November 15, 1864 (2)
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Office U.S. Military Telegraph
Washington, D.C., Nov. 15, 1864
Major General Thomas
How much force and Artil
lery had Gillem?
This analysis makes use of a heuristic for historical thinking know as SCIM-C developed by David Hicks, Peter Doolittle and Tom Ewing. For more about this historical thinking heuristic please see http://www.historicalinquiry.com
Summary of the telegram
This is a telegram written by President Lincoln to Major General Thomas asking how many troops and artillery power another Union General Alvan Gillem had who was currently stationed in the eastern Tennessee region.
The Context for this telegram
Gillem was recently given the command in Tennessee to protect the Northwestern Railroad but he was sent on a mission to protect loyalists in eastern Tennessee. Gillem succeeded in defeating the Confederates in eastern Tennessee by the end of the year. So this telegram was presented midway through is campaign into eastern Tennessee and President Lincoln was seeking an update in the operation. Lincoln also did not want give off the impression that he did not care about the pockets of loyalists in the South which were usually in mountainous regions. He wanted to protect these loyalists and was keen on how Gillem's operation was going. This telegram was also sent shortly after the election of 1864 in which Lincoln won. This could be an indication that Lincoln was trying to keep his mind off political matters and more on military matters.
Inferences about the telegram
Since the message is being sent to Major General Thomas and not Brigadier General Gillem it appears that Lincoln may have lost contact with General Gillem during his mission to help out east Tennessee volunteers and was trying to receive an update on how the mission was going. While it could be identified as an check-up of Gillem's work, it can also be seen as Lincoln wanting to see if reinforcements were needed or if he could spare some troops.