In 1879, veterans of the Army of the Cumberland dedicated an equestrian statue of Southampton's most distinguished son in Washington's Thomas Circle. He peers down 14th Street toward Virginia today, as dense traffic runs around him; perhaps one passerby in a thousand knows who he is and what he did for the nation.
After Thomas died, Grant was able to say that he was "one of the great names of our history, one of the greatest heroes of our war." Sherman relented so far as to write that "during the whole war his services were transcendent." Yet even then, the two generals seldom mentioned his name without repeating their assertions of his caution. When the two surviving Thomas sisters were nearing 90, they allowed the general's prize sword to go to the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, where it remains. As a further gesture of reconciliation, they sent acorns from the great oak outside the home place to be planted around his statue in Washington.
The acorns never sprouted.
Ernest B. "Pat" Furgurson is the author of Freedom Rising and other Civil War books. He lives in Washington, D.C.