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Eleven Paintings…One Battle…One Artist
Union Brigadier General Franz Sigel graduated near the top of his class in 1843 from the Karlsruhe military academy in Germany. He fled Germany after the failed revolution in 1849 and arrived in New York in 1852. He taught school in New York before moving to St. Louis and becoming director of schools for the city. At the outbreak of the war, Sigel was commissioned a Brigadier General based on his graduation from Karlsruhe and the hope that he would bring the large population of Germans in the north to fight in the Union army. Thousands of Germans joined the Union army, many would say, I goes to fight mit Sigel. Sigel had fought at the battle of Wilsons Creek in August 1861, and was routed from the battlefield. In January of 1862, Sigel resigned his commission when Samuel R. Curtis was put in command of the Army of the Southwest, feeling that he should have gotten the job. Knowing that Curtis would need all the man power he could get, and that half of Curtiss army were German emigrants, Major General Henry Halleck, in charge of the Department of Missouri, and Curtis and Sigels superior, convinced Sigel to remain with the army.
After nearly being captured due to stubbornness on March 6 in Bentonville, Sigel found himself on the morning of March 8 personally sighting the guns that opened up the fighting on March 8. Twenty one Unions guns fired for over two hours silencing the confederate guns and shattering the confederate line. Captain Louis Hoffman of the 4th Ohio battery reported that his six guns alone had fired 566 rounds during the onslaught. Although Sigel had pressed Curtis several times during the battle to retreat back to Missouri, his star would never shine as brightly as it did on the morning of March 8.
I remember some of our boys would laugh and moch the shells, and others were as pale as death, while still others had great drops of sweat on their faces. Here was a place to try men’s souls.
Private Asa Payne, 3rd Missouri Infantry, 1st Missouri Brigade CSA
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