Who was Civil War officer Philip Sheridan?
When the American Civil War began, army officials promoted Philip Sheridan to captain in May 1861 and assigned him to the 13th U.S. Infantry at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. Sheridan served mostly in administrative roles for Major General Henry Halleck during the first year of the war. Dissatisfied with his administrative duties, Sheridan sought and received an appointment as a colonel with the 2nd Michigan Cavalry in the volunteer army in May 1862, despite having no cavalry experience. Sheridan’s first combat, at the Battle of Boonville in July, prompted army officials to promote him to brigadier general of volunteers in September.
After his promotion, Sheridan commanded the 11th Division of the Army of the Ohio during the Battle of Perryville and the Battle of Stones River, where his performance earned a promotion to major general in April 1863.
During the summer of 1863, Sheridan’s division took part in the Tullahoma Campaign helping drive Confederate forces out of southern Tennessee. When the Confederate forces under the command of General James Longstreet struck back, they drove Sheridan’s division from the field on the second day of the Battle of Chickamauga in September. Two months later, Union forces counterattacked, and Sheridan’s division helped drive Confederates off Missionary Ridge during the Union breakout from Chattanooga.
In March 1864, Ulysses S. Grant assumed command of all Union armies. Impressed by Sheridan’s performance at Missionary Ridge, Grant ordered Sheridan east to take command of the cavalry corps of the Army of the Potomac. During the early stages of Grant’s Overland Campaign, Sheridan’s troopers performed the traditional cavalry tasks of skirmishing, protecting rear areas, and providing reconnaissance for the main army.
When Confederate General Jubal Early invaded the Shenandoah Valley in the summer of 1864, Grant placed Sheridan in charge of the newly created Army of the Shenandoah and ordered him to drive Early away. Sheridan responded with convincing victories at the Battle of Opequon and the Battle of Cedar Creek, which sent the Confederates reeling. Throughout the rest of the Valley Campaign, Sheridan also warred against civilians, destroying anything in the Shenandoah Valley that might be useful to the Confederacy. Residents of the valley referred to Sheridan’s widespread destruction as “The Burning.”
Sheridan’s cavalry rejoined the Army of the Potomac in March 1865 and hastened the end of the Civil War by relentlessly pursuing the Army of Northern Virginia during the Appomattox Campaign. In April, Sheridan’s victory at the Battle of Appomattox Court House blocked Robert E. Lee’s retreating army, forcing the Confederate general to surrender to Ulysses S. Grant.
After the Civil War, Sheridan remained in the regular army, first implementing Reconstruction in Texas, and later campaigning against American Indians in the West. Sheridan’s success in repressing the Natives earned him a promotion to lieutenant general in 1869.
Fourteen years later, Sheridan succeeded William T. Sherman as Commanding General of the U.S. Army. In June 1888, Congress promoted Sheridan to the rank of General of the Army of the United States, the same rank earlier attained by Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman. Two months later, Sheridan suffered a heart attack and died in his vacation cottage at Nonquitt, Massachusetts, on August 5, 1888. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Philip Sheridan Facts for APUSH
Birth and Early Life
- Full Name: His full name was Philip Henry Sheridan.
- Parents: His parents were John and Mary Meenagh Sheridan.
- Date of Birth: He was born on March 6, 1831.
- Birthplace: He was born in Albany, New York, however, this is disputed.
- Spouse: His spouse was Irene Rucker. They were married in 1875.
- Death: He died on August 5, 1888.
- Place of Death: He died in Nonquitt, Massachusetts.
- Burial: He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
He attended the United States Military Academy and graduated in 1853.
He worked as a military officer.
He was a Lieutenant General (USA), Commanding General of the U.S. Army.
He was known as Little Phil.
Philip Sheridan — Summary of His Life and Accomplishments for APUSH
- Philip Sheridan was the third child of six by John and Mary Meenagh Sheridan, immigrants from County Cavan, Ireland.
- Philip Sheridan’s birthplace is uncertain. Albany, New York is the most cited location, with Ireland, and Boston, Massachusetts being other possibilities.
- Philip Sheridan was raised in Somerset, Ohio.
- Philip Sheridan’s father worked on road construction in the area of Somerset, Ohio.
- Philip Sheridan entered the United States Military Academy in 1848 and graduated in 1853, the 34th in his class.
- During his third year at West Point, Sheridan was suspended for a year for fighting with a classmate, William R. Terrill.
- Philip Sheridan’s classmates at the United States Military Academy included James B. McPherson, John M. Schofield, and John Bell Hood.
- Philip Sheridan was commissioned as a brevet second lieutenant with the 1st U.S. Infantry regiment at Fort Duncan, Texas, on July 1, 1853.
- Philip Sheridan led small combat units while serving with the 4th U.S. Infantry during the Yakima War (1855 – 1858) and Rogue River Wars (1855 – 1856) in the Pacific Northwest.
- On March 28, 1857, a bullet grazed Philip Sheridan’s nose during a battle with American Indians in the Pacific Northwest.
- Philip Sheridan lived with an Indian mistress during his service in the Pacific Northwest.
- Philip Sheridan was promoted to first lieutenant in March 1861.
- Philip Sheridan was promoted to captain in May 1861, after the American Civil War started.
- Philip Sheridan was assigned to the 13th U.S. Infantry, at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, in the fall of 1861.
- Philip Sheridan served mostly in administrative roles for Major General Henry Halleck during the first year of the Civil War.
- With the help of Michigan Governor Austin Blair, Philip Sheridan received an appointment as colonel of the 2nd Michigan Cavalry on May 27, 1862, despite having no cavalry experience.
- Philip Sheridan’s first combat command was at the Battle of Booneville, Mississippi (July 1, 1862) where his performance prompted divisional commanders, including Brigadier General William S. Rosecrans, to recommend his promotion to brigadier general.
- Philip Sheridan was promoted to brigadier general in September 1862 (effective July 1, 1862).
- Philip Sheridan commanded the 11th Division of the Army of the Ohio during the Battle of Perryville (October 8, 1862).
- Philip Sheridan was promoted to major general of volunteers on April 10, 1863 (effective December 31, 1862) for his performance at the Battle of Stones River (December 31, 1862 – January 2, 1863).
- Philip Sheridan’s division participated in the advance against Confederate General Braxton Bragg in Major General William S. Rosecrans’ Tullahoma Campaign (June 24 – July 3, 1863), and was the lead division to enter the town of Tullahoma.
- Confederate General James Longstreet’s forces drove Philip Sheridan’s division from the field on the second day of the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19–20, 1863).
- At the Battle of Missionary Ridge (November 25, 1863) the Army of the Cumberland, led by Philip Sheridan’s division, overran Confederate lines in a charge that exceeded the orders of commanding officers George H. Thomas and Ulysses S. Grant.
- Ulysses S. Grant ordered Sheridan east to take command of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac on April 4, 1864.
- The performance of Philip Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps during the Overland Campaign was generally unexceptional.
- Over the objections of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, Ulysses Grant assigned Philip Sheridan to command the Middle Military Division and the Army of the Shenandoah on August 7, 1864.
- Philip Sheridan practiced scorched earth tactics during his Valley Campaign of 1864, destroying anything in the Shenandoah Valley that might be useful to the Confederacy, including crops, livestock, and infrastructure such as barns, mills, factories railroads, and communications lines.
- Philip Sheridan was promoted to brigadier general of the regular army on September 20, 1864.
- Philip Sheridan’s dash to rally his troops at the Battle of Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864) was immortalized in a poem written by Thomas Buchanan Read entitled Sheridan’s Ride.
- Philip Sheridan received a personal letter of thanks from President Lincoln and a promotion to major general in the regular army (effective November 8, 1864) for defeating Confederate General Jubal Early’s army at the Battle of Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864).
- Philip Sheridan’s cavalry re-joined the Army of the Potomac in March 1865 and hastened the end of the Civil War by relentlessly pursuing the Army of Virginia during the Appomattox Campaign.
- Ulysses S. Grant had appointed Philip Sheridan commander of the Military District of the Southwest on May 17, 1865, and ordered him to Texas to defeat the last remaining Confederate army under General Edmund Kirby Smith.
- Philip Sheridan’s cavalry captured nearly one-fourth of Robert E. Lee’s, in retreat from Petersburg, at the Battle of Sailor’s (aka Sayler’s) Creek (April 6, 1865). This action was considered the death knell of the Army of Northern Virginia.
- Philip Sheridan was appointed military governor of the Fifth Military District (Texas and Louisiana) in March 1867.
- Over Ulysses S. Grant’s objections, President Andrew Johnson removed Philip Sheridan from his position as commander of the Military District of the Southwest because Johnson considered Sheridan’s interpretation and enforcement of the Military Reconstruction Acts to be too strict and harsh toward white Southerners.
- During his tenure as commander of the Military District of the Southwest, Philip Sheridan was quoted as saying, “If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent Texas and live in Hell.”
- In August 1867, Ulysses S. Grant appointed Philip Sheridan to command the Department of the Missouri, with orders to pacify the American Indians west of the Mississippi.
- Philip Sheridan utilized scorched earth tactics against American Indian tribes on the Great Plains, attacking their villages and destroying their food supplies.
- Philip Sheridan promoted hunting American bison to extinction to deprive American Indians on the Great Plains of their primary food source.
- Philip Sheridan was promoted to lieutenant general on March 4, 1869.
- In 1869 Philip Sheridan became commander of the Military Division of the Missouri, with headquarters at Chicago, Illinois.
- During the Franco-German War of 1870-71, Philip Sheridan visited Europe and was present as a spectator with the German forces at several battles.
- Philip Sheridan ruled Chicago under martial law for a few days after the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.
- Philip Sheridan married Irene Rucker on June 3, 1875.
- On November 1, 1883, Philip Sheridan succeeded William T. Sherman as Commanding General of the U.S. Army.
- On June 1, 1888, Congress promoted Philip Sheridan to the rank of General of the Army of the United States, the same rank earlier achieved by Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman.
- After a series of heart attacks, Philip Henry Sheridan died in his vacation cottage at Nonquitt, Massachusetts on August 5, 1888, while still on active duty with the U.S. Army.
- Philip Sheridan was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
- Philip Sheridan personally crusaded and lobbied Congress for establishing and protecting Yellowstone National Park.
- Mount Sheridan in Yellowstone National Park was named for Philip Sheridan by Captain John W. Barlow in 1871.
- Philip Sheridan was nicknamed “Little Phil” due to his diminutive stature of 5′ 5″.