Honoring Uncle John

I can’t let today pass without a tip of my hat to “Uncle John” Sedgwick, killed on this day in 1864 at the battle of Spotsylvania Court House.

Sedgwick May 09 2020

Maxwell at Sedgwick CannonIt was a chilly 45 degrees when my son Maxwell and I visited the Spotsy battlefield late this morning. The lawn, unkempt because of the shutdown, looked like it needed a haircut—just like pretty much everyone I know. Like Sedgwick was, Maxwell was interested in the artillery here; fortunately there are no South Carolinian snipers on the far edge of Spindle Field today. He does a lot of battlefielding with me, but this spring, he’s wanted to go out pretty much every day and explore the battlefields. He’s starting to ask questions, which is good.

For the past few years, I’ve come out to Spotsy on the anniversary of Uncle John’s death to pay my respects. I never had a particular affinity for Sedgwick until Kris White and I wrote Chancellorsville’s Forgotten Front: The Battles of Second Fredericksburg and Salem Church. I grew to really appreciate Sedgwick while working on that project. Once I moved to this area—and thus, was able to visit the battlefield pretty much whenever I wanted—commemorating Sedgwick’s death has become one of my annual rituals.

Looking back through the ECW archives, I’ve apparently posted a fair number of pictures of the Sedgwick monument in that time:

Sedgwick 2018

Sedgwick Monument CU

Sedgwick 050916



Here are the Sedgwick posts from previous May ninths; posting about Uncle John on the anniversary of his death has also apparently become a tradition:

With Sedgwick at Spotsylvania (a 2019 post by Edward Alexander about the Sedgwick monument dedication)

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)

And I’ll leave you with my favorite “Sedgwick monument” shot of all:



4 Responses to Honoring Uncle John

  1. Another nice post! I also posted some pics in tribute today. His gravesite, in Cornwall Hollow, CT, near his house, is well worth a visit.

  2. Thank you Chris . Ty and I have a photo with us at the Wilderness monument , taken by Rob Orrison … but also at West Point that we live near . It’s one of our favorites there . Thank you Chris

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