The passion and prejudice begotten in the minds of Thomas's soldiers and their friends by injustice, real or fancied, done or proposed to be done to him by his superiors in rank, have rendered impossible any calm discussion of questions touching his military career. There is not yet, and probably will not be in our lifetime, a proper audience for such discussion. But posterity will award justice to all if their deeds have been such as to save their names from oblivion. Time works legitimate ‘revenge,’ and makes all things even. When I was a boy at West Point I was courtmar-tialed for tolerating some youthful ‘deviltry’ of my classmates, in which I took no part myself, and was sentenced to be dismissed. Thomas, then already a veteran soldier, was a member of the court, and he and one other were the only ones of the thirteen members who declined to recommend that the sentence be remitted. This I learned in 1868, when I was Secretary of War. Only twelve years later I was able to repay this then unknown stern denial of clemency to a youth by saving the veteran soldier's army from disaster, and himself from the humiliation of dismissal from command on the eve of victory. Five years later still, I had the satisfaction, by intercession with the President, of saving the same veteran general from assignment to an inferior command, and of giving him the military division to which my assignment had been ordered. When death had finally relieved him from duty, and not till then, did I consent to be his successor. In 1879 I had the satisfaction, after many months of patient investigation, of rendering justice to the other of those two unrelenting soldiers who,
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