THE MEMOIRS OF GENERAL P. H. SHERIDAN - COMPLETE
THE MEMOIRS OF GENERAL P. H. SHERIDAN - COMPLETE
GENERAL PHILIP HENRY SHERIDAN
PERSONAL MEMOIRES OF P. H. SHERIDAN VOLUME 1.
By Philip Henry Sheridan
When yielding to the solicitations of my friends I finally decided
to write these Memoirs the greatest difficulty which confronted me
was that of recounting my share in the many notable events of the
last three decades in which I played a part without entering too
fully into the history of these years and at the same time without
giving to my own acts an unmerited prominence. To what extent I have
overcome this difficulty I must leave the reader to judge.
In offering this record penned by my own hand of the events of my
life and of my participation in our great struggle for national
existence human liberty and political equality I make no
pretension to literary merit; the importance of the subject-matter of
my narrative is my only claim on the reader's attention.
Respectfully dedicating this work to my comrades in arms during the
War of the Rebellion I leave it as a heritage to my children and as
a source of information for the future historian.
P. H. SHERIDAN.
Nonguitt Mass. August 2 1888
P. H. SHERIDAN.
ANCESTRY--BIRTH--EARLY EDUCATION--A CLERK IN A GROCERY STORE--
APPOINTMENT--MONROE SHOES--JOURNEY TO WEST POINT--HAZING--A FISTICUFF
BATTLE--SUSPENDED--RETURNS TO CLERKSHIP--GRADUATION.
My parents John and Mary Sheridan came to America in 1830 having
been induced by the representations of my father's uncle Thomas
Gainor then living in Albany N. Y. to try their fortunes in the
New World: They were born and reared in the County Cavan Ireland
where from early manhood my father had tilled a leasehold on the
estate of Cherrymoult; and the sale of this leasehold provided him
with means to seek a new home across the sea. My parents were
blood relations--cousins in the second degree--my mother whose
maiden name was Minor having descended from a collateral branch of
my father's family. Before leaving Ireland they had two children
and on the 6th of March 1831 the year after their arrival in this
country I was born in Albany N. Y. the third child in a family
which eventually increased to six--four boys and two girls.
The prospects for gaining a livelihood in Albany did not meet the
expectations which my parents had been led to entertain so in 1832
they removed to the West to establish themselves in the village of
Somerset in Perry County Ohio which section in the earliest days
of the State; had been colonized from Pennsylvania and Maryland. At
this period the great public works of the Northwest--the canals and
macadamized roads a result of clamor for internal improvements--were
in course of construction and my father turned his attention to
them believing that they offered opportunities for a successful
occupation. Encouraged by a civil engineer named Bassett who had
taken a fancy to him he put in bids for a small contract on the
Cumberland Road known as the "National Road" which was then being
extended west from the Ohio River. A little success in this first
enterprise led him to take up contracting as a business which he
followed on various canals and macadamized roads then building in
different parts of the State of Ohio with some good fortune for
awhile but in 1853 what little means he had saved were swallowed up
--in bankruptcy caused by the failure of the Sciota and Hocking
Valley Railroad Company for which he was fulfilling a contract at
the time and this disaster left him finally only a small farm just
outside the village of Somerset where he dwelt until his death in
My father's occupation kept him away from home much of the time
during my boyhood and as a consequence I grew up under the sole
guidance and training of my mother whose excellent common sense and
clear discernment in every way fitted her for such maternal duties.
When old enough I was sent to the village school which was taught by
an old-time Irish "master"--one of those itinerant dominies of the
early frontier--who holding that to spare the rod was to spoil the
child if unable to detect the real culprit when any offense had been
committed would consistently apply the switch to the whole school
without discrimination. It must be conceded that by this means he
never failed to catch the guilty mischief-maker. The school-year was
divided into terms of three months the teacher being paid in each
term a certain sum--three dollars I think for each pupil-and having
an additional perquisite in the privilege of boarding around at his
option in the different families to which his scholars belonged.
This feature was more than acceptable to the parents at times for
how else could they so thoroughly learn all the neighborhood gossip?
But the pupils were in almost unanimous opposition because Mr.
McNanly's unheralded advent at any one's house resulted frequently in
the discovery that some favorite child had been playing "hookey"
which means (I will say to the uninitiated if any such there be)
absenting one's self from school without permission to go on a
fishing or a swimming frolic. Such at least was my experience more
than once for Mr. McNanly particularly favored my mother's house
because of a former acquaintanceship in Ireland and many a time a
comparison of notes proved that I had been in the woods with two
playfellows named Binckly and Greiner when the master thought I was
home ill and my mother that I was at school deeply immersed in
study. However with these and other delinquencies not uncommon
among boys I learned at McNanly's school and a little later under
a pedagogue named Thorn a smattering of geography and history and
explored the mysteries of Pike's Arithmetic and Bullions' English
Grammar about as far as I could be carried up to the age of
fourteen. This was all the education then bestowed upon me and
this--with the exception of progressing in some of these branches by
voluntary study and by practical application in others supplemented
by a few months of preparation after receiving my appointment as a
cadet--was the extent of my learning on entering the Military
When about fourteen years old I began to do something for myself; Mr.
John Talbot who kept a country store in the village employing me to
deal out sugar coffee and calico to his customers at the munificent
salary of twenty-four dollars a year. After I had gained a twelve-
months' experience with Mr. Talbot my services began to be sought by
others and a Mr. David Whitehead secured them by the offer of sixty
dollars a year--Talbot refusing to increase my pay but not objecting
to my advancement. A few months later before my year was up
another chance to increase my salary came about; Mr. Henry Dittoe