in the West, which makes the reviewer's intended statement as noted above wholly untrue, no matter how one interprets it. Since the book under review involved Vicksburg only, the reviewer can be forgiven perhaps for not mentioning General Thomas, but by gratuitously and unnecessarily perpetuating the myth of Grant as Union War hero, he unwittingly and unjustly does Thomas great harm.
Item: Michael Korda, in his biography of Grant published as part of an "Eminent Lives" series, titled Ulysses S. Grant, The Unlikely Hero, describes Grant’s entire role in the Chattanooga/Missionary Ridge campaign in one paragraph. He there states that - Grant personally broke the siege of the Union’s then beleaguered and outnumbered Army of the Cumberland by opening up a new supply line (In fact the proposed supply line and plan to open it was created by General Baldy Smith under Thomas before Grant’s arrival). See Backup Source page, Compendium, Index, Missionary Ridge. - Grant, "* * * waiting only for Sherman to join him, *** moved to attack Bragg’s supposedly impregnable positions on Missionary Ridge , and in a brutal uphill frontal attack * * * drove Bragg back and took six thousand Confederate prisoners. Korda thus credits Grant with what he then describes as a stunning victory. Page 90. (In fact, Grant did not wait for Sherman, but ordered the attack two weeks before his arrival; Thomas saved Grant from a huge and costly blunder by maneuvering Grant to withdraw that order. And, as we have seen, the credit for the stunning victory at Missionary Ridge belongs solely to Thomas, who in fact in the process saved Grant from from his own failed plan and from further serious blunders) See Backup Source page, Compendium, Index, Missionary Ridge.
Item: In the same book, Korda, at page 157, says of Grant’s Memoirs that they "are factual, precise, and about as objective as it is possible to be." Page 157. Compare: Source page, Compendium, Index, under Grant (or Sherman) memoirs, and Castel, referencing Albert Castel’s views thereon at page 23 of the Compendium. As to why Grant (and Sherman) would write memoirs which are so blatantly wrong and do Thomas such a grave injustice, see, in addition to the information referenced in the Index to the Compendium regarding the Grant/Sherman-Thomas relationships, the findings of Alan Nevins and Korda recorded in Source 6 on the Backup Source page (regarding Grant’s vengeful nature due to his insecurity when confronted with men such as Thomas). Korda’s swallowing of the myth of Grant’s greatness by claiming superior objectivity in Grant’s Memoirs is unforgivable historical writing in view of clear conflicting facts of record cited with favor in his own book, as noted above.
Item: William Kristol, in an article in the Washington Post's Outlook Section for July 15, 2007, entitled "Why Bush Will Be A Winner", says that one reason is that Bush has finally found his General Grant. If that is the case, we are done in for sure, as Grant's record includes more mistakes and outright blunders than accomplishments, and it would have been disastrous if George Thomas was not there to bail him personally, and his favorite, Sherman, out, time after time. See the Compendium on the source page. Kristol swallows the myths hook, line and sinker.
Item: The History Channel on April 21, 2007, aired a piece entitled Sherman's March. Nothing new in what was included. What would have been fresh and interesting, indeed, entertaining, however, are the following facts, which were omitted. 1. The evidence shows that the idea of the March originated with General Thomas, not Sherman. 2. Sherman commandeered for his March Thomas's elite 14th Army Corps and key military specialists from Thomas's Army, such as his pontoon engineers. 3. Sherman left Thomas with the responsibility of defending the Union's entire underbelly (the Ohio Valley) against Hood's still viable Western Confederate Army with the remnants, a circumstance that placed Lincoln and especially Grant in supreme agony during the March. 4. When, as reported, Sherman presented Lincoln with Savannah as a Christmas present, Lincoln's response praised not only Sherman and his March, but equally, in the same sentence of the same telegram, Thomas's achievement of destroying Hood's Western army at the battle of Nashville, an achievement all the more remarkable because it was done with an Army rebuilt from remnants. So the real story, the one that should have been told, was that Sherman's March was achieved only through the unique efforts and abilities of Thomas, which not only made the March possible, but averted the disaster in 1864 for the Union in the West that the March seemed likely to engender.
Item: Doris Kearns Goodwin, in Team of Rivals, says Grant's abilities to "plan, execute and win" battles was "unmatched". Page 529. And later, refers to Grant as the hero of Chattanooga. Page 614. No mention of Thomas.
Item: George Will, in a column entitled "Interstate Ribbons of Progress" states that the Civil War was won by General U.S. Grant. Washington Post, July 9, 2006, p. B7.
Item: Ken Burns, in his PBS series, says that Grant arrived on the scene at Missionary Ridge and achieved the victory. He then quotes Sherman's statement that Missionary Ridge was a great victory--the neatest and cleanest battle he was ever in, and that Grant deserves the credit of it all. Compendium listed on the Backup Source Page as Source # 1 p. 21 (hereinafter cited simply as "Compendium"). The facts: Missionary Ridge was among the greatest military victories ever achieved by American military forces, and arguably the greatest. And the person who achieved it, who deserved all of the credit, was George Thomas, not Grant, who in fact mismanaged it. Compendium pp. 5-9.
Item. Ken Burns, in his PBS series, says that Sherman defeated Hood on July 22 in the so-called Battle of Atlanta. The fact: The actual, real battle of Atlanta occurred two days earlier, at Peachtree Creek, and it was won solely by Thomas, not Sherman, who was not even aware the battle had been fought. Compendium pp. 11, 21-22. The fall of Atlanta enabled Lincoln to be reelected, which in turn most likely preserved the Union as we know it. And all thanks go to Thomas, not Sherman.
Item: Bruce Catton, in Grant Takes Command, notes Sherman's remark about Missionary Ridge that "Grant deserves the credit of it all" and concludes that it is largely justified, while giving no credit to Thomas. Compendium pp. 32-33 The facts: His attempt at justification is a feeble and result reaching affair, at best. Compare Catton's remarks about Thomas elsewhere where he recongnizes Thomas' abilities and unique contributions and states that perhaps this is one case where the general verdict of history needs to be upgraded. American Heritage Magazine, The Rock of Chickamauga, February, 1962. If so, then Catton, in his book, as referenced above, should not have credited Grant with Thomas' brilliant work at Missionary Ridge, as he did. It seems the popular historians simply can't resist fawning over Grant and Sherman.
Item: Stephan Oats, in a widely used college textbook, refers to Grant as the one who won the battles around Chattanooga. Compendium p. 33.
Item: James McPherson in his Pulitzer Prize winning book Battle Cry Of Freedom lists the so-called greatest generals of the Civil War, with Grant listed as the Union's best. Thomas is not even mentioned. Compendium pp. 33-34.
Item: Peter Andrews, writing in American Heritage Magazine, said of Grant and the battles of Chattanooga/Missionary Ridge, that Grant was hailed as the hero of the West, and properly so. His battle had not gone according to plan. Battles rarely do. But he had kept his head and altered his tactics to suit changing conditions. When something didn’t work, he tried something that did. Rock of Chickamauga, March, 1990. This is puzzling since Andrews in his article generally lauds Thomas for his unique professionalism and recongnizes that he has been seriously underrated, but his work is typical in the sense that even in the face of facts to the contrary (he says explicitly that Grant's plan went off the rails almost at once), he fails to summon the courage in the end to transfer credit from the icons Grant and Sherman to Thomas.
Item: Carl Sandburg tells of Sherman, on leaving Atlanta for the sea, being happily surrounded by "his" elite 14th Army Corps. Those "cheery and swinging" men, however, comprised the heart of Thomas Army of The Cumberland, and were taken from Thomas by Sherman for his March, leaving Thomas with bits and pieces to oppose Hood. Compendium p. 25, n. 10. II.
Item: In a special Supplement published October 9, 2011, celebrating 150 years of the Civil War, The Washington Post opined that Sherman was "one of the chief architects of the Confederacy's defeat". It also contained a column by an academic, historian John Marzalek, who claimed that the special bond between Grant and Sherman and their mutual support of one another was "crucial to the ultimate Union success in the Civil War". In fact the Union's crucial success from the Atlanta campaign on was primarily the work of George Thomas, and the bond between Grant and Sherman unnecessarily cost countless lives and destruction, prolonged the War, and would have done even more damage, but for the intervention and work of General Thomas, who not only did great work in his own right, but time and again saved Grant and Sherman from their numerous errors. Nowhere did Thomas's name appear in these discussions.
Robert N. Meiser's Gen. George H. Thomas Web Site
Item: They have failed to report that Thomas's Army of the Cumberland is considered by experts to have been, and was by all accounts, the most modern, professional, best trained, and most effective army among all the armies of the Civil War, on both sides. Compendium pp. 13-17.
Item: They have failed to report that the Battle of Peachtree Creek on July 20, 1864, won solely by Thomas, without knowledge or control by Sherman, was the decisive battle for Atlanta, and not the one two days later. Compendium pp. 11, 21-22.
Item: They have failed to tell of Sherman's tremendous blunder on the way to Atlanta in refusing to follow Thomas plan at Snake Creek Gap, whereas, if Thomas' plan had been adopted, Atlanta would have been captured more than two months earlier, and the Confederate western army would most likely have been destroyed, which would no doubt have shortened the War by years, with consequent saving of hundreds of thousands of lives and countless resources. Compendium p. 10.
Item: They have failed to report Grant's blunder on the way to Atlanta which occurred two weeks before the battle of Missionary Ridge in ordering a premature attack on the Ridge, an attack that would have been disastrous had not Thomas got the order rescinded. Compendium pp. 4-5.
Item: They have failed to report Grant's blunder at Missionary Ridge in devising a battle plan which placed Sherman in charge of the critical assault, and which resulted in failure, until Thomas came to the rescue. Compendium pp. 5-7
Item: They have failed to report Grant's blunder at Missionary Ridge in ordering Thomas to advance to and take the rifle pits at the base of the Ridge and hold at that position. Grant's order, if carried out as Grant intended, held the potential for a military disaster. Compendium pp. 7-8. Instead, Thomas delayed until the time was ripe and provided the opportunity for his field commanders to go beyond Grant's order, seize the initiative and achieve a remarkable military victory.
Item: They have failed to report Grant's blunder at Missionary Ridge in directing his main attack against the Confederate right, instead of the left, as recommended by Thomas. Hooker's advance on the left combined with Thomas' intentionally delayed advance to the rifle pits followed by his army's timely attack up Missionary Ridge, contrary to Grant's wishes and intentions, saved the day for Grant. Compendium p. 6-7
Item: They have failed to report that Thomas' quick and decisive actions at Chickamauga after he chose to fight on alone resulted, when the day was done, in more Confederate casualties then those suffered by the Union forces.
Item: They have failed to report that Thomas' heroic actlons at Chickamauga made up for Rosecrans' failure to consolidate and gather further intelligence following his capture of Chattanooga. The Union Army came within a whisker of suffering utter destruction in McLemore's Cove at Chickamauga because of Rosecrans' blunder. The Union would have avoided running that risk if Thomas' advice to consolidate and gather fresh intelligence had been followed. Compendium p. 12.
Item: They have failed to report the botched fiasco at the Crater in Petersburg as a failure of Grant's leadership. They have never held him accountable.
Item: They have failed to report Grant's many blunders prior to the Battle of Nashville when, in a panic, he issued peremptory but premature orders to Thomas to attack, including his order to attack during an ice storm, and orders at various times relieving Thomas of command, the latter of which orders were fortuitously circumvented by wiser heads. Compendium pp.17-21, 29.
Item: They have failed to report Grant's blunder in dismembering Thomas' army after the battle of Nashville, which, if not done, would have enabled Thomas to send decisive forces East to Virginia for an attack on Lee's rear, which would have ended the War at an earlier time and in an easier manner. Compendium p. 30.
Item: They have failed to report that it was Thomas' idea to march an army to the sea after the fall of Atlanta, not Sherman's. Compendium pp. 28-29.
Item: They have failed to report Sherman's serious error of judgment when he proposed taking his entire forces to the sea, leaving no one behind to deal with Hood's still intact and dangerous Confederate western army. Compendium p. 29.
Item: They have failed to refute the slander in both Grant's and Sherman's memoirs and papers that accused Thomas of being "slow", Compendium pp. 31-32, when they were often recklessly fast, or slow, themselves, in many of which cases George Thomas was there to save them from disaster.
Item: They have failed to report both Grant's and Sherman's tendencies to make costly, unsound military decisions for unworthy personal or political reasons, e.g., when at Missionary Ridge Grant stubbornly issued militarily unsound orders for the sole purpose of attempting to salvage his battle plan and Sherman's part in it, when it was obvious a change of plan was necessary, Compendium pp. 5-6, 21. when at City Point during the Petersburg campaign Grant told Lincoln that he would not order Sherman up to assist because to do so would tend to validate his critics point that he and his men were not up to the task themselves, based on past performance, Compendium p 30, and when Grant after the battle of Nashville decided to disband and disburse Thomas' Army of the Cumberland, Compendium p. 30, for no apparent rational reason than,just to get it out of the picture; and when at the so-called battle of Atlanta on July 22 Sherman refused to send assistance to his old command, the Army of the Tennessee when they needed it, for reasons of personal pride and because he and the survivors would feel better if left to their own devices, Compendium p. 22, and when Sherman throughout the Atlanta campaign chose his former command for the critical glory roles, rather than his best Army, the Army of the Cumberland, and its Comander, George Thomas, Compendium pp. 11-12, and when Grant on leaving to assume overall command in the East, chose his friend Sherman, brother of the influential Senator from Ohio, to replace him as Departmental Commander in the West, instead of Thomas, the only logical and by far the better choice. Compendium pp 24-25. .
Item: They have failed to correct or even question the myriad false statements in Grant's and Sherman's memoirs that, among other things, claimed credit for Thomas's accomplishments, and failed to mention the times Thomas averted disasters for them which were about to be served up as a result of Grant's and Sherman's own mistakes. Compendium, generally, pp. 23-32.
Thomas listed with the Nation's greats and not so greats at the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington Cemetary