How much did Sheridan really burn?

When the systematic destruction of the, “Breadbasket of the Confederacy” was complete by early October 1864, it was clear that Sheridan had carried out the order given to him of leaving the Valley a “barren waste”. The numbers of how much Sheridan’s army destroyed or confiscated have been debated. Some claim Sheridan burned every house in his view and shot every dog that go in his way. (I highly disagree with this standpoint, but some people still view Sheridan as the reincarnation of the devil). As I was cleaning out my desk I came across a piece of paper I had tucked away. The information was taken from the park’s Land Use History completed in 2007 by Michael Commisso, Historical Landscape Architect. The image below was taken directly from the report:

Sheridan Burning numbers Land Use Report

What stands out to me is the vast amount of livestock taken in beef, cattle and hogs, as well as all the horses taken from Valley residents. Also the vast amount of wheat that was destroyed or taken, asserts that citizens and soldiers would have a terrible time in the upcoming winter attempting to feed themselves, families or little livestock that remained.

For a comprehensive study of the burning in the Shenandoah Valley I encourage folks to read John Heatwole’s, The Burning: Sheridan’s Devastation of the Shenandoah Valley. 


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