From Our Correspondent

When studying the Civil War, indeed when studying any historical period, it is always best to keep in mind one simple fact:  the people at the time had no idea how the events they were living through were going to turn out.  It is easy to see that when reading newspapers of a period which are usually filled with fairly facile observations and incorrect guesses of future events, rather like the newspapers of our day.  Here is a typical example where a correspondent of The Richmond Times Dispatch sends a report back on the relief of Rosecrans and the appointment of Thomas.  The dispatch is notable for demonstrating the depth of ill-will within the Confederacy against General George Thomas, a native Virginian, who was viewed as a traitor:

Army of Tennessee

  Near Chattanooga, Oct. 26, 1863.

The Federal Government has just committed its second greatest blunder. I allude to the removal of Rosecrans and the appointment of Thomas to succeed him.

McClellan is the best organizer of forces among all the Federal officers; Rosecrans the ablest campaigner and the best fighter. A great blunder was committed when the former was removed; a second blunder, almost as great, has just been made in the removal of the latter. The change is very popular with the Confederates, and even Gen. Bragg does not object to it. Officers who have known Rosecrans and Thomas both well for many years say we have made a gain by the exchange equivalent to 10,000 men; in other words, that Rosecrans is the better man of the two by 10,000 men. Thomas is a good fighter when he gets warmed up to the work; but ordinarily he is a slow man, and possesses neither the gift to organize an army and move it promptly nor the capacity to project a campaign on a broad scale.

Thomas is a native of Virginia, and belonged to the Calhoun school of politics. He was on duty in Texas at the time the States seceded, and so warmly did he sympathise with the Confederates that he tendered his resignation to Gen. Twiggs, the officer then in command in the Southwest, who, instead of accepting it, advised him to take a furlough and proceed to Richmond, and send in his resignation from that point, especially as it would enable him to travel that far free of expense. He acted upon the suggestion, went to Richmond, made a written application to Governor Letcher (which application is now on file in Richmond) for service in the Virginia State Guard, and then went North for his family. He had married in Troy, N. Y., and owned considerable property in the United States, which he desired to secure. He never returned, the presumption being that he was seduced by tempting offers from the Federal Government, or was dissuaded by his wife from entering the service of the Confederates.

Thomas was an ardent Southern Rights man up to the time he left Richmond. The leopard must have changed his spots, or the Ethiopian his skin, if this Secessionist can find pleasure or honor in an association with negro soldiers and negro officers. But Cœsar said every man had his price, and it may be Gen. George H. Thomas had his.

Published in: on November 3, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on From Our Correspondent  
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