Civil War Wiki
William Joyce Sewell
[[Image:File:Sewel 01.png|center|200px|border]]Medal of Honor recipient
Personal Information
Born: December 6, 1835(1835-12-06)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: December 27, 1901 (aged 66)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: United States Army
Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Brigadier General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Unit: 5th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry
Battles: American Civil War
*Battle of Chancellorsville
*Battle of Gettysburg
Awards: Medal of Honor
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

William Joyce Sewell (December 6, 1835 – December 27, 1901) was born in Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland immigrating to the United States in 1851 where he worked in the merchant industry in Chicago, Illinois before moving to Camden, New Jersey in 1860. He became a Union Army officer during the American Civil War who received America's highest military decoration the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Chancellorsville. He was also a postbellum U.S. Senator from New Jersey.

Civil War[]

During the Civil War, he served with the 5th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, beginning as a Captain in 1861, and rising in rank to Colonel and commander of the unit. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1896, for having assumed command of a brigade at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, May 3, 1863.

He was the only officer to be awarded the Medal of Honor while in command of a New Jersey regiment. It was awarded to him on March 25, 1896. He was severely wounded at the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, while commanding his unit along Emmitsburg Road on the second day of the engagement. The wounds forced him from the field for a significant period of time. When he came back, he was given command as Colonel of the 38th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, but did not hold that command long, as his wounds eventually caused him to resign and end his Civil War field service. On March 13, 1865 he was awarded the brevet promotion to Brigadier General, United States Volunteers for "gallant and meritorious services at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Va." and to Major General, United States Volunteers for "gallant and meritorious services during the war".


After the war, Sewell worked in the railroad industry in New Jersey before being elected to the state senate, serving from 1872 until 1881, and as the senate's president in 1876 from 1879 to 1880. Subsequently, he was elected to the United States Senate as a Republican and served from March 4, 1881, to March 3, 1887. During this period he chaired:

  • the Committee on Enrolled Bills (Forty-seventh Congress and Forty-eighth Congress),
  • the Committee on Military Affairs (Forty-ninth Congress), and
  • the Committee on the Library (Forty-ninth Congress).

He also served as one of the national commissioners for New Jersey to the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, was in command of the Second Brigade of the National Guard of New Jersey, and was appointed a member of the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. Sewell was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1887, 1889 and 1893 but was again elected to the United States Senate in 1895 and served from March 4, 1895. During this term he chaired the Committee on Enrolled Bills (Fifty-fourth Congress through Fifty-seventh Congress).


He died on December 27, 1901, at age 66, in Camden, New Jersey.[1]. His Senate seat, vacant because of his death, was filled by Prudential Insurance founder John F. Dryden. Sewell was buried in [1] Harleigh Cemetery, in Camden, New Jersey, in the Spring Grove Section, Lot 75. His grave is marked by a cross designed by sculptor Alexander Milne Calder.


In 2005 a government issue Medal of Honor marker was erected on his grave site. He is one of three Civil War Union Brevet Generals interred in Harleigh, the others being Colonel George C. Burling of the 6th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry and Colonel Timothy C. Moore of the 34th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry.

Medal of Honor citation[]

Rank and Organization:

Colonel, 5th New Jersey Infantry. Place and Date: At Chancellorsville, Va., May 3, 1863. Entered Service At: Camden, N.J. Born: December 6, 1835, Castlebar,Ireland. Date Of Issue: March 25, 1896.


Assuming command of a brigade, he rallied around his colors a mass of men from other regiments and fought these troops with great brilliancy through several hours of desperate conflict, remaining in command though wounded and inspiring them by his presence and the gallantry of his personal example.[2][3]

See also[]

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


  1. William Joyce Sewell at Find a Grave Retrieved on 2007-11-08
  2. ""Civil War Medal of Honor citations" (S-Z): Sewell, William J.". Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  3. ""Medal of Honor website” (M-Z): Sewell, William J.". United States Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 


External links[]

Template:Start box |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States Senate Template:U.S. Senator box Template:U.S. Senator box Template:S-off |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
John W. Taylor |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|President of the New Jersey Senate
1876 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Leon Abbett |- |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
George C. Ludlow |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|President of the New Jersey Senate
1879–1880 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Garret Hobart |- |}

Template:Presidents of the New Jersey Senate Template:USSenNJ

sv:William Joyce Sewell