Philip Sheridan

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Philip Henry Sheridan (March 6, 1831 – August 5, 1888), known as General Sheridan and Little Phil (due to his short stature) was a Union commander who rose quickly in rank during the last year of the war, and was one of the first to use brutal tactics to break the morale of the Confederacy.

After triumphing in the Battle of Shenandoah Valley, Sheridan then burned the valley in order to destroy the economy of The South, in which is called "The Burning" locally.[1] Later Sheridan helped trap General Robert E. Lee's army at Battle of Appomattox Court House, thereby causing his surrender on behalf of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

Sheridan was a racist against American Indians after the war, when he led troops in battle against them and notoriously said, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."[1]

Louisiana paramilitary insurrection

During Reconstruction, Louisiana was rife with politically and racially motivated violence. Following the quelling of the First Ku Klux Klan by Grant Administration Attorney General Amos T. Akerman, Democratic white supremacists reestablished paramilitary organizations, forming the White League in Louisiana, the Knights of the White Camellia in North Carolina, and "White Line" paramilitaries in several other Southern states. In the 1872 gubernatorial race, a "Liberal" unification movement of Democrats and lukewarm GOP members supported incumbent Republican Governor Henry C. Warmoth, whose reelection was opposed by the regular "customhouse" Republicans.[2] Following a highly contested dispute after irregularities from both Liberal Republican Warmoth and regular Republican William P. Kellogg, the latter was ultimately seated as governor.

Kellogg, inheriting a massive three-million dollar debt compiled by his Liberal predecessor,[3] attempted to balance the budget by increasing taxes. The decision, combined with his pro-business policies and particularly his support for civil rights in a state whose white Democratic population saw as anathema, resulted in populist insurrections by the White League.

In April 1873, the paramilitary leagues of black Republican William Ward and Democratic white supremacist Christopher Columbus Nash clashed at Colfax, Louisiana, the county seat of Grant Parish.[4] Swarmed blacks, pleading for surrender, were viciously massacred in what since was known as the Colfax Massacre. White supremacist violence was accompanied with election fraud, embodied the subsequent year when Democrats seized control of the state legislature during the 1874 midterms amidst intense mob violence. General Sheridan, aligning with President Ulysses S. Grant's hard line against insurrectionist Democrats, called for Grant to declare the White League "banditti" and to suspend the writ of habeas corpus to crush the terrorist group,[5] following the military removal of five newly seated "Conservative" (Democratic/Liberal-aligned) representatives from the lower body of the legislature.

The majority of Northerners, growing discontent with Radical Republicanism, viewed the move and Sheridan's remark with abhorrence as a result of their increasingly racist sentiments. Prominent newspapers (including Republican-affiliated ones), such as the New York World and The Nation, denounced Grant's move as a violation of sovereignty, and Southerners hurled death threats against the Grant family.[5] Sheridan's remarks, exemplifying farsighted righteous anger levied against Democratic white supremacist terrorists, became seized upon by anti-Reconstruction forces, whose political agenda eventually overthrew "Grantism."


  1. 1.0 1.1 General Philip H. Sheridan – Civil War Hero & Ruthless Tyrant. Legends of America.
  2. Otten, James T. (1972). The Wheeler Adjustment in Louisiana: National Republicans Begin to Reappraise Their Reconstruction Policy, pp. 350–51. JSTOR. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  3. Culbertson, Manie (February 1986). Louisiana: The Land and Its People, p. 309. Google Books. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  4. Chernow, Ron (2017). "Grant," pp. 758–59.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Grant," pp. 791–92.