Do you know where Sheridan Road got its name? It was named after a Union general and Illinois resident, Philip Sheridan, in gratitude for his crucial part in the Civil War and in protecting Chicago after the Great Fire. After many tall, handsome Union generals with impressive resumes failed to deliver any real results in the Civil War, Lincoln tapped a homely-looking, tenacious little man, Ulysses Grant, to head the army. After all, good things often come in small packages. One of the first things Grant did was hire Philip Sheridan.
Sheridan was another good thing who came in a small package. President Lincoln 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.” Despite his unimpressive looks, Sheridan was a great asset on the battlefield. He distinguished himself early as a captain in the Civil War, making brigadier and then major general within a year. Despite being defeated by Confederate General Braxton Bragg, Sheridan played a major role in forcing Bragg to eventually retreat. This caused Grant to make him his cavalry commander. Sheridan engaged in raids in the South, similar to General Sherman's “March to the Sea” through Georgia. His success led Grant to give him another assignment: this time, to devastate the fertile Shenandoah Valley, the main source of the Confederacy's food. Sheridan's army also successfully fought off several attacks, including one by General Jubal Early, who mounted it while Sherman was away. When Sherman returned, he was able to turn his fleeing men around and charge Early's cavalry, which was so devastated that it never fought again.
Sherman's final contribution in the war was seizing the railroad that supplied Robert E. Lee's army. Not only was Lee's army cut off from their supplies, but the Confederacy was literally cut in half. Lee tried to escape, but was surrounded and forced to surrender on April 9, 1865.
After the war, Sheridan was appointed general-in-chief of the army. He helped to establish Yellowstone National Park in 1872, where a mountain bears his name. He also defended the devastated city of Chicago, where he lived, from looters after the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.
Although he has a reputation today as an aggressive and harsh warrior, in Sheridan's lifetime, he held a special place in America's heart - the heart of Illinois, in particular. Fort Sheridan, a former army base and POW camp, is one of his memorials, as is the street leading to it, Sheridan Road. When he died in 1888, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.