The monument to “Uncle John” Sedgwick, who was killed by a sharpshooter on May 9, 1864–149 years ago today at the Battle of Spotsylvania. “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance,” Sedgwick said just before taking a bullet below the left eye. The shot killed him instantly. He was the highest-ranking Union officer killed during the Civil War.
Veterans of Sedgwick’s VI Corps dedicated the monument on May 12, 1887, the twenty-third anniversary of the fighting at the Bloody Angle. Thousands of people turned out for the ceremony, including Horatio Wright, Sedgwick’s successor.
The granite monument, which stands nine feet tall with a five-and- a-half-foot square base, “is a solid and impressive design, in keeping with the strong and trustworthy character of the man it memorializes,” wrote a newspaperman covering the dedication.
The monument, which marks the approximate location of Sedgwick’s death, is the oldest formal monument anywhere in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Former Confederates present for the dedication were inspired to erect the monument to Stonewall Jackson that sits on the Chancellorsville battlefield.