Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Philip Henry Sheridan

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 13
Philip Henry Sheridan

by Thomas Francis Meehan


Born at Albany, N.Y., U.S.A., 6 March, 1831; died at Nonquitt, Mass, 5 August, 1888. His family were among the Catholic pioneers who moved to Somerset, Ohio, during his boyhood; he entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1848 from that state and graduated in 1853, receiving the rank of brevet second lieutenant of infantry. In the following year he was sent to Texas and there, and in Oregon, served with much credit, settling difficulties with the Indians. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was made chief Quartermaster under General Halleck, and in May, 1862, was commissioned colonel of the Second Michigan Volunteer Cavalry. Rapid promotion followed, that of brigadier-general in July, and the command of a division of the Army of the Ohio in September; in the operations in the South-west, during the two following years, he greatly distinguished himself. Appointed commander of all the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac in April, 1864, he was thereafter one of General Grant's chief reliances in his operations in Virginia against Lee. During a brief absence of Sheridan in Washington, General Early attacked the Union Army near Cedar Creek, 19 October, 1864, and was at first victorious. Sheridan arived during the retreat, rode at full speed from Winchester, arrived in the field, and rallying his men, converted the disaster into a complete victory. General Grant writing of this feat said: "Turning what bid fair to be a disaster into a glorious victory, stamps Sheridan what I have always thought him, one of the ablest of generals". In November, 1864, his commission of major-general in the regular army was awarded him. His raids during the early part of 1865, to destroy the railroads and the other avenues of supply to Lee's army, contributed much to the final surrender of the Confederate Army at Appomattox in April. After the war Sheridan was appointed to command the military department in Louisina, Texas and Missouri, and during 1870-1, at the period of the Franco Prussian trouble, visited Europe where he was received with distinguished consideration at the headquarters of the German army, and was present at several important battles of the campaigne. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general in 1869, succeeding General Sherman as commander-in-chief of the army in 1883, and shortly before his death, on1 June, 1888, was confirmed as general of the army.

Personal Memoirs of P.H. Sheridan, General U.S. Army (New York, l888); CULLUM, Biog. Register of the Graduates, U.S.M.A., West Point (New York, 1868); Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia for 1883 (New York, 1889).

THOMAS F. MEEHAN