Lorenzo Thomas


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(1804–1875) Union army officer. Born in New Castle, Delaware, Lorenzo Thomas graduated from West Point in 1823 with a commission in the infantry. He spent most of the next 17 years in Florida, and fought against the Seminole Indians there. During the Mexican War he won a brevet at Monterrey while serving as chief of staff for Gen. William O. Butler. In 1853 he became chief of staff to commanding general of the army Winfield Scott, and eight years later he was appointed adjutant general of the army, responsible for manning a force about to expand considerably for the Civil War. The demands were overwhelming, and in 1863 he was sent to Mississippi to recruit soldiers for black regiments. He stayed out of Washington the rest of the war, but in 1865 was brevetted major general for his services. President Andrew Johnson recalled him to Washington from inspection duties in 1868, and then appointed Thomas interim Secretary of War to replace Edwin M. Stanton. When Thomas tried to take the post, Stanton had him arrested for violation of the Tenure of Office Act, the same act over which Johnson was soon impeached. Thomas returned to his adjutant general duties for a year before retiring.

From The Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Warfare and Defence.

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