Gideon Johnson Pillow

Brigadier General

Headstones: Find-a-Grave

Reference: Alabama Department of Archives & History. Custodian of the original pictures. Confederate Officers photo album.

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Gideon Johnson Pillow was born in Williamson County, Tennessee, June 8, 1806. After his graduation from the University of Nashville in 1827, he practiced law for some time in Columbia, Tennessee, with James Knox Polk (later President of the United States) as a partner. An unsuccessful aspirant for the office of vice president in 1852 and 1856, Pillow had been appointed in 1846 a brigadier general of volunteers by his former associate. Subsequently he was advanced by Polk to the grade of major general. Twice wounded in the Mexico City campaign, he fell out with General Winfield Scott, but was sustained by the President on all occasions, who declared that he had been "greatly persecuted." He was named senior major general of Tennessee's provisional army upon the secession of the state in 1861, and was appointed brigadier general in the Provisional Army of the Confederacy on July 9 of that year. Pillow was at the battle of Belmont, Missouri, in November 1861, and was second in command to General John B. Floyd at Fort Donelson the following February. During Grant's siege of Fort Donelson, Floyd passed the command to Pillow, who in turn passed it to General Simon B. Buckner. The first two made their escape before the surrender of the work. Subsequently relieved from duty, he held no important command thereafter. He was assigned to the volunteer and conscript bureau in Tennessee during the latter part of the war, and was commissary general of prisoners after the death of General J. H. Winder in February 1865. He was forced into bankruptcy after the war; but practiced law in Memphis, with former Governor Isham G. Harris as his partner. General Pillow died near Helena, Arkansas, October 8, 1878, and is buried in Memphis.

Ref: Generals in Gray, Lives of the Confederate Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Printed by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London.