After training in Paris, Schussele moved to New York and specialized in portraits and history subjects. Based on one of his paintings, this engraving celebrates the heroism of Philip H. Sheridan, a thirty-three-year-old Union general tasked, in the summer and fall of 1864, with pushing Confederate forces commanded by General Jubal Early back down the Shenandoah Valley and away from Washington D.C. By October 19, the opposing armies were camped near Cedar Creek, Virginia, when Sheridan, separated from his men by a dozen miles, heard artillery fire at dawn and surmised a surprise attack. After making an aggressive cross-country ride, the general rallied his retreating men and turned rout into victory. A Harper's Weekly report on November 4 inspired a poem by Thomas Buchanan Read that became an instant sensation, and turned Sheridan and his horse Rienzi into Union heroes. Schussele's image of the general rousing his dispirited troops echoes the elevated tone of the poem.
Inscription: in plate, below image: "He dashed down the line 'mid a storm of huzzas. And the wave of retreat checked its course there, because the sight of its master compelled it to pause."
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," May 20, 2013–August 26, 2013.