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Civil War - February 19, 2016

General John Sedgwick and his staff on the steps of the headquarters of the 6th Army Corps. [photographed between 1861 and 1864] (Photo via Library of Congress)

Q: Right before he was killed by a Confederate sharpshooter, this man reportedly said: "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." He became the highest-ranking Union soldier killed in the American Civil War. Today, there's a Kansas town and a major county named after him. What's the name of this Union general?

A: Sedgwick (General John Sedgwick) 

Major General John Sedgwick was the highest ranking Union casualty in the Civil War. He was killed by a Confederate sharpshooter at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia. Sedgwick is remembered for his last words on the battlefield: "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." Well liked by his soldiers, this West Point graduate had a reputation as a solid and dependable general. His death was mourned on both sides of the war. Confederate General Robert E. Lee himself expressed sadness over the general's death. Prior to the Civil War, Sedgwick fought in the Mexican-American War. He also served in the U.S. Cavalry in Kansas during the pre-war, "Bleeding Kansas" period. Both the town and the county of Sedgwick in Kansas are named in his honor.

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