As the presidential election of 1864 approached, Abraham Lincoln knew he was in trouble. The War was not going well, and unless his generals could serve up some convincing victories before the good citizens of the north went to the polls in November, Mr. Lincoln knew he would soon be handing the keys to the White House over to Democratic challenger George B. McClellan.

Fortunately for Lincoln, his generals would not fail him. William Tecumseh Sherman would wreak havoc "from Atlanta to the sea," and -- much closer to home -- Philip Sheridan would chase Confederate General Jubal Early out of the Shenandoah Valley (and right out of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia into an early retirement).

This poem, by Mississippian Samuel Berryhill, paints a grim, altogether too realistic picture of Sheridan's destructive rampage through the "breadbasket of the South." Although acknowledging Sheridan as the author of "this wide-spread ruin dire," Berryhill ultimately holds Lincoln responsible for the campaign, referring to the President as "Moloch" (a false Canaanite god of the Old Testament, who was represented by a bull's head upon which children were sacrificed).

Confederate partisan Colonel John Singleton Mosby is compared to Roderic Dhu, a gallant Highland chieftain who figures favorably in Sir Walter Scott's "The Lady of the Lake."

The poem's final stanza -- "The 'crow' that flies on pinions fleet/Need take no 'rations' there to eat" -- refers to Sheridan's boast that when he was done with the Valley, a crow flying over would need to carry its own provisions.