New York Daily Photo Analytics

Tuesday, May 22, 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"


calusarus said...

We have heard about General Sheridan in France because of a song by Michel Sardou, called, "chanteur de Jazz" (Jazz Singer) where he speaks about "a begging orchester under horse's hooves of the old hero, General Sheridan"
"Un orchestre qui mendiait sous les sabots du cheval du vieux héros, Général Sheridan".

Anonymous said...

Nice photograph and interesting narrative. I remember a similar kind of man whose name was General Meade and when I arrived at Fort Meade in 1953 I was set for a shot in Korea but the war ended before I got there. So my tour was Japan.

I like some of the Civil War pieces but it is even more interesting how they are getting lost in the cities where they are located. One of the television stations did a special on that and New York was featured and I think the statue that was all but lost to memory was General Grant. It might be better known now after the television episode.

I posted a picture today of the feeding process of robins. It is a series.

Moi said...

great story to go with the pic...enjoyed reading it thoroughly...

Brian said...

I worry that posts with a lot of history may be boring or unexciting to some. However, these are some of the most fascinating things in NYC: older architecture and sculpture. And the history makes it come alive.