Battle of Spotsylvania: Sunday, May 8, 1864
The Death of Major General John Sedgwick

General Sedgwick MonumentMajor General John Sedgwick had served the Union cause for three years from the initiation of civil war. He was universally liked and respected by his men, often affectionately referred to "Uncle John" Sedgwick. An example of how he approached his fellow soldiers can be seen in the following short communication from Major W. A. Roebling describing the General's reaction to being placed in command of Major General Gouverneur Kemble Warren's 5th Corps as well as his own 6th just as his men arrived at Spotsylvania.

"Met General Sedgwick in the salient of our breast-works. Says he, "Where is General Warren? I want to see him." Says I, "Right here." "Well," says General Sedgwick, "he has just showed me the order putting me in command of the two corps [Fifth and Sixth]; just tell General Warren to go on and command his own corps as usual. I have perfect confidence that he will do what is right, and knows what to do with his corps as well as I do"." [9]

Major General John SedgwickAs the Army of the Potomac arrived outside of the town of Spotsylvania Court House, Major General Sedgwick's 6th Corps was ordered to support General Warren's Fifth Corps. Watchful of the distant enemy's lines and the dispositions of his own troops, his men laid down on the ground seeking shelter from the minie balls which their antagonists sent whizzing through the air where they settled. General Sedgwick playfully teased some of the soldiers for their caution. John Sedgwick was popular with his men in part because he took care of them. On this day, his men sought to return the favor. As he chided those seeking shelter, some responded that they wished the General would show more caution given that the enemy kept a watchful eye from across the fields. General Sedgwick responded in kind, saying, "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." Just then came one more whizzing bullet ending its journey with an ominously dull thud. Blood ran from under the General's left eye and he collapsed to the ground. Fifty year old Major General "Uncle John" Sedgwick was dead, taken from his command, his leadership lost on the eve of one of the wars most vicious battles. His men and comrades would mourn his loss and the General's body was sent to his home state of Connecticut for burial.

Major General John Sedgwick Equestrian Statue - Gettysburg Battlefield