Phil Sheridan was one of three Union generals recognized as having been most responsible for defeating the Confederacy — the others being Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman. None was more aggressive than the bantam-size Sheridan, who often led attacks personally while exhorting his men to “Smash ‘em! Smash ‘em!” Sheridan waged a ruthless, scorched-earth campaign in the Shenandoah Valley, broke the siege of Petersburg with his Five Points victory, and trapped Robert E. Lee’s army at Appomattox Court House, compelling Lee’s surrender.
After the war, Sheridan pitilessly suppressed the Great Plains tribes and forced them onto reservations. But once the Indians were resettled, Sheridan defended them from unscrupulous government agents, just as he had tried to shield the freed slaves from vengeful whites the Southwest — and Yellowstone National Park from development by corporate interests.
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