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

Overview

"In Little Phil, historian Eric J. Wittenberg reassesses the war record of a man long considered one of the Union Army's greatest leaders." "Throughout his life, Phil Sheridan was by all accounts a lucky man. He was fortunate to receive merely a suspension, rather than an expulsion, when as a West Point cadet he attacked a superior officer with a bayonet. During the Civil War, he was ultimately rewarded for numerous acts of insubordination against his superiors, while he punished his own officers for similar offenses. In his first effort as a
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Little Phil: A Reassessment of the Civil War Leadership of Gen. Philip H. Sheridan

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Overview

"In Little Phil, historian Eric J. Wittenberg reassesses the war record of a man long considered one of the Union Army's greatest leaders." "Throughout his life, Phil Sheridan was by all accounts a lucky man. He was fortunate to receive merely a suspension, rather than an expulsion, when as a West Point cadet he attacked a superior officer with a bayonet. During the Civil War, he was ultimately rewarded for numerous acts of insubordination against his superiors, while he punished his own officers for similar offenses. In his first effort as a cavalry commander with the Army of the Potomac in the spring of 1864, he gave a performance that has long been overrated. Later that year in the Shenandoah Valley, where Sheridan gained fame by making his legendary ride to Cedar Creek, he benefited greatly from the tactical ability of his subordinates and from a huge manpower advantage against the beleaguered Confederate troops of Lt. Gen. Jubal Early. Further, in his after-action combat reports and postwar writings, Sheridan often manipulated facts to depict himself in the best possible light. Thus, he ensured himself an exalted place in his own version of history." Wittenberg has written a thoroughly researched and cogently argued study that explodes the mythical image of Philip Sheridan and exposes the human frailties that bedevil the art and science of military leadership.
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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."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781574885484
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/30/2005
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.94 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.62 (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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Table of Contents

List of Maps
Foreword By Jeffry D. Wert
Preface
Philip Henry Sheridan: A Sketch of His Life and Career in The Civil War
Sheridan as Cavalry Corps Commander: Mediocrity Reigns
Little Phil in the Shenandoah Valley: A Victorious Campaign Bereft of Decision
Sheridan’s Disobedience to Orders
Little Phil’s Cavalier Destruction of Lives And Careers
Sheridan’s Mendacity
Little Phil’s Finest Moment: The Pursuit of Robert E. Lee, Spring 1865
Philip Henry Sheridan Reassessed
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Bibliography
Index
About The Author
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2004

    Politically Correct Assessment of Philip H. Sheridan

    This book accepts every critical and disapproving assessment of Philip Henry Sheridan. In contrast, all the mass of evidence from contemporary and secondary sources which is favorable is ignored or belittled. The book accuses Sheridan of slanting and manipulating to enhance his reputation. This book is one long instance of slanting and manipulation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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