Sheridan or Jackson?

While Chris and I were out on the battlefield the other day, we got to wondering what would happen if General Philip Sheridan and General Thomas Jackson met on the battlefield in 1864? This scenario had never been brought up to me before. I’ve always been  asked about many scenarios, but this “what if” was new. Quite frankly, I did not sleep well because I kept thinking about it; I did not answer Chris at the time. I shot him a message the next day that read:

Hey I have been thinking about that “what if” Jackson met Sheridan in battle. There are only three generals in the Civil War that possessed what is called the coup d’oeil. Those three are Grant, Lee, and Jackson. Tactically, Jackson was a better general. I think he would whip Sheridan. Operationally, Jackson would also beat Sheridan before mid-1864. Strategically, I give Sheridan an edge, but Sheridan developed grand strategies when fighting in the Indian Wars. However, if Jackson was in that same position, I think he would be the better strategist. Sheridan needed to grow as a general, but Jackson was already great.

(Jomini defines coup d’oeil as determining the decisive position on a map with a sudden glance.[1] )

While I defend Sheridan on several controversies, I would hardly call him Jackson’s superior. However, I think this would be an essential question to ask everyone in the ECW community. How would you rate Jackson and Sheridan’s abilities against one another?


[1] Antoine-Henri Jomini, The Art of War: Strategy & Tactics from the Age of Horse & Musket, (London: Leonaur, 2012), 275.

2 Responses to Sheridan or Jackson?

  1. “Tactically, Jackson was a better general.”

    If true, that says more about Sheridan than it does Jackson. Stonewall was a mediocre tactician – First Kernstown, McDowell, Port Republic, the Seven Days, Cedar Mountain, Brawner’s Farm, Second Bull Run Day 2. He was fortunate that Franklin and Reynolds botched the Union attack through the area of his ill-advised gap at Fredericksburg. If you wanted somebody to drive troops to quick-march over long distances, Jack was your man. But when it came to execution on the battlefield, not so much. And note that the engagements listed above did not involve the Union’s “A Team”.

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