Primary Resource

"Sheridan's Raid" (March 24, 1865)

In "Sheridan's Raid," an anonymous article published in the Staunton Vindicator on March 24, 1865, the paper reports on Union general Philip Sheridan's march from the Shenandoah Valley to Charlottesville at the end of the American Civil War (1861–1865). There the cavalry troopers occupied the city and the University of Virginia from March 3 until March 6, 1865.

Transcription from Original

Sheridan's Raid.

From the best information we can get we give the following statement of Sheridan's force and movement.

His force consists of two Divisions and one Brigade of Cavalry under the command of Genls [George Armstrong] Custer, [Wesley] Merritt and [Thomas E.] Devin, with four pieces of artillery, the whole numbering from seven to nine thousand men.

He broke camp at Winchester on Monday 27th Feb. and reached Staunton on Thursday morning and pushed on to Waynesboro, meeting and scattering Gen [Jubal A.] Early's small force at that place, capturing, it was supposed by persons who saw them pass through Staunton, about six or seven hundred prisoners, and pressed with his advance through Rockfish Gap to Greenwood that night. He entered Charlottesville Friday 3rd inst. about 2 P.M., the Mayor and Council having surrendered the town and received promise of protection. He remained at Charlottesville until Monday at 10 A.M., when he moved in two columns, on the Lynchburg and Scottsville roads, the first column leaving the Lynchburg road, moved in the direction of and struck James River at New market, thence this column moved down the Canal, preceded by the column from Scottsville, to Columbia, whence they diverged in the direction of the Va Central R R, which they struck at some point between Louisa C.H. and Beaver Dam, and it is supposed have made their way around our extreme left to [Ulysses S.] Grant. They destroyed the bridges and depots, except at Charlottesville, on the Central Road from Staunton to Shadwell, tore up the track of the Charlottesville and Lynchburg R R about 8 miles from Charlottesville and destroyed the bridges and depots on the road as far as they proce[e]ded. They burned the locks and otherwise damaged the canal from New Market to Columbia and it is supposed have destroyed the track of the Central Road at and for some distance beyond Beaver Dam. In many of these depots they destroyed considerable quantities of Government supplies.

In the country along their march they behaved with their characteristic vandalism, insulting women, stealing, plundering and burning.

Owing to the fact that our forces had been scattered at different points for the purpose of more easily securing a supply of forage, Sheridan was enabled to move over the whole line of his march, almost without an impediment. It is to be hoped that our forces may be kept more concentrated hereafter, to do which the Farmers of the Valley and adjacent counties east of the Blue Ridge, must be willing not only to furnish their tithe, but must spare all they can to supply the army, if they desire to save their property from the devastating tread of the Barbarian Yankees.