Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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Union or Secession
  • "It is my purpose to remain in the Army"
  • "It is my purpose to remain in the Army"
On March 12, 1861, United States Army major George H. Thomas declined an offer to become chief of ordnance of Virginia and remained in the army.
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"It is my purpose to remain in the Army"

George H. Thomas to Governor John Letcher, March 12, 1861, Executive Papers of Governor John Letcher, Acc. 36787, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.

United States Army major George H. Thomas declined an offer in March 1861 to become chief of ordnance of Virginia, in charge of armaments. He explained to Governor John Letcher, "it is not my wish to leave the Service of the United States as long as it is honorable for me to remain in it, and therefore as long as my native State Va. remains in the Union it is my purpose to remain in the Army." A native of Southampton County, Thomas was a career officer in the U.S. Army. He served in the Union army throughout the Civil War and was one of its most successful and distinguished generals. His family disowned him, and he was buried in the state of New York.

George H. Thomas to Governor John Letcher, March 12, 1861, Executive Papers of Governor John Letcher, Acc. 36787, State Government Records Collection, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.

New York Hotel
March 12. 1861
His Excellency
Govnr. Jno Letcher
Richmond Va.
Dear Sir:
I received yesterday a letter from Maj Gilham of the Va. Mil. Institute dated the 9th Inst in reference to the position of Chief of Ordnance of the State, in which he informs me that you had requested him "to ask me if I would resign from the service, and if so whether that post would be acceptable to me." As he requested me to make my reply to you direct, I have the honor to state, after expressing my most sincere thanks for your very kind offer, that it is not my wish to leave the Service of the United States as long as it is honorable for me to remain in it, and therefore as long as my native State Va. remains in the Union it is my purpose to remain in the Army, unless required to perform duties alike repulsive to honor and humanity.
I am Sir
Very Respectfully
Yr. obt. svt.
GEO. H. THOMAS
Maj U. S. Army