Franz Sigel

Last updated
Franz Sigel
Franz Sigel.jpg
Franz Sigel
Born(1824-11-18)November 18, 1824
Sinsheim, Baden, Germany
DiedAugust 21, 1902(1902-08-21) (aged 77)
New York City, New York
Place of burial
AllegianceBanner of Baden (3^2).svg  Baden
Baden Revolutionaries
Flag of the United States (1865-1867).svg  United States of America
Service/branchBaden Army
Baden Revolutionary Forces
United States Army
Years of service1843–1847 (Baden)
1848 (Revolutionaries)
1861–1865 (USA)
Rank Lieutenant (Baden)
Colonel (Baden Revolutionaries)
Union Army major general rank insignia.svg Major General (USA)
Commands held XI Corps
Battles/wars Baden Revolution
American Civil War
Signature Appleton's Sigel Franz signature.jpg

Franz Sigel (November 18, 1824 – August 21, 1902) was a German American military officer, revolutionist and immigrant to the United States who was a teacher, newspaperman, politician, and served as a Union major general in the American Civil War. His ability to recruit German-speaking immigrants to the Union armies received the approval of President Abraham Lincoln, but he was strongly disliked by General-in-Chief Henry Halleck.

German Americans ethnic group

German Americans are Americans who have full or partial German ancestry. With an estimated size of approximately 44 million in 2016, German Americans are the largest of the self-reported ancestry groups by the US Census Bureau in its American Community Survey.. German-Americans account for about one third of the total ethnic German population in the world.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Union Army Land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War

During the American Civil War, the Union Army referred to the United States Army, the land force that fought to preserve the Union of the collective states. Also known as the Federal Army, it proved essential to the preservation of the United States of America as a working, viable republic.

Contents

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 as a lieutenant in the Baden Army. He met 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 militia was defeated on April 23, 1848 by the numerically inferior but better led troops of the Grand Duchy of Baden. 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 as adjutant general to his successor Ludwik Mieroslawski. In July, after the defeat of the revolutionaries by Prussian troops and Mieroslawski's departure, Sigel led the retreat of the remaining troops in their flight to Switzerland. [2] Sigel later went on to England. Sigel emigrated to the United States in 1852, as did many other German Forty-Eighters .

Sinsheim Place in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Sinsheim is a town in south-western Germany, in the Rhine Neckar Area of the state Baden-Württemberg about 22 kilometres (14 mi) south-east of Heidelberg and about 28 kilometres (17 mi) north-west of Heilbronn in the district Rhein-Neckar.

Grand Duchy of Baden grand duchy between 1806 and 1918

The Grand Duchy of Baden was a state in the southwest German Empire on the east bank of the Rhine. It existed between 1806 and 1918.

Gymnasium (school) type of school providing advanced secondary education in Europe

A gymnasium is a type of school with a strong emphasis on academic learning, and providing advanced secondary education in some parts of Europe comparable to British grammar schools, sixth form colleges and US preparatory high schools. In its current meaning, it usually refers to secondary schools focused on preparing students to enter a university for advanced academic study. Before the 20th century, the system of gymnasiums was a widespread feature of educational system throughout many countries of central, north, eastern and southern Europe.

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 Dulon's school. [3] In 1857, he became a professor at the German-American Institute in St. Louis, Missouri. 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 antislavery causes when he openly supported them in 1861.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Rudolf Dulon German revolutionary

Christoph Joseph Rudolf Dulon was a pastor of the Reformed Church (Calvinist) and a socialist agitator in Bremen; later he was an educator in the United States.

St. Louis Independent city in the United States

St. Louis is a major independent city and inland port in the U.S. state of Missouri. It is situated along the western bank of the Mississippi River, which marks Missouri's border with Illinois. The Missouri River merges with the Mississippi River just north of the city. These two rivers combined form the fourth longest river system in the world. The city had an estimated 2017 population of 308,626 and is the cultural and economic center of the St. Louis metropolitan area, which is the largest metropolitan area in Missouri, the second-largest in Illinois, and the 20th-largest in the United States.

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 strategically insignificant fight. However, Sigel's defeat did help spark recruitment for the Missouri State Guard and local Confederate forces. Sigel later took part in a skirmish at Dug Springs. [2]

Colonel (United States) Military rank of the United States

In the United States Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force, colonel is the most senior field grade military officer rank, immediately above the rank of lieutenant colonel and immediately below the rank of brigadier general. It is equivalent to the naval rank of captain in the other uniformed services. The pay grade for colonel is O-6.

Battle of Carthage (1861) battle of the American Civil War

The Battle of Carthage, also known as the Battle of Dry Fork, took place at the beginning of the American Civil War on July 5, 1861, in Jasper County, Missouri. The experienced Colonel Franz Sigel commanded 1,100 Federal soldiers intent on keeping Missouri within the Union. The Missouri State Guard was commanded by Governor Claiborne F. Jackson himself and numbered over 4,000 soldiers led by a hero of Mexico, Sterling Price, along with 2,000 unarmed troops who did not participate in the battle. The battle was a strategic victory by the Missouri State Guard in large part owing to new tactics introduced on the battlefield by independent partisan rangers serving with Capt. Jo Shelby. Carthage played a part in determining Missouri's course during the war, as it helped spark recruitment for the Southern regiments. A founder of the county who fought in the battle and was then elected Lieutenant Colonel of the 13th Missouri Cavalry Regiment and 5th Missouri Infantry, attorney Robert Wells Crawford served as a recruiter for the Confederate Army in Missouri, a post he was nominated for by Waldo P. Johnson, formerly a United States Senator from Missouri in a letter to Missouri governor-in-exile Jackson dated October 24, 1862.

Confederate States of America (de facto) federal republic in North America from 1861 to 1865

The Confederate States of America, commonly referred to as the Confederacy, was an unrecognized country in North America that existed from 1861 to 1865. The Confederacy was originally formed by seven secessionist slave-holding states—South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas—in the Lower South region of the United States, whose economy was heavily dependent upon agriculture, particularly cotton, and a plantation system that relied upon the labor of African-American slaves.

Throughout the summer, President Lincoln actively sought the support of antislavery, 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.

Brigadier general (United States) one-star general officer in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps

In the United States Armed Forces, brigadier general is a one-star general officer with the pay grade of O-7 in the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. The rank of brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed services. The NATO equivalent is OF-6.

A political general is a general officer or other military leader without significant military experience who is given a high position in command for political reasons, through political connections, or to appease certain political blocs and factions.

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. Sigel conducted the retreat of the army after the death of General Lyon. [2]

Nathaniel Lyon first Union general to be killed in the American Civil War

Nathaniel Lyon was the first Union general to be killed in the American Civil War and is noted for his actions in the state of Missouri at the beginning of the conflict.

Battle of Wilsons Creek battle of the American Civil War

The Battle of Wilson's Creek was the first major battle of the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War. It was fought on August 10, 1861, near Springfield, Missouri, officially a neutral state, though its pro-South governor, Claiborne Fox Jackson, was secretly collaborating with Confederate troops.

Riverside Drive, New York City Franz Sigel 106 RSD jeh.JPG
Riverside Drive, New York City

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. [4]

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 employed in a politically sensitive position. Many of these soldiers could speak little English beyond "I'm going to fight mit Sigel", [5] 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 Major-General 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.

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. Many historians also cite the lack of military prowess and skill. On multiple occasions, he made terrible military decisions, resulting in deaths of his soldiers and also Nathaniel Lyon in 1861 at the Battle of Wilson's Creek. 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. Breckinridge 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. [4] After the battle, Sigel was replaced by Maj. Gen. David Hunter. In July, Sigel fought Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early at Harpers Ferry, [4] but soon afterward was replaced by Albion P. Howe.

Sigel spent the rest of the war without an active command.

Postbellum career

Portrait from Appleton's Cyclopedia Appleton's Sigel Franz.jpg
Portrait from Appleton's Cyclopedia

Sigel resigned his commission on May 4, 1865. He worked as editor of the Baltimore Wecker for a short time, [2] and then 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, losing to the incumbent Democrat Homer Augustus Nelson. In May 1871 he became collector of internal revenue, and then in October 1871 register of the city. [6] In 1887, President Grover Cleveland appointed him pension agent for the city of New York. He also lectured, worked in advertising and published the New York Monthly, a German-American periodical, for some years. [2]

Franz Sigel died in New York in 1902 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York City. Elsie Sigel, the victim of a famous murder, was his granddaughter.

Honors

Statues of him stand in Riverside Park, corner 106th Street in Manhattan and in Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri. There is also a park named for him in the Bronx, just south of the Courthouse near Yankee Stadium. [7] Siegel Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was named after him, [8] Sigel Street in Worcester, Massachusetts was also named after him, as well as the village of Sigel, Pennsylvania, founded in 1865, in addition to Sigel, Illinois, which was settled in 1863. Sigel Township, Minnesota, settled in 1856 and organized in April 1862, was also named for Sigel. In about 1873 Sigel himself visited Sigel Township and New Ulm, Minnesota. [9]

See also

Notes

  1. Wittke 1952, p. 237.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Gilman, Thurston & Colby 1905
  3. Wilson & Fiske 1900.
  4. 1 2 3 Chisholm 1911.
  5. Poole 2014.
  6. Reynolds 1921.
  7. New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.
  8. Benardo & Weiss 2006, pp. 28–29.
  9. Upham 2001, p. 75.

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References

Further reading

Military offices
Preceded by
none
Commander of the XI Corps
September 12, 1862 – January 10, 1863
Succeeded by
Julius H. Stahel
Preceded by
Carl Schurz
Commander of the XI Corps
February 5, 1863 – February 22, 1863
Succeeded by
Adolph von Steinwehr