- August 6, 1864
- June 27, 1865
- In early August, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant advised President Abraham Lincoln and War Department officials to consolidate Federal forces in the vicinity of the Shenandoah Valley and put an end to Confederate General Jubal Early’s Raid.
- On August 7, 1864, the War Department issued General Orders No. 240, creating the Middle Division consisting of the Middle Department and the Departments of Washington, of the Susquehanna, and of West Virginia. Philip Sheridan was assigned by the President to the temporary command of the Middle Military Division.
- The combined forces under Major General Philip Sheridan’s command, which became known as the Army of the Shenandoah, totaled somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 soldiers.
- The Army of the Shenandoah consisted of the 6th Corps of the Army of the Potomac, two divisions of the 19th Corps from Louisiana, and units already in the area of the Shenandoah Valley that were consolidated to form the 8th Corps. The local cavalry division was joined by two horse divisions from the Army of the Potomac to create a cavalry corps for this powerful new force.
- Grant’s orders for Sheridan and the Army of the Shenandoah were twofold: destroy Early’s army and to “Do all the damage to railroads and crops you can. Carry off stock of all descriptions . . . so as to prevent further planting. If the war is to last another year, we want the Shenandoah Valley to remain a barren waste.”
- The Army of the Shenandoah defeated Confederate General Jubal Early’s forces at the Battle of Opequon (September 19, 1864), the Battle of Fisher’s Hill (September 22, 1864), the Battle of Tom’s Brook (October 9, 1864), and the Battle of Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864).
- In late September and early October 1864, the Army of the Shenandoah laid waste to the Shenandoah Valley during an operation of destruction known as “The Burning,”
- The Army of the Shenandoah was gradually dismantled. In December the 6th Corps returned to the Army of the Potomac. Portions of the 8th Corps were transferred to the Army of the James. The 19th Corps was sent to Savannah.
- In March 1865, Sheridan and his cavalry troopers returned to the Army of the Potomac.
- On June 27, 1865, the Army of the Shenandoah was disbanded.
- Major General Philip H. Sheridan commanded the Middle Division and the Army of the Shenandoah from August 7, 1864 to February 27, 1865,
- Major General A.T.A. Torbert commanded the Middle Division and the Army of the Shenandoah from February 27 to March 7, 1865.
- Major General Winfield Scott Hancock commanded the Middle Division and the Army of the Shenandoah from March 7 to June 27, 1865.