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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1842

Vol. II

(Born Del.)

George Sykes

(Ap'd Md.)


Born Oct. 9, 1822, Dover, DE.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1838, to July 1, 1842, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut., 3d Infantry, July 1, 1842.

Served: in the Florida War, 1842; in garrison at Ft. Stansbury, Fla., 1842‑43, — Jefferson Barracks, Mo., 1843‑44; on frontier duty at Ft.

(Second Lieut., 3d Infantry, Dec. 31, 1843)

Jesup (Camp Wilkins), La., 1844‑45; in Military Occupation of Texas, 1845‑46; in the War with Mexico, 1846‑48, being engaged in the Battle

(First Lieut., 3d Infantry, Sep. 21, 1846)

of Monterey, Sep. 21‑23, 1846, — Siege of Vera Cruz, Mar. 9‑29, 1847, — Battle of Cerro Gordo, Apr. 17‑18, 1847, — Battle of Contreras,

(Bvt. Capt., Apr. 18, 1847,
for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Cerro Gordo, Mex.)

Aug. 19‑20, 1847, — Battle of Churubusco, Aug. 20, 1847, — Operations before and Capture of City of Mexico, Sep. 12‑14, 1847, — and as Commissary of Bvt. Maj.‑General Twiggs' Division, 1847‑48; in garrison at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., 1848; on frontier duty at Santa Fé, N. M., 1849, — Navajo Nation, 1849‑50, — and Santa Fé, N. M., 1850; on Recruiting service, 1850‑52; on frontier duty at Ft. Union, N. M., 1852‑54; Scouting against Apache Indians, 1854, being engaged in Skirmishes, Mar. 4, Apr. 9, and June 30, 1854, — Ft. Union, N. M., 1854‑55, — Ft. Massachusetts, Col., 1855, — Ft. Union, N. M., 1855, — Ft. Fillmore,

(Captain, 3d Infantry, Sep. 30, 1855)

N. M., 1855‑57, — Gila Expedition, 1857, — and Ft. Fillmore, N. M., 1857; on Detached service in Baltimore, 1858; and on frontier duty at Los Lunas, N. M., 1858‑59, — Navajo Expedition, 1859, — Ft. Defiance, N. M., 1859, — Los Lunas, N. M., 1859‑60, — March to Texas, 1860, — and Ft. Clark, Tex., 1860‑61.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑66: in the

(Major, 14th Infantry, May 14, 1861)

 p141  Manassas Campaign of July, 1861, being engaged in the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861; in Washington, D. C., commanding the Regular Infantry, Aug., 1861, to Mar., 1862; in the Virginia Peninsular Campaign

(Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, Sep. 28, 1861)

(Army of the Potomac), Mar. to Aug., 1862, being engaged in the Siege of Yorktown, Apr. 5-May 4, 1862, — Battle of Gaines's Mill, June 27, 1862,

(Bvt. Colonel, June 27, 1862,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Battle of Gaines's Mill, Va.)

— and Battle of Malvern Hill, July 1, 1862; in the Northern Virginia Campaign, Aug.‑Sep., 1862, being engaged on the March from Fredericksburg to Bull Run, Aug., 1862, — and Battle of Manassas, Aug. 29‑30, 1862; in the Maryland Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Sep. to Nov., 1862, being engaged in the Battle of Antietam, Sep. 17, 1862, — Skirmish of Shepherdstown, Va., Sep. 19, 1862, — and March to Falmouth, Va., Oct.‑Nov., 1862, participating in the Skirmish of Snicker's Gap, Va.,

(Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Nov. 29, 1862)

Nov. 3, 1862; in the Rappahannock Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Dec., 1862, to June, 1863, being engaged in the Battle of Fredericksburg, Dec. 12‑13, 1862, — and Battle of Chancellorsville, May 2‑4, 1863; in the Pennsylvania Campaign, in command of 5th Corps (Army of the Potomac), June‑July, 1863, being engaged in the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1‑3, 1863, — and in Pursuit of the enemy to Warrenton, Va., July, 1863; in the Rapidan Campaign, commanding 5th Corps (Army of the Potomac), Oct. to Dec., 1863, being engaged on the Rappahannock, Rapidan,

(Lieut.‑Colonel, 5th Infantry, Oct. 16, 1863)

and in the movement on Centreville, Oct., 1863, — Combat of Rappahannock Station, Nov. 7, 1863, — and Actions on the Rapidan and Mine Run, Nov. 24 to Dec. 1, 1863; on duty in the Department of Kansas, Apr. 20, 1864, to June 7, 1865, being in command of the District of South

(Bvt. Brigadier-General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pa.)º

Kansas, Sep. 1 to Oct. 10, 1864; in waiting orders, June 7, 1865, to Jan. 15,

(Bvt. Major-General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Field during the Rebellion)

1866; and in command of detachment of Recruits for New Mexico, Mar. 2

(Mustered out of Volunteer Service, Jan. 15, 1866)

to Aug. 12, 1866.

Served: in command of Regiment at Ft. Sumner, N. M., Aug. 12, 1866, to Apr. 27, 1867, — District of New Mexico, Mar. 27 to Apr. 27, 1867, — and of Ft. Sumner, N. M., Apr. to June, 1867; on leave of absence, June to Aug., 1867; as Member of Examining Board, New York city, Aug. to Dec., 1867; awaiting orders, Jan. to Mar., 1868;

(Colonel, 20th Infantry, Jan. 12, 1868)

and in command of regiment at Baton Rouge, La., Mar. 20, 1868, to Apr., 1869, — of District of Minnesota, Apr. 20, 1869, to June 15, 1873 (on Court Martial, June to Aug., 1872, and Aug. 9 to Sep. 16, 1873), — of Ft. Snelling, Min., Sep. 20, 1873, to Dec. 20, 1877, — and of District of the Rio Grande, and Ft. Brown, Tex., Dec. 27, 1877 (on Court of Inquiry at Ft. Clark, Tex., Feb. 27 to Apr. 10, 1878, and Witness at West Point, N. Y., July 16 to Oct. 9, 1878), to Feb. 8, 1880.

Died, Feb. 8, 1880, at Fort Brown, Tex.: Aged 57.

Buried, West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY.

 p142  Biographical Sketch.

Bvt. Major-General George Sykes was born, Oct. 9, 1822, at Dover, Del., and was graduated from the Military Academy, and promoted to the Third Infantry, July 1, 1842. During the following three years he was on duty in Florida, and on the Western frontier, when he joined the Army of Occupation under General Taylor in Texas. Promoted, Sep. 21, 1846, to a First Lieutenancy, he was on the same day engaged in the Storming of Monterey, Mex. Soon after, he joined Scott's army, invading Mexico from Vera Cruz, and actively participated in most of the operations of that army up to the capture of the enemy's capital, winning, for his gallantry and good conduct in the hard-fought Battle of Cerro Gordo, the brevet of Captain.

Dr. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Henry Coppée, who was his daily companion in the City of Mexico, recalls in his obituary of Sykes the recollections of that time. He says: "Among those scenes of memory, Sykes moves as a soldierly, erect figure, always well, ready for anything proposed, simple-hearted, honest, and eminently true; a first-rate duty man, generous and considerate of others, modest almost to a fault, a boon companion for leisure hours, a staunch friend in an emergency. . . . I was then too young and heedless to cast horoscopes of future distinction, but in looking back to‑day I recognize those qualities which were sure, with opportunity, to develop into military efficiency and renown."

From the conclusion of the Mexican War to the outbreak of the Rebellion, he was on frontier duty, protecting pioneer settlements, escorting exploring expeditions, and often was engaged against hostile Indian tribes. On Sep. 30, 1853, he became a Captain of his regiment.

Promoted, May 14, 1861, to a Majority in the newly created Fourteenth Infantry, he soon after was engaged in the Battle of Bull Run; was appointed, Sep. 28, 1861, a Brigadier-General of Volunteers; in the Virginia Peninsular and Maryland Campaign, had the high honor to command the division of Regular troops; was promoted, Nov. 29, 1862, for his efficient services, a Major-General of Volunteers; was placed at the head of the Fifth Corps after the disastrous Battle of Chancellorsville; and continued with the Army of the Potomac till the termination of the Mine Run operations, Dec. 1, 1863. In most of the conflicts and movements of that army he had borne a conspicuous part; won the brevet of Colonel for his gallantry and stubborn fighting in the Battle of Gaines's Mill, and that of Brig.‑General for brilliant conduct at Gettysburg; and at the close of the Rebellion was brevetted a Major-General for his meritorious services in the field. After leaving the Army of the Potomac he was sent upon important duty to Kansas, and, after the Civil War had ended, held various commands in the West till he died, Feb. 8, 1880, at Ft. Brown, Tex.

Sykes was a model soldier, always at his post, and ever ready faithfully and promptly to perform every duty entrusted to him. He was one of those soldiers whose loss is a severe one to the Army. He was a stern disciplinarian, but one who asked nothing of his men that he was not willing to endure himself. He looked upon his profession as one in which honor was to be achieved only by hard, conscientious work, and he did work nobly and faithfully, throughout the thirty-eight years of his service in the Army. General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Ord, commanding the Department of Texas; the Mayor of Brownsville, where Sykes died; and General Canales, commander on the Mexican Line of the Rio Grande, paid high tribute to his memory.

General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.McClellan, who had known Sykes from the day of his graduation at West Point, says of him: "As a gentleman his character was the  p143 highest, as also the purest, and he endeared himself to all who were so fortunate as to be associated with him. As a soldier his record was one that all might be too glad to possess. Raised to the rank of a General Officer, it was his good fortune to have under his orders the Regular Infantry serving in the Army of the Potomac, and I do not believe that higher praise can be awarded him than to say that he was found worthy of that honor."

Congress appropriated $1,000 for the removal to West Point of General Sykes's remains, over which a tasteful monument has been erected by subscription of his numerous friends.

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Page updated: 5 Jan 14