Terrible Swift Sword: The Life of General Philip H. Sheridan (Hardcover)

The Life of General Philip H. Sheridan

By Joseph Wheelan

Da Capo Press, 9780306820274, 387pp.

Publication Date: August 7, 2012



Alongside Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, Philip H. Sheridan is the least known of the triumvirate of generals most responsible for winning the Civil War. Yet, before Sherman's famous march through Georgia, it was General Sheridan who introduced scorched-earth warfare to the South, and it was his Cavalry Corps that compelled Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. Sheridan's innovative cavalry tactics and total war strategy became staples of twentieth-century warfare.

After the war, Sheridan ruthlessly suppressed the raiding Plains Indians much as he had the Confederates, by killing warriors and burning villages, but he also defended reservation Indians from corrupt agents and contractors. Sheridan, an enthusiastic hunter and conservationist, later ordered the US cavalry to occupy and operate Yellowstone National Park to safeguard it from commercial exploitation.

About the Author

Joseph Wheelan, a former reporter and editor for The Associated Press, has written five books, including Jefferson's War and Invading Mexico. He lives in Cary, North Carolina.

Praise For Terrible Swift Sword: The Life of General Philip H. Sheridan

Kirkus Reviews, 7/1/12
“Battle by battle, Wheelan charts the swift rise of the relentlessly aggressive Sheridan. Modest, energetic and brave, Sheridan was an innovator, using mounted troops both as an independent strike force and in support of infantry operations…A sympathetic portrait of “Grant’s most dependable troubleshooter.”

Seattle Times, 8/05/12“Competently written, well detailed and thoroughly readable.”

Shelf Awareness, 8/14/12“History buffs, biography aficionados and even readers without vast Civil War knowledge will appreciate this book.”

Roanoke Times
, 9/2/12
“Wheelan has provided a detailed, very personal portrait of a dynamic American leader whose accomplishments helped shape our country after the rebellion crisis of the mid-19th century.”

Wall Street Journal, 9/8/12“Joseph Wheelan has delivered an exciting and crisply written biography that, especially in his accounts of battles, fairly gallops across the page in the company of a personality who seemed to his own contemporaries like a god of war incarnated in the body of a pint-size Irish immigrant.” 

Civil War Times, December 2012“Of all the great generals of the Civil War, Philip H. Sheridan remains the most obscure, which makes Joseph Wheelan’s new Terrible Swift Sword essential reading…Wheelan’s depictions of Sheridan’s many battles…are models of lucidity. This is a worthy testament to the man.”
Collected Miscellany blog
, 9/25/12“Wheelan writes in excellent prose…It is a great concise history of one of the most skilled and controversial generals in American history.”