« ZurückWeiter »
brought him no special gratification. had taken leading part in more battles, The duties now imposed upon him were had achieved far more important results, extremely difficult and embarrassing and had been always successful. A comBesides, he was placed under a general parison of their careers clearly shows whom, when last met, he had superseded this. Thomas also held the superior rank. under circumstances which left bitter Yet when Grant, as Lieutenant-General, memories. Moreover, the chance of was called to the command of all the keeping his hold on Chattanooga was by armies, Sherman was selected, through no means encouraging, as shown by his his recommendation, to succeed him as first reply to Grant's anxious inquiry: commander of the Military Division of “I will hold the town till we starve." the Mississippi. It was natural that he Out of this unpromising condition he was should thus favor his brilliant subordisoon raised by the arrival of reënforce nate ; but it was a real and public misments;
and on the 25th of November, fortune that a portion, at least, of the by the bold and self-ordered assault on friendship and confidence he entertained Missionary Ridge, his long beleaguered for Sherman was not displayed toward and distrusted army won forever the Thomas. gateway to Georgia and the Southern In the Atlanta campaign Thomas com
manded two thirds of the grand army How large a share of the spirit which operating under Sherman. Throughout, led to this desperate and successful as save on one unfortunate occasion, he sault was due to General Thomas's influ- bore the brunt of the battle. Had his ence is a complex question. No other advice been early taken, it is probable soldiers had ever done anything like it. the result would have been more decisive. Whence came that self-confidence which, The only successful assault made in that after two months of virtual imprison campaign was at Jonesboro, on the 1st ment almost to the verge of starvation, of September, when Thomas's old corps, impelled these men to undertake that the 14th, to quote Sherman's own tremendous enterprise ? Whence, if not words, “swept forward over some old from that inflexible, unyielding, never cotton-fields, and went over the rebel failing will, whose operations were al- parapet, handsomely capturing a brigade most as one of the forces of nature ?
and ten guns." the same spirit which had impelled them Soon after the occupation of the abanto hold fast at Stone's River and Chick doned city, Thomas was sent, with two amauga, and now inspired them to re divisions, back to Tennessee to repel a sistless action at Missionary Ridge. An mere raid of Forrest. Once there, he army soon becomes the very reflection of was ordered to remain, to guard the railits commander. “ The storming of the road line between Nashville and ChattaRidge was one of the greatest miracles nooga. This was the reward of his lain military history. . The generals bors during four months of almost concaught the inspiration of the men and stant battle. His old army was divided were ready themselves to undertake im among strangers. He himself was not possibilities." So, early the next morn consulted concerning any of its future ing, wrote the assistant Secretary of operations, and was banished to the rear War, who saw the whole sublime spec as supervisor of communications. But tacle.
when, a month later, Hood, having outThus far in the conduct of the great witted and outmarched Sherman, apcampaigns in the West, Thomas had held peared unexpectedly on the banks of the far greater responsibilities than Sher- Tennessee, the presence and power of man, — had commanded larger armies, Thomas were quickly revealed. As Sher
man with sixty-two thousand men, any further influence on the fortunes of the pick of nearly double that number,
The seeker after contrasts in “ able-bodied, well-armed, provided with history may find one by reading the all the essentials of life, strength, and account of contemporaneous operations vigorous action” — was marching out of before Savannah, including the correAtlanta to go through the heart of Geor- spondence between Sherman and Hargia where was not an organized brigade dee, and reflecting upon the relative to oppose him, on Thomas, with twenty- numbers and results. five thousand men, — the remnants of This unprecedented victory relieved the two smallest corps, including “all General Thomas of any further work in dismounted cavalry, all sick and wound- the field. His triumphant army was soon ed," was thrown the burden of meet scattered. One corps went to North Caroing and overcoming the one remaining lina, where its commander received Johnarmy on which rested the hopes of the ston's final surrender ; another moved Confederacy in the Southwest.
on Mobile, and aided in reducing that month the situation was most precarious stronghold ; a third was exiled to Texas, The narrow escape at Columbia, the haz where under Sheridan it helped shorten ardous peril at Spring Hill, the bloody the rule of imperialism in Mexico, in encounter at Franklin, were followed by addition to maintaining law and order the appearance in front of Nashville, in the distracted State; while the cavearly in December, of the army which alry, under Wilson, made its resistless since May had thwarted all Sherman's way through Alabama and Georgia, endefforts, and now, reënforced by Forrest's ing with the capture of Jefferson Davis. cavalry, was determined to recover all The pursuit had not ended when, on that had cost such untold labor. So anx Christmas Eve, the Secretary of War ious became the general-in-chief over the at last gave long-delayed expression to unexpected and dangerous condition in the national feeling in the notification which Sherman had involved him, that to General Thomas of his nomination he visited his impatience on Thomas, or as major-general in the regular army, dering him to be relieved, first by Scho- adding to the formal announcement : field, then by Logan; and finally started “ No official duty has been performed himself for the scene of operations. It by me with more satisfaction, and no was a natural but needless apprehension. commander has more justly earned proThe army under Thomas had not a mo motion by devoted, disinterested, and ment of doubt about the success of their valuable services to his country.” This chief. On the 15th and 16th of De- late recognition completed the list of his cember was fought a battle, as carefully official honors. He had now received a planned and as successfully executed commission for every grade in the seras any during the war. When, on the vice, from second lieutenant to major. afternoon of December 16th, the Confed- general. Congress also soon after erate army with its overthrown leader thanked him for his “skill and dauntwas driven from its formidable works, a less courage.” The redeemed State of mere disorganized mob, the very founda- Tennessee presented him a gold medal, tions of that corner of the Confederacy and adopted him as one of its citizens. were crumbled to dust. This crowning He had the fortune, almost alone victory was Thomas's ample vindication.
among army commanders who came in With an army little superior in number contact with Andrew Johnson, to enjoy to its adversary, he achieved a success the good will of that singular man. so overwhelming that the hostile force When the latter, as President of the and its commander were eliminated from United States, was in the height of his
controversy with General Grant, he tried word, Thomas could never be : a statesto win General Thoinas to his side by man, in the true sense, he always was. a piece of strategic flattery which with The Constitution was his political Bible. most men would have been successful. To its study and interpretation he gave He nominated the great soldier to the his serious and constant attention. Senate for the brevet rank of general, In all personal qualities, General with a view to assignment to duty with Thomas was the very model of a soldier that rank over the head of Grant. But and a gentleman. Six feet in height, the offer did not even rise to the dignity with a graceful and well proportioned of a temptation. In a letter which is a figure, he at once attracted the attention standing rebuke to all similar self-seek- his merits so amply repaid. Not brilliant ing, Thomas wrote: “I have done no in conversation, like Sherman, he was service since the war to deserve so high genial, humorous, thoughtful, and stimua compliment; and it is now too late to lating. His knowledge of books and of be regarded as a compliment if conferred philosophy was broad and accurate. for service during the war.” So was While not properly classed as a scholar, crushed that intended conspiracy.
he knew what is best in the best books. Now that his labors were no longer He had carefully considered the great needed in the field, Thomas gave him- themes of life and experience, and on self with all zeal to the restoration of proper occasions gave fit expression to civil administration. In the troublous his convictions. With a naturally hot era of reconstruction, he stood as a bul- and quick temper, he had learned to wark for law and order in the threat subdue its outbreaks and to make it ened anarchy of that distracted region. serve its proper ends. He was entirely Practically a dictator, all his acts were free from affectation, self-consciousness, directed toward the restoration of civil, or ceremoniousness; and he bore himand the repression of military govern self the same to the soldier in the ranks ment. He had the satisfaction before as to his commander. He never said, his death of seeing all the States which or did, or thought anything for effect. had been under his control restored to He hated noise and controversy and distheir proper relations to the general order. His whole nature craved peace government.
and harmony. His greatness was inAs would naturally be the case, he herent and natural and entire. His was a favorite candidate for the presi- tastes were all simple and refined. He dency, in 1868, in a large portion of commanded respect and devotion by his the West and South. But he quickly very presence.
Wherever he appeared, suppressed all such tendencies. In a on the march or in the heat of battle, letter on the subject he declared that everything was “ all right” in the estiunder no circumstances would he permit mation of his soldiers. his name to be so used, and that even if That such a man, so constituted and nominated he should decline. Among so trained, should have been a great other things he wrote: “I am wholly soldier was the necessary result, not of
alified for so high and responsible any special aptitude, but of a nature a position. I have not the necessary great in all things. His only warlike control over my temper. . . . I have no quality was his temper, and that was taste for politics. ... I am poor, and never shown in battle. There he was could not afford it.” Surely, so frank calm, steady, unmoved, determined to and outspoken refusal was never before bring order out of the temporary chaos made by any possible candidate. A in the best and quickest way. They politician, in the common use of that mistake who have called him slow. His — NO. 408.
mind was quick, alert, foreseeing. Hav- character and career, and in assigning ing planned in advance as well as he him his proper place among the great could to assure success, he carried out names of history, the mind again insenhis purposes with ease and smooth- sibly reverts to Washington. Both were ness, but with inexorable determination. Virginians, both were greater in their If an unexpected emergency arose, he aims and purposes than any State never hesitated or doubted. To will and boundary could confine. “ His native to do were interchangeable words. And State was sacred to him only as it was so there remains to his credit a record consecrated to the Constitution and the of unbroken success. “ In one point,
Union. And if his conduct and career he has been the most fortunate of men. were in contrast with those of other of If ever he has committed a mistake, it her sons whom on that account she has has not yet been discovered." These preferred to honor, nevertheless a generwords of Mr. Justice Matthews, uttered ation in Virginia will yet arise who will two years before his death, remain true learn and confess the truth, that George now as then.
H. Thomas, when he lifted his sword to “ Whatever record leap to light, bar the pathway of her secession, loved He never shall be shamed.''
her as well as these, and served her betIn the final view of General Thomas's ter.”
THE CAVE-DWELLERS OF THE CONFEDERACY.
In the war for secession, as in the lina. If the old prints are to be relied war of the revolution, the attitude of on, perfect types of the churl who stood North Carolina was somewhat anom- with Harold on Senlac Hill, and whose alous. As in the latter she had some arrow flights wrought havoc with French of the most ardent patriots and devoted chivalry at Poitiers and Agincourt, are royalists, so in the former she comprised still common among them. By laboring among her people some of the stanchest whites I do not mean the much caricaadherents of each cause. Stronger and tured “poor whites,” but a sturdy, indemore disinterested devotion to the royal pendent middle class, who have proved cause was not shown anywhere in the the salt of the earth, not only at home, colonies than when the Macdonalds, Mac- but in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, leods, and Campbells, the expatriated Texas, and the other Southern States, Scottish clans of the Cape Fear re- to all of which they found their way in gion, drew for King George at Moore's large numbers during the first half of Creek the same claymores that they the century. Along with the Saxon inwielded so stoutly for Prince Charlie on dependence and courage, — for if they Culloden Moor, while perhaps the most did run from Cornwallis at Guilford spontaneous rising for American liberty Court House, they came back the next was that which resulted in the timely vic- day, and after that his lordship did all tory of King's Mountain.
the running away himself, – there was Nowhere else in the New World, if no lack of genuine Saxon stubbornness. indeed in the Old, is there a truer survi- It was this characteristic of her yeoval of the old English yeoman type than manry that made North Carolina at once among the laboring whites of North Caro- the most loyal and disloyal of States to
both sides ; that enabled her to send more hiring of a substitute, the twenty-slave men into the Southern ranks, and give exemption act, and what influence we more lives for the Southern cause, than could bring to bear, for toward the any other State, at the same time that close of the war it took not one but
many she contained by far the largest and causes of exemption to save one,
- he most determined disaffected element of managed to remain neither soldier nor any State where disaffection was as lit- deserter to the end. tle backed by Northern arms. In the Sometimes at his house, but oftener extreme eastern and western counties, while hunting or bird-nesting, I met and encouraged by the presence or expecta- conversed with these denizens of the tion of Federal aid, it assumed a bold woods, who were always armed, and front, and sent many men into the Union usually in squads of four or five for muarmies. In the mountains of the west tual protection. Once I unexpectedly the Confederate conscription officers fre ran into quite an army of them, and quently met with stubborn and organized being decked from head to heel in uniresistance, and in one instance, at least, form, gold lace and all, as indeed was a company of Confederate troops was every boy who could possibly contrive surrounded and captured, officers and to be thus attired, I was at the first all.
glimpse taken for a Confederate officer, In the central part of the State, where and for the moment ran some risk of a my experience lay, this disaffection man- volley of slugs. ifested itself in a dogged determination For the first year or more after the not to serve in the Confederate ranks. It passage of the conscription act, the dewas not that, as a rule, they lacked cour serter had little to fear so long as he age, for some of the most resolute men avoided public places, or even gave the I ever knew “hid out” during the war. conscription officer an excuse for not A good many of these men were small seeing him. Now and then the captain slaveholders, although entirely out of of the home guard would call out such sympathy with the slaveholding class in members of his command as could rengeneral. In a few instances they went der no plausible excuse for not respondover to the Federals when carried to ing, and bluster through the neighborthe front, but the vast majority either hood in a perfunctory kind of way. deserted and returned home, or, as was The deserter who was at home tending still oftener the case, took to the woods his crop, feeding his stock, and living and eluded the conscription officers from much the same life as usual, always had the beginning
abundant warning to step out of sight Our immediate neighborhood doubt till the motley array thundered by. An less contained more of this latter class hour later he would be in his cornfield than any other in the State, if not in the again. South. As a youth familiar with the But after the Confederate ranks were woods as country boys are, and in the thinned by the desperate fighting of 1863, confidence of the negroes as only a boy the lines of the deserter fell in hard could be, I had an exceptionally good places. The Richmond government set opportunity of learning something of energetically to work to bring every availtheir habits and hiding-places.
able man to the front. President Davis The overseer of the farm belonged to by proclamation urged every man to hasthis class, his whole kith and kin being ten to his country's defense, and proin the woods, where, but for convenient mised pardon for all past delinquency, attacks of rheumatism, he would surely provided the offender now hastened to do have been himself. By dint of this, the his duty. Stringent orders and threats