Philip Sheridan preuzima zapovjedništvo nad armijom Shenandoah

Philip Sheridan preuzima zapovjedništvo nad armijom Shenandoah



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Sindikalni general Ulysses S. Grant imenuje generala Philipa Sheridana zapovjednikom vojske Shenandoah. U roku od nekoliko mjeseci, Sheridan je istjerao snage Konfederacije iz doline Shenandoah i uništio gotovo sve moguće izvore pobunjeničkih zaliha, pomažući u zapečaćenju sudbine Konfederacije.

U ljeto 1864. godine, general Konfederacije Robert E. Lee poslao je dio svoje vojske u Petersburg, Virginia, kojom je zapovijedao Jubal Early, da uznemirava federalne jedinice u području Shenandoah i prijeti Washingtonu, DC Konfederati su koristili istu strategiju 1862., kada je general Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson učinkovito ublažio pritisak Unije na Richmond kampanjom u Shenandoah.

U srpnju je Early marširao svojom vojskom kroz dolinu i niz Potomac do predgrađa Washingtona, prisiljavajući Granta da odvede neke svoje postrojbe od obrane Petersburga i zaštiti glavni grad zemlje. Frustriran nemogućnošću generala Franza Sigela i Davida Huntera da se učinkovito nose s Earlyjevim snagama u Shenandoah, Grant se obratio generalu Philipu Sheridanu, vještom generalu koji je s njim služio na zapadu prije nego što je Grant postao glavni zapovjednik snaga Unije početkom 1864. godine. Iznenađujuće, Grant je postavio Sheridana, djelotvornog pješačkog vođu, zaduženog za vojsku Potomačke konjičke divizije za kampanju protiv Leeja. Sada je Grant Sheridanu predao zapovjedništvo nad armijom Shenandoah, koja se sastojala od 40.000 vojnika, uključujući i mnoge demoralizirane veterane ljetne kampanje.

Sheridan je izgubio malo vremena, započevši ofenzivu u rujnu koja je razorila Earlyjevu vojsku, a zatim uništila većinu poljoprivrednih resursa u regiji. Iako ova pobjeda nije toliko poznata kao marš generala sindikata Williama T. Shermana kroz Gruziju, koji se dogodio u isto vrijeme, možda je bila još potpunija. Dolina Shenandoah, toliko važna tijekom rata, do kraja jeseni postala je beskorisna za Konfederaciju.


Burning

Custer's Division Povlačenje s Mount Jacksona u dolini Shenandoah, 7. listopada 1864. od Alfreda R Wauda

Dolina Shenandoah u plamenu

"Što je najgore u ratu, zapaliti staju ili ubiti bližnjeg?" Konjički časnik konjanika

Dolina Shenandoah postala je glavna meta 1864. godine jer je američki građanski rat iz ograničenog rata prešao u "totalni rat". Kad je rat počeo, obje su strane prvenstveno slijedile strategiju u kojoj su se vojske borile samo jedna protiv druge bez namjernog uništavanja civilne imovine. Kad je u ožujku 1864. general Ulysses S. Grant postao vrhovni general savezne vojske, on i predsjednik Lincoln shvatili su da će se opseg rata morati promijeniti kako bi se borbe donijele. Ova nova politika "Totalnog rata" pozivala je na šire ratne napore protiv južnog stanovništva i dopuštala izravno gađanje civilne imovine, ako se to smatralo korisnim za ratne napore Konfederacije. Ova je promjena osmišljena ne samo kako bi uništila zalihe, stoku i hranu namijenjene vojskama Konfederacije, već i kako bi slomila volju južnog naroda za borbu. General Philip Sheridan, koji je provodio ovu novu politiku u dolini Shenandoah, opravdao je ovu novu praksu:

Oni koji počivaju kod kuće u miru i obilju vide tek malo strahota ... (rata), pa čak postaju i ravnodušni prema njima dok borba traje, zadovoljavajući se ohrabrivanjem svih sposobnih da se uključe u stvar…. Druga je stvar, međutim, kad se lišavanje i patnja dovedu na vlastita vrata. Tada se čini da je slučaj mnogo ozbiljniji, jer je gubitak imovine težak s većinom čovječanstva često težim od žrtava na bojnom polju. Smrt se popularno smatra najvećom kaznom u ratu, ali nije smanjenje do siromaštva donosi molitve za mir sigurnije i brže nego uništavanje ljudskog života ...

Nakon napada generala Jubala Earlya na Washington sredinom srpnja, Grant je savjetovao načelnika stožera Henryja Hallecka da se pobrine da Earlya progone "veterani, pripadnici milicije, menon konji i sve što se može pratiti", s posebnim uputama da "jedu Virginiju čistu i bistru dokle god mogu, tako da će vrane koje lete iznad nje radi ravnoteže sezone morati sa sobom nositi vlastiti provander". Kad je general -bojnik Philip H. Sheridan 6. kolovoza preuzeo zapovjedništvo nad armijom Shenandoah, Grant je naredio: "Ne dajte neprijatelju odmor. ... Napravite svu štetu na željeznicama i usjevima koje možete. Ostavite zalihe svih opisi i crnci, kako bi spriječili daljnju sadnju. Ako će rat potrajati još godinu dana, želimo da dolina Shenandoah ostane golem otpad. " Cilj ovih naredbi bio je trostruki kako bi se onemogućilo korištenje Doline kao avenije za invaziju, uništilo „Žitnu košaru Konfederacije“ i slomilo južnu volju za borbom.

Sheridan je odmah započeo uništavanje u donjoj dolini. 17. kolovoza Sheridan je izvijestio: "Spalio sam svu pšenicu i sijeno i izvadio svu stoku, ovce, goveda, konje i ampc, južno od Winchestera." Nakon svojih uspjeha u bitkama na Trećem Winchesteru i Fisher's Hillu, Sheridan je slijedio Rano južno od Harrisonburga Sheridanova je konjica izvršila raciju do Stauntona i Waynesbora. Grant je htio da Sheridan slijedi željezničke pruge prema istoku i uništi Leejeve opskrbne linije dok je išao. Međutim, Sheridan je smatrao da saveznici neće moći lako prijeći Plavi greben i da će mu ovaj put rastegnuti opskrbne linije pretanko. Također je vjerovao da je Early još uvijek prijetnja u Dolini.

Sheridan je predložio drugačiji plan u kojem piše: "Moja je procjena da bi bilo najbolje prekinuti ovu kampanju uništavanjem usjeva u ovoj dolini i premještanjem trupa u vojsku koja djeluje protiv Richmonda." Grant je odgovorio: "Možete zauzeti položaj u Dolini za koji mislite da se može i trebao zadržati, te odmah poslati svu snagu koja za to nije potrebna. Ne ostavljajte ništa za preživljavanje vojske na bilo kojem tlu koje napustite neprijatelj." Sheridan je započeo dramatičan rat na selu 26. rujna 1864. koji će trajati trinaest dana. Uništavanje bi započelo u Stauntonu i krenulo bi niz dolinu, sjeverno do Strasburga, pokrivajući duljinu od 70 milja i širinu od 30 milja. Ovo uništenje neslavno je postalo poznato generacijama jednostavno kao "Gori". Muškarcima je naređeno da se brzo kreću, unište sve što bi moglo biti korisno neprijatelju, a zatim brzo prelaze na trigone argete. Upućeno im je da napuštaju skladišta, prazne staje, vlasništvo udovica, slobodnih žena, siročadi i da se suzdrže od pljačke.

Pukovnik James H. Kidd iz Custerove brigade opisao je prizors dok su palili mlin u Port Republicu, "Ono što sam tamo vidio ostalo mi je urezano u sjećanje. Tjeskoba prikazana na njihovim licima rastopila bi svako srce koje nije opečeno užasima i 'potrepštinama' rata. Bilo je to previše za mene i u prvom trenutku ta mi je dužnost dopustila da požurim s mjesta događaja. " Bez obzira na osobne osjećaje u vezi s patnjom civila, u kampanji je postojao element osvete. General Wesley Merritt opisao je to područje kao "raj grmljavina i gerilaca. Časnici i ljudi hladnokrvno su ubijeni na cestama dok su bez straže prolazili kroz naizgled mirnu zemlju". Najznačajnija smrt bila je Sheridanov inženjerski časnik Lieut. John R. Meigs, kojeg su u blizini Daytona ubili skauti Konfederacije. Kao osvetu za to, Sheridan je naredio "da se spale sve kuće na području od pet milja". Potpukovnik Thomas F. Wildes iz prve pješačke divizije 8. korpusa, zabrinut zbog poretka odmazde nad gradovima, potaknuo je Sheridana da preispita red kako bi spalio grad. Nakon razmišljanja, Sheridan je povukla naredbu o spaljivanju Daytona.

Plamen je uništio veći dio teškog rada civila u dolini. Strah od potencijalnog gubitka svega nanio je psihološke teškoće tim ljudima. Oslabljeni Konfederacija mogao je učiniti malo da zaustavi uništenje. Jedan južnjački vojnik kasnije se prisjetio:

Imali smo uzdignuti položaj i mogli smo vidjeti kako Yankees vani u dolini tjera konje, goveda, ovce i ubija svinje, pali sve štale i šokove kukuruza i pšenice na poljima i uništava sve što bi moglo nahraniti ili skloniti čovjeka ili zvijer ….

Sheridan je 7. listopada izvijestio Granta: "Uništio sam više od 2.000 staja napunjenih pšenicom, sijenom i poljoprivrednim oruđem, preko 70 mlinova, napunjenih brašnom i pšenicom, odvezao pred vojsku preko 4.000 grla stoke i ubio i izdao trupama najmanje 3.000 ovaca. " Iako je poljoprivredna devastacija bila važna, Sheridan je također procijenio psihološki utjecaj na stanovnike: "Ljudi se ovdje razboljevaju od rata". Sheridan je uspješno učinio Dolinu "neodrživom za pobunjeničku vojsku". Koliko god "Burning" bio destruktivan, ostatak južnog stanovništva nije ni shvaćao da je to samo uvod u novu politiku "Total War" Sjevera. General Sherman će to dokazati tijekom nadolazeće zime i sljedećeg proljeća u Atlanti, središnjoj Georgiji i Južnoj Karolini.


Konjica u kampanji Fall Shenandoah Valley 1864

General Custer pozdravlja general Konfederacije Ramseur na utrkama u Woodstocku, 9. listopada 1864. - Alfred R. Waud

Konjica u kampanji Fall Shenandoah Valley 1864

napisao: Casey DeHaven, volonter NPS -a

U prve tri godine građanskog rata, konjanici Konfederacije stekli su reputaciju raskošnih kavalira koji su šibali savezničku bitku za bitkom. Međutim, nakon što se rat vratio u dolinu Shenandoah u proljeće i ljeto 1864. godine, plima se počela mijenjati. Do jeseni su se šanse složile protiv konjanika Konfederacije.

Novo lice vojske Konjice sindikata Potomac Union, maj. General Philip Sheridan, vidio je vrhunsku konjicu kao pukovnik u Zapadnom kazalištu. Bio je čvrst i uporni zapovjednik koji nije htio prihvatiti poraz. Kad je general Ulysses S. Grant poslao Sheridana u dolinu da uguši konfederate, nije bilo sumnje u ishod.

Sheridanov glavni protivnik bio je general Jubal A. Rano iz Army of the Valley, Leejev vrući "Bad Old Man". Bio je agresivan zapovjednik koji je radio učinkovito i djelotvorno, ali je njegova osobna pristranost protiv korištenja konjice na kraju pomogla u porazu njegove vojske u kampanji u dolini.

Rano je proveo veći dio lipnja gurajući trupe Unije iz doline Shenandoah. Početkom srpnja stigao je do predgrađa Washingtona, ali ga je vojska Potomačkoga šestog korpusa odvezla natrag u Virginiju. Rano je ponovno grupirao svoje trupe u blizini Strasburga, a zatim nastavio s porazom generala Georgea Crooka u bitci za Drugi Kernstown.

Kolovoza. 6, Grant je naredio Sheridanu u dolini da preuzme zapovjedništvo nad Srednjom vojnom divizijom, armijom Shenandoah. Sheridan je hrabro ostvario tri glavna cilja koja mu je Grant zadao: istjerati konfederate iz donje doline i potjerati ih uz Shenandoah uništiti krušnu košaru sposobnosti Konfederacije da šalje hranu i zalihe Leejevoj vojsci i poremetiti središnju željeznicu Virginije koja je prelazila između Stauntona i Charlottesville.

Povjesničar Stephen Z. Starr primijetio je: "Sheridanova konjica uživala je ogromnu brojčanu nadmoć u odnosu na rane konjičke postrojbe ... [i] njezina superiornost u vatrenoj moći nije ništa drugo nego strašna." Sve u svemu, Sheridanova vojska brojala je gotovo 43.000, dok je Early's Army of the Valley brojala oko 13.000. Sheridan je imao prednost u brojkama, a teške borbe njegovih konjanika ispričale su svoju priču, počevši od Treće bitke za Winchester.

Treća bitka za Winchester

U rano jutro 19. rujna, savezni načelnik konjaništva Brig. General Alfred Torbert dao je svojim časnicima upute za početak borbe. Zapovjednik Torbertove divizije, Brig. General Wesley Merritt i njegove brigade zajedno s Brigom preselili su se u donji Opequon Creek u Seiver's Fordu. General William Averell, čija je konjica naručena uz dolinu Pike. Konjička brigada pukovnika Thomasa Devina, zajedno s konjskim topništvom, kretala se niz Summit Point Road, dok se Brig. General George Custer i pukovnik Charles Lowell krenuli su prema Lockeovom Fordu, svi pod mrakom noći.

U međuvremenu, konjanici Konfederacije pod Brigom. General John McCausland čekao je na suprotnoj obali Opequon Creeka da njihovi protivnici u plavom učine potez. Naoružan Spencer karabinama i sabljama, Brig. Federalna konjica generala Jamesa Wilsona zamahnula je oko desne strane Konfederacije. Merittova i Averellova odjeljenja stigle su kasnije tijekom dana i ujahale izravno u lijevo krilo Konfederacije. Nakon bitke, general Konfederacije Stephen Ramseur primijetio je, "mi smo šibali njihovu pješaštvo, ali njihova konjica, jaka 7000 ili 8000, razbila je našu konjicu s lijeve strane [i] ušla iza nas". Jedan od najvećih ratnih sukoba konjanika je završio i savezni konjanici su držali polje.

Rane trupe povukle su se prema jugu prema Strasburgu, gdje su zauzele strme padine Fisher's Hill -a, smještene između masivnoga lanca Massanutten i Little North. Izrazit primjer Earlyjeve zlouporabe njegove konjice dogodio se na Fisher's Hillu, gdje je sjahao s konjanika generalmajora Lunsforda Lomaxa u pokušaju da produži svoju liniju i obrani svoj lijevi bok.

Nakon što je bitka završila tako da je Early opet pretrpio poraz od Sheridana, poslao je poruku generalu Leeu, objašnjavajući: "U aferi na Fisher's Hillu konjica je popustila, ali bila je s boka. To se moglo popraviti da su trupe ostali stabilni, ali ih je obuzela panika od ideje da budu bočni, a bez poraza slomili su se, mnogi od njih su sramotno pobjegli. "

Rano s puta, Dolina je bila širom otvorena za Sheridana, koji je stavio baklje u ruke svojim konjanicima i naredio masovno uništenje poznato kao "The Burning". Konjički časnik konjanika Brig. General Tom Rosser svečano je primijetio da su federalci "ostavili zadimljeni trag pustoši kako bi označili korake đavolskog glavnog inspektora ... da su Sjedinjene Države, pod vlašću Sotone i Lincolna, poslale Phil Sheridana u kampanju u dolini Virginije . "

Dok se Sheridan polako povlačio prema dolini, Rosser i njegova peta virdžinijska konjica slijedili su i uznemiravali federalne trupe, nadajući se poraznoj pobjedi Konfederacije. No Sheridan je iznenada okrenuo svoje trupe i 9. listopada došao ravno prema Rosseru i Lomaxu kod Tomovog potoka.

Rosser je poslan da juri Custera na Stražnjoj cesti, paralelno s Valley Pikeom, dok je Lomax krenuo za Merrittom na samoj Pike. Konjičke divizije Custer i Merritt razbile su Konjaničke konjanike koji su bili preplavljeni i počeli bježati u onome što je postalo poznato kao "Woodstock utrke".

Bitka kod Tomovog potoka bila je najodlučnija pobjeda konjaništva Unije u Istočnom kazalištu i činilo se da je samo pitanje vremena kada će "Old Jubeovi" Konfederati pasti. Nešto više od tjedan dana nakon Tomovog Brooka, 19. listopada, Army of the Valley održala je posljednju veliku borbu u bitci kod Cedar Creeka u Middletownu u Virginiji.

U Cedar Creeku Early je pogriješio naručivši Briga. Podjela generala Gabriela Whartona protiv Briga. Trupe generala Georgea Gettyja zapadno od Middletowna. Trebao je poslati Wharton na sjever niz Valley Pike da osujeti bilo kakvo napredovanje Unije. Budući da Early nije, federalna konjica dosegla je prazninu u sjevernom dijelu Pikea i spriječila svaku mogućnost napredovanja Konfederata.

U 16 sati sindikalni konjanici pogodili su lijevi bok Konfederacije. General Konfederacije John Gordon sjetio se: "Pukovnija za pukom, brigada za brigadom, u brzom slijedu je slomljena." Sheridanova konjica progonila je konfederate koji su bježali, tražeći zarobljenike, vagone i topove. Pripadnik 65. njujorškog pješaštva primijetio je nakon Cedar Creeka da su "konjice ovog odjela zaslužile slavu i ugled na koje se mogu osjećati ponosnima, a nisu mogli biti ni uspješni ako ih vode tako galantni duhovi kao što su Torbert, Custer, i Merritt. "

Kao što je Sheridan obećao Grantu, Early je poražen i svaki daljnji otpor Konfederacije u dolini Shenandoah je ugušen. Federalni konjanici ustali su iz mirovanja i šibali svoje neprijatelje odjevene u orahe, a osoba raskošnog konjanika Konfederacije prestala je postojati. Na kraju, Sheridan je shvatio važnost dobro opremljene montirane ruke. Early se zadovoljio velikim oslanjanjem na svoje pješaštvo i topništvo, što je, barem djelomično, dovelo do kraja Vojske doline u kampanji u dolini Shenandoah 1864.


Gorenje u dolini Shenandoah

Philip Sheridan zadovoljno je pregledao njegov grozni ručni rad.

Mrvice crnog dima razmazale su bajkoviti pejzaž doline Shenandoah sa valjanim zelenim brdima i potocima. Mjestimično se mogao vidjeti žuti plamen kako puca s krova štale ili juri po žitnom polju. Udaljenost je utišala pucketanje gorućih požara, rušenje staja i gospodarskih zgrada koje su se urušile u gomilu ugljenisanog drveta, te plač žena i djece dok su plaštići oborili njihovu stoku.

Ulysses Grant je u svojim početnim uputama Sheridanu naredio uništenje. "Ništa ne smije biti ostavljeno da pozove neprijatelja da se vrati", napisao je Grant.

17. kolovoza 1864., dva tjedna nakon što je imenovan za zapovjednika nove vojske Shenandoah, Sheridan je prvi put postupio po ovoj direktivi - kada mu je Grant izričito naredio da spali Virginia's Loudoun County, svetište potpukovnika Johna Mosbyja. Mosbyjevi uzdignuti partizani, s ludom redovitošću, navalili su na vlakove vagona Union, razbijene Yankeejeve kurire i izviđače, a zatim se istopili natrag u pučanstvo. Mosbyjevi rendžeri nedavno su napali jedan od vlakova Sheridanovih vagona, spalili 40 vagona i zaplijenili 430 mazgi, 36 konja i 200 grla goveda.

Sheridan je također naredio Brigu. General Alfred Torbert rasporediti svoje konjičke divizije duž linije koja vodi jugoistočno od Winchestera. Njive i gospodarske zgrade trebalo je spaliti, stoku uništiti, a robove osloboditi. "Nijedna kuća neće biti spaljena, a časnici zaduženi za ovu delikatnu, ali nužnu dužnost moraju obavijestiti ljude da je cilj učiniti ovu dolinu neodrživom za napadače pobunjeničke vojske", rekla je Sheridan. Mnogi sindikalni konjanici prezirali su ovu dužnost da nisu bili u ratu kako bi uništili životno djelo neborca. "To je bila ratna faza koju dosad nismo vidjeli", napisao je jedan konjanik iz Pennsylvanije, "i iako smo priznali da je to potrebno, nismo mogli suosjećati s onima koji pate." Matthela Harrison s brda je izbrojala 50 požara. "Nebo je bilo zastrašujuće, ali za zelena stabla moglo se zamisliti da su se sjene Hada iznenada spustile", napisala je. "Velike obitelji djece ostale su bez jedne krave."

Tijekom sljedećih šest tjedana, "Burning" - gorka skraćenica stanovnika za nemilosrdno čišćenje Doline - prestao je dok su se Sheridan i Jubal Early vojno borili. Do posljednjih tjedana rujna, Sheridan je odnijela pobjede u bitkama na Opequonu (Treći Winchester) i Fisher's Hill, te je natjerala Earlyjeve ljude natrag nekih 60 milja, preokrenuvši Earlyjeve prethodne dobitke u dolini Shenandoah. Tada su Sheridanovi ljudi nastavili izvršavati Grantove naredbe, a opseg razaranja u Dolini uvelike se proširio.

Abraham Lincoln, William Sherman, Grant i Sheridan dijelili su uvjerenje da je procesuiranje totalnog rata najkraći put do mira. Kretanje prema totalnom ratu započelo je 1863. godine, kada je Lincoln potaknuo svoje istočne zapovjednike da se usredotoče na uništavanje vojske Roberta E. Leeja, a ne na zemljopisne dobitke, koji bi mogli biti prolazni. Godinu dana kasnije, Grant je postao prvi koji je tu politiku proveo u praksi procesuirajući krvavu kopnenu kampanju i obustavivši razmjenu zarobljenika, uskrativši Konfederaciji desetke tisuća veterana.

No ubijanje vojnika Konfederacije na bojištima i zatvaranje neprijateljskih zarobljenika na neodređeno vrijeme bili su spori agenti pobjede, Grant i Lincoln ubrzo su shvatili da se užasnost rata mora odnijeti i na prag južnih civila, čiji je prkos održao Konfederaciju u životu. Ovo nije bio samo rat vojske, to je bio rat kultura, koji se trebao voditi do smrti. Štoviše, Lincoln i Grant, poput Shermana i Sheridana, također su vjerovali da je dolazak gerilskog rata na jugu opravdao njihovo odbacivanje starih pravila. Zaključili su da bi sustavnim gađanjem civilne imovine - bez presedana na sjevernoameričkom kontinentu (osim prema domorocima Amerikancima) - mogli psihološki slomiti neprijatelja, čime će se skratiti rat i spasiti životi.

I tako su Lincoln i Grant odlučili sijati propast u cijeloj neprijateljskoj domovini, uništavajući južnu ratnu industriju, uništavajući njezina poljoprivredna zemljišta i unoseći glad u domove svojih ljudi. Ovo novo vodeće načelo nikada nije postavljeno kao politika, ali su njegovi obrisi bili jasno vidljivi u postupcima Sheridana i Shermana. Njih dvojica kasnije će ovu vrstu ratovanja dovesti do opake apoteoze na Velikim ravnicama kada su zbrisali sela indijanskih ratnika, žena i djece kako bi zaustavili ponižavanja bijelih doseljenika.

Od trenutka kad je Sheridan primio Grantovu zapovijed od 17. kolovoza da posjeti uništenje u okrugu Loudoun, također je tiho proveo još jedan, zlokobniji program: hladnokrvno ubijanje gerila, gdje god ih je naišao. Ova ubojstva - i pobunjenički odgovor na njih - dodali su dodatnu dimenziju užasa uništenju koje je zahvatilo dolinu.

Grupa Mosbyjevih rendžera predvođena kapetanom Samuelom Chapmanom 23. rujna uletjela je u vlak hitne pomoći Union ispred Royal Royal. Prekasno su uočili brigadu s Briga. Prva konjička divizija generala Wesleyja Merritta u blizini Merrittovih ljudi priskočila je u pomoć vlaku. Dok su partizani jurili prema Chester Gapu, mali sindikalni odred predvođen poručnikom Charlesom McMasterom pokušao je spriječiti njihov bijeg. U okršaju je McMaster pao na tlo, izrešetan mecima, a partizanski su ga konji tijekom leta gazili.

Kad su sindikalni konjanici pronašli McMasterovo tijelo, zaključili su da je ubijen nakon što se predao. U znak odmazde, Jenkiji su ustrijelili četiri partizanska zarobljenika i objesili dvojicu drugih na brdu s pogledom na Front Royal. Na jednom od obješenih muškaraca bio je navučen plakat. Na njemu je pisalo: "Ovo će biti sudbina Mosbyja i svih njegovih ljudi." Mosby ovo ne bi zaboravio.

3. listopada u sukobu s Mosbyjevim ljudima ubijen je poručnik John Meigs, jedan od najtalentiranijih kartografa Vojske Unije i glavni inženjerski časnik Shenandoaha. Meigs je podučavao Sheridana u topografiji područja i od tada je postao jedan od generalovih omiljenih podređenih časnika.

Meigs i dva policajca provodili su dnevne sate pod kišom, mapirali područje Harrisonburga i iscrtavali položaje vojske Shenandoah. U sumrak, dok su se vozili javnom cestom između Daytona i Harrisonburga na putu za kamp, ​​pretjecali su tri konjanika odjevena u plave uniforme. Vjerujući da su jahači drugovi, pridružio im se Meigs i njegovi drugovi. Neznanci su, međutim, bili pobunjenički izviđači s Briga. Konjička brigada generala Williama Wickhama.

Računi se razlikuju u pogledu onoga što se sljedeće dogodilo, ali ishod je bio jasan: kad se dim iz pištolja raščistio, Meigs je ležao mrtav na blatnjavoj cesti, a jedan od njegovih suputnika je zarobljen. Treći mjernik uspio je pobjeći. Odjurio je u Sheridanovo sjedište kako bi izvijestio da su pobunjenici ubili Meigsa bez upozorenja dok je vapio: "Ne pucaj u mene!"

Sheridan je vjerovala da je izvještaj mjeritelja istinit ili ne. Ne samo da je izgubio cijenjenog topografa, koji je generalu prvostupnika postao pomalo sin, već se pucnjava dogodila samo kilometar i pol od sjedišta i unutar granica Unije - sugerirajući Sheridanu da su Konfederati posjetili njihove domove u području. Sheridan se zarekla da će „podučiti ove podržavatelje ovog djela - lekciju koju nikada neće zaboraviti“. Sljedećeg dana naredio je da sve kuće u krugu od pet milja budu spaljene do temelja.

U područje spaljivanja uključen je i grad Dayton, koji je izbio u ludim aktivnostima kada je stanovnicima rečeno što je planirano. Neke od žena bacile su ruke oko vrata Jenkija, moleći za milost. Ubrzo je glavna ulica Daytona bila zakrčena vagonima natrpanim namještajem i odjećom - svi su se slijevali iz sela.

U očekivanju takve naredbe, pobunjenici su pustili svog zarobljenika pod uvjetom da ispriča Sheridan što se zapravo dogodilo. Prema izviđačima Konfederacije, dobili su pad na Meigsu i njegovim pomoćnicima. Dvojica preživjelih digli su ruke, ali Meigs je ispalio pištolj ispod svoje mrlje, ranivši vojnika Georgea Martina u preponama. Martini suputnici tada su ustrijelili Meigsa.

Sheridan - uvjeren bilo izvještajem puštenog zatvorenika ili, prema drugom izvještaju, izjavama njegovih podređenih časnika - ukinuo je nalog za spaljivanje. Umjesto toga, naredio je spaljivanje zgrada u blizini mjesta gdje je Meigs ustrijeljen i uhićenje kao ratnih zarobljenika svih radno sposobnih muškaraca u tom području. No, mržnja Jenkija prema pobunjenim partizanima i njihovim zaštitnicima nastavila je ključati.

Šestog listopada, Sheridanovo pješaštvo krenulo je niz dolinu prema Winchesteru, a iza njega je lebdjela Torbertova konjica. Sada je započelo jedno od najcrnjih poglavlja rata.

Konjanici su otjerali svu stoku i uništili usjeve, staje i gospodarske zgrade na svom putu, napokon ispunivši Grantove upute od 26. kolovoza. "Ako će rat potrajati još godinu dana", napisao je, "želimo da dolina Shenandoah ostane jalov otpad."

Osvajači su "došli u dolinu pomesti sve pred sobom poput uragana", napisao je jedan stanovnik. "Ništa nije preostalo za čovjeka ili zvijer od konja do kokoši." Uzimajući zapaljene marke iz kamina žrtava, Jenkiji su zapalili njihove štale, mlinove i gospodarske zgrade. Dopisnik jedne novine napisao je: „Atmosfera je od horizonta do horizonta bila crna od dima stotinjak požara, a noću je sjaj i svjetliji sjaj od zalaska sunca pucao sa svakog ruba ... Potpunost razaranja je užasna. . ”

Poštedjene ruševine bile su kuće Dunkarda i Menonita. Bili su lojalni Uniji, kao i članovi tih sekti posvuda, zbog svoje neizmjerne mržnje prema ropstvu. No, mnogi od njih htjeli su napustiti dolinu i zatražili pomoć od Sheridana, bojali su se da će se pobunjenici, ako ostanu, vratiti i pozvati ih u vojsku Konfederacije. Peter Hartman, jedan od molitelja, opisao je Sheridan kao "najdivljeg čovjeka kojeg sam ikada vidio", ali je s odobravanjem primijetio da je svakom od njih dao po jednog konja iz vojnog stada.

Sheridan je s odobravanjem promatrao metodičko uništavanje. "Dok smo marširali duž mnogih stupova dima iz zapaljenih gomila i mlinova ispunjenih žitom, pokazalo se da susjedna zemlja brzo gubi značajke zbog kojih je do sada bila sjajan magazin za armije Konfederacije", napisao je. Kao i Grant i Sherman, vjerovao je da će uništavanjem žitnice Konfederacije, uništavanjem borbenog duha njezinog naroda i osakaćivanjem sposobnosti Konfederacije da se oporavi, prije završiti rat i spasiti živote. "Više je milosti u uništavanju zaliha nego u ubijanju njihovih mladića .... Da sam imao staju punu pšenice i sina, mnogo bih prije izgubio staju i žito nego moj sin", napisao je Sheridan. Sheridan je do kraja života ostao uvjeren da je to pravi izbor.

Nisu svi borbeni veterani poslušali zapovijed da spale i unište. Nemajući ukus za vandalizam, neki od njih su umjereno primijenili baklju. Odred iz 2. konjaništva u Ohiju ostavio je mnogo štala u svom području djelovanja, a i druge su jedinice učinile manje od čiste akcije.

Neki stanovnici su uzvratili. Jedan je čovjek pucao i ubio sindikalnog časnika i bacio tijelo tog čovjeka u njegovu zapaljenu staju. Drugi je poljoprivrednik stajao na plastu sijena i neprestano pucao u kolonu Jenkija sve dok ga nisu zasjekli mecima.

Na kraju drugog dana marša spaljene zemlje, Sheridan je uspjela izvijestiti Granta iz Woodstocka:

Vraćajući se na ovu točku, cijela je zemlja od Plavog grebena do Sjeverne planine postala neodrživa za pobunjeničku vojsku. Uništio sam više od dvije tisuće staja napunjenih pšenicom, sijenom i poljoprivrednim oruđima, preko sedamdeset mlinova napunjenih brašnom i pšenicom, protjerao sam pred vojskom preko 4000 grla stoke i ubio i izdao trupama najmanje 3000 ovaca … .Sutra ću nastaviti uništavanje pšenice, stočne hrane itd. Dolje do Fisherova brda. Kad se ovo završi, dolina od Winchestera do Stauntona, 92 milje, imat će tek malo toga za čovjeka ili zvijer.

Vjerni građani Konfederacije ogorčeno su osudili sustavnu propast doline. Gospođa Hugh Lee iz Winchestera zapisala je u svoj dnevnik: “Sheridan -Sheridan, koji vas je demon razaranja opsjeo? Bože daj da se suočiš s pravednom nadoknadom. ”

The Richmond Whig pozvao na odmazdu. “Odlučili su mač zamijeniti bakljom. Možemo se tako poslužiti njihovim vlastitim oružjem da ih natjeramo da se pokaju. " The vigovac predložio spaljivanje sjevernog grada u znak odmazde. “Ovo je utakmica u kojoj ih možemo pobijediti. New York vrijedi dvadeset Richmonda. ”

Izračunato uništenje imalo je neposredan utjecaj na Earlyjevu vojsku. Izvijestio je Leeja 9. listopada da će se, budući da se gotovo sve u njegovom području operacije dimilo, "morati osloniti na Augusta [Georgia] za svoje zalihe, a tamo ih nema u izobilju." Dok te zalihe nisu stigle, pobunjenici su bili svedeni na branje kukuruza na selu i razmjenu radne snage za hranu. "Naš nered je sjebavanje kukuruza za poljoprivrednika koji će nam platiti naše usluge u brašnu", napisao je u svom dnevniku konfederacijski privatni Creed Davis.

Brig. Brigada Laurel generala Thomasa Rossera pratila je Sheridanovu vojsku dok su Jenkiji gorjeli i uništavali. Rosser (27) je bio kolega s West Pointa i prijatelj Georgea Custera. Dok nije bio teško ranjen 1862., Rosser je bio topnički časnik i najpoznatiji po tome što je oborio promatrački balon Unije. Vrativši se na dužnost, dobio je zapovjedništvo nad konjičkom pukovnijom i brzo je stekao reputaciju odvažnih napada, slično kao i njegov bivši kolega iz razreda.

Vjernici Konfederacije u dolini pomazali su Rossera za "Spasitelja doline" prije nego što su njegovi ljudi i ispalili hitac - toliko su bili očajni da vjeruju da bi Sheridan ipak mogla otjerati, a njihova imanja sačuvati. Rano je pokazao svoje povjerenje u Rossera dajući mu dvije brigade Fitzhugha Leeja dok se Lee oporavljao od rana zadobijenih u Winchesteru. With his division of 3,000 men, Rosser skirmished with Sheridan’s rear guard—Custer’s division—near Brock’s Gap on October 6, the day “the Burning” commenced. Operating nearby, but independently, was Early’s other cavalry division, commanded by Brig. Gen. Lunsford Lomax.

Sheridan had become increasingly exasperated with Rosser’s terrier-like rushes on his rear. During the night of October 8, Sheridan’s impatience boiled over, and the fiery general stalked off in search of Torbert, his cavalry commander, to prod him into acting “to open the enemy’s eyes in earnest.”

He stormed into Torbert’s headquarters as Torbert and his staff were finishing dinner. Captain George Sanford, a Torbert aide, wrote that Sheridan angrily burst out, “If you ain’t sitting here stuffing yourselves, general, staff and all, while the Rebels are riding into our camp! Having a party, while Rosser is carrying off your guns! Got on your nice clothes and clean shirts! Torbert, mount quicker than hell will scorch a feather! I want you to go out there in the morning and whip that Rebel cavalry or get whipped yourself!”

Until this was done, Sheridan continued, the infantry would not march another mile. He announced that he would ride at daybreak the next morning to the summit of Round Top Mountain to watch Torbert give Rosser his “drubbing.” To Grant, Sheridan wrote, “I deemed it best to make this delay of one day here and settle this new cavalry general.”

As the sun poked above the hills on October 9, Custer’s 3rd Division faced Rosser’s troopers at Tom’s Brook Crossing. Custer rode along his line, making sure his brigades were ready for battle. Then, turning toward where Rosser was watching through his field glasses, Custer raised his hat and made a deep bow to his old West Point friend. The men of both armies cheered loudly.

Bugles blared, and Custer’s men began to advance. One of Rosser’s brigades suddenly burst into the middle of the bluecoats, stopping their forward movement. Custer’s seasoned veterans regrouped and renewed their assault. Simultaneously, Merritt’s 1st Division fell upon Lomax’s two brigades nearby on the Valley Turnpike.

It was open country, ideal for an old-fashioned cavalry fight on horseback with sabers and pistols—as well as for artillery. From Round Top Mountain, Sheridan intently watched the charges and countercharges.

Two hours into the battle, Rosser’s flanks collapsed, and Merritt and Custer mounted a great concerted charge along the entire front. The Rebel cavalry, outnumbered two to one, buckled and sagged. Then there was, as Sheridan triumphantly noted, “a general smashup of the entire Confederate line.” A Philadelphia Inquirer reporter who witnessed the battle wrote, “It was a square cavalry fight in which the enemy was routed beyond my power to describe.”

Some Rebel cavalrymen stopped along the way to offer brief, but futile, resistance before continuing their flight—past Woodstock, all the way to Mount Jackson, 20 miles away. Sheridan’s men nicknamed the rollicking pursuit the “Woodstock Races.”

The ignominious flight of the Rebel cavalry was an embarrassment to Rosser, Lomax, Early and everyone involved. George Neese, a gunner in the horse artillery, wrote, “The shameful way that our cavalry…fought, bled, and died a-running rearward was enough to make its old commander, General J.E.B. Stuart, weep in his grave.”

Having routed the “Savior of the Valley” at Tom’s Brook, Sheridan’s army resumed its march down the Shenandoah. On October 10, it crossed Cedar Creek and camped on its north bank, south of Middletown—all except Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright’s VI Corps and William Powell’s 2nd Cavalry Division.

Powell’s troopers embarked on a raid toward Charlottesville and Gordonsville, while VI Corps marched into Middletown and then turned southeast toward Front Royal. Sheridan informed Grant on October 12 that Wright’s men were on their way to Alexandria, Va., and would thence travel by steamship to Petersburg to join Grant’s army. “I believe that a rebel advance down the valley will not take place,” he wrote.

But the next day, Early’s army unexpectedly appeared at Strasburg, just a few miles from Cedar Creek, and shelled XIX Corps’ camp. Fearing that Early intended to attack now that VI Corps had left, Sheridan recalled the corps to Cedar Creek and laid plans for an assault on Early. When Early abruptly withdrew his army to Fisher’s Hill, however, Sheridan canceled the attack.

Powell’s two brigades rode south toward Gordonsville but turned back 35 miles short of their objective without engaging the Rebel cavalry in the area. The raid accomplished nothing.

Sheridan’s actions during the weeks after Fisher’s Hill mystified Confederate Maj. Gen. John Gordon. “Why did he halt or hesitate, why turn to the torch in the hope of starving his enemy, instead of beating him in resolute battle?” Gordon wondered. “Why did General Sheridan hesitate to hurl his inspirited and overwhelming army on us?”

Sheridan had not taken the fight to Early, so Early intended to bring it to Sheridan. As the Army of the Valley settled into its old rifle pits on Fisher’s Hill, Brig. Gen. Stephen Dodson Ramseur wrote to his brother-in-law: “We are all called on to show that we are made of the true metal. Let us be brave, cheerful, and truthful. Remembering that Might is not Right.”

For several hours on the morning of October 19, not far from Strasburg, Early’s army was on the verge of avenging Sheridan’s ruthless devastation of the Valley. With the Union commander 10 miles away in Winchester, having just returned from a strategy meeting in Washington with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and Army Chief of Staff Henry Halleck, the Confederates launched a daring predawn attack on the Union camps north of Cedar Creek.

By 7:30 a.m., Early’s assault troops had swept away two of Sheridan’s three infantry corps. Five Union divisions, or nearly 20,000 men, had astonishingly been wiped from the battlefield by a smaller Rebel army. In only a few areas did the surprised Federals cobble together enough of a force to stem the onslaught.

Early’s gamble had succeeded brilliantly. But at 10 a.m., sensing a Union buildup of soldiers and cavalry along the Valley Turnpike, he abruptly called off the assault—a decision the Confederates quickly rued. Sheridan never hesitated when he learned of his army’s misfortune. He jumped on his steed Rienzi and rode frantically toward Cedar Creek, rallying his shaken troops and then leading a counterattack that chased the Rebels from the field. By evening Early’s army had fled to Mount Jackson, “broken up and demoralized worse than it ever has been.” The Confederate threat in the Shenandoah Valley had ended for good.

Cedar Creek silenced those who still doubted, after General William Sherman’s capture of Atlanta as well as Sheridan’s earlier victories at Third Winchester and Fisher’s Hill, that President Lincoln would be re-elected.

The president’s congratulatory note to Sheridan after the triumph at Cedar Creek conveyed his relief and gratitude. “I tender to you and your brave army the thanks of the nation, and my own personal admiration and gratitude, for the month’s operations in the Shenandoah Valley and especially for your splendid work of October 19, 1864.”

Two and a half years earlier, Sheridan was an unknown captain in Mississippi, commanding a cavalry regiment. He was now the fourth-ranking officer in the army, behind only Grant, Sherman and General George Meade.

Cedar Creek earned Sheridan not only accolades from Lincoln and Grant but also the respect and friendship of Sherman, the other member of the triumvirate that would ultimately win the war. In a letter to his father-in-law, former Ohio Senator Thomas Ewing, Sherman wrote, “Sheridan, as you rightly say, the poor Irish boy of Perry County, is making his mark….Sheridan is like Grant, a persevering terrier dog and won’t be shaken off. He too, is honest, modest, plucky and smart enough.”

Sheridan’s campaign against Early’s army concluded with Cedar Creek, as did the need to continue unabated “the Burning.” When the campaign began in August, he wrote, “we found our enemy boastful and confident, unwilling to acknowledge that the soldiers of the Union were their equal….When it closed…this impression had been removed from his mind.”

Adapted from Terrible Swift Sword: The Life of General Philip H. Sheridan, by Joseph Wheelan (Da Capo Press/A Member of the Perseus Books Group, 2012).

Originally published in the November 2012 issue of America’s Civil War. Za pretplatu kliknite ovdje.


The New Army of the Shenandoah

August 1, 1864 – Major General Philip Sheridan was assigned to command the new Army of the Shenandoah. Sheridan’s objective was to protect Washington while clearing the Confederates out of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley once and for all.

By this time, President Abraham Lincoln and Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant were under mounting criticism for sustaining such horrific casualties while Confederates under Lieutenant General Jubal Early continued roaming throughout the Shenandoah Valley and even threatening Washington. As Grant later wrote:

“It seemed to be the policy of General (Henry W.) Halleck and Secretary (of War Edwin M.) Stanton to keep any force sent there, in pursuit of the invading army, moving right and left so as to keep between the enemy and our capital and, generally speaking, they pursued this policy until all knowledge of the whereabouts of the enemy was lost. They were left, therefore, free to supply themselves with horses, beef cattle, and such provisions as they could carry away from Western Maryland and Pennsylvania. I determined to put a stop to this.”

Major General David Hunter commanded the Federal Army of West Virginia, but he had not been effective in stopping Early. In June, Grant had suggested putting Sheridan in charge of such an operation, but Stanton rejected it on account of Sheridan’s young age. But now, after meeting with Lincoln at Fort Monroe, Grant insisted that Sheridan be given the job. He notified Halleck on the 1st:

“I am sending General Sheridan for temporary duty whilst the enemy is being expelled from the border. Unless General Hunter is in the field in person, I want Sheridan put in command of all the troops in the field, with instructions to put himself south of the enemy and follow him to the death. Wherever the enemy goes, let our troops go also.”

Grant also recommended that the four departments surrounding Washington and the Valley be merged into one central command, with Sheridan commanding in the field and Hunter handling the administrative duties. The new 37,000-man army would consist of Hunter’s Army of West Virginia, three divisions of VI Corps (from the Army of the Potomac), two divisions of XIX Corps (from the Army of the Gulf), two divisions from Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps within the Army of the Potomac, and 12 artillery batteries.

Grant sent Sheridan to take command without waiting for approval from Washington. Meanwhile, Hunter’s Federals remained camped on the Monocacy River in Maryland, unable to chase down Early’s Confederates. Hunter reported on the 1st, “It appears impossible for the officers of the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps to keep their men up. So many are suffering from sunstroke, and all from the intense heat and constant marching, that I fear, unless they have some rest, they will be rendered very inefficient for any service.”

Halleck informed Grant, “If Sheridan is placed in general command, I presume Hunter will again ask to be relieved. Whatever you decide upon I shall endeavor to have done.” Halleck wrote again at 2:30 p.m. on the 3rd:

“Sheridan had just arrived. He agrees with me about his command, and prefers the cavalry alone to that and the Sixth Corps… He thinks that for operations in the open country of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Northern Virginia cavalry is much better than infantry, and that cavalry arm can be much more effective there than about Richmond or south. He, therefore, suggests that another cavalry division be sent here, so that he can press the enemy clear down to the James River.”

Grant replied, “Make such disposition of Sheridan as you think best.” Lincoln wrote Grant that same day:

“I have seen your despatch in which you say ‘I want Sheridan put in command of all the troops in the field, with instructions to put himself South of the enemy, and follow him to the death. Wherever the enemy goes, let our troops go also.’ This, I think, is exactly right, as to how our forces should move. But please look over the despatches you may have received from here, even since you made that order, and discover, if you can, that there is any idea in the head of any one here, of ‘putting our army South of the enemy’ or of following him to the death in any direction. I repeat to you it will neither be done nor attempted unless you watch it every day, and hour, and force it.”

Grant responded on the 4th, “I will start in two hours for Washington & will spend a day with the Army under Genl Hunter.” Confederate General Robert E. Lee was informed of the new Federal army being formed and notified President Jefferson Davis:

“I fear that this force is intended to operate against General Early, and when added to that already opposed to him, may be more than he can manage. Their object may be to drive him out of the Valley and complete the devastation they commenced when they were ejected from it.”

Lee and Davis agreed that they must reinforce Early’s Confederates to protect the Shenandoah Valley harvests and the Virginia Central Railroad needed to sustain the Army of Northern Virginia under siege at Petersburg.


Philip Sheridan In The Civil War

In 1861, Sheridan went to an assignment with the 13th United States Infantry in Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. By December Philip Sheridan received an appointment as the chief commissary officer for the Army of Southwest Missouri. His first time commanding forces into combat happened at the Battle of Booneville where General James R. Chalmers&rsquo cavalry for the Confederacy was held back. At the Battle of Chattanooga, his division along with George Thomas&rsquos broke the lines of the Confederacy that way exceeding the expectations and the orders given to them by Ulysses S. Grant. Sheridan was then summoned to the Eastern Theater by Ulysses S. Grant and he was to command the cavalry corps for the Army of the Potomac. He also served in the Army of the Shenandoah and during the Appomattox Campaign.


Wesley Merritt

General June 16, 1836 — December 3, 1910

In 1862, Merritt was appointed captain in the 2nd Cavalry and served as an aide-de-camp to Brig. Gen. Philip St. George Cooke, who commanded the Cavalry Department of the Army of the Potomac. He served in the defenses of Washington, D.C., for the rest of 1862. In 1863, he was appointed adjutant for Maj. Gen. George Stoneman and participated in Stoneman’s Raid in the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863.

In the Gettysburg Campaign, Merritt commanded the Reserve Brigade, 1st Division, Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac. He was slightly wounded in the Battle of Brandy Station soon after (June 29, 1863), he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers for his “gallant and meritorious service” at Brandy Station and Upperville. Being promoted directly from captain to brigadier general was an unusual step, even for the Civil War, but Merritt shared this honor on that date with Captain Elon J. Farnsworth and Captain George Armstrong Custer.

In the initial cavalry actions of the Battle of Gettysburg, Merritt saw no action his reserve brigade guarded the lines of communications of the Army of the Potomac. On July 3, 1863, however, he participated in the assault ordered by division commander Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick on the Confederate right flank, following Pickett’s Charge. His fellow general, Elon J. Farnsworth, was killed during this futile assault against infantry troops. Merritt took over command of the 1st Division of the Cavalry Corps following the death by typhoid fever of its commander, John Buford, in December 1863. Brig. Gen. Alfred Torbert was the initial commander of the 1st Division but was gone for most of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign in 1864, so Merritt acted as commander in his place. He received a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel in the regular army for his actions at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, the engagement in which Confederate cavalry commander Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart was killed.

During Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s Valley Campaigns of 1864, Merritt commanded the 1st Division, Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Shenandoah. Arriving at the opportune moment, his division routed the Confederate forces at the Third Battle of Winchester, a deed for which he received a brevet promotion to major general. He was second-in-command to Sheridan during the Appomattox Campaign and was one of several commissioners for the surrender at Appomattox Court House. He was brevetted major general in the regular army, in April 1865, for bravery at the Battle of Five Forks and the Appomattox Campaign.

In June 1865, Merritt was appointed command of Cavalry Forces of the Military Division of the Southwest, commanded by Sheridan. He led the 1st Division of Cavalry to march from Shreveport, Louisiana, to San Antonio, Texas, as part of the Union occupation forces on an arduous 33-day 600-mile march between July 9 and August 11, 1865. On January 28, 1866, Merritt was one of a number of brevetted generals mustered out of volunteer service and returned to their pre-war ranks in the regular army.

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Philip Sheridan, the Quartermaster and Fighting General

When the Union divided, Sheridan won swift promotion. His first major task took him not to blood-drenched battlefields, but to the disorderly red-ink accounts of General John C. Frémont’s quartermaster. Frémont’s chaotic administration of Missouri—full of pomp and abolitionist circumstance, but rather lacking in practical aptitude, except for the graft of his quartermaster—led to the quartermaster’s court-martial. Philip Sheridan was drafted by General Henry Halleck to help make sense of the financial misdeeds and audit the accounts. Using the keen eye of a professional clerk and bookkeeper, he executed his duties with dispatch.

It’s likely that few people who think of Sheridan think of him wearing green eye-shades, but it was a fitting way for him to enter the war. For him, there were no great political issues involved. He cared neither for abolitionism or states’ rights or any of the other arguments roiling the political waters of the Republic. He was an Irish immigrant’s son. America had been good to him, the army had been good to him, he followed his orders, and just as books had to balanced, rebels had to be punished, and there was no need for any gasconading—or sentimentality—about it. He did say to a group of friends, family, and well-wishers, “This country is too great and good to be destroyed.” But that was about the extent of his politics.

Henry Halleck was enamored of Philip Sheridan’s wizardry with accounts, and soon posted him a commissary officer. Sheridan, however, convinced Halleck that he should also be chief quartermaster for the Army of Southwest Missouri, and so it was done. Sheridan took the same practicality that he had employed analyzing accounts to the more vigorous task of expropriating the property of Southern-sympathizing civilians for the use of the army. He would not, however, unlike Frémont’s quartermaster, condone thievery that cost the U.S. Treasury. Sheridan condemned soldiers who stole farmer’s horses, then sold them to the army, as simple thieves who would not be tolerated, even as he was pressured to tolerate them by a superior officer.

Philip Sheridan was an excellent quartermaster, but as an experienced Indian-fighter he was itching to get his licks in against the Johnny Rebs. He got his chance. In May 1862, he was commissioned a colonel of the Michigan cavalry, and only days later was involved in the first major raid by Union cavalry, ripping up railroad ties in Mississippi and bending them into the sort of bowties that Sherman and Sheridan considered their contribution to dressing up the Southern countryside. As Sheridan had impressed Halleck in accounting, so did Sheridan impress the likes of General William Rosecrans who saw in Sheridan an aggressive officer who was an excellent scout, with a sound analysis of topography and intelligence, and most of all a desire and a talent for fighting.

One of Philip Sheridan’s tutors in command was General Gordon Granger. Confronted by Confederate guerillas, Granger once expostulated: “We must push every man, woman, and child before us or put every man to death found in our lines. We have in fact soon to come to a war of subjugation, and the sooner the better.” Sheridan had no qualms fighting such a war. By September 1862, he was promoted brigadier general.

A month later, Philip Sheridan fought in the biggest and bloodiest battle ever fought on Kentuckian soil, the Battle of Perryville. The Confederates under the ever-lamentable leadership of Braxton Bragg, suffered more than 3,000 casualties, the Federals more than 4,000. The stakes were high. In Lincoln’s famous words: “I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky. I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as losing the whole game.” Luckily for the Union, Braxton Bragg was master at losing entire games. In this case, he won a tactical victory on the battlefield, which he turned into a strategic defeat by vacating Kentucky to the Union. Sheridan acquitted himself well, though he was not involved in the major part of the action. Blessed with the high ground and a manpower advantage of four to one, he thrashed the grey coats before him. But at the end of the battle both armies felt they had lost, because neither pursued their gains.

Philip Sheridan closed 1862, with another battlefield triumph at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where his troops thwarted the initial Confederate advance, and then under extreme pressure (his men ran out of ammunition and suffered 40 percent casualties) performed a gritty fighting withdrawal. A brigadier general said of Sheridan’s conduct that “I knew it was hell when I saw Phil Sheridan, with hat in one hand and sword in the other, fighting as if he were the devil incarnate.” A devil, perhaps, but a calm one too, as he lit and puffed on a cheroot during the fight. When he emerged from the battle, he told General Rosecrans, “Here we are, all that are left of us.” General Grant credited Sheridan’s tenacity with saving Rosecrans’s army and making possible the Union victory. Sheridan’s service was recognized the following spring, when he was elevated to major general at the age of thirty-two.

He fought at Chickamauga and Chattanooga: in the former, having to extricate his men in another fighting withdrawal (but unlike Rosecrans he didn’t flee from the field) and in the latter he was one of the leaders of the massive blue surge up Missionary Ridge. Resting under the sight of the enemy, he lifted a flask to the Confederates above, saying “Here’s to you!” The response was an explosion that splashed his face with dirt. “That is ungenerous,” he shouted “I shall take those guns for that!” And he did—and led the Yankee pursuit of the fleeing Southerners.


Sheridan's Civil War Battle At Winchester Helped Win Virginia For The Union

Ulysses S. Grant sent feisty General Philip Sheridan to wrest control of the Shenandoah Valley from the Confederates.

War was a tonic for Phil Sheridan. “He was a wonderful man on the battle field,” one of his brother Union officers recalled, “and never in as good humor as when under fire.” Sheridan was a throwback to an earlier age of warfare, a warrior who lived for the comradeship of camp and field. But there was nothing romantic about his view of war. Sheridan, like his fellow Ohioan William Tecumseh Sherman, believed that “war is simply power unrestrained by constitution or compact.”

The trajectory of Sheridan’s career traced back to his childhood in Somerset, Ohio. Things military were all the rage among Somerset’s boys. Next to Christmas, the Fourth of July was the most important day of the year. Every year, Somerset’s one Revolutionary War veteran would be trotted out to greet the crowd. As the town’s cannon barked its salute and the crowd cheered wildly, young Sheridan would gawk at the old warrior. “I never saw Phil’s brown eyes open so wide or gaze with such interest,” remembered a friend, “as they did on this Revolutionary relic.”

The son of Irish immigrants, Sheridan managed to secure an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in the bottom third of his class in 1853. He spent the next eight years on frontier duty with the Army. After the outbreak of the Civil War, he was assigned to the Department of the Missouri, under the watchful eye of Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck. By December 1861, Sheridan had sufficiently impressed his fussy commander to be named chief quartermaster and commissary of the Army of Southwest Missouri, then organizing for the Pea Ridge campaign. But he soon grew restless with administrative work, and in April 1862, he found field duty with the topographical engineers accompanying Halleck’s army at the siege of Corinth, Mississippi.

The Rise of “Little Phil”

Sheridan’s slow but steady rise continued when he was appointed colonel of the 2nd Michigan Cavalry on May 25, 1862, and gained a decisive victory over a much larger enemy at the Battle of Booneville, Mississippi. Shortly thereafter, he was made a brigadier general and given command of the 11th Infantry Division of the Army of the Ohio. He led his troops with a keen tactical eye and bulldog tenacity at the bloody Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, in October and 10 weeks later at the even bloodier Battle of Stones River, Tennessee, where his skillful maneuvering and stubborn defensive stand helped save the army and earned him a promotion to major general.

At the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, Sheridan lost over a third of his division and, like many of his fellow Union generals, was driven from the battlefield. However, that November he redeemed himself by helping to lead the impulsive charge up Missionary Ridge, which ended the Confederate siege of Chattanooga. His combativeness caught the eye of Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, the new commander of Union forces, and when Grant was promoted and brought east in March 1864, he brought Sheridan with him to head the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac.

The man known to his troops as “Little Phil” did not cut an impressive physical figure. No more than five feet, five inches tall, he possessed inordinately long arms and short legs. A fellow officer opined that he “certainly would not impress one by his looks any more than Grant does. He is short, thickset, and common Irish-looking. Met in the Bowery, one would certainly set him down as a b’hoy.” Abraham Lincoln described Sheridan, with only slight exaggeration, as “a brown, chunky little chap, with a long body, short legs, not enough neck to hang him, and such long arms that if his ankles itch, he can scratch them without stooping.”

The most striking feature of the bantam-sized general was his restless energy, what one soldier described as “nervous animation.” Under Sheridan’s bold leadership during the Overland campaign, the self-confidence and efficiency of the Cavalry Corps increased steadily until it came to regard itself as invincible. Previously cautious and unsure of themselves, the blue-clad horsemen under Sheridan became hell-for-leather cavalrymen, inflicting crippling losses on the enemy cavalry and even killing the iconic Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart at Yellow Tavern, Virginia, in May 1864.

Give the Enemy No Rest

By the war’s fourth summer, the military situation in Virginia was one of stalemate. In an effort to break the logjam and loosen Grant’s death grip on Petersburg, General Robert E. Lee made a bold gamble. Refashioning a strategy he had used successfully in the spring of 1862 (with the invaluable assistance of the late Lt. Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson) Lee sent Lt. Gen. Jubal Early’s II Corps to sweep Union forces from the Shenandoah Valley and menace Washington, D.C. After brushing off ineffective resistance, Early drove down the valley unopposed, crossed the Potomac into Maryland, and threw a scare into Lincoln and the Union capital.

Initially, Grant showed little interest in Early’s raid, but he soon realized that as long as the Confederacy maintained an active presence in the valley, Washington itself would never be safe. Accordingly, he organized the Middle Military Division to deal with the difficulty, creating the Army of the Shenandoah. On August 6, Sheridan took command of the new force.

The 40,000-man Army of the Shenandoah was an amalgamation of three infantry corps, a cavalry corps and a dozen field batteries. The foundation of the army was the VI Corps of the Army of the Potomac. The largest corps, it comprised three divisions with a solid reputation for reliability and steadfastness. The VI Corps commander, Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright, was the mirror image of his sturdy veterans. The two divisions of the XIX Corps, fresh from the Department of the Gulf, were far behind the VI Corps in discipline and efficiency. Many of the troops had seen only garrison duty, and all had been badly handled in the recent ill-fated Red River campaign. The oldest of the corps commanders, 52-year-old Maj. Gen. William Emory, led the XIX Corps.

The third infantry command was euphemistically called the Army of West Virginia, but was designated as the VIII Corps for the upcoming campaign. The troops had been whipped by Early at the Second Battle of Kernstown two months earlier and were eager for revenge. Sheridan’s old West Point classmate and close friend. Maj. Gen. George Crook, commanded the VIII Corps. Rather than appointing a chief of artillery, Sheridan kept the batteries with the infantry corps. Six were attached to Wright’s command, and three each supported Emory and Crook.

Sheridan’s orders called for him to defeat Early’s army, close off the natural warpath into the North, and eliminate the Shenandoah Valley as a vital productive region to the Confederacy. Grant told him bluntly: “The people should be informed that so long as an army can subsist among them, recurrences of these raids must be expected, and we are determined to stop them at all hazards. Give the enemy no rest. Do all the damage to railroads and crops you can. Carry off stock of all description so as to prevent further planting. If the war is to last another year, we want the Shenandoah Valley to remain a barren waste.”

Lee, determined to up the ante, sent Early another two divisions of cavalry and infantry, as well as a battalion of artillery. Grant instructed Sheridan to remain on the defensive. For the ever aggressive Sheridan, this had the effect of putting a choke collar on a pit bull. But there was a political element to Grant‘s thinking. In his memoirs he explained: “I had reason to believe that the administration was a little afraid to have a decisive battle fought at this time, for fear it might go against us, and have a bad effect on the November elections.”

Early’s Miscalculation

Sheridan shifted his position from Cedar Creek to Halltown, resting his flanks on Opequon Creek and the Shenandoah River and offering the Confederates no opportunity for a surprise attack. Early, for his part, conducted a vigorous feeling-out process, probing Sheridan’s defenses at various points but failing to uncover any significant weaknesses. “My only resource was to use my forces so as to display them at different points with great rapidity,” Early said later, “and thereby keep up the impression that they were much larger than they really were.”

As August gave way to September, it became clear that the shadow boxing could not last for much longer. Lee was the first to yield in the war of nerves. Grant’s unrelenting pressure on the Confederate lines compelled the Confederate commander to recall his recent reinforcements, leaving Early only Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry. With the help of an alert Union spy, Winchester schoolteacher Rebecca Wright, Sheridan soon learned of the weakening of Early’s army. Inexplicably, Early now became dangerously overconfident. “The events of the last month,” he wrote, “have satisfied me that the commander opposed to me was without enterprise, and possessed an excessive caution which amounted to timidity.” It was a serious error of judgment, and one that induced Early to rashly divide his force. On the 17th, he accompanied the infantry divisions of Maj. Gens. John Gordon and Robert Rodes to Martinsburg to break up nonexistent Union railroad crews. It was, one Confederate scoffed, a “wild goose chase.”


Povijest

Middletown started as one of a series of settlements which sprang up along the Valley Pike within the boundaries of the 17th Century Fairfax Grant, a political payoff to allies of the King during the civil war in England in the mid-1600’s. The Valley Pike evolved from an early Indian trail that divided the grant as it ran through the Shenandoah Valley and allowed early settlers to move southward through the territory. Some of the first documentation of early Middletown dates back to the late 18th century when “Senseney Town” was laid out by Dr. Peter Senseney and his wife Magdelen, German settlers who had migrated from Pennsylvania. By the time Middletown was established as a town by an act of the General Assembly in 1796, the 50-acre community was already laid out in a grid street pattern with 126 lots. Although Middletown did gain some prominence in the manufacture of quality precision instruments (clocks, watches and surveying equipment) as early as 1786 by Jacob Danner and Anthony Kline, the town has remained a rural community throughout its long history. It is thought that the distance of Middletown from any stream capable of generating waterpower discouraged early industrialization and was a major reason the community never developed as an industrial center. By 1800, the census listed its population as 144 free citizens and 12 slaves, and by 1878 it was incorporated as “Middletown” by an act of the General Assembly.

The history of the Town has been one generally of providing business, educational, religious, and social opportunities to the surrounding countryside as well as serving the needs of travelers in the valley.

Around 1889, Middletown was tarnished by one of the many land promotion schemes then common. “New Middletown” was to be developed just west of the town boundaries to include the Hotel Belleview (cost $25,000.00) and “portable houses.” Embracing nearly 1,000 acres of land, it even offered free sites for manufacturing purposes to attract mills, a tin can factory, and others. Sadly, the boom failed with many people losing money and land.

On a more lasting note is the small tavern built in 1797 by Mr. Israel Wilkinson. Over the decades, and then centuries, it expanded to become a stagecoach relay station and a successful Inn. It is still in operation today as The Wayside Inn and Restaurant, and is one of the oldest continuously operating Inns in the country.

Middletown earned a place in our national history through its association with major historical figures in both the colonial and Civil War eras.

Between 1794 and 1797, Major Isaac Hite, Jr. and his wife, Nelly Conway Madison (sister of President James Madison), built a large limestone mansion one mile southwest of Middletown. Belle Grove, as the house and 7500-acre plantation became known, had the assistance of Thomas Jefferson in its design. The mansion was restored in the late 1960’s and is under the care of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The American Civil War brought the armies of both sides into direct conflict in the singularly most destructive event in the history of Middletown. On October 19, 1864, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under the command of Lt. Gen. Jubal Early, nearly overwhelmed the Army of the Shenandoah under Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan, encamped around Belle Grove, in a surprise dawn attack. The Battle of Middletown, now known as the Battle of Cedar Creek, flowed north for over five hours through the heart of the small community, only coming to a pause on its northern boundary near today’s Lord Fairfax Community College because of the exhaustion of the combatants. The famous, if inaccurate, poem of Sheridan’s ride is an account of the General’s race from Winchester toward Middletown.

Dramatically rallying his troops, General Sheridan reversed the fortunes of the victorious Confederates, causing another ferocious four-hour battle to again push through the heart of Middletown, finally destroying the Army of Northern Virginia as an effective fighting force. Twelve Union Army enlisted men and nine officers were awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the battle. Casualties for the Union totaled 5,665 (644 killed, 3,430 wounded, 1,591 missing). Confederate casualties are only estimates, about 2,910 (320 killed, 1,540 wounded, 1,050 missing). According to James Taylor, a reporter and artist with Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, “on my route out Church Street, I am greeted on each hand with the evidence of the fierce fighting in the struggle back and forth during the morning and evening of the 19th, in the buildings and fences, which were peppered like sieves.” Today, many old homes in town lay claim to stories of bullets and cannonballs passing through their walls that day.

In an ongoing effort to protect both Belle Grove and the battleground, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park became the 388th unit of the National Park Service on December 19, 2002.


Lieutenant General Jubal Early

Born in Franklin County, Virginia on November 3, 1816, Jubal Early graduated from West Point in 1837, ranked 18th out of a class of 50. He served with the 3rd U.S. Artillery until resigning from the army in 1838. He returned to service during the Mexican-American War of 1846-48.

At the outset of the Civil War, Early joined the Virginia Militia as a Brigadier General. From there he raised three regiments of infantry and was made a Colonel in the Confederate States Army. Following First Bull Run/First Manassas, he was promoted to Brigadier General and served under Stonewall Jackson during his brilliant 1862 Valley Campaign. Early proved to be an aggressive field commander, and earned a reputation among his peers as a force to be reckoned with.

By the late Spring of 1864, Early had attained the rank of Lieutenant General and was tasked by Robert E. Lee to go to the Shenandoah Valley to draw Federal forces threatening the Army of Northern Virginia. While Early had been a competent Divisional commander, his performance as a Corps commander was not stellar. By the time of the Battle of Cedar Creek, Early had suffered several major defeats while facing Sheridan. With just over 15,000 men under his command on the morning of October 19th, Early achieved some success in surprising the Federal positions along Cedar Creek, but by mid-afternoon his attack faltered and turned into a complete route.

Early saw the end of the war in Texas, then fled to Mexico, Cuba and finally Canada, managing to escape an official surrender. Eventually he was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson. Following the war he devoted much of his time to fostering the myth of the Confederate “Lost Cause.” He died in Lynchburg at age 77 in 1894.


Gledaj video: Sheridans Ride after the Battle of Cedar Creek, Shenandoah Valley, 1864