Sickles at Gettysburg: The Controversial Civil War General Who Committed Murder, Abandoned Little Round Top, and Declared Himself the Hero of Gettysburg
James A. Hessler
Winner of The Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award, 2009, given by the Robert E. Lee Civil War Round Table of Central New Jersey.
Sickles at Gettysburg: The Controversial Civil War General Who Committed Murder, Abandoned Little Round Top, and Declared Himself the Hero of Gettysburg', by licensed battlefield guide James Hessler, is the most deeply-researched, full-length biography to appear on this remarkable American icon. And it is long overdue.
No individual who fought at Gettysburg was more controversial, both personally and professionally, than Major General Daniel E. Sickles. By 1863, Sickles was notorious as a disgraced former Congressman who murdered his wife's lover on the streets of Washington and used America's first temporary insanity defense to escape justice. With his political career in ruins, Sickles used his connections with President Lincoln to obtain a prominent command in the Army of the Potomac's Third Corps—despite having no military experience. At Gettysburg, he openly disobeyed orders in one of the most controversial decisions in military history.
No single action dictated the battlefield strategies of George Meade and Robert E. Lee more than Sickles' unauthorized advance to the Peach Orchard, and the mythic defense of Little Round Top might have occurred quite differently were it not for General Sickles. Fighting heroically, Sickles lost his leg on the field and thereafter worked to remove General Meade from command of the army. Sickles spent the remainder of his checkered life declaring himself the true hero of Gettysburg.
Although he nearly lost the battle, Sickles was one of the earliest guardians of the battlefield when he returned to Congress, created Gettysburg National Military Park, and helped preserve the field for future generations. But Dan Sickles was never far from scandal. He was eventually removed from the New York Monument Commission and nearly went to jail for misappropriation of funds.
Hessler's critically acclaimed biography is a balanced and entertaining account of Sickles' colorful life. Civil War enthusiasts who want to understand General Sickles' scandalous life, Gettysburg's battlefield strategies, the in-fighting within the Army of the Potomac, and the development of today's National Park will find Sickles at Gettysburg a must-read.
Invasion of Mexico. In fact, Sickles was pestering Secretary of War Stanton for just such an assignment. “It will not be long before I shall be ready to work again—Can you not then give me a command? If you send a column to operate in Texas that is a service I would like very much—Make it a Department & let me take my old Corps with me.” His desire to serve in Texas may have also been partially motivated by the now unfriendly confines of the Army of the Potomac’s command structure. “Meanwhile.
Corps, his left flank would not have been heavy enough to resist an attack.” Longstreet believed that his attack would have rolled up Sickles’ corps “as easily as a cigarette paper. The only thing left for Sickles was to do as he did.” Longstreet argued that if the fight began with Sickles covering the Round Tops, “we would have had no problem whatever in working in his rear and outflanking him.” Longstreet remained one of Sickles’ most valuable allies. Whether he actually believed it to be true.
Newspapers. The former congressman worked allies in both Houses to build support, openly wondering if Maryland senators opposed him because he refused to allow hunting of runaway slaves in camp. On April 25, Lincoln re-nominated him for brigadier general. On May 13, eight days after Williamsburg, the Senate confirmed his nomination by the razor thin margin of 19-18. (The Excelsior Brigade historian believed the brigade’s gallantry at Williamsburg helped influence the vote, and was the “death.
To detach a brigade from Brigadier General Romeyn Ayres’ Second Division and Moore quickly led Brigadier General Stephen Weed’s brigade toward Birney’s embattled line. As Weed’s brigade marched from its position east of Little Round Top, crossing the Taneytown Road and heading toward the front, Moore and Weed rode ahead to meet with Sickles at the Trostle farm headquarters. What words transpired between Sickles and Weed is unclear, but a signal officer also arrived from Little Round Top and told.
Won Gettysburg.” The detachment of Zook’s brigade was a bold move, but it was also another example of Federal regiments and brigades being scattered all over the field to plug holes in Sickles’ line, and being placed under the command of whomever had the greatest momentary emergency.23 Josiah Favill, one of Zook’s trusted staff officers, told a remarkably different story. Lieutenant Favill was watching the “intensely interesting” opening of Longstreet’s attack when Henry Tremain arrived and.