simple is beautiful
New York Daily Photo: Sheridan
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Tuesday, 22 May 2007


I am not a Civil War or military buff, but I have been going by this statue of General Philip Henry Sheridan (1831-1888) and the park it is in for decades, and I should really know more about him. This man who rose from near obscurity to the highest rank in the military (Major General) very quickly, is a controversial figure, especially when viewed from our own time. A Civil War calvary commander, Sheridan graduated from West Point and went on to a myriad of military achievements - Cedar Creek in Shenandoah, Appomattox etc. In my readings for this post this morning, I found it very interesting to compare writings about him with information on the plaque in the park - click here. A quote from General Ulysses S. Grant appears on the pedestal: "He belongs to the first rank of soldiers, not only of our country, but of the world." Grant ranked him with Napoleon and Frederick the Great. The plaque describes him as a "brilliant military tactician." Yet, he has also been described as a brutal, violent and very prejudiced man. After the Civil War, Sheridan became commander of the Army of the West, and led the campaign against the Indians of the Great Plains - seen by some as near-genocidal and thereby tainting Sheridan's reputation. The pejorative " the only good Indian is a dead Indian" is a common variant on a quote attributed to Sheridan during his encounter with Comanche Chief Tosawi during the Indian Wars in 1869. "Me Toch-a-way, me good Indian." Sheridan reportedly smirked and replied, "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead." The bronze statue was created by Italian Sculptor Joseph Pollia in 1936. Note: this statue is actually in Christopher Park, often mistaken for Sheridan Square which is around the corner - previously a traffic island which was converted into a beautiful viewing garden in 1982. It is interesting to note that Sheridan was only 5 feet 5 inches tall. Abraham Lincoln once described him as "A brown, chunky little chap, with a long body, short legs, not enough neck to hang him, and such long arms that if his ankles itch he can scratch them without stooping"


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