Sickles, Daniel

Sickles, Daniel (Edgar)

(1825–1914) soldier, U.S. representative; born in New York City. A lawyer and active Democrat, he twice served New York City in the U.S. House of Representatives (1857–61, 1893–95) but his colorful and controversial career lay elsewhere. During his first term in Washington, he killed Barton Key, the son of Francis Scott Key, in a duel (1859) but was acquitted in a trial in which he was the first American defendant to plead temporary insanity. (Young Key had been having an affair with Mrs. Sickles, whom her husband took back after being acquitted.) When the Civil War broke out, he raised a brigade, and, assigned the rank of brigadier general, led it through several campaigns and battles, culminating at Gettysburg where he made a much criticized and risky assault on July 2, 1863; he paid for it with the loss of a leg but was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was appointed military governor of the Carolinas after the war and stayed in the army until 1869, then served as ambassador to Spain (1869–73). Back practicing law in New York City, he was chairman of the New York State Monuments Commission (1886–1912); he was relieved of this post for mishandling funds, but he is credited with preserving Gettysburg battlefield as a national park.