General George H. Thomas
Union general George H. Thomas, a Virginia native who remained committed to the United States Army during the Civil War (1861–1865), poses for a wartime portrait. A veteran of the Mexican War (1846–1848), Thomas fought effectively for the Union, earning the nickname "the Rock of Chickamauga" after his defensive stand at the Georgia battle in 1863. He won an earlier Union victory at the Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky (1862), and decisively defeated the Confederate Army of Tennessee during the Battle of Nashville (1864). He also served as a subordinate at the Battle of Stone's River (1862–1863) and in the Chattanooga Campaign (1863) in Tennessee and, under his West Point roommate William T. Sherman, in the 1864 Atlanta Campaign.
Thomas was a slave owner before the war, but his experience commanding African American soldiers led him to change his views, and he became a staunch defender of civil rights during Reconstruction (1865–1876). As senior military commander in Kentucky and Tennessee from 1865 until 1869, he fought to protect African Americans from the Ku Klux Klan and other white-supremacist groups. He died of a stroke in 1870.