Leaders of the American Civil War: A Biographical and Historiographical Dictionary

By Charles F. Ritter; Jon L. Wakelyn | Go to book overview
Save to active project

PHILIP HENRY SHERIDAN
(March 6, 1831–August 5, 1888)

PHILIP HENRY SHERIDAN

“I came back to my native land with even a greater love for her, and with increased admiration for her institutions.” Thus spoke the Irish-born General Philip H. Sheridan upon his return to the United States in 1871 from Europe. Considered by many who have studied the Civil War to have been one of the three most famous Union Army generals, his devotion to his adopted country may well explain the motivation for his heroic activities. Indeed, from the audacity of his troops at Missionary Ridge to his victory at Brandy Station in April 1865, in which he turned Robert E. Lee’s (q.v.) troops, thus cutting off Lee’s ability to move south and effectively ending the resistance of the Army of Northern Virginia, he was truly one of the great Union captains. At the time of his famous ride in late 1864 to relieve his embattled troops in the Valley of Virginia, he became the stuff of legends. His portrait was hung in many a Union home, and his exploits were the subjects of song and verse. Yet aside from the occasional contemporary pietistic outpouring of biographical sketches, and an excellent study of his command in the West after the war, his great Civil War career has not been the subject of modern biography or been reevaluated as to his true accomplishments. To discover the reasons for historians’ neglect of this great leader requires another look at Sheridan’s life.

The best work on his life, written by officers who had fought under Sheridan, attempted to construct an image of gallantry that would be useful to those changing times. Frank Burr and Richard Hinton, in devotion to his memory, in 1888 described a leader who struggled against the adversity of humble birth to become the head of the army. Indeed, Sheridan’s life began most humbly. Supposedly, Sheridan was born on March 6, 1831, to poor Irish immigrants in Albany, New York. But Joseph Hergesheimer, the novelist, conjured up, in his Sheridan, a Military Narrative (1931), a birth on shipboard somewhere out on the Atlantic, having sailed from Dublin, the point of debarkation for many Irish immigrants. His father, John, had owned a farm in County Cavan, which he sold to raise

-357-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Leaders of the American Civil War: A Biographical and Historiographical Dictionary
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 466

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?