Remembering John Sedgwick

Sedgwick 2018As I explained in a post back in 2015, I take time on May 9 each year to visit the Spotsylvania Court House battlefield and pay my respects to Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick. Sedgwick was killed at the battle by an exceptionally adept Confederate sharpshooter from Joseph Kershaw’s brigade. As seen the photo (right, taken this morning), the shot came from somewhere in that far treeline and hit Sedgwick at the spot reportedly marked by the monument. That’s a good 600 yards, I’m told—not an impossible shot, but not an easy one by any stretch, either.

Over the years, I’ve come to respect “Uncle John,” not because he had any great degree of razzle-dazzle on the field but because he was stalwart and dependable, and because the men themselves respected and even loved him so much.

Here are a few posts about Sedgwick from the ECW archives from previous May ninths: 

Sedgwick’s Death (a first-hand account from Sedgwick’s staffer, Martin T. McMahon)

Killed in Action (2014) (an explanation by Chris Kolakowski about Sedgwick’s position as the most-senior Union officer killed in the war)

Rituals and Remembrance at Spotsy (2015)

In Memory of “Uncle John” (2016)

Visiting “Uncle John” (2017)

7 Responses to Remembering John Sedgwick

  1. Such a nice post, thank you for sharing. General John Sedgwick was loved by his men. My 2nd great grandfather Colonel Osgood Vose Tracy, 122nd NYSV, wrote him of him after his death, how highly the men thought of him and how much he would be missed in the Sixth Corps. Sedgwick was first cousin with my 3rd great grandfather, N.Y. State Representative Charles Baldwin Sedgwick, of Syracuse, N.Y., a staunch abolitionist and first to make a speech on the House floor in 1860 denouncing slavery.

  2. I respectfully repeat the question I asked after the “turning point” article, about The Wilderness:
    Do you know of any personal interaction between Generals Grant and Sedgwick, in the weeks
    prior to the latter’s death at Spotsylvania?

    1. Hi, Eric —

      I’ve been in the field (or grading final papers) for the past few days so haven’t had time to respond to your question. Grant and Meade met with the army’s corps commanders on the evening of May 5 following the first day of the battle of the Wilderness. That’s the last recorded instance I know of Grant and Sedgwick in personal contact. I’m sure their paths crossed during the spring encampment, though.

  3. What a wonderful tribute to a great soldier. I read your past posts and love your line from 2015: “How we remember and respect the dead doesn’t really matter; what matters is that we take the time to do it’. Well said!!

  4. My great great uncle was named Sedgewick. I met him when he was almost 100 yrs old, and had no idea what his name meant at the time. His uncle Lt William Tourison had been killed at Culp’s Hill. The story is in “Torn Families”.

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