George Henry Thomas

Born July 31, 1816 Southampton County, Virginia Died March 28, 1870 San Francisco, California

Union general known as the "Rock of Chickamauga"

Alienated his family and friends by siding with the Union, then became one of the top leaders in the Union Army

Although George Henry Thomas was born into a Southern slaveholding family, he sided with the Union at the start of the Civil War. He went on to become one of the most successful Northern generals. In fact, some historians have ranked him behind only Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885; see entry) and William T. Sherman (1820-1891; see entry) among the men they consider most important in securing victory for the Union. Thomas's brave stand during a Union defeat in 1863 earned him the nickname "Rock of Chickamauga." He is also remembered for leading the Army of the Cumberland to an impressive victory at Nashville in 1864. Despite Thomas's successes, some Union leaders questioned his loyalty almost until the end of the war. But the men who served under him loved his cool, steady style and his commitment to always being prepared.

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