My latest read is Personal Memoirs of P. H. Sheridan, Vol. II, by, of all people, P. H. Sheridan. This volume covers the period from the staging of the Shenandoah Valley campaign to Sheridan's return from Europe after being an observer during the Franco-Prussian War. (Though he served as Commanding General, U.S. Army for several years, his memoir -- finished just days before his death -- does not cover that period.)
In my remarks on the previous volume, I described his narrative as thinner than Sherman's or Grant's memoirs, and that generally continued here. He focuses a bit on the famous Ride on Rienzi (who can be seen, preserved as a display, at the National Museum of American History), and on the Battle of Sedan, but this volume moves pretty quickly.
Of interest to me, because I only knew slightly about them, were two issues he faced in the post-Civil War period. First, he missed the victory parades in Washington after Appomattox, because Grant had sent him urgently to subdue forces in Arkansas and Texas. Things had largely settled down before he got there, but Grant urged him to get forces to the Mexican border, to put pressure on the Mexican Emperor. Grant, Sheridan insists, looked on the French incursion there as a part of the Confederate Rebellion. Sheridan seems to have found a way to supply weapons and supplies to the revolutionaries there, but was frustrated by Andrew Johnson's refusal to break neutrality.
Johnson and Sheridan were not friends. Sheridan saw Johnson as trying to throw away the whole effort of the Union in the War. Sheridan was military governor during the pre-Reconstruction era, and spent considerable time trying to protect the rights of Union sympathizers and of black citizens. Johnson was happy to put ex-Confederates in charge of everything. As Sheridan tells it, Johnson never got to reverse Sheridan's firings, arrests and decisions under martial law, because the guys Sheridan sacked so obviously deserved it that it would have backfired on Johnson. Eventually, though, Sheridan got moved up to St. Louis, and then got involved in the Indian Wars. And when word came that there would be war between France and Germany, he applied for permission to leave the Wild West for Europe, so he could watch it.
Indeed, he spent that war as part of Bismarck's personal party; rubbing elbows with the Kaiser. During the Siege of Paris he asked Bismarck how long the siege would go on, and then traveled through Eastern Europe as far as Constantinople and Athens, before returning to catch the surrender. (His description of "hunting" on the King of Italy's estate is a stitch.)
I'll end with a paragraph of Sheridan's assessment of the Prussian cavalry in the Franco-Prussian War. As the veteran of the use of a Cavalry Corps as an independent body, he found it old-fashioned.
I did not have much opportunity to observe the German cavalry, either on the march or in battle. The only time I saw any of it engaged was in the unfortunate charge at Gravelotte. That proved its mettle good and discipline fair, but answered no other purpose. Such of it as was not attached to the infantry was organized in divisions, and operated in accordance with the old idea of covering the front and flanks of the army, a duty which it thoroughly performed. But thus directed it was in no sense an independent corps, and hence cannot be said to have accomplished anything in the campaign, or have had a weight or influence at all proportionate to its strength. The method of its employment seemed to me a mistake, for, being numerically superior to the French cavalry, had it been massed and manœuvred independently of the infantry, it could easily have broken up the French communications, and done much other work of weighty influence in the prosecution of the war.
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