Biographical Report – PHILIP SHERIDAN





Philip Henry Sheridan was born on March 6, 1831 to John and Mary Minah Sheridan; his birthplace is unknown. His parents emigrated from Ireland in 1830; it is reasonable to believe that Philip was born on the ship. Philip attended school in Somerset, Ohio (where his family settled in America) until the age of fourteen. In 1848, Congressman Thomas Ritchie, a family friend, obtained an appointment to West Point for Phil. Although he was suspended in his third year for fighting with a fellow cadet, Phil graduated in 1853, 34th in his class of 52. Phil was one of six children, Patrick, Rosa (who died on the journey to America), himself, Mary, Michael, and John.


In the year of his graduation, Phil was assigned to the first infantry at fort Duncan, Texas as a second lieutenant. In 1855, he was transferred to the fourth infantry In the Pacific Northwest division. In April 1856, he was assigned to duty at the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation in Yamhill County, Oregon, and was promoted to first Lt. After the start of the civil war, Philip was promoted to captain, and later that year, he was moved to serve with the Union Armies of the West. This was truly Philip Sheridans’ first step to greatness. Philip was eventually assigned to a general who planned to drive the confederates out of Missouri. After some switching of roles, Gen. Gordon Granger requested Sheridan be given command of the 2nd Michigan Cavalry vacated by his promotion. On May 5th, 1862, Philip Sheridan became a colonel. While Philip was stationed at Booneville, Missouri, the confederates threatened to overtake him with their army of 5,000 versus his of 800. By loading troops on a train and discharging them noisily at Booneville, silently marching them back up track and reloading and discharging them repeatedly, he deceived General Chalmers into thinking he was being reinforced. Sheridans’ next assignment was in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He played an essential part in holding out the confederates under general brag. It was later said that Sheridan saved Rosecrans’ army there at Stones River. It was for those services provided, that Phil was promoted to major general in 1863. Other than Stones River, Philip Sheridan also played important roles in the battles of Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and Lookout Mountain. When grant was appointed head of the union army, he called on Phil to join him in Washington D.C. Here Sheridan was appointed Chief of Cavalry, in the Army of the Potomac. Sheridan’s main area of operation was the Shenandoah Valley. Here he contested Gen. Early\'s Confederate troops, destroyed crops which were the breadbasket of the Confederate army, defeated and killed Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, and eventually, in the battle of Cedar Creek, drove Early out of the valley. The war came to and end, because Sheridan forced Lee out of Petersburg, and cut off his retreat at the Appomattox courthouse. At the end of the war, Sheridan was sent to Texas to maintain peace with Mexico. Through negotiation and threats, he was able to provide peace through the conflict there. In 1869, after Grant became president and General Sherman became General of the Army, Sheridan was appointed lieutenant general with headquarters in Chicago. His knowledge of the west was essential to having Yellowstone declared a national park. During the Chicago fire of 1871, he brought troops into the city in order to stop looters and direct reconstruction.


On June 3, 1875, Sheridan married Miss Irene Rucker, the youngest daughter of Gen. Daniel H. Rucker. She was 22 years younger than Phil. The couple had four children: Mary, Irene and Louise (twins), and Philip Henry Jr. Although Sheridan had no civilian career, he went to work for various businessmen, notably Fink and Dittoe, until his admission to West Point when he was 18. Sheridan stayed in the union army until his retirement.


Sunday, August 5, 1888, at 10:30 p.m., Philip Henry Sheridan passed away at Nonquit, Mass. He lay in state at St. Matthew\'s Church in Washington, D. C., and was laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery August 11th.