Recollections of the Civil War: With the Leaders at Washington and in the Field in the Sixties

By Charles A. Dana | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVIII.
A VISIT TO SHERIDAN IN THE VALLEY.

Mr. Dana carries to Sheridan his major-general's commission -- A ride through the Army of the Shenandoah -- The affection of Sheridan's soldiers for the general -- How he explained it -- His ideas about personal courage in battle -- The War Department and the railroads -- How the department worked for Lincoln's re-election -- Election night of November, 1864 -- Lincoln reads aloud passages from Petroleum V. Nasby while the returns from the States come in.

IT was just after the arrest of the Baltimore merchants, in October, 1864, that I visited Sheridan at his headquarters in the Shenandoah Valley. He had finished the work of clearing out the valley by the battle of Cedar Creek on October 19th, and the Government wanted to recognize the victory by promoting him to the rank of major general in the regular army. There were numerous volunteer officers who were also officers in the regular army, and it was regarded as a considerable distinction. The appointment was made, and then, as an additional compliment to General Sheridan, instead of sending him the commission by an ordinary officer from the department, Mr. Stanton decided that I would better deliver it. I started on October 22d, going by special train to Harper's Ferry, whither I telegraphed for an escort to be ready for me. I was delayed so that I did not get started from Harper's Ferry until about five o'clock on the morning of October 23d. It was a distance of about fifty miles to Sheridan, and

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