General John Sedgwick made fun of his troops for being afraid of being shot by snipers, his final words were “they couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance” right before being shot and killed by a sniper
Major-General John Sedgwick was an important figure in the American Civil War and was considered by his men to be a brave and inspiring leader. Nevertheless, the general public would now be unaware of him but for the rather unfortunate assertion he made just before dying.
At the U.S. Civil War skirmish of Spotsylvania Court House, Sedgwick was deploying his men to face the enemy, with Confederate snipers hindering their preparations. His statement “”They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance”” are probably some of the best-known of all ‘famous last words’. They may sound contrived, but are in fact precisely what he said just before being shot. The alternative version “”They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist…”” is apocryphal and an elaboration made for comic effect, as is made clear by this verbatim report made by General McMahon, who was at Sedgwick’s side at his untimely death.”