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Major General Daniel Sickles was an interesting man

General Daniel Sickles
General Daniel Sickles

Major General Daniel E. Sickles, Union General during the American Civil War, held an interesting position before the war in London, England.

Sickles served as Secretary of Legation for James Buchanan, who was Ambassador to St. James in London from 1853 to 1856. It is said that Sickles was an embarrassment to the ambassador on several occasions. Buchanan later became the 15th President of the United States, serving the term directly ahead of Abraham Lincoln.

Sickles was no stranger to bizarre behavior. Most famously, he killed his wife’s lover, Philip Baron Key II, son of the infamous Francis Scott Key, but was acquitted by reason of temporary insanity. It was the first use of the insanity defense in the country’s history.

Sickles is best known in the war for his actions at Gettysburg, which were again controversial. His movement of the Third Corps, against the wishes of his commanding officer, led them into action from which they were annihilated. He lost his leg in the action at Gettysburg, later donating his amputated limb to the medical museum in Washington, DC. Later, on the anniversary of the amputation, he returned annually to visit the missing limb.

His determination following the war helped preserve the battlefield that today we know as Gettysburg National Battlefield Park. He served in U.S. Congress from 1857 - 1861 and then again from 1893 – 1895. He was appointed Minister to Spain and served from 1869 to 1874.

A New Yorker by birth, Sickles lived until the age of 94. He died in 1914 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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