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 Daniel Edgar Sickles

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Daniel Edgar Sickles

  • Birth 20 Oct 1819 New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
  • Death 3 May 1914 New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
  • Burial Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
  • Plot In storage cabinets within the anatomical collections (not open to the public)
  • Memorial ID 7381

Civil War Union Major General, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, US Congressman, US Diplomat. Undoubtedly one of the most controversial figures to emerge from the Civil War, he was elected to represent New York's 3rd Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives, serving from 1857 to 1861. While in Congress, he shot and killed Philip Barton Key, the son of Francis Scott Key, for having an affair with his wife. In a sensational trial, he was the first person in American Judicial history to plead temporary insanity, and he was acquitted for that reason (his lawyer was future Secretary of War Edwin Stanton). When the Civil War erupted he raised a brigade of New York Troops, which became known as the "Excelsior Brigade". He was commissioned Brigadier General, US Volunteers on September 3, 1861. His command fought in the Peninsular Campaign, and the Battles of Second Bull Run and Antietam. He then commanded his division at the Battle of Fredericksburg, being promoted to Major General in November 1862. In early 1863 he was given command of the Army of the Potomac's III Corps, which he led at the Battle of Chancellorsville. During that battle units of his Corps detected Stonewall Jackson's famous Flank March, and reported it to AOP commander General Joseph Hooker, who believed it meant the Confederates were retreating. When Jackson's troops crushed the Federal right flank, it was General Sickles' Corps that attacked and ultimately halted the Confederates in bloody fighting. At the Battle of Gettysburg his III Corps was the anchor of the Union left flank, being stationed around the Round Tops area. Without orders, General Sickles extended his battle line forward to Emmitsburg Road, believing it to be a better position (in fact it was a very weak one within General George Meade's defensive plans). General James Longstreet's Army of Northern Virginia Corps subsequently attacked and crushed the Union salient, causing the III Corps to lose fully half its numbers. General Sickles lost his leg to a cannonball while in his headquarters next to the Trostle Farmhouse Barn. His personal bravery during the Battle earned him the CMOH, which his citation reads "Displayed most conspicuous gallantry on the field vigorously contesting the advance of the enemy and continuing to encourage his troops after being himself severely wounded". The Medal was issued on October 30, 1897. (He gave his severed leg to the US Army Medical Corps, and it is displayed today in the Army Medical Museum). Sickles extension of his line has caused controversy that still is debated today. He never again held field command. For a time he was Military Governor in the Carolinas. In 1869 he was retired as a Major General in the Regular Service. He then served a controversial term as US Minister to Spain from 1869 to 1873. He was again elected to Congress, representing New York's 10th district in the House of Representatives from 1893 to 1895. He was the driving force in the establishment of the Gettysburg National Military Park, and was the Chairman of the New York State Monuments Commission (serving from 1886 to his dismissal for alleged mishandling of funds in 1912). His last years were spent in involvement in Veterans issues, and as "cantankerous old gentleman". In the Military Park at Gettysburg, and avenue is named for him, the field between Emmitsburg Road and the Trostle Farmhouse is called "Excelsior Field", and a monument marks the spot where he was wounded next to the Trostle House.

Bio by: Russ


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 27 Nov 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7381
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Daniel Edgar Sickles (20 Oct 1819–3 May 1914), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7381, citing National Museum of Health and Medicine, Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .