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    Description

    General George W. Thomas, the "Rock of Chickamauga", Membership Certificate for the Dialectic Society of the United States Military Academy, West Point. One page, partially printed on vellum, 13.25" x 15.5", June 1, 1840. Minor normal wrinkling, else, near very fine.

    The Dialectic Society at West Point was a cadet debating club established in 1824. This is the certificate naming George H. Thomas as an honorary member of the society. Thomas (1816 -1870) was a career U.S. Army officer and a Union general during the American Civil War, one of the principal commanders in the Western Theater.

    After graduating from the United States Military Academy in 1840, Thomas served in the Mexican-American War. He later chose to remain with the United States Army for the Civil War, despite his heritage as a Virginian. He won one of the first Union victories in the war, at Mill Springs in Kentucky, and served in important subordinate commands at Perryville and Stones River. His stout defense at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863 saved the Union Army from being completely routed, earning him his most famous nickname, the "Rock of Chickamauga." He followed soon after with a dramatic breakthrough on Missionary Ridge in the Battle of Chattanooga. In the Franklin-Nashville Campaign of 1864, he achieved one of the most decisive victories of the war, destroying the army of Confederate General John Bell Hood, at the Battle of Nashville.

    Thomas had a successful record in the Civil War, but he failed to achieve the historical acclaim of some of his contemporaries and fellow classmates, such as Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman. Thomas developed a reputation as a slow, deliberate general who shunned self-promotion and who turned down advancements in position when he did not think they were justified. After the war, he did not write memoirs to advance his legacy. He also had an uncomfortable personal relationship with Grant, which served him poorly as Grant advanced in rank and eventually to the presidency.

    After the end of the Civil War, Thomas commanded military departments in Kentucky and Tennessee until 1869. President Andrew Johnson offered Thomas the rank of lieutenant general-with the intent to eventually replace Grant, a Republican and future president, with Thomas as general in chief-but the ever-loyal Thomas asked the Senate to withdraw his name for that nomination because he did not want to be party to politics. In 1869, he requested assignment to command the Division of the Pacific with headquarters at the Presidio of San Francisco. He died there of a stroke while writing an answer to an article criticizing his military career. None of his blood relatives attended his funeral.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    29th-30th Sunday-Monday
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