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tv   The Civil War George H. Thomas Nathan Bedford Forrest  CSPAN  August 11, 2019 10:00am-11:06am EDT

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>> next, state university director compares the leadership style of union general george henry thomas and confederate general nathan bedford forrest. >> one of the things i want to make sure before we go into our program, is to thank those of you who have come from other areas and some of our supporters. one of the people not with us today but is a life member an honorary member of our board is james robinson junior. he has had some health issues but he is recovering and i know he is back on the speaker circuit. a guy name nick who has also had
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a few health issues and not able to travel right now. one of the great collectors, folks connected with the shenandoah valley battlefields. two people who are very important to me, sarah has made all of this work behind the scenes. she is constantly making sure that something needs to be done and it gets done. you need someone like that. last but not least, my wife elizabeth. elizabeth has come down from virginia to join us. what i will do is move into my part of the presentation. we are going to talk about the leadership. we focused in the past about various aspects of leadership that included areas outside the late unpleasantness, as we like to say so we do not step on any toes. one of the issues we wanted to deal with was the civil war
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leadership we first talked to coach about setting this up, he said i do not mind you talking about anything else but i want something on the civil war. today, we will pretty much focus on that. we have done different figures and we will do different figures in the future, i am sure, but we will talk today about some civil war leadership. one of the things i thought as i was watching some of the college baseball regionals that were going on and i have a friend who is a very big baseball fan sitting down here in the front and he and i always talk about baseball. i took a quote from one of the announcers who was talking about the arkansas coach and it made me think about something that has always been a question to me and always been something i have
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wondered about my own capabilities if i should ever go back in time when i had the responsibility of determining such things. this quote that you see about making sure that you can somehow figure out the right people are and putting them in the right place. that was what was said about the arkansas coach, that he was able to do that. i think about coach dooley and he would be able to identify where the players who the players were and where to put them. sometimes you have to place them where they do not want to go. those individuals might better serve that situation. when i first started my football career, which ended fairly quickly, it ended after high school i did not want to go to college.
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back in the day, you did not have nice arthroscopic surgery and you had to have frankenstein stitches. i learned some great lessons and had some great experiences and it was time to retire. i started in my earliest years as a lineman and a guard and i thought that was nice but i wanted something a little more dramatic. when i went to ask the almighty for physical attributes, i said tall, and he said that's all. i am not a very tall person so i have to make it up with meanness. one of the things i did was i moved into fullback and i felt like i made a real contribution to our team in doing that and the coach assumed i must be adequate at it because he let me do it.
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i did, by the way, keep a quarterbacks number to be contrary. i kept the number 11 even though that is a quarterback's number. i always loved it when i was getting ready to go hit the cornerback and sometimes i would hit him low and sometimes i would hit him high. if you ever saw him doing that, you knew you had him. i felt like one of the things i was able to do was identify where i might be long but i am not sure i could do a very good job of figuring out where everybody else should go. i have great admiration for those leaders who have to make decisions about personnel, not only what personnel to employ or to bring them onto the team but also where to put them in a way they will be most effective. i put on one side a baseball
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field and you can see the coach comment from arkansas. on the others is a military structure. leadership at every level. one of the things we talked about doing is something on sergeant in the civil war. leadership at so many levels, commission level, noncommissioned level, so many ways all of this gets done. sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fail and sometimes a person does well in one circumstance but does not do well in another. i have picked two people. horatio gates is the hero of saratoga.
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someone who had proven himself on the battlefield. saratoga is a complicated battle. it does not take place in one simple location. it is a running battle. running it set up a number of other things that have to take place along the way. when he was sent south in the revolutionary theater of the southern part of the conflict, he did not do so well. he was defeated tremendously. he did not translate earlier success and to later success. again, you might get the right person in the right circumstance at one point and then at another point, you have a time when even the person who has proven themselves does not do so well. i know many of us have heard stories about joseph johnston and his reluctance to put himself in a situation where he might fail because he had a
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reputation for being successful at things like hunting so i take a shot at something he might miss? of course, other generals that you can think of from the civil war where they had moments of success and they have the pressure of repeating that success which must be a tremendous problem to have to overcome. he was a war of 1812 general and i put him up here as an illustration that at the beginning of the conflict, you fall back on that tried-and-true individual. the person supposedly has leadership capability and you put them in a situation and you find they may not rise to the occasion. alexander apocalypse smith got his middle name because he enjoyed reading revelations.
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after he marched his men off to fight and marched them back to camp after he found out that war is dangerous and one is likely to be harmed. he did that again and again. the men surrounded his tent and shot into it and he hugged the ground and the bible as he contemplated his future and moved on to other spheres. i think he ended up being a congressman from virginia so you can make of that what you want. if you cannot make it in the battlefield, there is always congress. apocalypse smith was a real character that had to play out
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the drama and in this case, leave his position so that someone else could come along. william henry harrison, andrew jackson were some of the heroes that emerged in the war of 1812. we are going to talk about a couple of individuals that i wanted to focus on what they brought to the question of leadership and the questions about them that were initially present and had to be overcome. this light is simply want to illustrate that there was a conflict between the war of states and the civil war and choices had to be made. decisions had to be made and people had to decide where their loyalties lay. with the firing on fort sumter, the pressure continued to ratchet up and choices had to be made. one of those choices was made by
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a man who had already been in the service for quite some time but he was born and raised in his early years in virginia. i know terry is a native of southhampton county. it is funny that george thomas, one of the things you get is that you go into the community and say you want to write about him and people say, why do you want to write about that traitor? he had been west point trained. we know there are other virginians who have the same kind of profile. not only did thomas work closely with robert e lee but they served in the army together and unfortunately, one of their routines that was very common, especially out on the plains,
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were courts-martial and both thomas and lee would go from post to post in texas prior to the war and they will be involved in a number of courts-martial throughout the state of texas. a lot of movement and activity state of texas. that put them in close proximity, both virginians, both west pointers. one chooses one path and the other chooses the other. thomas was born near a town near jerusalem. george thomas and his family are there. he is not there. ultimately, he is buried in troy, new york at his wife's
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families plot. one of the questions about his choice for the south or the north would be what influences he might have and the question of how much his wife might influence him, francis thomas, apparently with a strong personality. he would always know what he should do. whenever your wife knows you should know what you should do, you know what she wants you to do. he made the choice. he really was comfortable with that choice. he did not feel like the extremist on either side should warrant pressure to do something you did not want to do. you have a virginian who makes the choice to go with the union and when he does that, it will color the way others view him. when we talk about where you are
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going to play someone, what leadership will look at and expect and what your leadership will contribute or exhibit our questions about those intangibles. in this case, your birth and where you have people from the same country divided infighting amongst themselves. civil war or a war between the states. that is george thomas. in the case of nathan bedrock forest, it comes in different way. this is not the case of forest. i like to use the quote, i never thought of a pin where i did not think of a snake. i put a copperhead up there. he was certainly not an
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articulate individual. he was down to earth. he had a lot of colorful -- i love when forrest would ever say that he gave instructions that he meant what he said the way he said it. i want you to tell them to fetch the artillery and someone with a little different education might save ring up. if i wanted to say that, i would have said it that way. if you say fetch, they will not think about it. they will do it. his language was designed to accomplish what he wanted to do and to do it efficiently and effectively. there were a lot of questions about whether he could be a
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leader. he had been a success in many ways in business and in other areas in the prewar period but he was also engaged in some controversial activities, including being a substantial slave trader. you have an individual who does not have the military training, does not have a lot of education. he had about six months of formal education. he has not developed an articulate way of expressing himself or communicating. he would say what he meant and say it the way he meant it. in many ways, he was the kind of person that someone would look at and wonder how effective this person could be.
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he would go into the war as a private. by the time the war is over, he is a lieutenant general. he is quite successful. initially, he goes in as a private. he does have friends in high places. thomas, by the way, typically did not have friends in high places. plus a reticence to advance himself. one of the things with forrest is that he has to overcome that rough and rudimentary background and overcome the social issues of being a slave trader and other things involved in that aspect of his prewar career. thomas has questions and forrest has questions and one of the questions will be, how will they be able to overcome these questions and to what degree can they make a contribution that will put those questions to rest?
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i put a couple of slides here to illustrate some of the ways in which even the highest levels of individuals wanted to employ wait and see kind of attitude in terms of george thomas, the virginian who sided with the union. he does not have political friends. he does not have friends in the right places in terms of his advancement. in terms of congress or anywhere where he would have some advocate for a person pushing for his advancement. he did have friends in the old army and he did know people. he was a roommate with william sherman. sherman was one of the people who was hot and cold as far as thomas was concerned. one of his best advocates and friends and one of the people who might have caused him some
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of the most difficulty. thomas is one of those folks that -- it will be sherman who says he may be slow but he is as true as steel. one of the individuals you could count on but at the same time, he did not move with alacrity and the kind of speed that someone like a sherman or ulysses grant might want. they did not wage war the same way. the question that this reticence or apparent slowness was because he was reluctant to wage war against southerners or he was not dedicated to the union. at least some people had that thought. he might be a good person, he is well-regarded, but is he the kind of person who would be enthusiastic? would he be the kind of person you could put forward and expect great results because he had the energy and drive to make them happen? one of the key questions, especially in the early phases, and thomas shows some reluctance to advance himself during the kentucky campaign, the question is, ok, if he is reluctant,
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let's not push that. maybe there are reasons for that. let the virginian wait would reflect the spirit of let's see how things pan out before we give him too much responsibility or we start to think he is the kind of general we want in a given place at a given time. forrest has a different problem. he has educational issues and he has got some background issues, the heritage issues and he also has got a temper. a tendency to let it fly. he was one of those folks who
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when he got into combat, he turned beet red and grew in size. almost like the blood vessels pump him up. he took a fearsome look. in battle, that can be intimidating to your opponents. what do you do when you have superiors or colleagues or others you have to work with? for forrest, that was a question of character and temperament, not the least of which is braxton bragg, who does not think forrest will be effective. i put several individuals, joe wheeler and earl van dorn that forrest will have clashes with. earl van dorn is a situation in
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which they both literally draw weapons on each other and the only cooler heads have to step in and calm them both down to keep them from doing damage to each other. near the end of the war, forrest's men draw down on the troops of benjamin franklin cheatham during their retreat from nashville. you would think the last thing you would want to do is to settle issues of southern honor in such a circumstance. that was another indication of -- it reflected his own ability to assert himself, whatever that
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might mean. a lot of questions about these individuals that have to be resolved and at least in 1862, there are not a lot of clear answers as to where that might be going. forrest and thomas will both have successes, though, that should have given an indication that they were capable. in the case of thomas, there will be a small action at mill springs in the central part of kentucky, middle tennessee. at any rate, in central kentucky, there will be a fight at mill springs and thomas is going to be successful. it illustrates some of his personality and personal character.
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i have several images of someone being shot. the someone being shot is the commander in the field. he was a newspaper editor and a fiery individual. there was a commander that he answer to up the line but he was the one on the battlefield dressed in long raincoat. he rode into union lines by accident and was killed when he had an aide who did not quietly say, general, those are the enemy. he yelled out, those are the enemy. and drew attention to it. his subordinate fired a shot that hit the union commander and struck his horse. the fellow that was the union commander was a fellow from lexington, kentucky. lexington, kentucky, we all know it from basketball. one of the things they love our
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horses. he orders his men to fire. he does not survive. thomas has to wage the rest of the battle trying to drive the confederates back because they came from a well-defended position on the cumberland river to try to attack while thomas and his forces are moving. while they are somewhat divided there is a force that was supposed to come into joint thomas that had not reached the point of doing that. one of the famous illustrations of that moment would be shiloh. the desire to catch the forces when they are not entrenched or prepare. they are not united yet. the forces are divided.
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thomas is in difficult circumstances but instead of being panicked or deciding i have to withdraw to a safer position, he continues to fight, launched a bayonet charge. and drove them back miles to this defensive position. this illustrated a characteristic that is very impressive. when he got to the confederate position, they had the rest of the day after a morning of fighting moving across rough terrain with all the casualties, all of the fact that you have to replace officers who have been struck down and troops running out of ammunition. thomas will follow the confederates to this position and try to position his men so that he can launch what he considers to be the coup de grace. unfortunately, the fighting has taken place all for the day and the weather has been horrendous. thomas decides not to. during the night, the confederates with one
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paddlewheel steamer will take the entire force across the river one boatload at a time so by the next morning, the troops will be left -- everybody else is gone across the swollen cumberland river. thomas has been caught in a situation, not that he feels self-conscious or anything like that, at the situation has not played out the way he anticipated. he thought if he brought up his
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troops through the night and got everything in good position, the next day you could send in a flag of truce and get the confederates to surrender and the battle would be over. the same officer who had his horse shot out from under him was saying to general thomas, why didn't you finish them off last night? why did you continue this fight last night? it did not dawn on him that if i don't do this today, i might not have the opportunity tomorrow. these will not be leaders who will be perfect in all of the decisions. they will always make the right call. i love sitting with folks in a football game or someone else
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when someone has to make a decision and you have those monday morning quarterbacks who always say, why did he go for it on fourth down? it might be under any circumstance. where decisions are made. that is the moment you have to make a decision. in many ways, thomas was showing, we will carry on but i did not think of it. there is a moment where forrest has to rise to the occasion and make some decisions. it just didn't don on me that that would be the case. i did not once think of it.
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there is a moment where nathan bedford forrest has to rise to the occasion and make some decisions. i will not go through the details of it come up -- of it, simply because we do not have time all day for me to talk, which is a shame but that is the way life goes. one of the things that forrest will exhibit here is flexibility. the ability to adapt to a situation as they unfold. we often talk about the fog of war or feeling for the enemy, all those phrases that are common to the time. just the lack of understanding of understanding of what a circumstance was and how you figure out what it is and how you are going to react to it . -- it come it took a -- it, it took a considerable amount of capability to decipher and determine what choice you are going to make. forrest is going to make a raid against the force that is divided into various elements throughout the community and each one of those has to be dealt with in turn.
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keep one and hold while you attack the other, attack them simultaneously, whatever choice have ae, you have to situation where you do not just deal with one force, develop those lines, and look for flanks -- by the way, forrest would never say flanks. he would say, get them on the ends. forrest is going to have a great choice to make about what to do. at one point, he realizes that he is waiting behind enemy lines , gone beyond confederate lines, and one of the likely things that is going to happen is opposing forces accumulating against him. reinforcements are coming. other commands are coming. trying to cut him off from returning safely to his confederate positions. his staff, some of his best soldiers, they are brave people and it is not a question of courage, begin to see a
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circumstance they see is rather dangerous and the commander ought to be aware of. they tell forrest they think they ought to call it a day. they have made an assault, they have had some success -- very limited success at this point, but let's call well enough alone and finish the task in that way. forrest says, i did not come here to make half a job of it. i mean to have them all. and that was his circumstance. he is not going to turn tail and run. he was going to continue to fight until he was finished. ultimately, with bluff and with bluster, he will convince one part of the federal forces to surrender and use that surrender to convince other commanders to surrender at other locations. and ultimately, he does back the entire confederate force. does very well. ironically, this battle takes place on his birthday.
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he was 40 years old, by the way, when the war unfolded. now, there are times when things really don't go well. a very small engagements -- it is kind of an interesting engagement, and if you ever want --go to a battle that it is that is interpreted extraordinary well, the battlefield of parker's crossroads. it is an interesting fight where forrest is finishing off a very successful raid through west tennessee. he has captured federal garrisons, he has disrupted federal rail lines -- in fact, this is one of those times where calvary has a strategic impact, because his efforts and the efforts by earl van dorn, who by this point was in the saddle and operating against the supply base of the federals at holly springs, those combinations of knocking out the rail lines behind it and knocking out that
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fort supply line is going to stop grant's first overland push towards vicksburg. so we are talking about ending a campaign, at least on the surface, that looks like it might be decisive in the western theater of the civil war. it might save vicksburg from being attacked by ulysses grant from the landside. ultimately, grant adapts. interestingly enough, i think if you do look at characteristics of grant and characteristics of forrest, you find some strong similarities. both of them are unfazed. things can happen, they don't lose their composure. they might lose their temper, lose theirn't composure. they often live to fight another day, and the second day is a successful day, even if the first day wasn't. so forrest will have one of those circumstances where everything has gone well and then it doesn't. and i just say this very quickly, he really depended heavily on his brothers. in this case, william forrest. if you have ever traveled with yo bars -- with ed bars,
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ed is very dramatic. willie, ink about this case, william forrest. he will talk about -- and then there is brother bill. but william forrest is going to be responsible for keeping them -- the federals that are issuing -- that forrest aware are pursuing -- at arm's length while he handles a force attempting to block him. so there is a force in front of him and a force coming in from behind, but it is at some distance and it is difficult to determine whether it will arrive in time. if you can capture this front force, you can continue to proceed on to your crossing and getting into confederate lines safely with a handful of prisoners. and all the success of this raid
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that has gone so well so far. the problem is that bill forrest gets on the wrong road and the federals come in on the right road behind them. the way forrest figures out that he is in trouble, as he sees the horse holders suddenly come racing by. if you are in calgary, every fourth man will stay behind with four heise -- four hor ses while the other men go ahead. that is how forrest preferred to fight. he will move forward with those three men in the fourth man will stay with the four horses in a rear area. in this case, there is a grove of trees and they are safely there and everything seems to be ok and then they are not there. they are rushing past and forrest knew that meant trouble. so what forrest does is go to investigate. he comes upon a couple of federals, who tell him that he should surrender. he should surrender himself and
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any of his troops. he tells them boys, if you wait right here, i will go back and get the rest of my men and we will all surrender to you. [laughter] now, if you go to parker's crossroads today, you will see younderful battlefield -- will probably see two union soldiers waiting for forrest to come back. he ain't coming back. [laughter] forrest ain't coming back. so forrest gets his men and rallies the forces together and sort of neutralizes the front force. now he wants to stop the force coming in from behind him and then slip out in between. and literally live to fight another day. that is what he does. interestingly enough, forrest does not ever say that he lost a battle until late in the war. crossroads iss considered a defeat. it is considered a loss. he does not view it that way because he lived to fight another day. he, by the way, uses artillery very, very well and really ends up displaying fortitude and
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determination, even in the face of uncertainty and problems. quote appear that has colloquial way of talking about it. he said that he would be well enough to get there on time with a knife, that is what he said and happened most often. but in this case, and in other cases, he is really going to say, my idea is to get there first the most men and do what i can and if i can't whip them, i get out. so forrest will extract his force and live to fight another day. so when you look at the strategic impact of cavalry, forrest's raid has proven that despite his lack of education, despite his lack of military training and despite these other things that you think would be essential to success in the field, he has been very
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successful with earl van dorn and changed the course of ulysses grant's first overland push towards vicksburg. now, thomas is also going to show his fortitude in a very difficult situation at stones river. the confederates are going to turn on the federals and begin to be pushed back. forrest is going to hold -- forest, thomas is going to hold a central position and be a bulldog in defense. he certainly indicated, even to sherman, that he was always the man to count on if you had to have a person to hold the line. to hold that defensive position. in one of the statements widely quoted for george thomas, during one of the night sessions when rosecrans is assessing the situation and trying to figure out what he will do going forward, what he will do the next day.
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is supposed to say, this army can't retreat. so that helps to bring that fortitude into the leadership of the army as well. as things turn out, the battle of stones river, a multi-day battle with a period of quiet in between, it turns out well for the federals. breckenridge has his attempt on a flanking maneuver. the union artillery just decimates, and ultimately, it is braxton bragg who loses the battle, and not william rosecrans. in large measure, it is because of the fortitude and determination of george thomas. another place that forrest shows his capabilities, not only in conducting raids, like he did at murfreesboro, but stopping raids. there will be an enemy raid under a kernel named abel
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straight, designed to cut across , get on the georgia roads, and break up the western and atlantic railroad, causing great disruption and discomfort to the confederate defenders of that region. going to stop them. -- forrest going to stop them. despite a number of ambushes that streight launches, including wounding bill forrest. knocking him out of action. is al say this -- forrest wild man. i know many of you have heard me say this before. he is reputed to have killed one more federal in combat and a number of horses shot out from under him. that is pretty impressive. war means fighting and fighting means killing. war to the knife and knife to the hilt. this guy is in there and
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not afraid of much. the only person he was ever afraid of was his brother bill. so you can imagine what bill must have been like. so when the federals knocked out bill, they are doing pretty good. they are knocking out one of the brothercause forrest's is really a tough guy. but what happens is that forrest continues the pressure. now, i said he did not ever say we will hit him on the flanks. we will hit them on the ends. he did not say anything about, as ed would say, the classic double envelopment. he would say, we are going to go around them. one of the things he will do, he will attempt to cut streight off that way by sending forces in front that he hopes can stop streight. that is not how it ends up working out, but he is thinking and trying to apply precepts that make sense to him and wants -- and once they have worked once, he is the kind of person who will want to do it again. i will not say that all coaches once they make a decision, if
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you run the ball when you have herschel walker, let's run the ball. what do you think? it depends. if you have a resource, you use your resource. for forrest, some of these devices were good. at one point, he says, somebody is telling him about a maneuver and he says, that sounds good, i might have use for that someday. so i will put it in the brain and the warehouse and put it out -- bring it out when he wanted it. in some cases it does not pan out, in some places it pans out pretty well. he does run streight down and convinces him to surrender. but it is not that simple. butight wants to fight, his men have been on the go, moving, moving, and just to make a long story short, they are worn out and exhausted. they have been fighting a battle and they are asleep, some of the men. calls theely, forrest
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blood. he has the courage to announce that troops are arriving that do not exist. i do not have room for them, put them on the end and get them out of my way. he has two light artillery pieces he has been using but he has brought extra horses. those two artillery pieces eght says, youri are trying to improve your position during a truce while we are discussing whether we will surrender or not. that is not the way it is supposed to be. he says, i will order them back. when they get ordered back, they change worse is and -- horsesd and come up again. they go off and two more. by the time he is finished, streight says, how many guns do you got? that is 16 i have counted. he says, i reckon i have enough to do the job with you.
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he convinced him that he needed to surrender. when streight is told to -- one of the classic stories is what did he actually say to stre ight, and when did he say it yeah when streight is told to oh surrender, forrest knows -- he is a poker player, you do not show your hand until the card game is over. tohe will tell streight bring his men up, stack the guns, move away from the guns, and then begin to process their surrender. as the troops stuck their weapons and move away, his men began to emerge. forrest only has a third as many men as streight does but he did not know that. he looks at him and says, i want my guns back. let's fight this out like men. supposedly, forrest says, all is fair in love and war.
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it is more likely -- and i love to tell the story. there was a comment by the pie -- by the prime minister at that that when you start to get so emotional you squeeze your eyes, a little tear might come out, like just barely comes out? that is like the pips squeak. when you push a seed and the little air pops out. streight is starting to get emotional. , but he is starting to get emotional. supposedly, forrest looks at him and says, dry those tears or you will dry them in hell. so, you know, you get that sort of forest moment, whether he did it or not. to show you the kind of
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streight was coming he is part of a successful attempt to dig out and escape the libby prison in richmond, virginia, so a pretty tough character himself. forrest and thomas have both demonstrated they can be successful. how far does that carry them? how much does that illustrate the kind of character, the kind of abilities, the kind of leadership their superiors will recognize? well, it is another defeat, unfortunately, in a sense that helps to bring out the best in george thomas. you have the first day of lack of success at stones river, he did not quite do the choice he meant to do at mill springs. when you kind of look at these he has a good record but it is not an exceptional record. this is the moment that causes him to stand out. on the second full day of fighting, the biggest day of fighting, when the men punch through the center of the union
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lines, george thomas's troops on snodgrass hill. they hold on and given the nickname that will be with him forever. slow trot is one of them, but the other is the rock. he has already demonstrated that he is a rock, a foundation on which the army can depend. it is this one that will help solidify his long-standing reputation. that fortitude of saying, this army cannot retreat. we cannot do that. george thomas illustrating those characteristics you would want in commander in the field. i like this quote that comes out of a letter that reached abraham lincoln. the same man who had said, let the virginian wait. he has decided that the virginian does not need to wait any longer. the fortitude of george thomas
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in comparison. some people wanted to link the two of them, wanted to take george thomas and william rosecrans and move them both out. these have been the apocalypse smith versions of disaster in their war, and so we are going to replace them. lincoln is really coming to george thomas' defense. if you have any questions, the position he took, the stand he made should settle those questions. in many ways, the virginian no longer has to wait. now, i say that, and he has won over the president and won over some of the people initially had -- initially who had doubts or questions.
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unfortunately, his ability to is exceptional in its own way, is also very different from that of grant and thomas. in some ways, that, too will be a question that he has to overcome and not necessarily be able to do so successfully. let's fast-forward to the battles around chattanooga. one of the battles that gives thomas a chance to demonstrate his capabilities, although he is not completely sure of the unfolding of that particular aspect of the battle is is the battle at missionary ridge. when i look at orchard knob, i put that on there, it is kind of like the precursor for the ultimate assault on missionary ridge. it is not that george thomas is a question mark necessarily with lincoln anymore, but with grant, he still has questions. one of the things ulysses s -- ulysses grant will do is come over from mississippi to take
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over in chattanooga and he will want to bring the man he has the greatest confidence in and that is william sherman. william t. sherman. he brings sherman with him and sherman is supposed to launch the assault that will break the defensive positions that braxton bragg built up at missionary ridge. unfortunately, those of you who have studied the battle will know the top poverty -- the topography is a little uncertain and the opponent is pretty decisive for sherman, patrick cl ayburne. sherman will not be able to make the assault on the confederate right that will break missionary ridge. it is the thomas troops trying to get something going in part, could be any aspect of what you are trying to do to see what might work, will move out of the ishard knob area, which
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between the town of chattanooga and missionary ridge. make an assault against the middle part of that confederate position and the troops do assault and capture the lower earthworks along the base of missionary ridge. the problem with that is they are still subject to fire from missionary ridge itself, because the earthworks are not up ,gainst the base of the ridge they are just out in front of it. so troops firing down on them either them, so they can do one of two things -- or three things. they can stay where they are. they can fall back. or they can advance. and ultimately, they they advance. there are a lot of questions about who gave the order. who knew they were going to advance, whether thomas took any responsibility or no responsibility. those are all questions we can cover another day if we want to, but the men do surge up that ridge and do penetrate the lines
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of braxton bragg and break them, and break that siege, if you will, of chattanooga. that is another place where thomas shows fortitude and capability. and yet, beginning to show cracks with that relationship with grant because grant wanted him to make an attack much earlier, and thomas had asked him to delay. grant had given in on that, and probably making the right decision under the circumstances, but nevertheless putting doubts in grant's mind that i think continued to linger. again, we do not have time to discuss all the details about it, but forced will stop a force in the mississippi, and he is going to take the lessons he has learned and apply them very well. the forces that can come in on
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the flanks of the federal's, making a double envelopment attack that will not only attack in the center, but on both flanks. he ultimately defeats and drives back the entire union force, capturing substantial parts of it. most of their equipment, artillery, and wagons. forrest does very well. it is probably his greatest moment in the war. later on, the bad news is that he's not -- let me set this up a me do that let before we talk about the devil at johnsonville on the river. one of the biggest things that had happened after the battle of chattanooga, the battle of missionary ridge, the defeat of braxton bragg, the move of the war into georgia itself in the western theater. ultimately, also ulysses grant moved up to a major position. i do not want to take anything that -- might say away, but he is going to have a different
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role and a different responsibility at a different level. his commander in the atlanta campaign will be william sherman. it will not be george thomas. it will be william sherman. the man he felt best capable and the man who mirrored his notions of what war should be waged. in many ways,ys thomas is still going to be important because out of the three army juggernaut, he will go towards atlanta, he is in charge of the largest of those armies. unfortunately, for the confederacy, they cannot really stop that advance to atlanta, as you know if you have watched "gone with the wind." sherman was afraid that one person might make a difference and that person could be nathan bedford forrest. one of the things he did to keep that from being the case was to keep forrest tied up in tennessee and mississippi. keep him tied up somewhere away
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from atlanta. the battle of bryce's crossroads is one of three engagements that forrest is involved with in the summer of 1864. that is his big success, but it also kept him away from atlanta. he is not really going to it -- a very dramatic romans, a very successful moment. he will make a raid that catches the supply depot at johnsonville unprepared. he will actually capture a couple of federal gunboats and borrow them for a short period of time before they are no longer available. he is going to do some fantastic things that i think are very dramatic and very powerful but they will not have an impact on sherman or what sherman is doing. they will not change the course of the war. so forrest will come late when the story has closed on atlanta and even with the great success, it will be a success that is
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somewhat hollow. one of the other successes of of the, at the end national campaign, when john bell hood moves north and moves into tennessee and wants to try to advance against franklin and nashville, is going to be a moment where you see some of the relationships frayed between grant and thomas. at two points, it's certainly not more. grant wants to replace thomas. grant is actually on his way to replace thomas himself, because he does not think he is striking john bell hood's forces that's enough -- forces fast enough. ultimately, thomas does make the assault but it puts thomas in an awkward situation. one of the things, again, you've got to remember that these folks are human. they feel the stresses and strains. just because they have had success or have gotten a
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nickname or they know how to fight or have proven themselves, or the president no longer doubts them, it does not mean still have things that they have to overcome. in the case of thomas, he feels a lot of pressure from the war department and from grant and the feeling that they do not trust him and they do not believe he is capable of waging a campaign. and he expresses that to one of his subordinates, james harrison wilson. as you see, in that quote there, treating him almost like he was a boy, not capable of waging the campaign. he had other distractions. again, some of those distractions were calvary under people like nathan bedford forrest. he had to deal with those andractions, too, ultimately he is successful in attacking the lines around nashville. when you look at the end of the day, thomas has been successful and thomas will say, dang it,
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thomas is not really -- forrest could curse. thomas is not much of a curser. he says dang it. but he does say hell. he says, dang it to hell, didn't i tell you we would like them? -- we would lick them? and ultimately, he was successful in the national campaign. both these individuals -- the nashville campaign. both these individuals demonstrated they could be turned to and accomplish a great deal. one of the comments that forrest 's superiors would say is that you were able to accomplish more with less mend than anyone in -- with less men than anyone else in the war. thomas would have question marks with grant and sherman as the he had proven himself -- and i think in many ways had shown himself to be what one of the historians of
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the generals of the war, the generals in blue and the warner's greaty, to books. and in warner's book on union generals, he says he was the third best general of the union in the war, in many ways putting grant and sherman ahead. thomas does prove his worth. ahead, thomas does prove his worth. so if you said that a virginian managed to overcome his nativity to contribute to the union cause, i think the answer is yes. if you say was forest able to overcome the lack of education and the rough character that he exhibits, and the lack of temperament that he occasionally exhibited, i think the answer is more often than not, yes. both of these men ultimately prove that they were the right men, often in the right place at the right time. thank you very much. [applause]
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i think we've got time for a couple of questions and then we will take our break. remember, you have to come to the mic if you have questions. if you don't, you can come after and i will be glad to talk you at any point along the way. everybody wants to get to the food. if you have no questions, you can come to me and see me anytime. we have a silent auction available. we also have the books available for the speakers and the auxiliary in the bookstore, so if you want books to buy, i have several of my books. we will be glad to sign those during the breaks or after the forum is over. don't forget lunch, and the greatest speakers are yet to come. let's take a short break. announcer: this is american
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history tv, covering history, c-span style with lectures, interviews, and discussions with authors, historians and teachers. 48 hours all weekend, every weekend, only on c-span3. this weekend on american history tv, university of maryland history professor richard bell talks about the declaration of independence, its origins, purpose, and global significance during and after the american revolution. here's a preview. who had votedate on july 2 new thomas payne's arguments backwards and forwards. did,rd henry lee certainly and he wrote that april of 76 that no state in europe will either treat or trade with us so
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long as we consider ourselves subjects of great britain. we won't be able to make treaties, we won't be able to trade with anyone in europe except britain if we are still subjects of great britain. indeed, two months later when richard henry lee wrote his june 7 revolution, he didn't just propose independence in that resolution, he actually put two other things in the larger language. he also proposed to prepare and digest the form of the confederation and offered a third resolution to draw up a plan for reforming foreign alliances. in the same breath that we had our independence, we are saying, how about foreign alliances? these things are the same thought. context, the declaration itself is a means to an end. everyone at the time understood this, even if today, we sometimes do not.
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on his own, congress's proclamation could not make the colonies free and independent. but maybe with france's help, it could. the delegates had their declarations translated into french immediately. it's why they sent copies addressed to king louis of france, the king of spain. on the first ship bound for europe, four days later on july 8. it is why they hasn't been european newspapers, it is why the congress authorized john adams to draw up a list of talking points and negotiations with france. it is why congress dispatched benjamin adams. it is why congress dispatched benjamin franklin to paris later that fall. more about then global significance of the declaration of independence sunday at 4:30 p.m. eastern.
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explore our nation's past here on american history tv. next on american history tv, three former apollo era flight controllers and engineers discuss the design and development of the lunar module and how it operated during the apollo 11 moon landing. this panel was part of an event hosted by space center houston to mark apollo 11's 50th anniversary. good morning and happy lunar landing day. [cheers and applause] >> it's great to have you all here. i'm the chief operating officer at the space center houston. we are a nonprofit entity and smithsonian affiliates and we are the world's first certified autism center as a science center.
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