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Civil War Trust

Lesson 3: Leaders must focus on the success of their teams

Dan Sickles - July 2

Dan Sickles
Dan Sickles advanced without orders on July 2, creating a weak point in the Union line. (image courtesy Don Troiani,

In the early afternoon of July 2, the contending armies occupied opposite ridges--the Confederates on Seminary Ridge and the Federals on Cemetery Ridge.  Posted on the left flank of the Union line, Dan Sickles began to worry that his position was vulnerable.  Without consulting with his superiors, he ordered the 10,000 soldiers under his command to advance roughly half a mile in order to control a hill in the middle of the valley.  This maneuver put the men out of easy supporting distance of the rest of the Union army.  Sickles's men were decimated and forced to retreat in the ensuing battle, forcing the rest of the Union army to frantically shift position to cover for Sickles's unordered advance.

Questions to consider:

What happens to a team when a few people take action which is designed to further their own interests?

How can a focus on team success improve chances for individual success?

These six lessons are part of a more comprehensive program offered by Battlefield Leadership, LLC, for educational and corporate groups. 

Battlefield Leadership is a leadership consulting and training company specializing in providing customized experiential leadership training based in history.  Programs derived from historic events and transformative figures who helped shape the course of history in their own time display the best in character-based leadership and have proven highly effective in catalyzing leadership change for organizations and business leaders at all levels.

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