Major General Philip Sheridan
Left to right: Wesley Merritt, David McM.Gregg, Sheridan, Henry E. Davies (standing), James H. Wilson, and Alfred Torbert.
While on his meteoric rise in the Union army, Philip H. Sheridan earned the enmity of many Virginians for laying waste to the Shenandoah Valley.
His date and place of birth is uncertain, but he himself claimed to have been born in New York in 1831. Although he was destined to come out of the Civil War with the third greatest reputation among the victors, his military career had not begun auspiciously. It took him five years to graduate from West Point (1853) because of an altercation with fellow cadet and future Union general, William R. Terrill.
Posted to the infantry, he was still a second lieutenant at the outbreak of the Civil War. His assignments included: second lieutenant, 4th Infantry (since November 22, 1854);
After serving in a staff position during the early part of the war he was recommended for the command of a cavalry regiment by Gordon Granger. Within days of taking command he was in charge of the brigade with which he earned his first star at Booneville in northern Mississippi. In the late summer of 1862 he was given a division in Kentucky and middle Tennessee. He fought well at Perryville and Murfreesboro and was given a second star in the volunteers to date from the latter. At Chickamauga his division, along with almost two-thirds of the army, was swept from the field. However, at Chattanooga he regained his somewhat tarnished reputation when his division broke through the Rebel lines atop Missionary Ridge. There was some question of who, if anyone, had ordered the troops all the way up to the crest. His division made a limited pursuit.
When Grant went to the East, he placed Sheridan in command of the Army of the Potomac's mounted arm. Against J.E.B Stuart's depleted horsemen Sheridan met with mixed success in the Overland Campaign but did manage to mortally wound the Confederate cavalryman at Yellow Tavern. His purposes were thwarted at Haws' Shop and Trevilian Station. His Irish temperament brought him into conflict with Generals Meade and Warren and Duffie and Stevenson.
Following Early's threat to Washington, Grant tapped Sheridan to command a new military division, comprised of three departments, and charged him with clearing out the Shenandoah Valley. Despite being plagued by irregulars along his supply lines, he managed to worst Early at 3rd Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek. At the outbreak of the latter battle he was returning from a meeting with Grant and rode at a gallop from Winchester to the scene of the early morning reverse. Reforming his men, he drove the enemy-who had lost all sense of order while plundering the camps-from the field, taking many prisoners. For this campaign he was named brigadier and major general in the regular army, vacating his volunteer commission, and received the Thanks of Congress. He also burned his way through the Valley, preventing future Confederate use of its grain and other stores.
The next March he destroyed Early's remaining forces at Waynesboro and then went on a raid, threatening Lynchburg. Rejoining Grant, he smashed through the Confederate lines at Five Forks, necessitating the evacuation of both Petersburg and Richmond. During the action he unfairly removed Warren for slowness. It was his cavalry command, backed by infantry, which finally blocked Lee's escape at Appomattox. His role in the final campaign even eclipsed that of army commander Meade.
After a postwar show of force against Maximilian in Mexico, he headed the Reconstruction government of Texas and Louisiana. His severity forced his removal within half a year. Remaining in the regular army, he died as a full general in 1888, having been the commander-in-chief since 1884. In the meantime he had commanded the Division of the Missouri, observed the Franco-Prussian War, and worked for the creation of Yellowstone National Park and its preservation. By the use of troops to protect the park he may have been trying to salve his conscience for the destruction in the Shenandoah.
Sheridan's Lieutenants: Phil Sheridan, His Generals, and the Final Year of the Civil War
Summary of Sheridan's role in the last year of the Civil War. An introduction to the lives of a remarkable group of soldiers. Merritt, Mackenzie, Crook, Upton, and Wilson were young, gifted, and tough officers who contributed to Union victory. Custer is remembered today because he blundered at the Little Bighorn
Personal Memoirs of P.H. Sheridan, General United States Army
Philip H. Sheridan earned the enmity of many Virginians for laying waste to the Shenandoah Valley. His date and place of birth is uncertain, but he himself claimed to have been born in New York in 1831
Glory Enough for All: Sheridan's Second Raid and the Battle of Trevilian Station
After the ferocious fighting at Cold Harbor Grant ordered his cavalry to distract the Confederate forces. Tthe battle that resulted when Confederate cavalry pursued and caught their Federal foes at Trevilian Station, Virginia, perhaps the only truly decisive cavalry battle of the American Civil War.
Little Phil: The Story of General Philip Henry Sheridan
The author makes no pretense of presenting a scholarly recitation of the historic military maneuvers and tactics that surrounded the man's career. His purpose is to present the story of the man, using his own words and the words of his contemporaries so that we might see what he saw, hear what he heard, and feel what he felt.
Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle
On October 8, 1862, Union and Confederate forces clashed near Perryville, Kentucky, in what would be the largest battle ever fought on Kentucky soil.
Civil War Exhibits
Civil War Combat: America's Bloodiest Battles
The violent mayhem of the hornet's nest at Shiloh, the valiant charge on the sunken road at Antietam, the carnage in the wheat field at Gettysburg, and the brutal fighting at Cold Harbor
Civil War Journal - The Conflict Begins
These four programs from the History Channel series Civil War Journal cover critical aspects of the early days of the war.
History Channel Presents The Civil War
From Harper's Ferry, Fort Sumter, and First Bull Run to Shiloh, Antietam, and Gettysburg. The most legendary Civil War battles in brilliant detail. A selection of the soldiers and legendary leaders.
The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns
Here is the saga of celebrated generals and ordinary soldiers, a heroic and transcendent president and a country that had to divide itself in two in order to become one
12 to 26 piece soldier play sets. Ages 6 and Up
72 Piece Civil War Army Men
Play Set 52mm Union and Confederate Figures, Bridge, Horses, Canon
Civil War Soldier 102 Piece Playset
Confederate Toy Soldiers
Playsets of Confederate and Union Soldiers. Sets come in pieces of 30 to 100. Artillery Cavalry foot soldiers and cannon sets
Professor Noggin's Civil War Trivia Game
20 piece Civil War Artillery Playset
Civil War Artillery Set: 20 piece set includes 12 Artillery Crew Figures in Blue and Gray that stand up to 58mm tall, 4 Parrott Rifle Gun Cannon about 4 inches long, and 4 Cannonball stacks
Civil War Pup Tent
Civil War Musket
Wood & Steel Frontier Rifle Designed After The Original Rifle, Fires Roll Caps
This Civil War Musket replica has been designed after the original rifle of its era. Measures approximately 37 inches long. Each is constructed with a solid one-piece wood stock, painted steel barrel and die-cast parts. Will fire caps. Full orange tip attached as required by Federal Law. Ages 5+
Library of Congress
Enter the keywords you are looking for and the site will be searched and all occurrences of your request will be displayed. You can also enter a date format, April 19,1862 or September 1864.
Share this page:
More To Explore