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Civil War Soldiers - Thayer

Thayer, John M., brigadier-general, U.S. Army, was born at Bellingham, Mass., Jan. 24, 1820. He received an excellent preparatory education and was graduated with honor at an early age from Brown university, studied law and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar. When a young man he went West, stopping for a while in Ohio, and in 1854 removed to Nebraska, shortly after the passage of the "Kansas-Nebraska Act." He settled at Omaha, engaging in the practice of law and taking a great interest in politics. Being originally an old line Whig he naturally gravitated into the Republican party, with which he afterward uniformly acted. After a time he was appointed brigadier-general of the territory and proved to be an excellent Indian fighter. In 1855 he was unanimously elected major-general of the territorial forces by the legislature, continuing to hold that position until the commencement of the Civil war. In July, 1859, he conducted the Pawnee war, in which the entire tribe was captured and put upon a reservation. His fighting experience proved of great value during the Civil war. He was commissioned colonel by the war department and took command of the first regiment that left Nebraska for the field. For his great bravery at Fort Donelson and Shiloh, he was subsequently appointed brigadier-general of volunteers and was placed in command of five Iowa regiments and a part of the 3d Ill. cavalry, with which he assisted Gen. Sherman in the operations against Vicksburg. After the war Gen. Thayer was prominent in organizing the state of Nebraska and was one of the two U. S. senators first elected from the new commonwealth, his term expiring March 3, 1871. He then devoted himself to his private law business, retaining, however, his interest in politics. In 1875 he was appointed governor of Wyoming territory and served four years; in 1886 he was elected governor of Nebraska, taking his seat Jan. 3, 1887. He was reelected in 1888. Gen. Thayer died at Lincoln, Neb., on March 19, 1906.

Source: The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-1865, Volume 8 Biographical, 1908

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