General Philip Sheridan

Published in 18th–19th - Century History, Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2012), Letters, Volume 20

Sir,—In view of its special attention to the Irish role in the American Civil War, there’s a curious omission in Kevin Haddick Flynn’s article (HI 20.5, Sept./Oct. 2012). It makes no mention of General Philip Sheridan, easily the most important Irish figure in the conflict, certainly a much bigger player than Thomas Francis Meagher, Michael Corcoran or William Corby, all of whom are referenced. Indeed, it’s hardly a stretch to say that, after Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman, Sheridan was the most significant Union general. Beginning with Booneville in July 1862 and Stones River over the 1862–3 New Year, Sheridan played larger and larger commanding roles. His Shenandoah Valley campaign in September/October 1864 was analogous to Sherman’s march through Georgia, and he also played a key role in the events immediately leading up to Lee’s April 1865 surrender. With regard to the latter, Grant was very clear: ‘I believe General Sheridan has no superior as a general, either living or dead, and perhaps not an equal’. After the war, Sheridan continued to be a major player, ultimately ending up as commanding general of the US Army. Granted, changing attitudes have turned him into a politically incorrect figure. But history is still history.—Yours etc.,
For reasons of space the author was asked to drop material previously covered in HI. See ‘“The only good Indian is a dead Indian”: Sheridan, Irish-America and the Indians’ by Toby Joyce in HI 13.6, Nov./Dec. 2005, pp 26–9. Neither did the New York draft riots make it into the published article. See Toby Joyce’s ‘The New York draft riots of 1863: an Irish civil war?’ in HI 11.2, Summer 2003, pp 22–7.

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