George Henry Thomas, an American soldier, born in Southampton co., Va., July 31, 1816, died in San Francisco, March 28, 1870. He graduated at West Point in 1836, was assigned to the artillery, and served in the Florida war (1840-'42). In the war with Mexico (1846-'8) he was engaged in the defence of Fort Brown, and took part in the battles of Monterey and Buena Vista, being successively brevetted as captain and major. He served in the war against the Seminole Indians in 1849-'50, from 1851 to 1854 was instructor of artillery and cavalry at West Point, and was afterward on frontier duty, principally in California and Texas, till 1860, and was wounded in a skirmish with the Indians near the head waters of the Brazos. On the outbreak of the civil war he was made colonel of cavalry, and took part in the operations in the valley of the Shenandoah in the summer of 1861. In August he was made brigadier general of volunteers, and, being in command of a division of the army of the Ohio, took part in the operations in Tennessee and Mississippi. He was made major general of volunteers, April 25, 1862, and was engaged in the operations in Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky. During Rosecrans's campaign in Tennessee and Georgia he commanded a corps of the army of the Cumberland, and bore an important part in the battle of Mur-freesboro, Dec. 26, 1862, to Jan. 2, 1863, and in that of Chickamauga, Sept. 19, 20, 1863, where his firmness prevented that check from becoming a disaster.
In October he was placed in command of the department and army of the Cumberland, and was made brigadier general of the regular army. At the battle of Chattanooga three divisions of his army gave the finishing blow at Missionary ridge. During Sherman's Atlanta campaign the army of the Cumberland, comprising three corps and three cavalry divisions, was constantly engaged. In October, 1864, Thomas was sent to Nashville, to concentrate the forces in Tennessee against the invasion of Gen. Hood, whom he finally routed before Nashville, Dec. 15, 16. He was made major general, and received the thanks of congress for his conduct in these operations, March 3, 1865; and on the first anniversary of the battle of Nashville a gold medal was presented to him by the state of Tennessee. From June, 1865, to March, 1867, he was in command of the military division (afterward the department) of the Tennessee, his headquarters being at Nashville and Louisville. He was subsequently assigned to the command of the third military district, comprising Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, and next to that of the Cumberland; and in 1868, having declined the brevet rank of lieutenant general, on the ground that he had since the war done nothing to entitle him to such promotion, he was placed in command of the fourth military division, comprising the territory on the Pacific coast, including Alaska, respecting which he made a valuable report.