Major General Franz Sigel


The German-American Franz Sigel (1824–1902) was a Union general in the American Civil War. Born in Sinsheim, Grand Duchy of Baden, he graduated from the Karlsruhe military academy in 1843. Sigel served as colonel and later secretary of war of the Baden revolutionary army during the revolutions of 1848 and 1849. He immigrated to New York City in 1852, where, along with his father-in-law, he founded the German-American Institute. He was favored by President Abraham Lincoln for his ability to garner German-American support for the Union, and in May 1861 he was appointed colonel of the Third Missouri Infantry, a regiment of volunteers formed to expel the Confederates from Missouri. Despite suffering significant losses on the battlefield, Sigel was widely endorsed by the Republican and German-American press, which led to several promotions. He was credited with the victory on March 7‒8, 1862, at the Battle of Pea Ridge, also known as the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern, which secured Missouri for the Union, after which he was promoted to major general. In February 1864, he was appointed to the Department of West Virginia to lead the Shenandoah Valley campaign. Lincoln lost patience with Sigel when he retreated from Martinsburg to Harpers Ferry, failing to repel an advance by Confederate general Jubal A. Early that nearly reached Washington. Sigel was relieved of his command; his subsequent resignation ended his military career. The image is from an album of mostly Civil War-era portraits by the famous American photographer Matthew Brady (circa 1823‒96) that belonged to Emperor Pedro II of Brazil (1825‒91), a collector of photography as well as a photographer himself. The album was a gift to the emperor from Edward Anthony (1818‒88), another early American photographer who, in partnership with his brother, owned a company that in the 1850s became the leading seller of photographic supplies in the United States. Dom Pedro may have acquired the album during a trip to the United States in 1876 when he, along with President Ulysses S. Grant, opened the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Brady was born in upstate New York, the son of immigrants from Ireland. Best known for his photographs documenting the battles of the American Civil War, he began his career in 1844 when he opened a daguerreotype portrait studio at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Streets in New York City. Over the course of the next several decades, Brady produced portraits of leading American public figures, many of which were published as engravings in magazines and newspapers. In 1858 he opened a branch in Washington, DC. The album, which also contains a small number of non-photographic prints, is part of the Thereza Christina Maria Collection at the National Library of Brazil. The collection is composed of 21,742 photos assembled by Emperor Pedro II throughout his life and donated by him to the national library. The collection covers a wide variety of subjects. It documents the achievements of Brazil and Brazilians in the 19th century and also includes many photographs of Europe, Africa, and North America.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Edward Anthony, New York


Title in Original Language

Maj. Genl. F. Sigel

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print of a drawing : carte-de-visite, albumen paper ; 8.6 x 5.5 centimeters


  1. Earl J. Hess, “Sigel, Franz,” in American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Last updated: January 8, 2018