Sedgwick was born in Cornwall Hollow, Connecticut, on September 13, 1813, and attended Sharon Academy for two semesters before transferring to West Point, where he graduated twenty-fourth in his class of 1837. During the Mexican War he served with prominence under General Winfield Scott, from which he attained the rank of brevet major. After the Mexican War, but six years before the Civil War, Sedgwick spent his military time in various Indian Campaigns with the 1st Cavalry Regiment.
With the beginning of the Civil War, Sedgwick was appointed a brigadier general on August 31, 1861, and placed in command of a division during the Peninsula Campaign. When this campaign was over, he emerged as a major general. At the Battle of Antietam, Sedgwick was wound severely, but recovered to assume the command of the VI Corps.
While still commanding the VI Corps, he gained prominence for his forced march to Gettysburg. As a result of his performance, there were rumors that he was being considered as commander of the Army of the Potomac, yet being a modest man, there were other reports that he declined the offer.
On May 9, 1864 while commanding the placement of cannon and other artillery not long before the Battle of Spotsylvania began, Sedgwick was shot in the head and died instantly.
John Sedgwick is buried in his hometown of Cornwall Hollow, Connecticut.
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