Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: —1 Peter 5:8
General John Sedgwick and his staff arrived near Spotsylvania Court House (Virginia) on May 8, 1864. Sedgwick commanded a Federal corps in the Wilderness Campaign about to begin. The next day, Sedgwick and his chief of staff, Martin McMahon, were standing by a battery and ordering some infantry near it to another position. At this point Confederate sharpshooters, located probably a mile away, opened fire and Sedgwick’s troops ducked, dodged, and cringed under fire. The general amicably chastised his men claiming, “they couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” At that very moment one man was walking in front of the general, heard a bullet whistling, and dove to the ground. Sedgwick nudged him with his boot, again assuring that they “couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” The man stood, saluted, but based on his experience, said, “I believe in ducking.” Sedgwick laughed and dismissed him.
Another whistling sound. McMahon heard a dull thud. He was about to resume his conversation with Sedgwick when the general turned toward him, a hole under his left eye spurting a stream of blood. Sedgwick fell into McMahon’s arms and died. Sedgwick thought that the Confederates used only short-range rifles. He didn’t realize that the sharpshooter who felled him with a hexagonal .45-caliber bullet was using a British-made Whitworth sniper rifle equipped with a telescopic sight.
Sedgwick had no idea the capabilities of the enemy. Do we? We we realize the power of our enemy. You do not trifle with God… nor the god of this world—Satan! Don’t underestimate him! He is a sharpshooter with fiery darts and seldom misses his target. You’re best defense is the shield of faith! “Be sober, be vigilant.”