Did Grant and Thomas Know One Another at West Point?

James N.

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Feb 23, 2013
East Texas
… McClernand was a lawyer and politician, appointed for political reasons and scheming for glory. He had no military talent to justify his rank. He deserved Grant's scorn.
Normally I wouldn't have bothered to defend a nefarious Yankee like McClernand - HOWEVER, I'm currently reading a wonderful book by Ed Bearss about the Vicksburg Campaign, in which he points out several of McClernand's actually superior qualities! Among them, McC was the only one of Grant's subordinates who thought the campaign had a chance from the first - this was the reason it was McC and not Sherman nor McPherson who was chosen to lead not only the advance through Louisiana but also from Bruinsburg to Port Gibson. It's also obvious that his disappointing performance at Champion's Hill was because of Grant's own instructions and difficulties in communication. But most telling of all, Bearss shows convincingly that of the three corps commanders during the May 22 assault on Vicksburg McClernand was the only one to adequately prepare for it and that Grant's subsequent criticism of him was unfounded and done in the spirit of CYA.

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Sergeant Major
Aug 20, 2009
Manor, TX
I don't get the impression that Thomas was ambitious to be the top dog.
Quite the opposite seems to have been the case. When Halleck made him commander of the Army of the Tennessee, Thomas asked to be returned back to his old division with Buell because he felt he had been used as a political tool against Grant. When the War Department instructed Thomas to take command of the Army of the Ohio before Perryville, Thomas declined as he thought it was a bad idea to replace an army commander on the eve of a major battle. These are not the actions of a man determined to rise the top, but a man who put the needs of the army ahead of his own personal interest.

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