Philip Sheridan 1831–1888

J. Lee Knight (lifedates unknown)
Albumen silver print, 1872

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

This group photograph was taken in Topeka, Kansas, in 1872. It includes General Philip Sheridan (seated second from the left) alongside such members of his staff as George A. Custer (seated at the far left). At the time, Sheridan was escorting Grand Duke Alexis of Russia on an extended tour of the United States. Sheridan was one of Ulysses S. Grant’s most trusted generals during the Civil War and in 1867 was appointed the head of the U.S. Army division responsible for pacifying hostile Native American groups on the plains.

Reputed to have commented that “the only good Indians I ever saw were dead,” he proved to be relentless in fulfilling this assignment, directing numerous military campaigns meant to force tribes to abide by recently enacted U.S. policies. Sheridan also had a keen interest in the Yellowstone region and worked to ensure that the army was assigned the responsibility for managing the new national park.