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About John W. Thomas

John W. Thomas was born in 1841 in Ohio. He originally began his service as 1st Sergeant of Co. E, 2nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) in 1861. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in July 1862, detailed as acting adjutant in November, and subsequently promoted to 1st  Lieutenant of Co. C in April 1863. Later that month he was appointed adjutant under Colonel Anson McCook on the 2nd OVI.

John was taken prisoner twice during the war. First on May 6th by Confederate Morgan’s Calvary in Pulaski, TN. He was returned to the Union Army on a prisoner exchange. Again on September 20th 1863 at the Battle of Chickamauga where he was sent to Libby Prison in Richmond VA. He escaped from Libby Prison on February 9, 1864 in what would later be called the “Great Libby Prison Breakout.”

He was killed at the Battle of Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, Georgia, on July 20, 1864 while serving as adjutant of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 14th Corps. As Quoted by Col. Anson McCook, “Although the firing had warned the brigade, and regimental commanders knew exactly what to do, information was sent to the different regiments and Thomas rode off to the 104th Illinois. As he left me he saluted, and no more brave and handsome officer ever rode to his death, for he must have reached the regiment about the time the attack struck it, when he was shot dead from his horse….To me personally the death of Adjutant Thomas was a severe blow. He was a universal favorite in the regiment and brigade and was a devoted and loyal friend of mine. I never have known a more faithful, gallant, and unselfish gentleman in my life, and had he been a brother I could not have felt worse than I did when I looked at his young and handsome face, quiet in death.” John was the last man killed in his regiment. He lies buried at the Marietta National Cemetery in Georgia.

The diary presented here is now the property of Brad Burch and is published here by express consent with other materials that he has gathered pertaining to the service record of Lt. John W. Thomas. Brad purchased the diary several years ago from Frank Johnson, a direct descendant of Rhys M. Thomas—the older brother of John W. Thomas. In selling the diary to Brad, Frank offered the following provenance: “My grandmother Madeline Meredith Miner (Johnson) gave me this diary back when I was a teen in the late 70’s. She was the granddaughter of Civil War Veteran Lt. Col. Rhys M. Thomas of the 14th Kentucky Infantry. It was in the same box with Lt. Col. Thomas’s Post Office Inspector Credential and diary, G.A.R. and M.O.L.L.U.S medals and other personal effects of his. I always thought the diary was written by the Col. until I sent scans to the Marlitta H. Perkins at the 14th KY. Vol. Inf. website. She read the diary and informed me it was Col. Thomas’s brother’s diary, 1st Lt. John W. Thomas of the 2nd O.V.I.”

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The 1864 Diary of John W. Thomas

Once properly showcased and shared publicly, Brad intends to donate the diary to the Atlanta History Center.

[Gather biographical sketch]

John’s brother:

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Postwar images of Rhys M. Thomas

Rhys M. Thomas mustered in the army 1861 where he served as a private under the command of General James Garfield (future U. S. President Garfield), then mustered out the same year. He then went back to Kentucky and raised a company of 14th Kentuckians and mustered back in as a Captain in 1862, he was promoted to Major in 1863, then Lt. Col. in 1864. He marched with Gen. Sherman to Atlanta and fought in all the battles of that campaign.

Spared & Shared 21

Saving history one letter at a time.

Spared & Shared 20

Saving history one letter at a time

Notes on Western Scenery, Manners, &c.

by Washington Marlatt, 1848

Spared & Shared 19

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Recollections of Army Life

by Charles A. Frey

The Civil War Letters of William Kennedy

Co. B, 91st New York Infantry

The Glorious Dead

Letters from the 23rd Illinois Infantry, the 111th Pennsylvania Infantry, the 64th New York Infantry, and the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry

Cornelius Van Houten

1st New Jersey Light Artillery

Letters of Charley Howe

36th Massachusetts Volunteers

Sgt. Major Fayette Lacey

Co. B, 37th Illinois Volunteers

"These few lines"

the pocket memorandum of Alexander C. Taggart

The Civil War Letters of Will Dunn

Co. F, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers

Henry McGrath Cannon

Co. A, 124th New York Infantry & Co. B, 16th New York Cavalry

Civil War Letters of Frederick Warren Holmes

Co. H, 77th Illinois Volunteers

"Though distant lands between us be"

Civil War Letters of Monroe McCollister, Co. B, 6th OVC

"Tell her to keep good heart"

Civil War Letters of Nelson Statler, 211th PA

Building Bluemont

The Origin of Bluemont Central College

"May Heaven Protect You"

14th Connecticut drummer boy's war-time correspondence with his mother

Moreau Forrest

Lt. Commander in the US Navy during the Civil War

Diary of the 29th Massachusetts Infantry

Fighting with the Irish Brigade during the Peninsula Campaign

"Till this unholy rebellion is crushed"

Letters of Dory & Morty Longwood, 7th Indiana

"I Go With Good Courage"

The Civil War Letters of Henry Clay Long, 11th Maine Infantry

"This is a dreadful war"

The Civil War Letters of Jacob Bauer, 16th Connecticut, & his wife Emily

Spared & Shared 16

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Lloyd Willis Manning Letters

3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, Co. I

The Yankee Volunteer

A Virtual Archive of Civil War Likenesses collected by Dave Morin

William Henry Jordan

Co. K, 7th Rhode Island Infantry

No Cause to Blush

The Bancroft Collection of Civil War Letters

William A. Bartlett Civil War Letters

Company D, 37th Massachusetts Infantry

The John Hughes Collection

A Virtual Archive of his Letters, 1858-1869

The Civil War Letters of Rufus P. Staniels

Co. H, 13th New Hampshire Volunteers