Sedgwick John 181364

John Sedgwick (see Plate H2) was born at Cornwall I Iollow, Connecticut, on 13 September 1813. After early education at a local school and Sharon Academy he went to West Point, where he was graduated in 1837. Thereafter he fought against the SeminĂ³les and participated in the removal of the Cherokees from Georgia. During the Mexican War he served under both Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott, winning brevets as captain and major.

In 1855 Sedgwick was named major of the new 1st US Cavalry, under Col. Robert E.Lee. When his two immediate superiors resigned to join the Confederate Army in 1861 Sedgwick became the regiment's senior officer. He was commissioned brigadier-general of volunteers on 31 August 1861, commanding a division in II Corps in the Peninsula campaign, where he was badly wounded at Glendale (30 June 1862). Promoted to major-general of volunteers on 4July 1862, he returned to fight at Antietam (17 September), where he was wounded three times and carried unconscious from the field.

Recovering after only three months, he returned to command IX Corps for a short time before being switched to VI Corps. Sedgwick was then discussed as a potential commander of the Army of the Potomac. On 28 April 1863 Marsena Patrick confided in his diary: "Sedgwick, I fear, is not enough of a General for that position - He is a good honest fellow & that is all. I do not think his officers have much confidence in him."

Sedgwick served at Chancellorsville (1-6 May 1863), but his corps was largely in reserve at Gettysburg (1-3 July 1863). In November 1863 he was given temporary command of both VI and V Corps for an operation in which they captured some 1,700 prisoners, eight flags, and four cannon at Rappahannock Bridge. His corps fought well in the Wilderness (5-6 May 1864). On 9 May, at Spotsylvania, he was warned against exposing himself while posting his troops. His famous reply was, "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance" - a remark followed immediately by the thud of a bullet hitting him below the left eye and killing him almost instantly. He was buried in Cornwall Hollow. Grant later wrote of him:

"Sedgwick was killed at Spotsylvania before I had an opportunity of forming an estimate of his qualifications as a soldier from personal observation. I had known him in Mexico when both of us were lieutenants, and when our service gave no indication that either of us would ever be equal to the command of a brigade. He stood very high in the army, however, as an officer and a man. He was brave and conscientious. His ambition was not great, and he seemed to dread responsibility. He was willing to do anv amount of battling, but always wanted some one else to direct."

John Sedgwick, standing at the center of the bottom step with his hand tucked into his coat, seems never to have desired independent command, but was rapidly promoted to lead a corps in the Peninsula campaign and at Antietam. Frank Haskell wrote: "Sedgwick is quite a heavy man, short, thick-set and muscular, with florid complexion, dark, calm, straight-looking eyes, with full, heavyish features, which, with his eyes, have plenty of animation when he is aroused. He has a magnificent profile, well cut, with the nose and forehead forming almost a straight line, curly, short, chestnut hair and full beard, cut short, with a little gray in it. He dresses carelessly, but can look magnificently when he is well dressed. Like Meade, he looks and is, honest and modest. You might see at once, why his men, because they love him, call him 'Uncle John', not to his face, of course, but among themselves."

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