Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Troy Story

Contrary to my expectations during the last update I couldn’t drive down Clinton Road this Thanksgiving; but, I will do that sometime. However, with a Troy - Danbury - DC - Richmond - Jamestown - Yorktown - Danbury - Troy eventful four-day road trip spanning six states I could possibly call this story scouting trip a success. In time I’ll write about all that, but today this post is about a simple Civil War story dedicated to all the beautiful maidens of Troy

It is well said [NOT] that “you can take a trip out of Troy but you cannot take Troy out of a trip”. Eight hours down south in Richmond, Virginia I was reminded of Troy’s place in US history while at the Virginia Historical Society museum. My friends and I were perusing the American Civil War section when one of my friends chanced upon this story. In the context of the Civil War this is probably an inconsequential event. Yet, it is an interesting reminder of how everyone, even non-fighting women far removed from the battle fronts, contributed to the respective causes on either side intentionally or unintentionally. Here you go.

Lt. George H. Thomas, a Union general during the Civil War (1861-1865), is generally held in high esteem by historians for his successful record in the war. Lt. Thomas led the Union forces to a decisive victory over the Confederates at the Battle of Mill Springs. His defensive line that held off repeated attacks from a numerically superior opponent and the subsequent counterattacks that held the Confederate army at bay until nightfall during the Battle of Chickamagua earned him the title of the “Rock of Chickamagua”. He is a hero, no doubt. However, it is a shame that he has failed to achieve as much historical acclaim as some of his contemporaries, such as Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman, due to a variety of reasons that included a disinterest in advancing his legacy by publishing memoirs and an uncomfortable relationship with Gen. Grant.

Now what has all this got to do with Troy? Nothing much; just that in the November of 1852 Lt. Thomas married Frances Kellogg of Troy, NY. Now, the good lieutenant was a Virginian and had a close personal relationship with Gen. Robert Lee, who was later the number one man in the Confederate army. Yet, as the Civil War broke out in 1861 he turned down an offer to serve in the Virginia state militia and reported back to active duty with the U.S. army. It is probably the influence of his Northern-born wife that led to his choice.

His siding with the Union instead of the South angered his family. They turned his portrait against the wall, destroyed his letters and refused to accept the money he sent in spite of the economic hardship in the South after the war. His sisters disowned him strongly believing that it was the influence of his Northern wife that contributed to his “desertion”.

In short, without the fair maiden from Troy, the Union forces may not have had such a reliable general to count on in some decisive battles. This is probably inconsequential since Lt. Thomas may have sided with the Union anyway because of his dislike of slavery. Yet, as the saying goes, there is always a woman behind a successful man and thus her role in the fight against slavery, which the Civil War eventually turned to, is worth repeated mentions.

Finally, sticking to the same theme that you cannot take Troy out of a trip here’s a question for my RPI readers. The picture below was taken outside a museum near  the archaeology dig of the original Jamestown settlement. Does the name ring a bell? It’s quite obvious but I’ll write about it in my next update, as well.

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