Sedgwick, John(1813–64) soldier; born in Cornwall, Conn. A West Point graduate (1837), he saw considerable action in the Seminole War, the Mexican War, and in the West. A brigade, division, and finally corps commander in the Army of the Potomac, he fought on the Virginia Peninsula and at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. A sharpshooter killed him at Spotsylvania on May 9, 1864. Highly popular with the troops—he was known as "Uncle John"—West Point cadets in danger of failing traditionally twirl the rowels of the spurs on his statue there to guarantee passing their exams.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.