Publisher: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division
General Franz Sigel
Union general Franz Sigel stands for a glass-plate photographic portrait taken sometime between 1860 and 1870. Born in Germany and a leader of the failed insurrections of 1848, he rallied German-Americans to the Union cause in 1861 with the slogan, "I goes to fight mit Sigel." As a general, however, he was only modestly successful and his relationship with his superiors was so contentious that he resigned from the army twice before returning; only his ties to the politically important German-American constituency saved him. In addition, those ties allowed him to be promoted to command of the Department of West Virginia in 1864, but he led his troops to a disastrous defeat at the Battle of New Market on May 15, 1864. When a Confederate army under Jubal A. Early was able to reach the outskirts of Washington, D.C., a month later, Sigel was relieved of command and he resigned from the army the following year. He died on August 21, 1902, and was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York City.