Talk:Philip Sheridan

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Concerns Regarding Native American Affairs[edit]

I see several problems with this article: specifically, it implies that Sheridan's treatment of the Cheyenne was proper or neccesary, and portrays the Native Americans as murderous savages. The "excesses" this article describes were actually massacres of the most appalling nature, often involving women, children, and unarmed civilians. The winter raids, also described in this article, targeted innocent tribes south of the Arkansas River, who were in fact abiding by their respective treaties.

Sheridan's quote, "the only good Indians I ever saw were dead", has indeed been validated; the comment was made to Chief Tosawi, of the Comanche Tribe, when he surrendered at Fort Cobb in late 1868.

Consult Dee Brown's "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" for more info. I find this rather disturbing, to be totally honest, and hope that it's corrected. The article, in my mind, appears to misconstrue and justify the senseless murders of hundreds of innocent Native Americans. 01:24, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

  • I too have read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. These are the primary battles and skirmishes between the Indians and the Federal troops or state militias during the Winter Campaign and the spring following. At least those I know about. Do you know of any more or which of these groups were not involved in previous fights and attacks against civilians?
  • Sand Hills (Indian Territory); 10-13 Sep 1868; Cheyenne
  • Big Sandy Creek (Colorado); 15 Sep 1868; Cheyenne
  • Beecher's Island (Colorado); 17-21 Sep 1868; Cheyenne
  • Prairie Dog Creek (Kansas); 14 Oct 1868; Cheyenne
  • Beaver Creek (Kansas); 18 Oct 1868; Cheyenne, Lakota
  • Beaver Creek (Kansas); 25-26 Oct 1868; Cheyenne, Lakota
  • Wilson's Fight (Kansas); 19 Nov 1868; Unknown tribe
  • Washita River (Indian Territory); 27 Nov 1868; Cheyenne
  • Soldier Spring (Indian Territory); 25 Dec 1868; Comanche
  • Mulberry Creek (Kansas); 29 Jan 1869; Pawnee
  • Sixteenmile Creek (Montana); 7 Apr 1869; Blackfeet
  • Paint Creek (Texas); 7 May 1869; Comanche
  • Elephant Rock (Kansas) 13 May 1869; Lakota
  • Spring Creek (Nebraska); 16 May 1969; Lakota
The Winter Campaign followed several Indian attacks on civilians such as Turkey Leg's Raid, Nebraska, 6 Aug 1867; Tobin Massacre, Nebraska, 10 Apr 1868; Pawnee Fork, Kansas, 18-21 Aug 1868. As for the slaughter of innocents during war, you have to remember that the Civil War was just over. The shelling of cities like Vicksburg and Atlanta also involved the deaths of thousands of civilians, and both Sheridan's sweep through the Shenandoah and Sherman's march through Georgia were destruction several magnitudes greater than the Winter Campaign.
XtraQ 04:12, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Wounded Knee occurred in 1890, two years after Sheridan died. —Preceding unsigned comment added by ShenandoahValley (talkcontribs) 22:16, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

The Indian Wars section does seem to have a very pro Sheridan tone. According to the histories of the above campaigns, there are many brutal details from Sheridan's campaigns against the Native Americans missing from this section that would put Sheridan in a very different light. I'd be curious to know why these details are missing or why the section is more positive to Sheridan then the true stories would prove. Joel.sbateman (talk) 00:33, 2 August 2013 (UTC)


What are your sources for "The shelling of cities like Vicksburg and Atlanta also involved the deaths of thousands of civilians"? Do you have any specific casualty figures? I have never heard claims that approach that magnitude. Also, the Valley and the March were destructive primarily to property and animals, not civilian lives. Hal Jespersen

  • James M. McPherson's book, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, Ballantine Books, 1988, ISBN 0345359429 (which won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for History) puts the estimates for civilian deaths during the war at 50,000. Other estimates have it in the hundreds of thousands. The mention of assaults like Atlanta, Richmond, and Vicksburg was intended to show that no consideration was given to civilian deaths during campaigns. As for the Winter Campaign, it was designed to deprive the tribes of their means to wage war, by burning their lodges, destroying their provisions, and killing their horses. Sheridan's memoirs are on line if you wish to read them. — XtraQ 17:37, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Interesting. I see McPherson put it into a footnote and admits it's a guess because he says there are no good estimates. It is also in the context of a book on refugees, which means that disease and exposure are factored in. I have never seen any reports of widespread civilian deaths based on the few times artillery bombardments were used against population centers, or by Sheridan or Sherman in 1864. Here's a quote, for example, from Cannan's Atlanta Campaign:

On 9 August, Sherman set about making Atlanta "too hot to be endured." A massive bombardment was maintained for about a month and 5,000 shells were thrown into the city by Federal cannon. Fires broke out, buildings were destroyed, and civilian casualties were incurred. During the bombardment, a family of six was killed when their bombproof was struck by a direct hit, one woman was struck down and killed while ironing her clothes, and a little girl was cut in two by a shell that came through the roof of her house. Despite the heavy shelling of the town, only some 20 civilians were killed. Many Atlantans were able to boast about surviving close calls, such as the 30 women shopping at a market when it was blasted by Federal shells. Though somewhat shaken by the experience, the women were otherwise unhurt. Hood protested the bombardment as uncivilized but Sherman disagreed. Considering the town a military target, he continued shelling the town. (emphasis added)

Anyway, if you or anyone finds more specifics, let me know. (I'm not challenging any info on the Indian-related actions, BTW, just Civil War.) Thanks. Hal Jespersen 19:21, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

General Rewrite Proposed[edit]

This is not my area of expertise, but I propose a general rewrite of this article. It omits many of Sheridan's accomplishments and seems to imply that he acted out of some sort of vindictiveness. He did not. The missions were assigned to him—generally for his ability to accomplish them with a vigor and after lesser means had failed. — CPret 13:47, 18 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I went ahead with the rewrite. Besides any errors I may have introduced there are a number of areas that may need more investigation:
  1. The Virginius incident in 1873 was not included as I could not find out how far along the military preparations got before diplomacy ended it.
  2. I could not find the source, the date, or the circumstances for the phrase "If a village is attacked and women and children killed, the responsibility is not with the soldiers but with the people whose crimes necessitated the attack". Online quotes generally attribute it to a telegram from Sheridan to Grant.
  3. The Indian Wars were much more complicated and important than can be addressed in a simple biographical sketch of one of the participants. In the US the term Indian Wars generally designates the Indian wars occurring between the mid-1870s mid-1860s to the mid-1890s. The Wikidpedia page Indian_Wars, is a list of all the various wars involving the Indians.
CPret 16:39, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

This is also not by area of expertise, but Footnote 39 does not adequately support the truth of Sheridan's statement about killing the buffalo. This should probably be supported with an official or contemporaneous record of the statement--for example, either published Congressional testimony or a newspaper account with the quote. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:59, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

I added some relevant material. See if that suffices. (I don't have access to the other sources you suggest.) Hal Jespersen 16:22, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

This article is definitely in need of a rewrite. It is very negative on Sheridan. For example, the blame placed upon Sheridan for bringing on the Battle of Perryville is extremely overplayed. Sheridan had been ordered to seize the high ground in advance of the army by orders from his army and corps commanders. He sent a brigade which accomplished the fact, although the Confederate resistance was sterner than anticipated. While Sheridan was in the rear, Gilbert the corps commander rode out to the Col Dan McCook, the commander of the brigade Sheridan advanced, and observed the Confederate position. He ordered MCCOOK not to advance and then rode to see Buell, the army commander. Sheridan sent a second brigade to reinforce Dan McCook. As Gilbert rode to see Buell, he changed his mind and sent come Cavalry to clear out the position in front of Dan McCook. The cavalry was repulsed as Sheridan arrived on the seen with reinforcements. Sheridan saw what Gilbert had ordered the cavalry to do. With his aggressive spirit, Sheridan attacked and seized the ground that the cavalry had failed to gain under Gilbert's orders. He was later ordered back. See Kenneth W. Noe, Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle, 148-159 —Preceding unsigned comment added by ShenandoahValley (talkcontribs) 21:37, 22 March 2008 (UTC)


The Albany birthplace listed here is the one that Gen. Sheridan gave in his autobiography, but in hindsight this is highly unlikely. This post provides a good background on the possibilities of his birthplace, as well as the circumstances behind why it was never established. And it comes from someone who (supposedly) owns the Sheridan family Bible.

The person who made the post has apparently published a book on the General, but I have not read it yet. Paulcleveland 00:06, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

I think here you are questioning whether he was really born in Albany, new york. i read in an encyclopedia that he was born in Albany, New york. It didn't state even the possiblity that this might be inaccurate. i think it is probably a reliable source. ignore this if I'm off. :)

mjbookster 00:41, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

P.S. why would the guy not know where he was born and write in his own autobiagraphy that he was born somewhere that he really wasn't? mjbookster 00:46, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

If you read the article and footnotes, you will see that some historians believe he claimed US birth because he harbored presidential ambitions, which are not possible for those born abroad. Hal Jespersen 15:01, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
If anyone is still watching this- it is pretty much standard belief amongst historians that he truly wasnt born in Albany, should something more than a footnote be put in? And should the infobox not say Albany? I say this as a contributor to alot of Albany-related articles, including Sheridan Hollow, Albany, New York the neighborhood in which he was born.Camelbinky (talk) 04:44, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
Well, in Wikipedia we do not deal in "pretty much standard belief" and try to use secondary source citations, which in this case conflict with each other. However, you make a good point that the footnote regarding his claimed birth place does not show up in the information box, so I have fixed that. Hal Jespersen (talk) 21:50, 31 May 2011 (UTC)


While wasting my vacation time, I happened to reread this article and found it lacking any critical assessments of his Civil War career. It is quite hagiographic. I have started updating and adding citations, although this will be a relatively slow process. I don't intend to spend much time on his post-ACW career if anyone wants to jump in. Hal Jespersen 18:24, 8 August 2006 (UTC) Just about done, only the Indian Wars portion to finish. Hal Jespersen 00:09, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

March 5, 2008: Not sure where to add this, but the info about Sheridan command at the Battle of Boonville is wrong, since that battle was in June 1861. According to the Heidler's encyclopedia, his first action was a mounted raid against Hardee at Boonesboro, Miss. on July 1, 1862. (I'd make the change myself, but figured someone might change it back without an explanation. So whoever updates the page should change this, as well as the link.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gil1970 (talkcontribs) 04:33, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

March 13, 2008: Returning to this issue, I was partly wrong -- but more importantly, the wiki is still wrong. It turns out that Sheridan did indeed fight in the Battle of Booneville (not Boonesboro, though this might be an alternate name), but this was in Mississippi. (See Sheridan's own description in the New York Times: The link in the wiki goes to the June 17, 1861 Battle of Booneville in Missouri, and therefore should be deleted, and there needs to be a stub created for the Mississippi battle. Not knowing how to do this, I'll leave it to someone else. - Gil1970. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gil1970 (talkcontribs) 09:45, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

I have now created the stub Battle of Booneville Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 15:30, 13 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for finding this discrepancy. I fixed the name of the new article to match our naming conventions. Hal Jespersen (talk) 16:47, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Edits of March 23[edit]

To the anonymous user who has been making dozens and dozens of edits today: you may wish to notice that there is a Preview button that can be used to examine your changes prior to committing them to the database and filling up the editing history with meaningless entries. Also, I hope you understand that I am not trying to give you a hard time about footnotes arbitrarily. This is an article that is fully footnoted, so if you add information into a paragraph and the footnotes for that paragraph do not support the added material, it is necessary to provide additional citations. Hal Jespersen 23:05, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Civil War Edits[edit]

The entries for the Civil War seem to be too skewed positively or negatively probably based upon whether Morris or Wittenberg is the source. For battle edits, I've consulted with more impartial sources - historians who wrote on the battle and have a better understanding of Sheridan's role in the battle as opposed to an author simply highlighting Sheridan. —Preceding unsigned comment added by ShenandoahValley (talkcontribs) 22:40, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

Civil War Edits[edit]

For the Overland Campaign, I note some Gordon Rhea considers several of the battles noted as defeats as Union victories. Wittenberg's book is an argument for a reappraisal - of a General who was often lauded as never having lost a battle of always being aggressive, etc.. etc... Obviously that is not the case. However, we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. I plan to examine more balanced sources for conclusions on some of these battles.

I will be interested to see what you come up with because I consider this section to be rather well-balanced, giving both positive and negative opinions of his performance. Wittenberg's overall views are plainly listed as contrary and are identified by his name. As to Gordon Rhea, here's a quote from his book on the Wilderness (pp. 433-34): "Thus far, Sheridan's horsemen had served as scouts and his guards for supply trains. They had failed miserably in the first function, permitting Lee's entire army to approach undetected. And in the second function, which required the cavalrymen to remain close to the army's wagons, they had kept Sheridan from concentrating his riders into the powerful striking force he envisioned." In his book on Spotsylvania Court House he said that Sheridan "failed badly" at Todd's Tavern (p. 36). On the incident in which he argued with Meade, "Sheridan was free to test his mettle against Jeb Stuart, but the Army of the Potomac was to pay dearly. It was losing its cavalry at a time when the mounted arm's reconnaissance was sorely needed." (p. 69.) He also as negative things to say about Sheridan's strategy on pp. 120-21.
By the way, as you consider modifications to this section, please remember that this is a biography and not a detailed discussion of any one battle. The emphasis should be on what the person did and what historians say about it, not what other people did in the battle. For example, the recent edits about the Battle of Chickamauga went into a bit too much detail about non-Sheridan-related activities, although I did not feel like pruning the description too much. The place for the detailed description of a battle is in the article about the battle itself. Hal Jespersen (talk) 23:39, 28 March 2008 (UTC)

I didn't say that Rhea didn't criticize Sheridan. I stated that he did not consider all of those battles as defeats. You need to read what I wrote. I was talking about the line that said he lost every battle but one. I think that Sheridan's reputation of a cavalry corps commander in 1864 was much overblown. Yet still, Gordon Rhea's criticism about Sherida should be direct at Grant - the strategic part. Rhea's issue sometimes seems unwilling to criticize Grant- Grant made the decision to send away all of the cavalry with Sheridan knowing that he was in close quarters with Lee's army. Lee decided to send only part of his cavalry with Stuart. It is hard to fault Sheridan for the "big picture" decision. Unfortunately, the failings of Lee and Grant always seem to be caused by someone else in the eyes of historians. I'll take a look at Chickamauga. —Preceding unsigned comment added by ShenandoahValley (talkcontribs) 00:20, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

We should find a way to put in Sheridan's Indian honey into the 1865 era. She showed up in DC around the time of the grand review looking him! Maybe that is why he left before the parade and headed off for the Rio Grande so quickly.ShenandoahValley (talk) 00:43, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

Regarding the Shenandoah, this article has more about who Grant considered for the command than it does about Sheridan's role and impact on the campaign. Also, Sheridan I will need to make some extensive changes here. ShenandoahValley (talk) 01:04, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

Well, I will have to say that I enjoy discussing these issues on the talk page first rather than arguing about edits after the fact. I did read your remarks about Rhea, but I guess I mistakenly inflated them into more general remarks than you intended. I would agree with your overall judgment about Grant and the cavalry, but in the case of Sheridan, he and a number of historians have mistakenly promoted this decision as a positive factor. And although Grant agreed to the idea, it was Sheridan who promoted it vigorously, so he deserves a significant share of the blame. I judged the discussion about Grant's selection of Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley to be relevant to Sheridan's biography, once again because most histories generally do not say much about the subject. I looked at your edits on the Chickamauga section and they are exactly the kind I was suggesting. Thank you. Hal Jespersen (talk) 16:25, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

In memoriam[edit]

I found this section to be awkwardly named and inconsistent with other biographies in Wikipedia. The latter isn't important. The awkwardness is. The reverting editor pointed me to a dictionary reference which however, did not discuss its acceptability to the reading community.

A slightly better title would be "Memorials." In memoriam sounds like the editor is personally creating memories of the deceased. Student7 (talk) 11:39, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Major thoroughfare in Town of Tonawanda [1] a suburb of Buffalo, NY, is likely named for Sheridan.Meteor49 (talk) 04:58, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

An exhaustive list of street name (and high school) memorials across the US is of very limited encyclopedic interest. Adding 'likely' to the description places its value at zero. Hal Jespersen (talk) 15:54, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

Let them kill, skin and sell until the buffalo is exterminated[edit]

Apparently this quote might not be entirely accurate.

I'm really just glancing at this article. I hope someone more experienced in this material will make the call. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:31, 7 March 2015 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Philip Sheridan/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

B - class, almost GA. Needs infobox, fix unsourced statements, and maybe move images around so not all on right, which might fix some blank space issues.Aboutmovies 07:27, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Last edited at 07:28, 4 March 2007 (UTC).

Substituted at 02:51, 30 April 2016 (UTC)