Letter – George Thomas, 23 April 1839

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Letter written by U.S. Military Cadet George H. Thomas to his brother, John W. Thomas, from West Point, . Thomas writes that he is doing well, though growing tired of studying. He mentions General Winfield Scott’s visit to West Point and the possibility of a war with England (referring to the Aroostook War). He remarks on friends of his who are in the military or studying elsewhere, and the universal appeal of going on furlough. Thomas writes that he believes farming to be the most noble profession, and states that if he had a farm he would quit “sogering” immediately.


-Page 1-

West Point

                               April 23d 1839

Dear Brother –

     Your much prized favour of the 28th March has been received some time, as you have already seen by the pamphlet I sent you.

     I intended to have answered it immediately, but something or another prevented me from doing so until now. I am getting along pretty much after the old sort, if anything a little more tired of studying, and just as sleepy head[ed] as usual at this time of the year. However, I manage somehow to get along with considerable ease. If I can get through with this year’s course I shall have no fears whatever of not graduating, as all difficulties will then be over. I believe that no one has ever been found deficient in the last year’s course indeed the only thing that makes the others difficult is their length, but judging from those who have gone before me, I think there is no reason to apprehend being found deficient. 

     Now, for the news. General Scott has visited the point on his way North (that is toward the Lakes) and says that he does not think at this time that we shall have a war with England, although there is considerable excitement still in Maine and New Brunswick.

-Page 2-

When he first arrived in Maine, he says the excitement was so great that he began think there was no other alternative, but after they had more time to reflect and get cool, they became more reasonable, although not very friendly. I believe they are going to establish a grand encampment near Elizabethtown in New Jersey this summer, and he is to take command. I suppose the object is to have the troops prepared in case there should be any necessity for calling out to fight.

     I heard form A[l]bert Mabry a few days ago through Bob Parker; he is [in] Philadelphia, as it seems you and the other Southamptons think, studying medicine. But I should not be surprised if he has not some other object in view besides his appointment in the Navy as assistant surgeon, though, of course, I can only conjecture. Bob goes on furlough this summer, and to all appearance he thinks more of it than anything else, for he is eternally talking of it – and going to the tailors to look at his clothes, but he is not worse in that respect than everyone else, for I believe I can say from experience that a furlough is the last thing thought of

-Page 3-

at night, and the first thing in the morning that a third classman thinks of. Bob says that he will visit you if he gets as far as Virginia.

     Fox is in the Gulph [Gulf] of Mexico and gives some very interesting accounts of his adventures among the Mexicans. You never saw any little scamp grow like he has within the last two or three years. He says he thinks he is large enough to drub Robert Noke if he were to give him an opportunity.

     I received a letter from Ben this morning. As usual, he writes of marriage and money, but in such a way that no one can understand what he means – he is well and in good humor.

     I am glad to see you are in love with farming again, for I do consciously believe that it is the most noble and independent life a man can follow. I believe that if I had a farm I should quit sogering upon the spot. I think your opinion with regard to clearing land is decidedly correct, and one which experience has taught the northern farmers to adopt, for they are decidedly in favor of not clearing much land. Give my love [to] all the family.

                                Yrs. Affectionately,

                                   Geo. H. Thomas

P.S. I expect you can’t read this, my pen is very bad and I am in a great hurry/

-On fold-over verso, used as a cover, sealed with wax-

           Mr. Jno. W. Thomas

Newsom’s Depot

                  Southampton City, VA.

Via Norfolk


George Henry Thomas, of Virginia, entered West Point Military Academy on July 1, 1836 and graduated 12th in his class during 1840. Notable classmates include William T. Sherman and Richard Ewell. He was assigned as a 2nd lieutenant to the 3rd U.S. Artillery on July 1, 1840, and was promoted to 1st lieutenant on April 30, 1844. He was made captain on December 24, 1853; major, 2nd U.S. Cavalry, May 12, 1855; lieutenant colonel, April 25, 1861; colonel, May 3, 1861. He was assigned to the 5th U.S. Cavalry on August 3, 1861, but was promoted brigadier general of volunteers the same date. His promotion to major general of volunteers was dated to Apr. 25, 1862, and he was successively appointed brigadier general USA, October 27, 1863; major general USA, December 15, 1864; and received three brevets for Seminole and Mexican War service. Thomas was awarded the Thanks of Congress for Hood’s defeat at Nashville in 1864. One of the nation’s best soldiers, Thomas died March 28, 1870.

Robert B. Parker belonged the West Point Military Academy Class of 1841, but died the year following graduation.

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