Doris Ross Johnston's Our Texas Family

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  • ID: I3089
  • Name: George Henry 'Pap' Thomas
  • Title: Gen.
  • Sex: M
  • Change Date: 27 AUG 2005
  • Note: G. H. Thomas appt. deputy to Uncle James ROCHELLE, Clerk of Court Southampton Co. Va. spring 1836
  • Education: Read law in Uncle James ROCHELLE'S office. Southampton Co., VA
  • Note:
    at the outbreak of War Between the States, 'made his decision [to remain in the Union Army] from a sense of duty to the flag he served, a flag which had been fired upon the day before at Fort Sumter. Of Welsh and Huguenot ancestry, George Thomas was unalterably firm in his attitudes; he was a Regular Army man who clung to his old coats and old ways. His maiden sisters, whom he promptly notified once his decision was made, were also unswerving in their loyalty. They promptly turned his picture to the wall, then destroyed all his letters, and never wrote to him again except to suggest that he change his name. Their neighbors even heard them remark that if he ever came home, they would show him how to use the fine gift sword which stood behind the front door. The sword had been given him by Southampton County friends in commemoration of his long service in Florida and in the Mexican War, but obviously he had forfeited all rights to it. The General's attempts at reconciliation brought no word of forgiveness, and he never went home again.
    Some years after Thomas's death in San Francisco in 1870, General William Tecumseh Sherman expressed the hope that he might be forgiven. Speaking before a great crowd of veteran soldiers at the unveiling of the equestrian statue in Thomas Circle, Washington City, Sherman predicted that the day would come when Southerners would be making pilgrimages to the monument. 'Brave George Thomas,' said Sherman, 'will become the idol of the South.' But no delegation of Southerners has ever appeared with wreaths to lay at the statue. Local historians have taken no notice of the General . . .' 1
  • Birth: 31 JUL 1816 in on a farm near, Newsoms, Southampton Co., SC
  • Education: extract from 'Van Hornes's life of Major General George H. THOMAS,' (p. 2) makes interesting mention. 'The first twenty years of his life were spent in a quiet home, subject to the moulding influences of a refined family and elevating external associations. In his 20th year he completed with honor the prescribed course of study of the Southampton Academy, located near his home. Soon after his graduation he entered the office of James ROCHELLE, his uncle, who was county clerk at the time. etc. . . .' 1836 grad. Southampton Academy
  • Education: apptd. by John Y. Mason, U.S. Congressman. Source: Gen. George Henry Thomas, by Henry Copee. New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1898, pp. 2-4. 01 JUN 1836 West Point
  • Event: Event-Misc ABT 1839 Jerusalem, Southampton Co., VA
  • Note:
    Type: Milit-Beg and rose to the rank of General in the Union Army by time of Civil War.
    He was stationed at Fort Mason, TX, for about a year while he on duty with the Second U.S. Cavaly Regt. prior to the Civil War.
    One of the first settlers in the area was Wm. S. Gamel in 1846. Fort Mason was established in 1851 and settlers were attracted by the protection that the fort provided from Indians. Germans moved into the area from Fredericksburg and even soldiers settled the town after their discharge. In 1858 the town received mail as well as the fort's supplies from San Antonio. The post office opened in town and the name was changed from Fort Mason to Mason that same year.
    Fort Mason played no part in the Civil War other than being surrendered to Confederate forces in 1861. The Confederates didn't need it and the townsfolk appropriated much of the abandoned fort and equipment. It was reestablished in 1866 and then abandoned for good in 1868.
    At the close of the Mexican War, Thomas was placed in charge of the commissary at Brazos Santiago, TX, near the mouth of the Rio Grande, in August 1848. On May 12, 1855, his valuable services were rewarded by Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, by being appointed Major of the new Second United States Cavalry, under the command of Col. Albert Sidney Johnston and Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee. The appointments to that regiment were by selection and not by seniority, and were the pick of the army, in officers, men, horses and equipment. When organized in 1855, the Second U.S. Cavalry consisted of five squadrons of two companies each. As there was no law covering the organization of cavalry, which was then a new branch, the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, took advantage of the omission and appointed its officers from the army at large or from civil life, as he pleased. Some say that Secretary of War Jefferson Davis appointed the best southern officers to this regiment in anticipation of a rebellion. The nickname for this regiment was 'Jeff Davis' Own' and would produce eleven generals for the Confederacy.
    When Capt. Thomas received his promotion, he was stationed at Fort Yuma, CA. Yuma had the reputation of being the hottest post in the Army and a temperature of 116 degrees F. in the shade was not unusual. Maj. Thomas joined his regiment in September 1855 at Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, MO. He started with his regiment October 27, 1855, on its two months march to Texas, but was detached at Fort Washita for court-martial duty. Thomas rejoined his regiment at Fort Mason, TX, in May 1856 and remained there about a year. About September 5, 1856, he joined Col. Robert E. Lee who was en route to Ringgold Barracks, TX, as a member of the court-martial that tried Maj. Giles Porter, Fourth U.S. Artillery. Col. Lee wrote his wife that he hoped to pick Thomas up at Fort Mason, which indicated that they were friends of the family. They arrived at Ringgold Barracks October 3, 1856. Lee had traveled 730 miles in 27 days and Thomas about 600 miles in 22 days.
    George Washington Park Custis, the heir of George Washington, and father-in-law of Col. Robert E. Lee, died October 7, 1857. Lee was executor of the estate and left for Arlington, VA, October 21, leaving Maj. Thomas in command of the Second Cavalry. Thomas was assigned to Camp Cooper, one of the least desirable posts in Texas and the rest of the regiment was scattered, occupying Fort Belknap, Camp Colorado, Camp Radziminski, Indian Territory, Camps Ives, Verde, Hudson, Van Camp and Iverson near the clear fork of the Brazos, and Forts Inge, Mason and Chadbourne. When Col. Lee was at Camp Cooper, he wrote Mrs. Lee June 6, 1857, of the intense heat there that killed a little boy of his command; and again, on June 22nd, of the death of a young son of one of his sergeants.
    Maj. Thomas, with Lt. William W. Lowe, thirteen men of the band, and a detachment of Co. D set out from Camp Cooper July 23, 1860, for the head-waters of the Concho and Colorado Rivers.
    Maj. Thomas continued his operations until August 20th, when the expedition was disbanded and Co. A, B and F returned to their stations. He then started with the band and detachment of Company D for Camp Cooper and on the 25th discovered an Indian trail twenty-five miles east of Mountain Pass. The wagons were at once returned to Camp Cooper while the command with pack mules started in pursuit and marched forty miles, when nightfall compelled a halt. The pursuit was resumed at daybreak of the 26th and after a march of twenty miles the Indians were discovered on the Salt Fork of the Brazos River, just as they were about to leave their camp.
    After a hot pursuit for some miles the Indians abandoned their loose animals (twenty-eight in number) and escaped, except one, who having dismounted was killed, but not until he had wounded Maj. Thomas twice and also five enlisted men. Maj. Thomas was first wounded in the face by an arrow. It was a running fight and when it became evident that the whole party of Indians would be killed or captured, one old Indian who was badly wounded, made a stand, resolved to sell his life as dearly as possible and by delaying the soldiers allow the rest of the Indians to escape. The brave old Indian was wounded twenty times before he was finally dispatched and managed to kill or wound the following soldiers: wounded Chief Bugler August Hausser, Privates John Zito and Casper Siddel of the band; Privates Hugh Clark and William Murphy, Co. D. Murphy died of his wound on Nov. 23, 1860.
    Maj. Thomas went on leave on November 12, 1860, and was in Virginia when Gen. David E. Twiggs, in command of the Department of Texas, surrendered the federal troops and forts in Texas on February 16, 1861. While Maj. Thomas was on leave, recovering from his wounds, Fort Sumter was fired upon, and the next day Thomas was on his way to Carlisle Barracks, PA, to reorganize and equip his regiment, then en route from Texas by boat. He was promoted Lt.-Col. Second U.S. Cavalry April 25, 1861, and got the vacancy caused by the resignation of Col. Robert E. Lee, accepted that date by the War Department. Virginia-born Thomas elected to remain loyal to the Union when the Civil War broke out - a decision that was no doubt a difficult one and caused him great personal suffering. His family disowned him and his property was seized by his native state.
    Courtesy of Rob Swinson, Aug 2005

    Database: ourtexasfamily
    Individual: I3092
    Name: Rob Swinson
    URL title:
    Major General George Henry 'Pap' THOMAS died 28 Mar 1870 at The
    Presidio, San Francisco, San Francisco Co, California of apoplexy/stroke while
    on duty at his headquarters of the Military Division of the Pacific; buried 8
    Apr 1870 at Oakwood Cemetery, Troy, Rensselaer Co, New York with military
    honors; married Frances Lucretia KELLOGG on 17 Nov 1852 at Troy, Rensselaer Co,
    New York, b. 25 Jan 1821 at Troy, Rensselaer Co, New York, d. at Fort Mason [?],
    Texas aft. Apr 1870.

    Would appreciate receiving email regarding any additional information regarding
    the location and death date of his wife, Frances; as well as information
    pertaining to any of his siblings.

    Rob Swinson:
  • Death: 28 MAR 1870 in The Presidio, San Francisco, San Francisco Co., CA
  • Note: Major General George Henry 'Pap' THOMAS died of apoplexy/stroke while on duty at his headquarters of the Military Division of the Pacific; buried 8 Apr 1870 at Oakwood Ceme., Troy, Rensselaer Co., NY with military honors 2

    Father: John Thomas b: ABT 1780?
    Mother: Elizabeth Rochelle b: ABT 1785? in Southampton Co., VA

    Marriage 1 Frances Lucretia Kellogg b: 25 JAN 1821 in Troy, Renselaer Co., NY
    • Married: 17 NOV 1852 in Troy, Renselaer Co., NY
    • Note: per Rob Swinson, Aug 2005

    1. Title: Rock of Chickamauga: The Life of General George H. Thomas
      Abbrev: Rock of Chickamauga: Life of Gen Geo Thomas
      Author: Freeman Cleves
      Publication: The University of Alabama Press, 1948
      Page: pp. 5, 6
    2. Title: Rock of Chickamauga: The Life of General George H. Thomas
      Abbrev: Rock of Chickamauga: Life of Gen Geo Thomas
      Author: Freeman Cleves
      Publication: The University of Alabama Press, 1948
      Page: p. 5
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