Daniel E. Sickles

from The New York Times, May 4, 1914:

      Long Estrangement Ended
       When Fatal Illness At-
          tacked Veteran.
  Soldier, Politician, and Diplomat,
     He Lost a Leg at Gettysburg,
      and Lived to be Almost 91.
  Major Gen. Daniel E. Sickles, com-
mander of the Third Army Corps on the
memorable field of Gettysburg, where
one of his legs was shot off, and sub-
sequently the representative of this
Government at the Court of Spain, died
last night at 9:10 o'clock at his home,
23 Fifth Avenue. Gen. Sickles was in
his ninety-first year.
  At his bedsiade were Mrs. Sickles and
his son, Stanton Sickles, who had been
with him constantly for nearly two
weeks, following a reconciliation that
ended an estrangement of twenty-nine
years. Also at the deathbed were John
J. Kirby of 32 Nassau Street, counsel for
Mrs. Sickles, and Miss Higgins, a trained
  Gen. Sickles was unconscious when the
end came, having relapsed into that
state several days ago. He had been ill
for about two weeks, following an at-
tack of cerebral hemorrhage.   Gen.
Sickles passed away just a few minutes
before the arrival of his physician, Dr.
J.H. Spann of 107 East Eleventh Street,
who on Saturday night had entertained
fears that the attack from which the
famous old veteran was suffering,
though slight, would prove fatal to him
on account of advanced years.
  Until recently Gen. Sickles had borne
the weight of his years almost with a
sprightliness.  On March 29 a rumor
was spread that he was at the point
of death.  Late that night a TIMES re-
porter called up Gen. Sickles's house
over the telephone to make inquiry
about his condition.  The voice at the
other end of the wire said:
  "Yes; this is Gen. Sickles. Am I ill?
Nonsense. I was never better in my life.
There's nothing to that story.  It's all
a lie."
     Reconciled with His Wife
  The reconciliation between Gen.
Sickles and his wife and son was
brought about, it was said, through
the efforts of one of the General's ne-
gro servants.  Before they went to his
bedside, Mrs. Sickles and Stanton
Sickles were living at the Hotel Albert,
University Place and Eleventh Street. 
They were unwilling to live with the
General as long as Gen. Sickles's sec-
retary, Miss Eleanora Earle Wilmer-
ding, lived at his home.  Miss Wilmer-
ding died recently, and that may have
hastened the reconciliation.
  Although estranged from her husband,
Mrs. Sickles had lived near him with
her son.  In 1912, when she learned
through the newspapers that the Gen-
eral was in financial straits, and that
his household goods were about to be
disposed of at a Sheriff's sale, she went
to his rescue with $8,000 she obtained
by pawning her jewelry.  A few days
after Mrs. Sickles had rendered her hus-
band this service, he issued a statement
attacking her motives for doing so, and
asserting that it was not necessary for
her to pawn her jewels.
  Mrs. Sickles, as Senorita Carmina
Creagh, the daughter of Chevalier de
Creagh of Madrid, a Spanish Councillor
of State, was married to Gen. Sickles
on Nov. 28, 1871, at the American Le-
gation in Madrid, when the General was
Minister to Spain.  She was brought up
in the Court, and was the niece of the
Marchioness of Novaliches, the Mistress
of the Robes of the Court of Queen
Isabella.  They had a son and a daugh-
  The estrangement between Gen.
Sickles and his wife has never been
fully explained.  Their marriage seemed
to be a happy one until Gen. Sickles
resigned as Minister to Spain and pre-
pared to return to this country.  His
wife, however, without any explanation
whatsoever, suddenly refused to accom-
pany him.  Later she reconsidered her
determination and rejoined her husband
in New York, only to leave him again
and return to Madrid.  That parting
took place twenty-nine years ago.  It
was in 1908 that she returned to New
York for the second time and took up
her abode near the home of Gen.
      Had a Stirring Career
  General Daniel E. Sickles was the
last of that galaxy of corps command-
ers who made possible the achievement
of Grant and brought our great civil
strife to a triumphant close. Fighter,
lawyer, politician, and diplomat, his
life was a crowded one, and in his
closing years he looked back through
a vista of decades in which strife and
trouble were mixed in greater propor-
tion than triumph.
  Daniel Edgar Sickles was born in New
York City on Oct. 20, 1823.  His grand-
father, who was of Knickerbocker stock,
retained the name of Van Sickles, but
the father of Gen. Sickles dropped the
Dutch prefix. Young Sickles was 
educated in the University of New
York. hough his father was wealthy
the young man preferred to strike
out for himself.  He took up the
printer's trade, at which he worked for
several years.  Then he entered the law
office of Benjamin F. Butler, who was
at that time Attorney General in Presi-
dent Van Buren's Cabinet.  He was ad-
mitted to the bar in 1846.  He served
in Congress from 1857 to 1861 and again
in 1893-94.
  Butler was a leading Democrat, and
he imbued the young law student with
an enthusiastic devotion to that party.
He was sent to the State Assembly by
Tammany Hall in 1847.  In 1852 he was
a member of the Baltimore convention
which nominated Franklin Pierce for
the Presidency.  For several years he
was a member of the Tammany Hall
General Committee.  He was Corpora-
tion Counsel for a time, and in 1855 he
went to the State Senate.  It was he who
obtained for the city its great Central
       Enlisted as a Private
  The life of a soldier appealed to young
Sickles, and he joined the Twelfth Regi-
ment, National Guard, in 1849, as a pri-
vate.  In three years he retired from the
organization as a Major.  He rose to be
a Major General in the United States
Army later.
  In the Fall of 1853 Sickles was com-
missioned Secretary of Legation in
London, under Minister James Buchan-
an.  After serving two years abroad he
returned to enter into the bitter politi-
cal fight that sent him into the State
Senate.  Before his Senatorial term was
out Sickles was elected to Congress.
  It was during his stay in Washington
that an event occurred which became
the sensation of the day.  His ambition
to fit himself for the diplomatic service
had led him to take up the study of
French and Italian, and in this way he
met Therese Bagioli, daughter of an
Italian music teacher.  She was 17 when
he married her.  Their daughter, Laura,
was born in 1854, on the old Sickles es-
tate at Bloomingdale, while he was
abroad as Secretary of Legation.  When
her husband went to Congress Mrs.
Sickles accompanied him.  Philip Bar-
ton Key, United States Attorney for
the District of Columbia, son of Fran-
cis Scott Key, the  author of "The Star-
Spangled Banner," paid attention to
Mrs. Sickles, and Sickles shot and killed
Key on the street in Washington, D.C., 
on Feb. 27,1859.
  Sickles declared Key had misled Mrs.
Sickles.  His trial, which lasted twenty
days, ended in the acquittal of Sickles,
the defense being temporary abberation
of mind, and this was the first case in
which that plea was set up as defense.
After his acquittal Sickles took his wife 
       Forgave His First Wife.
  "I am not aware of any statute or
code of morals," said Sickles to his
critics, "which makes it infamous to
forgive a woman.  I can now see in
the almost universal denunciation with
which she is followed to my threshold
the misery and perilfrom which I have 
rescued the mother of my daughter.  I
shall strive to prove to all that an err-
ing wife and mother may be forgiven
and redeemed."
  Mrs. Sickles died a few years later.
When Sickles went to Madrid years
later his daughter Laura accompanied 
him.  She fell in love with a young
Spaniard.  Her father objected to the
match and brought her back to New
York, where she died.
  Retiring from Congressin March,
1861, Sickles was one of the first to
anticipate a need of soldiers.  At the
outbreak of the civil war, the young
politician, then 38 years old, went to
Lincoln to offer his services.
  "You have been a leader in New
York Democratic politics," said the
President.  "If you kept your end up
at that game surely you'll do to take
command of men in the field."
  The retired Congressman returned to
this city and organized the Excelsior
Brigade of Volunteers in New York,
and was commissioned Colonel of one
of the five regiments.  He was nomi-
nated Brigadier General in September,
1861, but was not confirmed by the
Senate until March, 1862.  Gen. Sickles
served under Gen. Hooker with dis-
tinction at Fair Oaks, and Malvern
Hill.  He was in the seven days' fight-
ing before Richmond and also partici-
pated at Antietam.  He succeeded Gen.
Hooker in command of the division, and
took a conspicuous part in the engage-
ment at Fredericksburg.  He was ap-
pointed Major General of Volunteers in
1862, but his commission dated from the
year previous.
     Lost His Leg at Gettysburg.
  At Chancellorsville, commanding the
Third Army Corps, to which he had
been promoted, he was highly com-
mended for gallant conduct, and his
courage and activity at Gettysburg are
matters of history.  All authorities ac-
cord him a very important part in that
great battle, some contending that his
was the master stroke that saved the
day.  It was at Gettysburg that he lost
a leg.  In March, 1865, he was brevetted
a Major General of the regular army
for bravery and meritorious service at
  President Lincoln and Secretary Sew-
ard sent Gen. Sickles on a confidential
mission to Colombia and other South
American States early in 1865.  He ne-
gotiated an important treaty regarding
rights of transit over the Isthmus of
Panama.  Immediately upon his return
to this country he was selected to play
an important part in the task of recon-
struction.  He commanded the Military 
Department of the Carolinas in 1865-7
and performed his duties in a manner
that elicited the cordial commendation
of Secretary Stanton and Gen. Grant.
The views of President Johnson dif-
fered from those of Gen. Sickles, how-
ever, and the President relieved Sickles
of his command, and after first offering
him the mission to the Netherlands,
which he declined.  He was mustered 
out of the service Jan. 1, 1868, and was
placed on the retired list with the full
rank of Major General April 14, 1869.
  In the Spring of 1869 President Grant
having tendered to Gen. Sickles the
mission to Mexico, which was declined,
appointed him United States Minister to
Spain, a post which he retained until
March 20, 1874.  After relinquishing
that office to his successor Gen. Sickles
continued to reside abroad, chiefly in
France, until 1880.
      Second Marriage in Spain.
  At the Court of Spain Sickles became
a dominating figure.  Four years of
brilliant diplomacy brought him the
title: "The Yankee King of Spain."
Here he contracted his second marriage
 with Senorita Creagh in 1877.  This ro-
mance was followed by estrangement
which was to last more than a quarter
of a century.  A son, Stanton, and a
daughter, Edna, were the result of this
  The General returned to New York
alone and re-entered politics.  He served
as Sheriff of New York County and at
the age of 67 was re-elected to Congress.
Trouble came to him in his last years.
In June, 1911, his daughter, Mrs. Edna
Sickles Crackenthorpe, wife of a Brit-
ish diplomat, sued to prevent a disposal
of certain properties to which she be-
lieved she was entitled.  In December,
1912, the General was deposed as Chair-
man of the New York Monuments Com-
mission, which had headed during
the twenty-six years of its existence.
There was a shortage of $27,000, and
there was some talk of arresting the 
old soldier, but nothing came of it.
Another trouble came in 1911, when the
New York Commandery of the Loyal
Legion refused to admit Gen. Sickles
to membership.
  He faced bankruptcy in the last years
of his life, and several attempts were
made to sieze the art treasures in his
Fifth Avenue home because of debt.  It
was in his extremity that his estranged
wife and son came to his aid on several
  His last days were spent at 23 Fifth
Avenue, surrounded by war relics and
attended by his faithful negro servant.

Maintained by Sue Greenhagen. E-mail: greenhsh@morrisville.edu