three commanders ought to have been tried by court, martial, and, if found guilty, shot or cashiered, for sacrificing their own men and endangering the army.
One example of such punishment would do much to deter ignorant and incompetent men from seeking high commands in the field.
But the discipline of the volunteer army of a republic must, it appears, inevitably be, especially in respect to officers of high rank, quite imperfect, although it may become in respect to the great mass of the troops, as ours certainly did, exceedingly efficient.
In the Atlanta campaign
I sent a division commander to the rear in permanent disgrace for sacrificing his men in a hopeless assault upon a fortified line, contrary to the general orders and instructions which General Sherman
had published before the opening of the campaign.
But I never heard of another similar case of even approximate justice to an officer of high rank.
It is a striking proof of the evil effect of war upon the minds and passions of men, not only of those who are engaged in it, but even more upon those who see it from a distance, that commanders are often severely condemned for prudent care of the lives of men under their command, who have no choice but to march blindly to death when ordered, while the idiotic sacrifice of the bravest and noblest of patriotic soldiers is loudly applauded as a grand exhibition of ‘gallantry’ in action.
If George H. Thomas
had had no other title to honor or fame, he would have deserved the profound gratitude of the American
people, and a very high place among the country's patriots and heroes, for the reason that while he never yielded ground to an attacking foe, he never uselessly sacrificed the life of a soldier.
It is a sin for a soldier to throw away his own life.
It is not his, but belongs to his country.
How much greater sin and crime in an officer to throw away the lives of a thousand men!
If he threw away a thousand dollars, he would be court-martialed and cashiered Are not the soldiers