The Final Struggles: September 1864 to April 1865

The Final Struggles: September 1864 to April 1865

What, meanwhile, had Sheridan accomplished in the Shenandoah Valley?

General Philip Sheridan (1831–1888) was only thirty-three, but his recent successes, especially his attack on J. E. B. Stuart in May 1864, had brought him to the forefront where cavalry actions were concerned. Hot-tempered and impulsive, Sheridan was a born fighter, and, according to some observers, the only Union leader whose very physical presence seemed to expand on the battlefield: he looked taller and larger during combat. Some of this sounds like hyperbole to our modern ears, but it is how Sheridan seemed to his contemporaries.

In September 1864, Lincoln asked Grant if Sheridan could be used to attack Jubal Early’s men, the ones who had threatened Washington, D.C., just three months earlier. Grant replied that he had the same thought and that he wished to beef up Sheridan’s force till it was overwhelming. Grant did not make public his desire to lay the Shenandoah Valley bare of animals and food. The Valley was a major provider of grain and corn to Lee’s army.


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