Total War: March to September 1864

Death of a Cavalier

Whom was Phil Sheridan after?

He was, in a word, after Stuart. The move south had been a deliberate decoy, an attempt to get Stuart to leave the Army of Northern Virginia. Sheridan, who was no stranger to controversy, had been in a furious argument with George B. Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac. Sheridan shouted that Meade confused his knowledge of infantry with that of cavalry. Meade reported the shouting match to Ulysses Grant, who, all too typically, took Sheridan at his word. If Sheridan could flush out J. E. B. Stuart, so much the better. Therefore, Stuart mistakenly believed that Sheridan was out for Richmond, when he himself was the target.

The Battle at Yellow Tavern raged for hours, with two significant breaks in between. Stuart’s men knew the terrain better, but Sheridan’s were on a high, and they were equipped with the new rapid-repeating Spencer carbines. The battle seesawed for hours, and at one point in the midafternoon, Stuart repelled a Yankee attack. Filled with pleasure, standing tall and handsome in the stirrups, Stuart gestured and shouted to his men to begin the pursuit. At that very moment, a federal cavalryman on the run turned back and shot Stuart. The bullet passed through his stomach and went out the other side.

Originally an infantry general, Philip Henry Sheridan was transferred to lead the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps. In this position, he defeated Confederates at Shenandoah Valley and later at Appomattox.


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