PHILIP H. SHERIDAN AND THE CIVIL WAR IN THE WEST

ROGER THOMAS ZEIMET, Marquette University

Abstract

Ezra J. Warner, in his monumental compilation, Generals in Blue, called Philip Henry Sheridan "one of the three Union generals who won the greatest frame in the Civil War." He thus ranked along side Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman as a member of the military triumverate which led the North to victory over the South. Yet, as James I. Robertson, Jr. noted in a review of Civil War historiography, "Philip Sheridan stands glaringly in want of an adequate life-study." This does not mean that there are no biographies of Sheridan. On the contrary, several have appeared since his death in 1888, the most recent being Richard O'Connor's Sheridan the Inevitable (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1953). Unfortunately, like its predecessors, it suffers from the fact that it is based on a limited number of sources; primarily Sheridan's memoirs and the small collection of his papers, most of an official nature, that are deposited in the Library of Congress. Furthermore, as a group, Sheridan's biographers have emphasized his exploits in the East, particularly his famous 1864 campaign in the Shenandoah Valley, at the expense of his earlier experiences in the West, where his meteoric rise in rank occurred. While in the West, Sheridan served for nearly two years as a member of the Army of the Cumberland. It, too, has suffered from relative neglect. This is particularly true in comparison with its principal Union counterparts, the Armies of the Potomac and Tennessee. While two histories of the Army of the Cumberland appeared before 1890, its campaigns in what Thomas L. Connelly has called the Heartland of the Confederacy have not recently been subject to an in-depth analysis from the North's perspective. Connelly, meanwhile, has provided an excellent history of the Army of the Cumberland's chief antagonist, the Confederate Army of Tennessee. This study represents an attempt, a first step, toward filling both of those gaps in Civil War historiography. It provides a detailed account of Sheridan's life and experiences prior to the spring of 1864 when Grant appointed him chief of cavalry in the East. It thus covers Sheridan's childhood, education, and army service prior to that time, with an emphasis on his involvement in the Army of the Cumberland's campaigns until then.

Recommended Citation

ROGER THOMAS ZEIMET, "PHILIP H. SHERIDAN AND THE CIVIL WAR IN THE WEST" (January 1, 1981). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI8203785.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8203785

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