Monday, January 14, 2013

Where Major General John Sedgwick lay in an open casket

Major General John Sedgwick recovered from his Antietam wounds in this house in
Cornwall Hollow, Conn. Nearly 20 months later, his body was viewed here by mourners

(Photo: "Dedication Of The Equestrian Statue Of Major-General John Sedgwick")
As I noted in this post, the funeral of Major General John Sedgwick was a very big deal in tiny Cornwall Hollow, Conn., on May 15, 1864. As many as 2,000 mourners attended the Sunday service for the 50-year-old soldier, who was killed by a sharpshooter's bullet at Spotsylvania Courthouse, Va., six days earlier. Many of the mourners viewed the general's body at his residence, which is shown in the early 20th-century image above.

John Sedgwick was killed on May 9, 1864.
(Library of Congress collection)
Sedgwick's embalmer apparently earned his money. According to one account,  "the deceased was clad in full uniform, and his features presented an almost life-like appearance, as he lay in his last sleep. A slight discoloration just beneath the left eye, where the winged messenger of death had entered, told the sad story of a noble life stilled forever." Upon Sedgwick's coffin lay his sword, holly, flowers, the American flag and a wreath sent by Mrs. Lincoln.  "As the remains were brought from the house by pall bearers, who were his old friends and neighbors, and placed upon the hearse," the account noted, "the sun which had been obscured all day by clouds, shone out, lighting up the valley which he loved so well, and was an omen of the greater light into which he had entered." (1)

Wounded in the wrist, leg and shoulder at the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, Sedgwick recovered in this house before returning to the army about two months later. He's buried about a half-mile from his old residence, in Cornwall Hollow Cemetery, under a 8 1/2-foot marker that includes the emblem of the Sixth Corps of the Army of Potomac. Privately owned today, the Sedgwick house, almost hidden by shrubs and trees, looks much like it did more than 100 years ago.

(1) Dedication Of The Equestrian Statue Of Major-General John Sedgwick, Erected on the Battlefield of Gettysburg, 1913, Page 52.

Left: An early-20th century view of John Sedgwick's gravestone.
 Right: The marker in Cornwall Hollow (Conn.) Cemetery today.


  1. John--Many thanks for this post and for the images--especially of the Sedgwick house.

  2. Thanks for this blog, I enjoy the Antietam content especially. Check out my blog as occasionally I will post Antietam and Gettysburg related artifacts from my collection.

  3. Anonymous4:15 PM

    John many thanks for the informative post. I just learned a couple weeks ago that GEN Sedgwick was a cousin to me. In fact, really surprised as I LIVE IN SEDGWICK COUNTY KANSAS, which was named after him. So I am trying to collect as much info about him as I can. Will be on your blog more. MATT