Sheridan, Philip Henry

Sheridan, Philip Henry,

1831–88, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Albany, N.Y. Although not a brilliant general, Sheridan's flair for leadership and his ready fighting ability made him the outstanding Union cavalry commander.

During the Civil War

After graduation from West Point (1853), he saw varied service on the frontier. In the Civil War, Sheridan, made colonel of the 2d Michigan Cavalry (May, 1862), took part in the Union advance on Corinth, Miss., under General Halleck and won a victory over Confederate cavalry at Booneville, Miss., on July 1, 1862. Made a brigadier general of volunteers and given command of a division of the Army of the Ohio, Sheridan distinguished himself under Don Carlos Buell at Perryville (Oct., 1862) and was promoted to major general of volunteers (Dec., 1862) for his able conduct under William S. Rosecrans at Murfreesboro.

In the Chattanooga campaignChattanooga campaign,
Aug.-Nov., 1863, military encounter in the American Civil War. Chattanooga, Tenn., which commanded Confederate communications between the East and the Mississippi River and was also the key to loyal E Tennessee, had been an important Union objective as
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 (1863) he aided George H. Thomas in holding off the Confederates at Chickamauga and had a prominent part in the Union victory at Missionary Ridge. Ulysses S. Grant recognized his ability and appointed Sheridan commander of the cavalry corps of the Army of the Potomac (Apr., 1864). In a notable raid (May 9–24, 1864) in the Wilderness campaign, he destroyed communications and supplies behind Robert E. Lee's lines and defeated J. E. B. StuartStuart, James Ewell Brown
(Jeb Stuart), 1833–64, Confederate cavalry commander in the American Civil War, b. Patrick co., Va. Most of his U.S. army service was with the 1st Cavalry in Kansas.
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 at Yellow Tavern.

The success of the Confederate general Jubal A. EarlyEarly, Jubal Anderson,
1816–94, Confederate general, b. Franklin co., Va., grad. West Point, 1837. After fighting against the Seminole in Florida he resigned from the army (1838), studied law, and practiced at Rocky Mount, Va. He fought briefly in the Mexican War.
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 in the Shenandoah Valley prompted Grant to give Sheridan command of the Union forces there in Aug., 1864. At Winchester (Sept. 19) and Fishers Hill (Sept. 22) Sheridan roundly defeated Early and drove him up the valley. Sheridan then slowly withdrew, systematically laying waste to the Shenandoah so that, as he reported, even a crow flying over the place would have to take his rations with him. But Early advanced again, and on the morning of Oct. 19, while Sheridan was at Winchester, 15 mi (24 km) away, he surprised the Union forces at Cedar Creek and drove them back. Upon hearing of the defeat Sheridan hurried to the field, rallied his men, and, counterattacking, won a decisive victory. (This success was highly dramatized by Thomas Buchanan Read in his poem, "Sheridan's Ride.") Sheridan was made a major general in the regular army in Nov., 1864.

In Mar., 1865, Gen. George CusterCuster, George Armstrong,
1839–76, American army officer, b. New Rumley, Ohio, grad. West Point, 1861. Civil War Service

Custer fought in the Civil War at the first battle of Bull Run, distinguished himself as a member of General McClellan's staff in the
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 of Sheridan's army defeated the remains of Early's command at Waynesboro. Sheridan then moved eastward, destroying Confederate communications as he went. After his victory at Five ForksFive Forks,
crossroads near Dinwiddie Courthouse, SW of Petersburg, Va. The last important battle of the Civil War was fought there on Apr. 1, 1865. Philip H. Sheridan, leading his own and Gouverneur K. Warren's corps, decisively defeated the Confederates under Pickett.
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 (Apr. 1, 1865), he pursued Lee vigorously and cut off the Confederate retreat at AppomattoxAppomattox
, town (1990 pop. 1,707), seat of Appomattox co., central Va.; inc. 1925. Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union general Ulysses S. Grant at nearby Appomattox Courthouse on Apr. 9, 1865. After Gen.
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, forcing Lee's surrender.

Later Career

After commanding the Military Division of the Gulf (May, 1865–Mar., 1867), Sheridan commanded the 5th Military Dist. (Texas and Louisiana) from March until Sept., 1867, when President Andrew Johnson transferred him to the command of the Dept. of the Missouri because of differences over Reconstruction policy. There he led military operations against the Cheyennes, Comanches, and other Native American groups. In the Franco-Prussian War he was a military observer with the Prussian army. Sheridan was again sent to Louisiana in 1875, when the revolt against Republican rule created great public disturbance. On William T. Sherman's retirement (1884), Sheridan was made commanding general of the U.S. army, and shortly before his death he was promoted to general.


See his Personal Memoirs (1888).

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