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William Edward Sheridan, son of Edward and Ellen Sheridan, was born in Boston, Massachusetts and according to military records was born on June 1, 1839. The 1850 census, he was living with his mother and two brothers, in the town of Roxbury, Massachusetts.   Prior to the Civil War Sheridan worked as a clerk in a stationery shop for two years at Loring and Company, before becoming a professional actor at the Howard Athenaeum, on March 15, 1858; beginning with the Thomas Morton play, Town and Country, and gradually moved on until he was performing in other towns and cities, including the Chestnut Street Theatre Stock Company, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Pike’s Opera House, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He continued in that profession until his enlistment in 1861. Living in Cincinnati when the American Civil War broke out, Sheridan enlisted as a Corporal in Company “B” of the 6th Ohio Infantry, a three-month unit, on April 20, 1861 and served in the Western Theatre. At the end of his three month enlistment, Sheridan re-enlisted in Company F of the 6th Ohio Infantry, as a 1st Sergeant, at Camp Dennison, Ohio on June 18, 1861.

The 6th Ohio Regiment was organized at Camp Dennison, Ohio on June 18, 1861, after which it moved to Fetterman, West Virginia from June 29th through July 2nd.  It was attached to the 1st Brigade, Army of Occupation, West Virginia, until September 1861.It was then placed in Reynolds' Command at Cheat Mountain, West Virginia till November, 1861.when it became part of the10th Brigade, Army Ohio, to December, 1861. It then was transferred to the 10th Brigade, 4th Division, Army Ohio, till September, 1862; the 10th Brigade, 4th Division, 2nd Corps, Army Ohio, till November, 1862; the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, Left Wing of the 14th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, till January, 1863; the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 21st Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, till October, 1863 the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 4th Army Corps, until June, 1864.

Sheridan’s regiment saw action at Grafton, West Virginia in 1861, march to Philippi on July 4th, was in the West Virginia Campaign from July 6th through the 21st, at Laurel Hill on July 8th, Carrick’s Ford on July 13th, pursued Garnett's forces on July 15th & 16th, pulled duty at Beverly till August 6th, camped at Elkwater at the foot of Cheat Mountain from August 6th through November 19th, participated in the operations on Cheat Mountain against Lee from September 11th through the 17th, at  Cheat Mountain Pass on September 12th, participated in the occupation of Nashville on February 25th and was the first Regiment to enter city, was in the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee on April 6th & 7th, the sieges of Corinth, Mississippi from  May 24th through the 30th, the occupation of Corinth on May 30th, the Battle of Perryville on October 8th, the Battle of Stone's River on December 30th & 31st, the Battle of Chickamauga on  September 19th & 20th, the Siege of Chattanooga, Tennessee on September 24th through November 23rd  and at Resaca, Georgia guarding railroad bridge over the Oostenaula River until June 6th. It was then ordered to the rear for mustering out on June 6th; Mustering out at Camp Dennison, Ohio on June 23, 1864 at the expiration of their term of enlistment.

On August 31st he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major and accepted a position in Field and Staff of his own regiment. On December 12, 1861, while camped at Camp Wickliffe, near New Haven, Kentucky, Sheridan was again promoted, to 2nd Lieutenant, transferred to Company H and assigned to the Signal Corps of the Department of Ohio.

Sheridan served in the Signal Corps, filling a vacancy in Company H as a 1st Lieutenant from January 29, 1862 until November 1862, when he was listed as absent, in November and December. On January 23rd, (some say the 26th) 1862 members of the 6th Ohio, were attached to the Signal Corps of the Army of the Cumberland, by Special Field Order No. 32, issued by General Buell, and sent to Nashville. Sheridan participated in the Battle of Perryville on October 8, 1862 as a member of the Signal Corps, under the command of Major General Don Carlos Buell.

In March 1863 Sheridan was promoted once again, to the rank of Captain in Company E, detached on the Signal Corps, by Special Field Order Number 32; issued by General Buell. Sheridan is recorded on Muster Rolls for the months of May and June 1864, in Captain C.R. Case’s U.S. Signal Corps at Chattanooga, Tennessee but was listed as being absent due to wounds received in action. He had been wounded in action against the enemy in hostile action near Resaca, Georgia on May 14th, when he was shot through the right forearm, by a rifle ball fired by the enemy resulting in a compound fracture of the radius and ulna. 

He was then sent to the United States Army General Hospital, Division No. 1, at Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was placed under the care of Assistant Surgeon Charles H. French, 18th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.   Surgeon French filled out a medical certificate regarding Sheridan’s wound, and declared him unfit for duty and that he be released on a leave of absence for twenty days.   This recommendation was passed on to the surgeon in charge of Division No. 1, Jabez M. Cooke, who approved the leave, beginning on June 3, 1864.

The 6th Ohio, having completed their three-year enlistment at Camp Dennison on June 23, 1864, was mustered out on October 31st. Sheridan was residing at his home at 213 Plum Street at Cincinnati at the time and went by carriage to greet members of the Regiment, as they returned to Cincinnati by train. He was mustered out on June 23, 1864, and immediately restarted his previous acting career.     Sheridan married Sarah E. Hayes, his first wife, at Boston, Massachusetts on September 1, 1864 and returned to the theatre stage at “Pikes Opera House”, and was the leading actor until the Opera House burned down in 1868. He performed in St. Louis, Washington, Boston, New Orleans and Philadelphia; also being a member of Booth’s Theatre in Boston for several years under the administration of Edwin Booth. He also performed as leading actor in a company formed by A.R. Samuels opening in the reconstructed Park Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts in 1875 and 1876.  Then on January 4, 1880, William Sheridan, at San Francisco, California, married Anna Louise; both having divorced their previous partners. Sheridan had divorced his first wife at West Las Anomus County, Colorado on July 23, 1885, while Louise divorced her husband, Charles D. Cone, at San Francisco on February 5th. Residing at Cincinnati, Ohio Sheridan first applied for a military invalid pension on August 8, 1866; application number 110235; which was not granted until April 14, 1881; number 71572.

After the war Sheridan continued his acting career and performed in numerous cities, including Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis and New Orleans; as well as cities overseas. He made a trip to London, England in 1880 with the McKee Rankin Company and was overwhelmingly received. Returning to San Francisco, California, he performed in one of the longest theatrical engagements known.

Sheridan first arrived in Australia in 1882, returning to the U.S. and then returning to Australia again in 1886, with his second wife, Louise Davenport; and continued to perform professionally, but by that time his success had diminished somewhat, due to his declining health. His last performance was given at the in Sydney, New South Wales at the “Star Theatre” in 1880, on the night of Washington’s Birthday. Sheridan had attended a theatre in Sydney on the night of May 17, 1887, as a spectator, when he had a fainting fit, and collapsed. He was taken unconscious to a room of the New York Hotel in Sydney, but never regained consciousness. 

William Edward Sheridan died of epilepsy at the New York Hotel in Sydney, Australia on May 18, 1887 and was buried in the Waverley Cemetery in New South Wales, in the Church of England Ordinary Section 6, grave number 1582. A monument was placed on his gravesite by public subscription. Louise applied for a widow’s pension on August 9, 1887 and records reveal that Louise continued to support herself, while living in Darlinghurst, Sydney; by “Elocution and Dramatic teaching” until her death on August 24, 1901.

 

Compiled Military Service Record for Ohio

G.A.R. Post 113, Boston, Massachusetts History

Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts

Massachusetts State Vital Records Office, Dorchester, Mass.

National Archives, Washington, D.C.

National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri

“New York Times”, June 12, 1887, New York Times Archives

“Theatre of Australia”, John West, 1978

“The Australasian Sketcher”, Sept. 1882

“The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate

Armies”, Wash., 1880

United States Census Records, 1840 -1860

United States Pension Records

United States Veterans Administration Archives

Waverly Cemetery

6th Ohio Infantry Roster

6th Ohio Regimental Histories

 

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