Little Phil: A Reassessment of the Civil War Leadership of Gen. Philip H. Sheridan

Little Phil: A Reassessment of the Civil War Leadership of Gen. Philip H. Sheridan

by Eric J Wittenberg
     
 

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Unlike Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Gen. William T. Sherman, whose controversial Civil War-era reputations persist today, Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan has been largely untouched by controversy. In Little Phil, historian Eric J. Wittenberg reassesses the war record of a man long considered one of the Union Army’s greatest generals. From his earliest days

Overview

Unlike Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Gen. William T. Sherman, whose controversial Civil War-era reputations persist today, Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan has been largely untouched by controversy. In Little Phil, historian Eric J. Wittenberg reassesses the war record of a man long considered one of the Union Army’s greatest generals. From his earliest days at West Point, Phil Sheridan refused to play by the rules. He was fortunate to receive merely a suspension, rather than expulsion, when as a cadet he charged a superior officer with a bayonet. Although he achieved fame as a cavalryman late in the Civil War, Sheridan actually began the conflict as an infantry commander and initially knew little of the mounted service. In his first effort as a cavalry commander with the Army of the Potomac in the spring of 1864, he gave a performance that Wittenberg argues has long been overrated. Later that year in the Shenandoah Valley, where Sheridan secured his legendary reputation, he benefited greatly from the tactical ability of his subordinates and from his huge manpower advantage against the beleaguered Confederate troops of Lt. Gen. Jubal Early. Sheridan was ultimately rewarded for numerous acts of insubordination against his superiors throughout the war, while he punished similar traits in his own officers. Further, in his combat reports and postwar writings, he often manipulated facts to show himself in the best possible light, ensuring an exalted place in history. Thus, Sheridan successfully foisted his own version of history on the American public. This controversial new study challenges the existing literature on Phil Sheridan and adds valuable insight to our understanding of this famous, but altogether fallible, warrior.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An excellent book . . . Wittenberg presents an original and provocative case. . . . Little Phil has raised questions that will make the readers think, and no future biography of Sheridan can be written without addressing them."

"Well-written, thoroughly researched, and provocative."

"A book that deserves a serious read."

"Wittenberg has challenged the accepted judgments about Sheridan’s generalship. He seeks to lead us to a different interpretation, and by doing so, has written a stimulating book that is well worth reading."

"Penned by a leading historian of civil war cavalry operations, Eric Wittenberg’s unflinching reassessment of Sheridan is guaranteed to stir controversy. Readers might disagree with this scathing portrait of the Union commander, but Wittenberg’s extensive research and well-honed presentation requires critics to give his arguments serious consideration. A must-read for civil war enthusiasts."

"Little Phil provides a welcome riposte to the considerable body of pro-Sheridan literature already available. Often using the general’s own words, Wittenberg skewers Sheridan on a variety of topics, most particularly the pertinent fields of generalship and personal integrity. This will go far toward stripping Philip H. Sheridan of his unwarranted reputation as one of the war’s Great Captains."

"As a public historian and preservationist who has interpreted many of General Sheridan’s battlefields for nearly thirty years, I can certainly tell you that others view him as a person you either love or hate. There seems to be no middle ground. After reading Eric Wittenberg’s thought-provoking study, one can understand why Sheridan is such a polarizing figure. This lively reevaluation of the general’s personality and career makes a fine addition to Wittenberg’s previous scholarship on the Federal cavalry."

"A rewarding book, for it is well researched, written, organized, and argued. . . . Although Wittenberg's thesis is controversial and many readers will disagree with his evaluation of Sheridan's military abilities, the book is thought-provoking and should be read by all of those interested in the Civil War, expecially those who study cavalry operations and Civil War generalship. . . . This is an excellent book that is certain to stir debate on one of the Union's most famous commanders."

"A splendid study of one of America's military icons . . . The scholarship, research, and manner in which [the author] presented his evidence has produced a work that is easy to read and understand. . . . Eric J. Wittenberg's Little Phil is a desirable book for any scholar of the 'late unpleasantness.'"

"Little Phil provides a strong and convincing indictment of Sheridan's record, and anyone reading it will certainly question Sheridan's stellare reputation . . . . Wittenberg's work provides a well-researched and interesting revisionist account of General Philip Sheridan that should be read by anyone with an interest in Sheridan, the Union cavalry, or the Shenandoah Valley campaign."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781574883855
Publisher:
Potomac Books
Publication date:
12/31/2002
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Eric J. Wittenberg is the author of Protecting the Flanks, Gettysburg's Forgotten Cavalry Actions (winner of the Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award as 1998’s best new work interpreting the Battle of Gettysburg), and We Have it Damn Hard Out Here. In addition, he is the editor of With Sheridan in the Final Campaign Against Lee, Under Custer's Command (Brassey’s, Inc., 2000), and One of Custer's Wolverines. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.

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