Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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THOMAS, Henry Goddard, soldier, born in Portland, Maine, 5 April, 1837. He was graduated at Amherst in 1858, studied law, and was admitted to the bar. He enlisted as a private in the 5th Maine volunteers in April, 1861, and was captain in that regiment from June till August, when he was given that rank in the 11th regular infantry, he was present at the first battle of Bull Run and the action at Snicker's Gap, Virginia, was appointed colonel of the 2d United States colored regiment in February, 1863, and engaged in the actions of Bristol Station, Rappahannock Station, and Mine Run, Virginia He then organized the 19th United States colored regiment, and became its colonel in December, 1863. In February, 1864, he was in command at Camp Birney, Maryland, and he led a brigade in the 9th corps, Army of the Potomac, from May, 1864, till November, being engaged at the battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Petersburg, and Hatcher's Run. He was made brigadier-general of volunteers, 30 November, 1864, transferred to the Army of the James, led a brigade and division in the 25th corps of that army, and temporarily commanded the corps. During the war he received the brevets of major, 12 May, 1864, for gallant and meritorious services in the battle of Spottsylvania; lieutenant-colonel, 30 July, 1864, for services at Petersburg; and colonel, brigadier-general, and major-general of volunteers, 13 March, 1865, for services during the war. He was honorably mustered out of the volunteer service in 1866, but remained in the United States army, and is now paymaster, with the rank of major. General Thomas was the first regular officer to accept a colonelcy of colored troops. --His brother, William Widgery, diplomatist, born in Portland, Maine, 26 August, 1839, was graduated at Bowdoin in 1860. He studied law, was admitted to the bar, appointed in 1862 United States vice-consul at Galatz, Moldavia, and the same year United States consul at Gothenburg, Sweden, where he remained in charge till 1865. He was one of the board of commissioners for the settlement of the public lands of Maine in 1869, and in 1870, as commissioner of emigration for Maine, went to Sweden to recruit a colony. On his return he founded New Sweden in the forests of northern Maine, which is now one of the most flourishing agricultural settlements of New England. He was a member of the house of representatives of the Maine legislature in 1873-'5, and its speaker in 1874--'5, became a member of the state senate in 1879, and was United States minister to Sweden and Norway in 1883-'5. On the occasion of his presentation he addressed the king in a speech in the Swedish language. He has published "The Last Athenian," translated from the Swedish of Victor Rydborg (Philadelphia, 1869), and has now almost completed "Sweden and the Swedes," which is to be issued simultaneously in New York and Stockholm, Sweden.
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