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the highest ranking casualty of the Civil War
John Sedgwick was born in Cornwall, Connecticut, on September 13, 1813. He attended Sharon Academy and then taught for two years before entering West Point, from which he graduated 24th out of a class of 50 in 1837; he was subsequently commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in an artillery brigade.
Sedgwick served with distinction during the Seminole Wars and received two brevet promotions during the Mexican War, after which he transferred to the cavalry. While stationed in Kansas Territory, he participated in the Mormon Expedition, the Indian Wars, and the 1857 punitive expedition against the Cheyenne. In the summer and fall of 1860, he commanded an expedition to establish a fort on the Platte River in what is now Colorado.
When the Civil War broke out, Sedgwick was a Lieutenant Colonel and Assistant Inspector General of the Military Department of Washington. He subsequently served as: Lieutenant Colonel, 2nd Cavalry (March 16, 1861); Colonel, 1st Cavalry (April 25, 1861); Colonel, 4th Cavalry (change of designation August 3, 1861); Brigadier General, USV (August 31, 1861); commanding 2nd Brigade, Heintzelman's Division, Army of the Potomac (October 31 1861-February 9, 1862); commanding Stone's (old) Division, Army of the Potomac (February 9-March 13, 1862); commanding 2nd Division, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac (March 13-September 17, 1862); Major General, USV July 4, 1862); commanding 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac (December 26, 1862-January 26, 1863); commanding 9th Corps, Army of the Potomac January 16 - February 5, 1863); and commanding 6th Corps, Army of the Potomac (February 4 1863-April 6, 1864 and April 13-May 9, 1865). He was wounded in the arm and leg at the Battle of Glendale (July 4, 1862), and was temporarily put out of action after being wounded three times during the Battle of Antietam. He subsequently led units during the Chancellorsville Campaign, at Gettysburg, and during the Overland Campaign of 1864.
On May 9, 1864, Sedgwick was directing the placement of artillery units at Spotsylvania Court House when he was struck and killed by a Confederate sniper's bullet. Ironically, he had just told his men that Confederate soldiers could not shoot straight and that they therefore had nothing to fear. He was the highest ranking casualty of the war. He was buried near his birthplace.
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This page was last updated on September 22, 2017.