Confederate Civil War Generals

Thomas' Legion
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(About) General Lee and his Confederate officers in their first meeting since Appomattox, taken at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, in August 1869, where they met to discuss "the orphaned children of the Lost Cause". Whether during or after the Civil War, this is the only photo of Lee with his Generals in existence. Left to right standing: General James Conner, General Martin Witherspoon Gary, General John B. Magruder, General Robert D. Lilley, General P. G. T. Beauregard, General Alexander Lawton, General Henry A. Wise, General Joseph Lancaster Brent Left to right seated: Blacque Bey (Turkish Minister to the United States), General Robert E. Lee, Philanthropist George Peabody, Philanthropist William Wilson Corcoran, James Lyons (Virginia).

 
A field officer in the Civil War army was typically a major, lieutenant colonel, or a colonel. The rank is senior to the company grades but is junior to the general ranks. Because the field officers led the troops directly into the heat of the battle, known as the thick of the fight, they sustained high casualty rates.
 
The infantry regiment was commanded by Colonel William Holland Thomas, Lieutenant Colonel James R. Love II, and Major (promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in October 1864) William Stringfield. Its cavalry battalion was under the command of Lieutenant Colonels James A. McKamy (captured by General George Custer in the Third Battle Winchester Virginia) and William C. Walker. During the conflict, the unit served with numerous corps, division, and brigade generals.
 
Colonel William Holland Thomas was the commanding colonel of the Thomas Legion, personally recruited the Cherokee Battalion and Cherokee Life Guard (Bodyguards), was the only white man to have ever served as a Cherokee chief. He was also cousin to  Zachary Taylor, the twelfth President of the United States, President Zachary Taylor. 
 
Lt. Col. William C. Walker had prior service in the 29th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. While at home in January 1864, he was awakened and murdered by outlaws.
Lt. Col. William Stringfield initially served as a private in the 1st (Carter's) Tennessee Cavalry Regiment and then as a captain in Company E, 39th (William M. Bradford's) Tennessee Regiment (aka 31st Tennessee Infantry). He was elected as a member of the North Carolina Legislature in 1882-1883 and to the North Carolina State Senate in 1901 and 1905. He married Thomas's sister-in-law Maria Love, and died from natural causes on March 6, 1923.
Lt. Col. James Robert Love II initially served as a Captain in the 16th North Carolina Infantry and fought bravely in the battles of Seven Pines, Antietam, Seven Days Battles around Richmond, and Second Bull Run. He was wounded in the Battle of Seven Pines. While in Virginia, he saw the "Elephant" and served under Generals "Stonewall" Jackson and Robert E. Lee. Love was first cousin to Sallie Love, the wife of William Thomas. He was a graduate of Emory and Henry College, studied law, and was a member of the North Carolina Legislature. After the war, he was a member of the North Carolina Constitutional Convention in 1868 and served in the State Senate. Waynesville, North Carolina, was founded by his grandfather Robert Love. Love died on November 10, 1885.

Thomas' Legion served with the following brigade, division, and corps generals

Thomas' Legion served with the following corps, division, and brigade generals:

 

General Robert Ransom, Jr.: Graduated the United States Military Academy (West Point) in 1850.

General Gabriel Colvin Wharton: Virginia Military Institute graduate-class of 1847. 

General Alfred Eugene Jackson: Unlike "Stonewall" Jackson, Alfred Jackson was nicknamed "Old Mudwall" Jackson. Prior to the war he was a farmer. On November 23, 1864, "Mudwall" was relieved of his command and served as a staff officer. He had Colonel William H. Thomas arrested and sought to court-martial him. 

General Edmund Kirby Smith: Commander of the Department of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina. He graduated West Point in 1845 and was strongly opposed to allowing Thomas' Legion the ability to operate as an independent command.

General Simon Bolivar Buckner: Graduated West Point 1844, Mexican War veteran, resigned commission in 1855, businessman, and commander of Kentucky State Guard. Post-war: Governor of Kentucky, Vice-Presidential nominee in 1896.

General James Green Martin: Native North Carolinian, graduated West Point in 1840, and Mexican-American War veteran. He was nicknamed "Old One Wing", because he lost his arm in the Mexican-American War. At the Battle of Churubusco in Mexico, his right arm was shattered by grapeshot and had to be amputated. Martin was credited for organizing the Old North State's military prior to the first shot of the Civil War.

General John Crawford Vaughn: Native Tennessean and Mexican-American War veteran.

General John Porter McCown: Graduated the United States Military Academy in 1840. 

General Daniel Smith Donelson: Native Tennessean, graduated West Point in 1825, and died of natural causes in April 1863. See O.R., I, 23, II, 621, O.R., I, 23, II, 787, and O.R., I, 23, II, 644.

General John Stuart "Cerro Gordo" Williams. Lawyer, Mexican-American War, and politician. He received his nom de guerre for heroic actions during the Battle of Cerro Gordo.

General Jubal Anderson "Ole Jube" Early: Graduated West Point in 1837 and was a veteran of the Mexican-American War. He was affectionately nicknamed "Old Jube."

General Henry Heth: Graduated West Point in 1847. His division made first contact at Gettysburg. As an independent command, Thomas' Legion initially reported directly to Heth. 

General Robert Emmet Rodes: VMI graduate-class of 1848. He was killed on September 19, 1864, in the Battle of Opequon. 

General John C. Breckinridge: He was the fourteenth Vice President of the United States and a veteran of the Mexican-American War. In early 1865 General Breckinridge was appointed as Secretary of War in the Cabinet of the Confederate States of America. He held this post until the end of the war. John Breckinridge was also the cousin to Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of President Lincoln.

General William E. "Grumble" Jones: West Point-class of 1848, and classmate of Union General John Buford. General Jones was killed on 5 June 1864, during the Battle of Piedmont.

General James Longstreet: West Point-class of 1842. As a major he fought in the Mexican-American War. General Robert E. Lee referred to Longstreet as his "Old War Horse."

General Braxton Bragg: Native North Carolinian. Graduated West Point 1837, fought in the Seminole and Mexican Wars. He remains the most controversial Confederate general. He instructed Colonel Thomas to raise two additional Cherokee companies in November of 1863,. This allowed a total of 4 Cherokee companies which would become known as the Cherokee Battalion (O.R., 1, 49, pt. 2, p. 754).

Recommended Reading: Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Description: When Generals in Gray was published in 1959, scholars and critics immediately hailed it as one of the few indispensable books on the American Civil War. Historian Stanley Horn, for example, wrote, "It is difficult for a reviewer to restrain his enthusiasm in recommending a monumental book of this high quality and value." Here at last is the paperback edition of Ezra J. Warner’s magnum opus with its concise, detailed biographical sketches and—in an amazing feat of research—photographs of all 425 Confederate generals. Continued below...

The only exhaustive guide to the South’s command, Generals in Gray belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the Civil War. RATED 5 STARS!

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Recommended Reading: Civil War High Commands (1040 pages) (Hardcover). Description: Based on nearly five decades of research, this magisterial work is a biographical register and analysis of the people who most directly influenced the course of the Civil War, its high commanders. Numbering 3,396, they include the presidents and their cabinet members, state governors, general officers of the Union and Confederate armies (regular, provisional, volunteers, and militia), and admirals and commodores of the two navies. Civil War High Commands will become a cornerstone reference work on these personalities and the meaning of their commands, and on the Civil War itself. Errors of fact and interpretation concerning the high commanders are legion in the Civil War literature, in reference works as well as in narrative accounts. Continued below...

The present work brings together for the first time in one volume the most reliable facts available, drawn from more than 1,000 sources and including the most recent research. The biographical entries include complete names, birthplaces, important relatives, education, vocations, publications, military grades, wartime assignments, wounds, captures, exchanges, paroles, honors, and place of death and interment. In addition to its main component, the biographies, the volume also includes a number of essays, tables, and synopses designed to clarify previously obscure matters such as the definition of grades and ranks; the difference between commissions in regular, provisional, volunteer, and militia services; the chronology of military laws and executive decisions before, during, and after the war; and the geographical breakdown of command structures. The book is illustrated with 84 new diagrams of all the insignias used throughout the war and with 129 portraits of the most important high commanders.
 
Recommended Reading: Rebels and Yankees: Commanders of the Civil War (Hardcover), by William C. Davis (Author), Russ A. Pritchard (Author). Description: Davis and Pritchard have created a wonderful work that is sure to become a hit with anyone who studies the Civil War. This book uses words and a generous amount of pictures and photographs to tell the story of the leaders, both talented and flawed, that held together the two struggling armies in a time of chaos and devastating loss. Continued below...
Although many of the stories have been told in one form or another.... Commanders compiles this study in a single book that makes it very easy to compare and contrast the styles and techniques employed by officers of both armies. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.

 

Recommended Reading: Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Volume 6 (Battles & Leaders of the Civil War) (632 pages) (University of Illinois Press). Description: Sifting carefully through reports from newspapers, magazines, personal memoirs, and letters, Peter Cozzens' Volume 6 brings readers more of the best first-person accounts of marches, encampments, skirmishes, and full-blown battles, as seen by participants on both sides of the conflict. Alongside the experiences of lower-ranking officers and enlisted men are accounts from key personalities including General John Gibbon, General John C. Lee, and seven prominent generals from both sides offering views on "why the Confederacy failed." Continued below...

This volume includes one hundred and twenty illustrations, including sixteen previously uncollected maps of battlefields, troop movements, and fortifications.

 

Recommended Reading: Storm in the Mountains: Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers (Thomas' Legion: The Sixty-ninth North Carolina Regiment). Description: Vernon H. Crow, Storm in the Mountains, dedicated an unprecedented 10 years of his life to this first yet detailed history of the Thomas Legion. But it must be said that this priceless addition has placed into our hands the rich story of an otherwise forgotten era of the Eastern Cherokee Indians and the mountain men of both East Tennessee and western North Carolina who would fill the ranks of the Thomas Legion during the four year Civil War. Crow sought out every available primary and secondary source by traveling to several states and visiting from ancestors of the Thomas Legion to special collections, libraries, universities, museums, including the Museum of the Cherokee, to various state archives and a host of other locales for any material on the unit in order to preserve and present the most accurate and thorough record of the legion. Crow, during his exhaustive fact-finding, was granted access to rare manuscripts, special collections, privately held diaries, and never before seen nor published photos and facts of this only legion from North Carolina. Crow remains absent from the text as he gives a readable account of each unit within the legion's organization, and he includes a full-length roster detailing each of the men who served in its ranks, including dates of service to some interesting lesser known facts.

Storm in the Mountains, Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers is presented in a readable manner that is attractive to any student and reader of American history, Civil War, North Carolina studies, Cherokee Indians, ideologies and sectionalism, and I would be remiss without including the lay and professional genealogist since the work contains facts from ancestors, including grandchildren, some of which Crow spent days and overnights with, that further complement the legion's roster with the many names, dates, commendations, transfers, battle reports, with those wounded, captured, and killed, to lesser yet interesting facts for some of the men. Crow was motivated with the desire to preserve history that had long since been overlooked and forgotten and by each passing decade it only sank deeper into the annals of obscurity. Crow had spent and dedicated a 10 year span of his life to full-time research of the Thomas Legion, and this fine work discusses much more than the unit's formation, its Cherokee Indians, fighting history, and staff member narratives, including the legion's commander, Cherokee chief and Confederate colonel, William Holland Thomas. Numerous maps and photos also allow the reader to better understand and relate to the subjects. Storm in the Mountains, Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers is highly commended, absolutely recommended, and to think that over the span of a decade Crow, for us, would meticulously research the unit and present the most factual and precise story of the men, the soldiers who formed, served, and died in the famed Thomas Legion.

 
Recommended Reading: North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster (Volume XVI: Thomas's Legion) (Hardcover) (537 pages), North Carolina Office of Archives and History (2008). Description: The volume begins with an authoritative 246-page history of Thomas's Legion. The history, including Civil War battles and campaigns, is followed by a complete roster and service records of the field officers, staff, and troops that served in the legion. A thorough index completes the volume. Continued below...

Volume XVI of North Carolina Troops: A Roster contains the history and roster of the most unusual North Carolina Confederate Civil War unit, significant because of the large number of Cherokee Indians who served in its ranks. Thomas's Legion was the creation of William Holland Thomas, an influential businessman, state legislator, and Cherokee chief. He initially raised a small battalion of Cherokees in April 1862, and gradually expanded his command with companies of white soldiers raised in western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and Virginia. By the end of 1862, Thomas's Legion comprised an infantry regiment and a battalion of infantry and cavalry. An artillery battery was added in April 1863. Furthermore, in General Early's Army of the Valley, the Thomas Legion was well-known for its fighting prowess. It is also known for its pivotal role in the last Civil War battle east of the Mississippi River. The Thomas Legion mustered more than 2,500 soldiers and it closely resembled a brigade. With troop roster, muster records, and Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR) this volume is also a must have for anyone interested in genealogy and researching Civil War ancestors. Simply stated, it is an outstanding source for genealogists.

 

Recommended Reading: The American Indian in the Civil War, 1862-1865 (Bison Book) (403 pages) (University of Nebraska Press). Description: Annie Heloise Abel describes the divided loyalties of Native Americans and the American Civil War and makes it vividly clear that it brought only chaos and devastation to the Indian Territory. For example, she describes in detail the 1862 Battle of Pea Ridge, a bloody disaster for the Confederates but a glorious moment for Colonel (later promoted to "General")  Stand Watie and his Cherokee Mounted Rifles. The Indians were soon swept by the war into a vortex of confusion and horror. 

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