Lorenzo Thomas

Lorenzo Thomas, adjutant general of the army from 1861 until his retirement in 1869, was born October 26, 1804, in New Castle, Delaware. He was graduated from West Point in 1823. He served twice in the intermittent campaigns against the Florida Seminoles, once in the Quartermaster's Department, and once as chief of staff. During the Mexican War, he acted as chief of staff to General William O. Butler, and from 1853 until 1861 he served as chief of staff to the commander-in-chief, Winfield Scott, with the staff rank of lieutenant colonel. In August, 1861, Thomas became adjutant general with rank of brigadier general from the third of that month. He seemingly did not rise to the tremendous demands of a vastly expanded department and, more fatally, incurred the displeasure of Secretary of War Stanton, who virtually banished him from Washington in 1863 to organize colored regiments in the Military Division of the Mississippi. He was kept busy with this and other minor duties until the end of the war, when he received the routine brevet promotion to major general, U. S. Army. While General E. D. Townsend directed the adjutant general's office in Washington, Stanton kept Thomas on the move, inspecting such facilities as the newly created national cemeteries. In 1868, President Johnson attempted to supersede Stanton by the appointment of Thomas as Secretary of War ad interim. But Thomas defeated the President's purpose by boasting of his ability and determination to oust Stanton from office by force, if necessary. Such was his ingenuousness that his later testimony at Johnson's impeachment may have aided in acquitting the President. General Thomas was retired in 1869, ten days before Johnson left office, and died in Washington on March 2, 1875. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Georgetown.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.