Tag Archives: Col. James Forsyth

A Misrepresentation: Sheridan’s Reaction to Painting of Himself Riding the Battle Line At Cedar Creek

sheridan-cc

When Sheridan saw this now widely publicized painting of himself riding along the line of battle to inspire the men at Cedar Creek and show that he had returned to the army, he reacted vociferously to its inaccuracies.

“Now just look,” said Sheridan, “and see how blank ridiculous that man has made me appear. Here I am represented as riding down the line with a flag in my hand and a whole regiment of cavalry as my escort. Why, blank, blank, blank, I made to appear like a blank fool. Now the truth is I rode down the line with ‘Tony’ Forsyth; that was all there was to it. No flag. No escort.”

Soon after, Sheridan read an article describing his reaction to the artwork. His response:  “I wouldn’t have cared so much about it except that [it] makes me swear so [much]. People will think I am in the habit of swearing. Why, blank, blank, blank, you that isn’t so.”

Note that “Tony Forsyth” was Col. James Forsyth Sheridan’s Chief-of-Staff. The ride along the battle line had been the brainchild of another staff officer, Major George “Sandy” Forsyth (no relation to James)  had been the one who suggested that Sheridan show himself to the men when he returned to the Army at Cedar Creek.

Sheridan’s appearance along the line of battle rejuvenated the rank and file of the Army of the Shenandoah. Lt. Col. Moses Granger of the 122nd Ohio, Sixth Army Corps recalled the scene:

General Sheridan came riding along the line, just in my rear, as I was sitting on a stump, he drew rein, returned our salutes, gave a quick look at the me, and said, ‘You look all right, boys! We’ll whip’em like h–l before night.’ At this hearty cheers broke out, and he rode on passing from the rear to the front of our line through the right-wing of my regiment, and thence westward followed ever by cheers.”

Instantly all thought of merely defeating an attack upon us ended. In its stead was a conviction that we were to attack and defeat them that very afternoon. All were sure that “Little Phil” would make it impossible for the enemy to turn our flank, and easy for us to turn theirs.”

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The Staff of Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan

Sheridan and StaffLooking for some help to Identify the men of Sheridan’s staff. So far here is what I have come up with.

Updated thanks to some help from Stefan and JD 🙂 and my own continued detective work. Thanks.

Sheridan’s Staff – June 1864

Top Row Standing on Porch:

Capt. Joseph O’Keeffe,  Capt. Michael V. Sheridan,  Lt. Col. Frederick Newhall, Unknown, Maj. George “Sandy” Forsyth, Capt. Louis Carpenter, Unknown, Capt. James F. Wade

Standing on Top Step:

Might this be Col. C. R. Smith of the 6th PA Cav? Sheridan had him on his staff.

Bottom Row:

Unknown, Capt. Thomas W. C. Moore, Col. James “Tony” Forsyth, Gen. Sheridan

All officers to the right of Sheridan are unknown at this time. Any help you can provide in identifying any of these officers is greatly appreciated. It is interesting to try and figure out and one can go back and forth on id’s. For example, Sheridan’s brother Michael could be one of two men. If you look at a picture of MVS twenty years later, the second man from the left in top row seems to be the proper id. However, it was said that he looked just like Phil. Looking at General S’s photograph as a lieutenant in the Regular Army in the 1850’s, the third man from left on the top row is a convincing choice.

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