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1864 May 14: The Deaths of Three Union Generals

May 17, 2014

All articles are from the May 14, 1864, issue of The Polk County Press.

The following two items are stand-alone articles.

Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick, from the Library of Congress

Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick, from the Library of Congress¹

Death of Gen. Sedgwick.¹

The death of this noble officer [John Sedgwick] in battle at Spotsylvania Court House on Monday [May 9], will be received with profound sorrow by all who have acquired a knowledge of his unselfish devotion to the cause of the country and of his remarkable abilities as a general.  It is understood that the command of the Army of the Potomac was twice offered to him and twice refused.  Gen. SEDGWICK was a native of Connecticut, and entered the service in July, 1857, and at the breaking out of the war was Colonel of the Fourth cavalry.  He was appointed a Major General in July, ’61.

Death of Gen. Wadsworth.²

Brig. Gen. James S. Wadsworth, from the Library of Congress

Brig. Gen. James S. Wadsworth, from the Library of Congress²

Among the heroes that fell during the terrible battle of Friday [May 6] at Spotsylvania Court House, was Gen. JAS. SAMUEL WADSWORTH [James S. Wadsworth], who commanded the Fourth Division of the Sixth (Gen. WARREN’s [Gouverneur K. Warren]) corps.  He was born at Genchoo, N. Y., October 30, 1807; educated at Harvard and Yale colleges; studied law at Albany, and completed his course in the office of DANIEL WEBSTER. He never practiced his profession, however, but devoted himself to his large patrimonial estates in New York.  He was was one of the New York Commissioners to the Peace Convention in 1861.  In June, 1861, he was appointed volunteer aid on the staff of Gen. McDOWELL [Irvin McDowell], was present at the first battle of Bull Run, and was commended in McDOWEL’s [sic] report.  In August following he was appointed Brig. Gen. of Volunteers, and assigned a command under McCLELLAN [George B. McClellan].  In March 1862, he was appointed Military Gov. of the District of Columbia.  He was the Republican candidate for Governor of New York in 1862, and was defeated by HORATIO SEYMOUR.  In December following he was assigned to the command of a division under Gen. BURNSIDE [Ambrose E. Burnside].  At Gettysburg he commanded a division of the First corps, and was wounded in that battle, and won unperishable honors.  He met his death at the head of his division, a musket ball piercing his forehead.

General Alexander Hays, from the Library of Congress

General Alexander Hays, from the Library of Congress³

The following is from the long article entitled “The Great Battles.”

Gen. Hayes [sic]³ was killed in the fight on Thursday [May 5], and several other Generals were wounded.

A “Herald” dispatch of the 8th says reports have been received from the front up to 11 o’clock on Saturday morning.  There had been two days of severe fighting (on Thursday and Friday,) and it was believed that the enemy were retreating.  Our wounded were being sent to the rear, showing that we had lost no ground in the fighting.

Gen. Webb4 was killed in the battle of Friday [May 6].

 

1.  John Sedgwick (1813-1864) was killed in action on May 9 at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.
The portrait is from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division (cwpb 06381); the image has been cropped. The photograph was taken during the Civil War by the (Mathew) Brady National Photographic Art Gallery in Washington, D.C.
2.  James Samuel Wadsworth (1807-1864) was mortally wounded on May 6 at the Battle of the Wilderness. He died two days later in a Confederate field hospital.
The portrait is from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division (cwpb 04579); the image has been cropped. The photograph was taken during the Civil War by the (Mathew) Brady National Photographic Art Gallery in Washington, D.C.
3.  Alexander Hays (1819-1864) was killed in action on May 5 at the Battle of the Wilderness. He was struck in the head by a Minié ball. Hayes had been a close personal friend of Ulysses S. Grant.
This portrait is from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division (cwp 05407); the image has been cropped. The photograph was taken during the Civil War.
4.  Alexander Stewart Webb (1835-1911). At the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House he was hit by a bullet that passed through the corner of his right eye and came out his ear, but did not kill him. The New York Times, however, reported on May 9 that he had been killed. Webb actually died in 1911.

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