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Franz Sigel
[[Image:150px
80px|center|200px|border]]Franz Sigel
Personal Information
Born: November 18, 1824(1824-11-18)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: August 21, 1902 (aged 77)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Nickname: {{{nickname}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: Baden
United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: Baden Army
Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Colonel (Baden)
Major General (USA)
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Unit:
Commands:
Battles: American Civil War
Awards:
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}


Franz Sigel (November 18, 1824 – August 21, 1902) was a German military officer and immigrant to the United States who was a teacher, newspaperman, politician, and served as a Union major general in the American Civil War.

Early life[]

Sigel was born in Sinsheim, Baden (Germany), and attended the gymnasium in Bruchsal.[1] He graduated from Karlsruhe Military Academy in 1843, and was commissioned a lieutenant in the Baden Army. He got to know the revolutionaries Friedrich Hecker and Gustav von Struve and became associated with the revolutionary movement. He was wounded in a duel in 1847. The same year, he retired from the army to begin law school studies in Heidelberg. After organizing a revolutionary free corps in Mannheim and later in the Seekreis county, he soon became a leader of the Baden revolutionary forces (with the rank of colonel) in the 1848 Revolution, being one of the few revolutionaries with military command experience. In April 1848, he led the "Sigel-Zug", recruiting a militia of more than 4,000 volunteers to lead a siege against the city of Freiburg. His army was annihilated on April 23, 1848 by the better-equipped and more experienced Prussian and Württemberg troops. In 1849, he became Secretary of War and commander-in-chief of the revolutionary republican government of Baden. Wounded in a skirmish, Sigel had to resign his command but continued to support the revolutionary war effort by aiding his successor Ludwik Mieroslawski. After Prussia suppressed the revolution, he fled to Switzerland and then to England. Sigel emigrated to the United States in 1852, as did many other German Forty-Eighters.

Sigel taught in the New York City public schools and served in the state militia. He married a daughter of Rudolf Dulon and taught in his school.[2] In 1857, he became a professor at the German-American Institute in St. Louis. He was elected director of the St. Louis public schools in 1860. He was influential in the Missouri immigrant community. He attracted Germans to the Union and anti-slavery causes when he openly supported them in 1861.

Civil War[]

Shortly after the start of the war, Sigel was commissioned colonel of the 3rd Missouri Infantry, a commission dating from May 4, 1861. He recruited and organized an expedition to southwest Missouri, and subsequently fought the Battle of Carthage, where a force of pro-Confederate Missouri militia handed him a setback in a relatively meaningless fight. However, Sigel's defeat did help spark recruitment for the Missouri State Guard and local Confederate forces.

Throughout the summer, President Abraham Lincoln was actively seeking the support of anti-slavery, pro-Unionist immigrants. Sigel, always popular with the German immigrants, was a good candidate to advance this plan. He was promoted to brigadier general on August 7, 1861, to rank from May 17, one of a number of early political generals endorsed by Lincoln.

Sigel served under Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon in the capture of the Confederate Camp Jackson in St. Louis and at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, where his command was routed after making a march around the Confederate camp and attacking from the rear.

File:FranzSigelMonument.jpg

The Franz Sigel Monument in Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri

His finest performance came on March 8, 1862, at the Battle of Pea Ridge, where he commanded two divisions and personally directed the Union artillery in the defeat of Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn on the second day of the battle.

Sigel was promoted to major general on March 21, 1862. He served as a division commander in the Shenandoah Valley and fought unsuccessfully against Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, who managed to outwit and defeat the larger Union force in a number of small engagements. He commanded the I Corps in Maj. Gen. John Pope's Army of Virginia at the Second Battle of Bull Run, another Union defeat, where he was wounded in the hand.

Over the winter of 1862–63, Sigel commanded the XI Corps, consisting primarily of German immigrant soldiers, in the Army of the Potomac. During this period, the corps saw no action; it stayed in reserve during the Battle of Fredericksburg. Sigel had developed a reputation as an inept general, but his ability to recruit and motivate German immigrants kept him alive in a politically sensitive position. Many of these soldiers could speak little English beyond "I'm going to fight mit Sigel", which was their proud slogan and which became one of the favorite songs of the war. They were quite disgruntled when Sigel left the corps in February 1863 and was replaced by Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard, who had no immigrant affinities. Fortunately for Sigel, the two black marks in the XI Corps' reputation—Chancellorsville and Gettysburg—would occur after he was relieved.

File:Franz Sigel 106 RSD jeh.JPG

Riverside Drive, New York City

The reason for Sigel's relief is unclear. Some accounts cite failing health; others that he expressed his displeasure at the small size of his corps and asked to be relieved. General-in-chief Henry W. Halleck detested Sigel and managed to keep him relegated to light duty in eastern Pennsylvania until March 1864. President Lincoln, for political reasons, directed Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton to place Sigel in command of the new Department of West Virginia.

In his new command, Sigel opened the Valley Campaigns of 1864, launching an invasion of the Shenandoah Valley. He was soundly defeated by Maj. Gen. John C. Breckenridge at the Battle of New Market, on May 15, 1864, which was particularly embarrassing due to the prominent role young cadets from the Virginia Military Institute played in his defeat. In July, he fought Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early at Harpers Ferry, but soon afterwards was relieved of his command for "lack of aggression" and replaced by Maj. Gen. David Hunter. Sigel spent the rest of the war without an active command.

Postbellum[]

File:Appleton's Sigel Franz.jpg

Portrait from Appleton's Cyclopedia

Sigel resigned his commission on May 4, 1865, and worked as a journalist in Baltimore, and as a newspaper editor in New York City. He filled a variety of political positions there, both as a Democrat and a Republican. In 1869, he ran on the Republican ticket for Secretary of State of New York but was defeated by the incumbent Democrat Homer Augustus Nelson. In 1887, President Grover Cleveland appointed him pension agent for the city of New York. Franz Sigel died in New York in 1902 and is buried there in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

Honors[]

Statues of him stand in Riverside Park in Manhattan and in Forest Park in St. Louis. There is also a park named for him in the Bronx, just south of the Courthouse near Yankee Stadium. Seigel Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was named after him,[3] as well as the village of Sigel, Pennsylvania, founded in 1865.

See also[]

32x28px Biography portal
32x28px United States Army portal
32x28px American Civil War portal

References[]

  1. Carl Wittke, Refugees of Revolution: The German Forty-Eighters in America, Philadelphia: Univ. of Penn. Press, 1952, p. 237.
  2. Template:Cite Appleton's
  3. Benardo, Leonard; Weiss, Jennifer. Brooklyn by Name: How the Neighborhoods, Streets, Parks, Bridges and More Got Their Names. New York University Press. pp. 28–29. ISBN 0-8147-9946-9. 

External links[]

Template:Commons category-inline

  • Wikisource-logo.svg "Sigel, Franz". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911. 
  • Template:Cite Appleton's
  • Template:Ws
Preceded by
none
Commander of the XI Corps (ACW)
September 12, 1862 - January 10, 1863
Succeeded by
Julius H. Stahel
Preceded by
Carl Schurz
Commander of the XI Corps (ACW)
February 5, 1863 - February 22, 1863
Succeeded by
Adolph von Steinwehr

da:Franz Sigel de:Franz Sigel es:Franz Sigel fr:Franz Sigel it:Franz Sigel ja:フランツ・シーゲル ru:Зигель, Франц

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