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John Sedgwick
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Military Personnel
    (September 13, 1813-May 9, 1864)
    Born in Cornwall, Connecticut
    Participated in the Seminole Wars, the Mexican-American War, the Indian Wars and the Civil War
    Commanded the VI Corps of the Army of the Potomac (1862-64)
    Major General
    Killed by a sniper at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
    Highest ranking Union casualty of the Civil War
    One of his men said he was 'addicted to practical jokes and endless games of solitaire.'
    The Union's top provost officer wrote, 'Sedgwick, I fear, is not good enough a general for corps command. He is a good honest fellow and that is all.'
    He is remembered more for his last words than his military career.
    He chastised soldiers ducking for cover from sniper fire with 'Why are you dodging like this? They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance.'
    Some 'famous last words' collections apparently don't find his statement sufficiently dramatic (or perhaps ironic) and truncate it to 'They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist--.'
    He received two brevet promotions in the Mexican-American War for battlefield gallantry.
    During the Seven Days Battles, despite being ill with 'camp fever' he mounted his horse and rode with his men, and was shot in the arm and leg.
    He was wounded in the wrist, leg and shoulder at the Battle of Antietam.
    He was approached about leading the Army of the Potomac after Joseph Hooker was dismissed, but replied 'Why, Meade is the proper one to command this army.'
    He was liked by his men who affectionately called him 'Uncle John.'
    General Grant said he was 'never at fault when serious work was to be done' and told his staff Sedgwick's loss was worse than that of an entire division.
    According to tradition, any cadet who spins the rowels of the spurs on the boots of his statue at West Point at midnight while wearing full parade dress gray over white uniform under arms will have good luck on his or her final exam.

Credit: C. Fishel


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