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Military Science 402

General George Sykes
General George Sykes was born on October 9, 1822. In 1842 Sykes graduated and commissioned from the United States military academy. When he became a second lieutenant Sykes’ military career officially began. Not long after commissioning Sykes waited before his leadership and gallantry to be tested. In 1847, Sykes was sucked into the Mexican American war, during the Battle of Cerro Gordo, where his skills were put to the test. Being the leader and expert in war that he was, he excelled flawlessly. The battle was fought so well and displayed so much leadership that Sykes was later recognized for it. In recognition for his selfless service and amazing gallantry in battle, Sykes was promoted to captain. Though Sykes served with a flawless record and an excellent name in combat, his largest feat was yet on its way. Sykes’ newest focus of conflict would be the civil war. It was at this time that Sykes was promoted to the rank of major and given a battalion commander position over a group of infantry regulars. This was something very unnatural. With such a high profile war, to find a unit where every person in it was an actual soldier was like a dream made in heaven. During this time absolute chaos was not unlikely, especially with the poor training of the volunteers. Unlike many, all of Sykes troops were “regulars”. Because of this, nothing but sure success was highly expected. He continued the war with wins in battle until he was faced with the bloodiest battle in history to this day, the battle of Gettysburg. This was an all out event full of madness. Despite the activity, Sykes still held on and did what he had to do. He was called in-support of brigade commander Strong Vincent and the 20th marine Infantry Division. Sykes is best known for his defense on little round top. This conflict with in the battle is highly-respected because it is considered the turning point in the battle. It was here that Confederate soldiers were stopped dead in their tracks and all chances for advancement were omitted. The defensive position was, in a sense, converted into an offensive maneuver when confederate soldiers were pushed across the “Valley of Death”. The battle ended in the wheat field. This destroyed the moral, numbers of troops and any other options the confederacy had going for them. Due to the continued success in battle shortly after the war Sykes was promoted Colonel and served as the commander in the 20Th Infantry until his death.
The significance of this bears great importance. For any and all military personnel we know that moral and training is everything. Sykes gave soldiers a sense of pride because of whom he was and who he was leading. This allowed for those volunteers who severely lacked skill to gain a sense of patriotism in order get them to fight harder. This also unlocked the true training and knowledge strong points in each and every one of his “regulars”. This forced them to give all that they had and to exhaust all points of combat they had learned throughout their years of service and dedication to their country. This, in my opinion was one of the driving forces that kept the battle of Gettysburg alive and allowed for them to cut all chances of the Confederacy advancing. Prior to this battle, the Confederacy had been dominating the war due to their numbers and leadership. More than half of the West Point generals had attended West Point. With all of that militant expertise, this naturally would drive a long, hard road for the union. The pride for this country was shown exceptional and no other part of the Gettysburg.
Personal Thoughts My personal thoughts are simple: without such a seasoned leader, none of this would have been possible. Honestly, there are times where fresh soldiers grasp a victory in battle, whether it be by sheer luck or a leader who just makes the correct critical decision when it is needed. A conflict like this offers no room for luck. This was an absolute war zone that required significant amount of training in order to win. Sykes’ professionalism is also something to be commended. With him being the only commander with “regulars,” he rose to the occasion rather than backing down due to the lack of everyday troops. He really set the tempo and made something out of a nothing in this situation. To me this is one of the most important lessons because there will be many times where one does not possess all of the necessary tools to accomplish the mission, but that does not mean that the mission stops. Only a true leader and military genius would expect any of this. It is the traits like these that I will attempt to mirror in order to maintain and prolong a successful career. I will need to know my soldiers and their capabilities, and like Sykes, I will need to know what they can do even if they do not personally believe that they can do it. Like Sykes, I will be there to push them that extra mile and achieve nothing less than greatness on the battlefront. I say this because often times, out there, you get one chance only to prove your worth. As for the others who do not rise to the standard, they rarely live to tell the story and discuss what they would have done. Through his great leadership skills, I aspire to pick up some helpful tips so that I may secure a successful career in the United States Army.

Reviewed by: CDT Vanderpuije & CDT Lincoln…...

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