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General P. H. Sheridan.

The most dramatic deed of a Federal general in the Valley of Virginia is recorded in Read's poem. In September, 1864, Sheridan had driven the Confederates up the Valley, and in early October had retreated northward. Early followed, but he was soon out of supplies. He was obliged to fight or fall back. At an early hour on the foggy morning of October 19th, he attacked the unsuspecting Union army encamped along Cedar Creek and drove it back in confusion. General Sheridan, who had made a flying visit to Washington, spent the night of the 18th at Winchester on his way back to the army. At Mill Creek, half a mile south of Winchester, he came in sight of the fugitives. An officer who was at the front gives this account: ‘Far away in the rear was heard cheer after cheer. What was the cause? Were reinforcements coming? Yes, Phil Sheridan was coming, and he was a host. . . . Dashing along the pike, he came upon the line of battle. “What troops are those?” shouted Sheridan. “The Sixth Corps,” was the response from a hundred voices. “We are all right,” said Sheridan, as he swung his old hat and dashed along the line toward the right. “Never mind, boys, we'll whip them yet; we'll whip them yet! We shall sleep in our old quarters to-night!” were the encouraging words of the chief, as he rode along, while the men threw their hats high in air, leaped and danced and cheered in wildest joy’ The victory was so complete that the campaign was virtually at an end. Three weeks of occasional skirmishing and the last action in the Valley was over.

General P. H. Sheridan in 1864 with the hat he wore on his famous ‘ride’

Sheridan's Winchester charger, in 1869


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