Sheridan at Cedar Creek — Differing Portraits by two Sketch Artists

In reading through my materials on the battle of Cedar Creek I came across a quote from  the journal of Capt. John Gould of the 29th Maine, XIX Army Corps that struck me. He described Sheridan’s physical appearance when he showed up along the battle line of the XIX Corps during the late afternoon counterattack. Gould noted, “He was glad to see us and I tell you we were glad to see him. He was on his little white pony, his slouched hat almost covering his face as usual.”  While a seemingly unimportant statement, his physical description of Sheridan at Cedar Creek differs from the commonly accepted appearance at that battle.

Sheridan’s physical appearance at the battle of Cedar Creek has been captured by special artist James Taylor who was in the Valley at the time of Cedar Creek sketching scenes for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.  Taylor pictures Sheridan as wearing a formal a formal kepi in his sketches of Sheridan, not the black slouch type cap that Sheridan was noted for wearing, a vestige of his service in the western Army of the Cumberland. It is interesting to note that fellow sketch artist Alfred Waud who was purportedly at Cedar Creek drew Sheridan wearing a black slouch cap as described by the reliable Gould.

Sheridan's Ride with men - Cropped

My conclusion is that Sheridan changed headgear in order to ensure that the men recognized him in his trademark hat. His staff had urged him to make thecridecalongvthe battle line specifically to show all the troops that Sheridan had returned to rally their spirits for the
pending counterattack.

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