November 15, 1864 (2)

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Telegram Sent on: November 15, 1864_(2).
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Office U.S. Military Telegraph

War Department

Washington, D.C., Nov. 15, 1864

Major General Thomas

Nashville, Tenn.

How much force and Artil

lery had Gillem?

A. Lincoln




Baldwin 230pm

Historical analysis

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

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.