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and foresight of GENERAL SHERMAN, than the fact that so early as October, 1861, he comprehended the vastness of the struggle upon which the nation had entered, and the vital importance of this central line of operation. At that time, being in command of the Department of the Cumberland, he sent to the War Department his estimate:
" That to advance on the line of the Louisville and Nashville railroad, would require an army of at least sixty thousand men; and to advance the great line of the center to its ultimate objective, and reap the legitimate rewards, would require an army of two hundred thousand men.”
This estimate was not only construed to his prejudice by the authorities at Washington, but you will remember that the public journals regarded his views as a conclusive evidence of insanity! At his own request, Sherman was relieved of the command, and, on the 15th of November, went to duty in another department, not to return again to the great line of the center until the country and its authorities had been educated up to his views of 1861.
On the 15th of November, GENERAL BUELL was placed in command of the department; and, as if to narrow the field of operations and restrict the views which GENERAL SHERMAN had expressed, the name of the department was changed, by order of the Secretary of War, to "The Department of the Ohio.”
The rebel authorities early saw the vital importance of pushing as far North as possible on this central line; and, before the end of 1861, they had established themselves in force on a line extending from the base of the Cumberland mountains, by way of Bowling Green, Forts Donelson and Henry, to Columbus on the Mississippi. While the forces at Cairo, under GENERAL GRANT, were threatening the left of this
line at Columbus, and GENERAL BUELL's main force was preparing to move on Bowling Green against ALBERT SIDNEY Johnston, who commanded the center and right, a rebel movement was in progress in Eastern and Southern Kentucky, which threatened the left and rear of GENERAL BUELL's army, and would seriously disturb its movement against Johnston.
In the early autumn of 1861, the rebel authorities had organized a brigade in Eastern Tennessee and Southwestern Virgivia, for the special purpose of guarding the mountain passes at Pound Gap and Cumberland Gap. Before the end of the year, they had also organized two active forces to operate in front of these gaps—one under MARSHALL, which moved from the neighborhood of Pound Gap down the Sandy valley, and the other, a larger force, under ZOLLICOFFER, which occupied the road leading from Cumberland Gap to Lexington.
The first work of GENERAL BUELL's eampaign was to drive back these forces and occupy the two mountain passes, in order to protect his flank and rear. GENERAL THOMAS had been placed in command of the First Division of the army, and, on the 31st of December, was ordered to move against ZOLLICOFFER. In pursuance of this order, he fought and won the battle of Mill Springs, January 19, 1862, which was by far the most important military success that had yet been achieved west of Virginia; and, with the exception of the defeat of MARSHALL, near Prestonburg, nine days before, it was the first victory in the department. In this battle, GENERAL Thomas laid the foundation of his fame in the army of the center. It was the largest and most important command he had held up to that time, and his troops came out of the fight with the strongest confidence in his qualities as a commander.
This battle fully launched him upon his career; and from that time to the end of the war, his life was so crowded with
events that I can do no more than note the stages of command and responsibility through which he passed; and even this I do, only to recall it to your minds as a subject of reflection.
From the 30th of November, 1861, to the 30th of September, 1862, he commanded a division of GENERAL BUELL’s army, without intermission, except that during the months of May and June he commanded the right wing of the Army of the Tennessee, in and around Corinth. On the 30th of September, 1862, he was appointed second in command of the Army of the Ohio, and served in that capacity in the battle of Perryville, and until October 30, 1862, when the old name of "Department of the Cumberland” was restored, and GENERAL ROSECRANS assumed command. That officer reorganized the army, then known as the “Fourteenth Army Corps," into three distinct coinmands--right, left, and center--and assigned THOMAS to the center, which consisted of five divisions. He held this command in the battle of Stone River, and until the 9th of January, 1863, when, by order of the War Department, the three divisions of the army were made arnıy corps. One of these, the Fourteenth Army Corps, Thomas commanded during the campaigns of Middle Tennessee and Chickamauga, which resulted in driving the rebels beyond the Tennessee river and gaining possession of Chattanooga. On the 19th of October, in obedience to orders from the War Departmen“, he relieved GENERAL ROSECRANS and assumed command of the Army of the Cumberland. Soon afterward, two other armies, SHERMAN's and SCHOFIELD's, were brought to Chattanooga, the three forming a grand army under GENERAL Grant, for the purpose of pushing the rebels further South on the great line of the center. The Army of the Cumberland, consisting of four corps, formed the center of the grand army. In this position Thomas commanded it at the storming of Mis
sion Ridge, and in that series of masterly movements and battles in Georgia, which resulted in the capture of Atlanta, September 1, 1864.
On the 27th of September, THOMAS was ordered to Tennessee to protect the department against the invasion of Hood. While in this command, he conducted the operations which resulted in the combats along the Duck river; the battle of Franklin, November 30; the destruction of Hood's army in the battle of Nashville, December 15 and 16, 1864; and finally in the capture of JEFFERSON Davis, in May, 1865.
From June, 1865, to May, 1869, he commanded most of the territory which had been the theater of his service during the war; and on the 15th of May, 1869, he started for San Francisco, where he remained in command of the Military Division of the Pacific until the date of his death, March 28, 1870.
He was appointed Major General of Volunteers, April 25, 1862; Brigadier General in the Regular Army, October 27, 1863, and Major General, December 15, 1864.
In the presence of such a career, let us consider the qualities which produced it and the character wbich it developed. We are struck, at the outset, with the evenness and completeness of his life. There were no breaks in it, no chasms, no upheavals. His pathway was a plane of continued elevation.
It was so at the Military Academy. Slowly, but steadily and thoroughly, he worked up the sturdy materials of his nature into that strength and harmony which culture alone can produce. At the end of his first year, on the basis of general merit, he ranked twenty-sixth in his class. Each year witnessed an upward movement. At the end of his course he stood twelfth in his class. He was successively corporal, sergeant, and lieutenant of cadets. The rules of the Academy make the slightest irregularity of conduct or appearance, a ground for demerit; and many cadets were marked hundreds
of demerits in the course of a year. Thomas had but twenty during his first year, niueteen the second, eighteen the third, and fourteen the fourth.
In the army he never leaped a grade, either in rank or command. He did not command a company until after long service as a lieutenant. He commanded a regiment only at the end of many years of company and garrison duty. He did not command a brigade until after he had commanded his regiment three years on the Indian frontier. He did not command a division until after he had mustered in, organized, disciplined, and commanded a brigade. He did not command a corps until he had led his division in battle and through many hundred miles of hostile country. He did not command the army until, in battle, at the head of his corps, he had saved it from ruin.
This regular and steady advancement was suited to the character of his mind and the habits of his life. When, in September, 1862, he was offered the command of the army of the Ohio, he peremptorily declined it and urged the retention of GENERAL BUELL. It would have violated his law of growth, to leap from a division to the head of an army, without first having assured himself, by actual trial, that he could handle a corps.
The law of his life was greater than his love of fame.
In such a career, it is by no means the least of a man's achievements, to take his own measure, to discover and understand the scope and range of his own capacity. Probably the best
gauge of military ability is found in the number of troops a man can handle wisely and well in battle.
The most successful soldier of our war has said, that when he accepted the command of his Illinois regiment, he deeply distrusted his ability to handle so large a number of men. He knew he could handle a company, for he had done that in Mexico; but how much higher his range extended he did not