The history of Sheridan dates back to the late 1850s and the early 1860s and unless events and people that and struggled here are recorded, they will pass into oblivion. Before the newspapers, tales were often repeated, but few could speak with accuracy.
In the beginning, Sheridan was off the main trail routes, but it was of interest to the trapper. When those who had come to Virginia City in the quest of gold and riches found that many of their dreams were not going to materialize, they began to look elsewhere. Many decided to try and find new locations where gold might be hidden. This led to other industries of agriculture and lumber as well as mining for minerals other than gold. The little hamlet probably began its growth when two Canadian Frenchmen, Mar Perrault and Frank Birrer, built a cabin on the present site where the Ruby Hotel now stands.
Located at the foot hills of the jagged Tobacco Root Mountains, Sheridan’s 2010 census population records 642 residents within the city limits. Many of the founding father’s descendants still claim it as home.
We are beginning to document some of the storied history of the Ruby Valley and of Sheridan. Whether its about Robbers Roost, Sheriff Henry Plummers Gang or Harvard Universities investment in the Conrey placer mining company in Alder - this area encapsulates how the west was won.
Who is Sheridan?
The story goes that a group of ranchers named the town after Phil Sheridan, a prominent general in the Civil War. It became official when the first post office was established in 1866.
General Phil Sheridan
The town of Sheridan Montana was named after General Sheridan. No one is quite sure why - perhaps it was the that it was founded right after the end of the Civil War and "lil" Phil, as the General was known, was quite popular. It could also have been a political statement. With the nearby town of Alder in the middle of a gold rush - many ex-confederate soldiers (among others) were in the area. Could it have been a statement to indicate that the town people were firmly on the side of the Union Army? General Sheridan did make his mark in the area. He was mainly responsible for telling President Grant that no railroad should be allowed to lay their tracks into the Lamar valley of the newly formed Yellowstone Park. He also was the one to bring the military into Yellowstone - to protect it against the increasing number of poachers. No statue of General Sheridan exists in Sheridan (yet) so this one comes from his birthplace in the middle of Greenwich Village, New York City.
Sheridan Montana is not the only place named after 'lil' Phil. At least nine other towns in the US have his name. In nearby Yellowstone National Park there is Mount Sheridan.
General Philip Henry Sheridan, (1831-1888) - A short biography
March 6, 1831
Born in New York
Entered West Point
Assigned to the 4th Infantry in the Pacific Northwest
Assigned to duty at the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation in Yamhill County, Oregon
Civil War resulted in his promotion to Captain
October 19, 1864
Battle at Cedar Creek from which the poem Sheridan's Ride was written by Thomas Buchanan Read
May 17, 1865
Grant appointed Sheridan commander of the Military District of the Southwest to restore Texas and Louisiana to to Union control.
Sheridan placed in charge of a large Texas occupation force, helping to induce the French to abandon their claims against Mexico.
Grant appointed Sheridan to head the department of the Missouri and to pacify the Plains Indians.
Sheridan appointed Lieutenant General with headquarters in Chicago.
Sheridan is sent to observe and report on the Franco-Prussian War.
Sheridan authorized Lieutenant Gustavus Doane to escort the Washburn Expedition and for Captain John W. Barlow to escort the Hayden Expedition in 1871. In large part, as a result of these expeditions Yellowstone National Park was founded March 1, 1872.
Sheridan ordered the 1st U.S. Cavalry into the park to prevent poaching and destruction of natural structures. (The military operated the park until the National Park Service took it over in 1916).
October 7-8, 1871
Great Chicago Fire Sheridan commands troops to stop looters and directed fire fighting and reconstruction.
June 3, 1875
Sheridan marries Miss Irene Rucker. They have four children.
November 1, 1883
Lieutenant General Sheridan promoted to Commander of the US Army.
June 1, 1888
Congress Makes Phil Sheridan General of the Army of the United States.
August 5, 1888
Dies of Heart Attack Nonquitt, Massachusetts and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
by Thomas Buchanan Read
Up from the South, at break of day, Bringing to Winchester fresh dismay, The affrighted air with a shudder bore, Like a herald in haste to the chieftain's door, The terrible grumble, and rumble, and roar, Telling the battle was on once more, And Sheridan twenty miles away.
And wider still those billows of war Thundered along the horizon's bar; And louder yet into Winchester rolled The roar of that red sea uncontrolled, Making the blood of the listener cold, As he thought of the stake in that fiery fray, With Sheridan twenty miles away.
But there is a road from Winchester town, A good, broad highway leading down: And there, through the flush of the morning light, A steed as black as the steeds of night Was seen to pass, as with eagle flight; As if he knew the terrible need, He stretched away with his utmost speed. Hills rose and fell, but his heart was gay, With Sheridan fifteen miles away.
Still sprang from those swift hoofs, thundering south, The dust like smoke from the cannon's mouth, Or the trail of a comet, sweeping faster and faster, Foreboding to traitors the doom of disaster. The heart of the steed and the heart of the master Were beating like prisoners assaulting their walls, Impatient to be where the battle-field calls; Every nerve of the charger was strained to full play, With Sheridan only ten miles away.
Under his spurning feet, the road Like an arrowy Alpine river flowed, And the landscape sped away behind Like an ocean flying before the wind; And the steed, like a barque fed with furnace ire, Swept on, with his wild eye full of fire; But, lo! he is nearing his heart's desire; He is snuffing the smoke of the roaring fray, With Sheridan only five miles away.
The first that the general saw were the groups Of stragglers, and then the retreating troops; What was to be done? what to do?--a glance told him both. Then striking his spurs with a terrible oath, He dashed down the line, 'mid a storm of huzzas, And the wave of retreat checked its course there, because The sight of the master compelled it to pause. With foam and with dust the black charger was gray; By the flash of his eye, and his red nostril's play, He seemed to the whole great army to say: "I have brought you Sheridan all the way From Winchester down to save the day."
Hurrah! hurrah for Sheridan! Hurrah! hurrah for horse and man! And when their statues are placed on high Under the dome of the Union sky, The American soldier's Temple of Fame, There, with the glorious general's name, Be it said, in letters both bold and bright: "Here is the steed that saved the day By carrying Sheridan into the fight, From Winchester--twenty miles away!"
Books on Phil Sheridan
The Memoirs of General P. H. Sheridan
Personal Memoirs of P. H. Sheridan, Vol. 1
Little Phil: The Story of General Philip Henry Sheridan
Phil Sheridan and His Army
"Philip Sheridan." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 22 Nov 2006, 00:46 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 Nov 2006
"Who Was Who In The Civil War" by Stewart Sifakis New York: Facts on File Publications., 1988
Brandon Town at the mouth of Mill Creek east of Sheridan, came within one vote of being the first capital of Montana Territory in 1865, during the wheeling and dealing of the 20 delegates assembled in Bannack for that purpose.
Shoshoni Indians - As far as we can tell this area was frequented by the Shoshoni Indians. Perhaps as a summer hunting grounds. The Ruby River was at one time named the Passamari meaning "water of the cotton groves". Perhaps most well known of the Shoshoni tribe was Sacagawea, the Shoshoni women who helped Lewis and Clark on their momenteous journey. It was nearby at Beaverhead rock that she first recognized the land of her people. This photograph of a roadside marker can be found outside of Twin Bridges as you head west on Melrose Road. There are four rockpiles that mark what is thought ot be gravesites. About 1 mile out of town on the north side of the road.
This was also known as Daly’s roadhouse and was the hangout for the “innocents” The innocents were part of Sheriff Henry Plummer’s gang. The gang made their living picking the pockets of travelers, back in 1864 when gold was pouring out of Alder; Henry Plummer was the Sheriff out of Bannack, the first territorial capital of Montana.
Travel Highway 287, approximately 2 miles south of Sheridan. MAP
Museums in Virginia City, Nevada City, and Twin Bridges