MAJOR General Franz Sigel (1824-1902) overlooks Riverside Drive at West 106th Street. Sigel, born in Baden, Germany, served in the German military until 1852, when he emigrated to the US, becoming a journalist. Joining the US Army at the outbreak of the Civil War, rising in the ranks, he helped suppress Missouri’s secession and went on to fight in Virginia and West Virginia. As a commander he was defeated by Gen. John C. Breckinridge at the Battle of New Market, Virginia in May 1864, a battle that is commemorated by the Virginia Military Institute to this day because 10 cadets were killed in the fight. After the war, Sigel went on to public relations and journalism in Baltimore and New York City.
Sigel’s statue was unveiled amid great fanfare in 1907. The sculpture, by Viennese Karl Bitter, was designed, like other statues on Riverside Drive, to be seen by passing boats in the Hudson. In the century to follow, though, lush vegetation has grown to obscure that view. The general is also remembered by Sigel Park in Concourse Village in the Bronx.
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