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LIFE AND CHARACTER
GEN. GEORGE H. THOMAS
DELIVERED BEFORE THE
Society of the Army of the Cumberland
GEN. JAMES A. GARFIELD
FOURTH ANNUAL REUNION
CLEVELAND, NOVEMBER 25, 1870
Mio Join T. horton 10-1987
THE LIFE AND CHARACTER OF
GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS.
COMRADES OF THE ARMY OF THE CUMBERLAND :
In obedience to your order, I arise to discharge, as best I may, the most honorable and the most difficult duty which it was possible for you to assign me. You have required me to exhibit, in fitting terms, the character and career of GEORGE H. THOMAS.
I approach the theme with the deepest reverence, but with the painful consciousness of my inability to do it even approximate justice.
There are now living not less than two hundred thousand men who served under the eye of GENERAL THOMAS; who saw him in sunshine and storm-on the march, in the fight, and on the field when the victory had been won. Enshrined in the hearts of all these, are enduring images and most precious memories of their commander and friend. Who shall collect and unite into one worthy picture, the bold outlines, the innumerable lights and shadows which make up the life and character of our great leader? Who shall condense into a single hour, the record of a life which forms so large a chapter of the nation's history, and whose fame fills and overfills a hemisphere? No line can be omitted, no false stroke made, no imperfect sketching done, which you, his soldiers, will not instantly detect and deplore. I know that each of you here present, sees him in memory at this moment, as we often saw in life; erect and strong, like a tower of solid masonry; his broad, square shoulders and massive head; his abundant hair and full beard of light brown, sprinkled with silver; his broad forehead, full face, and features that would appear colossal, but for their perfect harmony of proportion; his clear complexion, with just enough color to assure you of robust health and a well-regulated life; his face lighted up by an eye which was cold gray to his enemies, but warm, deep blue to his friends; not a man of iron, but of live oak. His attitude, form and features all assured you of inflexible firmness, of inexpugnable strength; while his welcoming smile set every feature aglow with a kindness that won your manliest affection. If thus in memory you see his form and features, even more vividly do you remember the qualities of his mind and heart. His body was the fitting type of his intellect and character; and you saw both his intellect and character tried, again and again, in the fiery furnace of war, and by other tests not less searching. Thus, Comrades, you see him; and your memories supply a thousand details, which complete and adorn the picture. I beg you, therefore, to supply the deficiency of my work from these living prototypes in your own hearts.
No human life can be measured by an absolute standard. In this world, all is relative. Character itself is the result of innumerable influences, from without and from within, which act unceasingly through life. Who shall estimate the effect of those latent forces enfolded in the spirit of a new-born