- John Gibbon
Infobox Military Person
born= birth date|1827|4|20
died= death date and age|1896|2|6|1827|4|20
Holmesburg, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Arlington National Cemetery Arlington, Virginia
allegiance=United States of America
United States Army
serviceyears=1847 – 1891
rank= Major General of United States Volunteers Brigadier General (Regular Army)
commands= XXIV Corps, Army of the James XVIII Corps Second Division, II Corps Second Division, I Corps
Mexican–American War Seminole Wars American Civil War
Second Battle of Bull Run
Battle of Fredericksburg
Battle of Gettysburg
Siege of Petersburg
Appomattox Campaign Black Hills War Nez Perce War
John Gibbon [Eicher, p. 253, Warner, p. 171, Tagg, p. 44, Lavery, "John Gibbon", p. 838, Nolan, p. 40, Wright and Magner, p. 119, and [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=4836 Gibbon's gravestone] list his name as John Gibbon. In the preface (p. ix) to Gibbon's "Adventures on the Western Frontier", editors Alan and Maureen Gaff list a middle name of Oliver. A [http://balder.prohosting.com/shissem/Hissem_Heysham-Gibbon_Branch.html genealogical website] on the "Heysham-Gibbon Branch" of the Hissem-Montague Family refers to possible middle names of Hannum, Heysham, and Oliver, but states that "a letter written by his younger brother, Nicholas, indicated that their father disliked middle-names, perhaps adverse to his own, and gave them to none of his children, excepting Nicholas who was given his by his mother."] (
April 20, 1827– February 6, 1896) was a career United States Armyofficer who fought in the American Civil Warand the Indian Wars.
Gibbon was born in the Holmesburg section of
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the fourth child of ten born to Dr. John Heysham Gibbons and Catharine Lardner Gibbons. [Lavery and Jordan, p. 2. Despite the Wright and Magner article that states that Gibbon's mother's surname was Larder (and that may simply be a typographical error), her actual surname was Lardner. A [http://balder.prohosting.com/shissem/Hissem_Heysham-Gibbon_Branch.html genealogical Website] on the "Heysham-Gibbon Branch" of the Hissem-Montague family also refers to her surname as Lardner with the exception of three typographical errors. The site also provides this [http://balder.prohosting.com/shissem/Hissem_Lardner.html link] to the Lardner family. In addition, Gibbon's mother spelled her first name with an "a" rather than an "e" according to Lavery and Jordan who cite letters written by her that are available in the Lardner-Gibbon papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. According to Alan and Maureen Gaff, Gibbon's father dropped the "s" from the end of his surname around the time of his 18th birthday and prior to his marriage to Catharine Lardner. However, Gibbon's biographers Dennis Lavery and Mark Jordan maintain the Gibbons spelling throughout their study when referring to General Gibbon's parents.] When Gibbon was nearly 11 years old the family moved near Charlotte, North Carolina, after his father took a position as chief assayer at the U.S. Mint. [Lavery and Jordan, pp. 2-5.] He graduated from the United States Military Academyin 1847 and was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Artillery. He served in the Mexican-American Warwithout seeing combat, [Wright and Magner, p. 119.] attempted to keep the peace between Seminolesand settlers in south Florida, and taught artillery tactics at West Point, where he wrote "The Artillerist's Manual" in 1859. The manual was a highly scientific treatise on gunnery and was used by both sides in the Civil War. In 1855, Gibbon married Francis "Fannie" North Moale. They had four children: Frances Moale Gibbon, Catharine "Katy" Lardner Gibbon, John Gibbon, Jr. (who died as a toddler) and John S. Gibbon.
When war broke out between the states, Gibbon was serving as a captain of Battery B, 4th U.S. Artillery at
Camp Floydin Utah. Despite the fact that his father was a slaveholder and that three of his brothers, two brothers-in-law and his cousin J. Johnston Pettigrewserved in the Confederate military, Gibbon decided to uphold his oath to the Union. [Lavery and Jordan, pp. 25-32, 37-38; Gibbon 1994, pp. ix-xi.] Upon arrival in Washington, Gibbon, still in command of the 4th U.S. Artillery, became chief of artillery for Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell. In 1862, he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers and commanded the brigade of westerners known as King's Wisconsin Brigade. Gibbon quickly set about drilling his troops and improving their appearance, ordering them to wear white leggings and distinctive black 1858 regular army Hardee hats. The hats earned them the nickname The Black Hat Brigade. He led the brigade into action against the famous Confederate Stonewall Brigadeat Brawner's Farm in the Second Battle of Bull Run. He was still in command of the brigade during their strong uphill charge at the Battle of South Mountain, where Maj. Gen. Joseph Hookerexclaimed that the men "fought like iron". From then on, the brigade was known as the " Iron Brigade". Gibbon led the brigade for the last time at the Battle of Antietam, where he was forced to take time away from brigade command to personally man an artillery piece in the bloody fighting at the Cornfield.
Gibbon was promoted to command the 2nd Division, I Corps at the
Battle of Fredericksburg, where he was wounded. The wound was minor but kept getting infected, so Gibbon was out of action for a few months. Shortly after returning to duty he learned of the sudden death of his son, John Gibbon, Jr. Gibbon returned for the Battle of Chancellorsville, but his division was in reserve and saw little action. At the Battle of Gettysburg, he commanded the 2nd Division, II Corps and temporarily commanded the corps on July 1and July 2, 1863, while Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancockwas elevated to command larger units. At the end of the council of waron the night of July 2, army commander Maj. Gen. George G. Meadetook Gibbon aside and predicted, "If Lee attacks tomorrow, it will be on your front." [Haskell, pp. 34-37.] And his division did bear the brunt of fighting during the defense against Pickett's Chargeon July 3, when Gibbon was again wounded. [Haskell, pp. 48-68.] While recovering from his wounds, he commanded a draft depot in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended the dedication of Soldiers' National Cemetery and heard Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Addresswith his close friend and aide Lt. Frank A. Haskell. [Gaff, p. 305.]
Gibbon was back in command of the 2nd Division at the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and Cold Harbor. During the
Siege of Petersburg, Gibbon became disheartened when his troops refused to fight at Ream's Station. He briefly commanded the XVIII Corps before going on sick leave, but his service being too valuable, he returned to command the newly created XXIV Corps in the Army of the James. His troops helped achieve the decisive breakthrough at Petersburg, capturing Fort Gregg, part of the Confederate defenses. He led his troops during the Appomattox Campaignand blocked the Confederate escape route at the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse. He was one of three commissioners for the Confederate surrender.
Gibbon stayed in the army after the war. He reverted to the regular army rank of colonel and was in command of the infantry at Fort Ellis,
Montana Territory, during the campaign against the Siouxin 1876. Gibbon, Gen. George Crook, and Lt. Col. George A. Custerwere to make a coordinated campaign against the Sioux and Cheyenne, but Crook was driven back at the Battle of the Rosebud, and Gibbon was not close by when Custer attacked a very large village on the banks of the Little Bighorn River. The Battle of the Little Bighornresulted in the deaths of Custer and some 261 of his men. Gibbon's approach on June 26probably saved the lives of the several hundred men under the command of Major Marcus Renowho were still under siege. Gibbon arrived the next day, and helped to bury the dead and evacuate the wounded.
Gibbon was still in command in Montana the following year when he intercepted a telegraph from
Oliver O. Howardto cut off the Nez Percé, who were camped along the Big Hole Riverin western Montana. At the Battle of the Big HoleGibbon's forces inflicted heavy losses, but became pinned down under Indian sniper fire. Gibbon held off the warriors until General Howard's forces arrived late on the second day of battle and drove them off.
Later career and retirement
Gibbon served temporarily as commander of the
Department of the Plattein 1884. He was promoted to brigadier general in the regular army in 1885 and took command of the Army of the Pacific Northwest. He placed Seattle, Washington, under martial lawduring the anti-Chinese riots of 1886. Gibbon was required to retire due to age restrictions in 1891.
Gibbon served as president of the Iron Brigade Association, and Commander in Chief of the
Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United Statesfrom October 1895 until his death the following year. He also gave the commencement address to the West Point Class of 1886.
Death and legacy
John Gibbon died in
Baltimore, Maryland, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. In addition to his famous and influential "Artillerist's Manual" of 1859, he is the author of "Personal Recollections of the Civil War" (published posthumously in 1928) and "Adventures on the Western Frontier" (also posthumous, 1994) along with many articles in magazines and journals, typically recounting his time in the West and providing his opinions on the government's policy toward Native Americans.
July 3, 1988, the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, a bronze statue of John Gibbon was dedicated in the Gettysburg National Military Park, near the site of his wounding in Pickett's Charge. [Wright and Magner, pp. 126-27.]
In popular media
Gibbon was portrayed in the film "Gettysburg" by Emile O. Schmidt.
* List of American Civil War generals
* Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., "Civil War High Commands", Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
* Gaff, Alan D., "On Many a Bloody Field: Four Years in the Iron Brigade", Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1999, ISBN 978-0-2532-1294-8.
* Gibbon, John, "Adventures on the Western Frontier", Alan D. Gaff and Maureen Gaff, eds., Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1994, ISBN 0-2533-2579-X.
* Haskell, Frank A. "The Battle of Gettysburg," Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States Commandery of the State of Massachusetts, 1908.
* Herdegen, Lance D., "The Men Stood Like Iron: How the Iron Brigade Won Its Name", Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1997, ISBN 978-0-25333-221-9.
* Lavery, Dennis S., "John Gibbon", "Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social, and Military History", Heidler, David S., and Heidler, Jeanne T., eds., W. W. Norton & Company, 2000, ISBN 0-393-04758-X.
* Lavery, Dennis S. and Mark H. Jordan, "Iron Brigade General: John Gibbon, Rebel in Blue", Greenwood Press, 2003, ISBN 978-0-3132-8576-9.
* Nolan, Alan T., "The Iron Brigade, A Military History", Indiana University Press, 1961, ISBN 0-253-34102-7.
* Tagg, Larry, [http://www.rocemabra.com/~roger/tagg/generals/ "The Generals of Gettysburg"] , Savas Publishing, 1998, ISBN 1-882810-30-9.
* Warner, Ezra J., "Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders", Louisiana State University Press, 1964, ISBN 0-8071-0822-7.
* Wright, Steven J., and Blake A. Magner, "John Gibbon: The Man and the Monument", "The Gettysburg Magazine", Issue 13, July 1995.
* Felton, Silas. "The Iron Brigade Battery: An Irregular Regular Battery," in "Giants in their Tall Black Hats: Essays on the Iron Brigade". Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond, eds. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-2533-3457-8.
* Gaff, Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. "'The Dread Reality of War': Gibbon's Brigade, August 28-September 17, 1862," in "Giants in their Tall Black Hats: Essays on the Iron Brigade". Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond, eds. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-2533-3457-8.
* Gibbon, John. "Gibbon on the Sioux Campaign of 1876". The Old Army Press, 1970.
* Gibbon, John. "Personal Recollections of the Civil War." New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1928.
* Gramm, Kent. "'They Must be Made of Iron': The Ascent of South Mountain," in "Giants in their Tall Black Hats: Essays on the Iron Brigade". Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond, eds. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-2533-3457-8.
* Hartwig, D. Scott. "'I Dread the Thought of the Place': The Iron Brigade at Antietam," in "Giants in their Tall Black Hats: Essays on the Iron Brigade". Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond, eds. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-2533-3457-8.
* Nolan, Alan T. "John Brawner's Damage Claim," in "Giants in their Tall Black Hats: Essays on the Iron Brigade". Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond, eds. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-2533-3457-8.
* Wright, Steven J. "John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade," in "Giants in their Tall Black Hats: Essays on the Iron Brigade". Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond, eds. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-2533-3457-8.
* [http://www.windriverhistory.org/exhibits/chiefjoseph/images/43201.jpgPhotograph] of Gibbon in 1889 with
* [http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/jgibbon.htm Photographs] of Gibbon and his grave.
* [http://www.generalsandbrevets.com/ngg/gibbon.htm Several] photographs of Gibbon.
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