CDV MAJOR GENERAL GEORGE SYKES – COMMANDER OF THE 5TH CORPS AT GETTYSBURG

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Item Code: 410-840

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Image is a waist-up seated view of George Sykes as a brigadier general. He is posed with one arm resting over the back of a chair. He wears a double-breasted frock coat with black velvet collar and cuffs.

Contrast and clarity are excellent. Paper and mount are also very good.

Reverse has a photographer’s imprint for E. & H.T. ANTHONY…NEW YORK. FROM A BRADY NEGATIVE. Top has period pencil ID of “MAJ. GEN. SYKES.”

George Sykes was born in Dover, Delaware on October 9, 1822. He graduated from West Point in 1842 and graduating 39th out of 56 cadets. It was during his time as cadet that he acquired the nicknames "Tardy George" and "Slow Trot" Sykes. He was commissioned as a brevet second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Infantry and served in the Second Seminole War and the Mexican War.

Sykes was brevetted captain for actions at the Battle of Cerro Gordo and by virtue of his service in the Mexican War, Sykes became a member of the Aztec Club of 1847. Sykes continued his frontier service fighting Indians, mainly in New Mexico, and was promoted to full captain in 1855. His final peacetime station was Fort Clark, Texas.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Sykes was assigned as a major in the new 14th U.S. Infantry. At the First Battle of Bull Run he commanded the Regular Infantry Battalion. Sykes got command of a brigade of regulars after Bull Run, and was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on September 28. He led his regulars in the Peninsula Campaign and rose to division command in May 1862 in the newly created V Corps. His men distinguished themselves defending their position at Gaines' Mill during the Seven Days Battles.

Sykes continued leading his division at Second Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. At Chancellorsville, his regulars led the advance into the Confederate rear at the start of the battle but was forced to retreat after being attacked on the right flank, then the army commander, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, nervously recalled his advance to a defensive position; and Sykes' men were not engaged for the remainder of the campaign. Sykes finally received a promotion to major general of volunteers on November 29, 1862 and when corps commander Maj. Gen. George G. Meade was promoted to lead the Army of the Potomac on June 28, 1863, Sykes assumed command of the V Corps.

At the Battle of Gettysburg, Sykes' corps fought in support of the beleaguered III Corps on the Union left flank. In his 1st Division the fabled defense of Little Round Top was led by brigade commander Col. Strong Vincent and the 20th Maine Infantry under Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. His 3rd Division, the Pennsylvania Reserves, led by Brig. Gen. Samuel W. Crawford, attacked from Little Round Top, drove the Confederates across the "Valley of Death" and ended the deadly fighting in the Wheatfield.

On October 16, 1863, Sykes was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the regular army.

During the Mine Run Campaign in the fall of 1863, Meade complained of Sykes' uninspiring performance. Meade and general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant agreed that Sykes was not a good choice for the upcoming Overland Campaign so when the Army of the Potomac was reorganized that spring, Sykes was removed from command of the V Corps and sent to uneventful duty in the Department of Kansas. During Price's Raid in 1864, he was replaced with James G. Blunt.

After the war, Sykes was mustered out of the volunteer service and returned to serve in the regular army in 1866. As Lieutenant Colonel, he served in the 5th U.S. Infantry. Sykes was promoted to colonel on January 12, 1868 and received command of the 20th U.S. Infantry. He commanded at a number of duty stations from Minnesota to Texas until he died while on duty in Texas at Fort Brown on February 8, 1880, at age 57. He was interred in West Point Cemetery, West Point, New York.  [AD][ph:L]

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