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From Cuckold to Killer to Civil War General: The Strange Odyssey of Daniel E. Sickles

A look at a colorful figure from guest writer Matthew A. Perry

Sickles instantly became one of the most controversial Generals in the entire war. Though many would criticize his performance at Gettysburg, he vigorously defended himself and claimed his orders had been crucial for the Union victory. Sickles would use his notoriety after the war to play a large role in building the National Military Park that stands in Gettysburg today. Sickles’ is a tale that is almost impossible to believe. A cuckolded husband, accused murderer, politician and United States Army General all within the span of 10 years. His story is unique in American military history, and one would doubt that his colorful career will ever be duplicated.

After the war, Sickles was eventually sent on a diplomatic mission to Spain, where his colorful behavior continued. He was even rumored to have had an affair with the former Queen Isabella II, though he eventually settled down and married again, this time to the daughter of a Spanish nobleman.  After his return to the U.S. Sickles served once more in the U.S. House from 1893-1895, and died in 1914.

Matthew A. Perry is a middle school history teacher, author, and basketball coach from West Virginia. When he is not teaching and coaching, he writes and has published three books about military history. You can find Matthew’s work at and his blog at

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