John Sedgwick

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They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance.

General John Sedgwick (September 13, 1813May 9, 1864) was a teacher, a career military officer, and a Union Army general in the American Civil War, killed by a Confederate sharp-shooter at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.


  • What? Men dodging this way for single bullets? What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance.
    • Allegedly these were among General John Sedgwick's final words. He was serving as a Union commander in the American Civil War, and was hit by a sharpshooter's fire a few minutes after saying them, at the battle of Spotsylvania to his men who were ducking for cover, on May 9, 1864. The words have often been portrayed as if they were absolutely his last statement, with the sentence being presented as if he did not even finish it, and altered into the form: "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist..." . Though it may be a slightly more striking version of events, it is unlikely to be true.
    • Civil War Home site: eye-witness account

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