Colonel Alan Cate Discusses Daniel Sickles

Alive until his mid-90s, Daniel Sickles performed as a Major General for the Union during the American Civil War. Born in 1819, Sickles had a political and military career marked by flamboyance and outrageousness. Starting his professional life an attorney for Tammany Hall, he was elected to the United States Congress twice despite his predilection for alcohol and gambling. During his second term, he killed a man he found sleeping with his wife, was acquitted due to temporary insanity, and remained in office.

When the American Civil War began, New York’s then-governor enlisted Daniel Sickles to form five regiments of volunteers. He did so and received the title of Brigadier General of his “Excelsior Brigade.” First fighting during the Battle of Fair Oaks in 1862, Sickles played important roles during the Battle of Fredericksburg and the Battle of Gettysburg and lost one of his legs at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Following the war, Daniel Sickles received a Congressional Medal of Honor for his accomplishments. Moreover, he performed as U.S. Minister to Spain under President Ulysses S. Grant, spent another term in Congress, and chaired the New York State Monuments Commission.

About the Author:

The Chair of University School’s History Department, Colonel Alan Cate has dedicated much of his career to learning about American history. A U.S. Army veteran who served in South Korea, the Middle East, Latin America, and the Balkans, Colonel Cate contributed an article on Daniel Sickles to Charles R. Shrader’s Reference Guide to United States Military History 1815-1865.