for character personified; Washington
himself not more so. And now having said this, let us come again to the choice of Hercules
—the parting of those terrible ways of 1861.
was a Virginian; but, again, there are Virginians
was not a Lee. When, in 1855, the second United States cavalry was organized, Jefferson Davis
being Secretary of War
, Captain Thomas
, as he then was and in his thirty-ninth year, was appointed its junior major.
Between that time and April, 1861, fifty-one officers are said to have borne commissions in that regiment, thirty-one of whom were from the South
; and of those thirty-one, no less than twenty-four entered the Confederate
service, twelve of whom, among them Robert E. Lee
, Albert Sidney Johnston
and John B. Hood
, became general officers.
The name of the Virginian
, George H. Thomas
, stands first of the faithful seven; but, Union or Confederate, it is a record of great names, and fortunate is the people, great of necessity their destiny, which in the hour of exigency, on the one side or the other, naturally develops from the roster of a single regiment men of the ability, the disinterestedness, the capacity and the character of Lee
, and Hood
It is a record which inspires confidence as well as pride.
And now of the two men—Thomas and Lee
. Though born in Virginia
, General Thomas
was not of a peculiarly Virginian descent.
By ancestry, he was, on the father's side, Welsh
, on that of the mother.
He was not of the old Virginia
Born in the southeastern portion of the State
, near the North Carolina
line, we are told that his family, dwelling on a ‘goodly home property,’ was ‘well to do’ and eminently ‘respectable;’ but, it is added, there ‘were no cavaliers in the Thomas family, and not the remotest trace of the Pocahontas
When the war broke out, in 1861, Thomas
had been twenty-one years a commissioned officer; and during those years he seems to have lived almost everywhere, except in Virginia
It had been a life passed at military stations; his wife was from New York; his home was on the Hudson
rather than on the Nottoway
In his native State he owned no property, land or chattels.
Essentially a soldier, when the hour for choice came, the soldier dominated the Virginian
He stood by the flag.
Not so Lee
; for to Lee
I now come.
Of him it might, and in justice must, be said, that he was more than of the essence, he was of the very quintessence of Virginia
In his case, the roots and fibers struck down and spread wide in the soil, making him of it a