James Isham Gilbert


James Isham Gilbert was born July 16, 1823, in Louisville, Kentucky, but was taken by his parents in infancy first to Illinois and then to Wisconsin, where he grew up and was educated in Prairie du Chien. In the years before the war Gilbert engaged in the rafting of lumber down the Mississippi, Indian trading, general merchandising, real estate, and operating livery stables in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Lansing, Iowa, a town which he laid out and resided in from 1851 until 1862. He entered the service as colonel of the 27th Iowa Infantry on October 3, 1862, and had no battle service until the spring of 1864, when the regiment was assigned to A. J. Smith's detachment of the XVI Corps during the Red River campaign. Gilbert's gallant conduct throughout the campaign won him advancement to brigade command in June, 1864, and his distinguished services at the battle of Nashville in December resulted in his formal promotion to brigadier general on February 9, 1865. Here and in the subsequent campaign against Mobile, Gilbert commanded the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Division of the Right Wing, XVI Corps. He was brevetted major general for "faithful and meritorious services" in the Mobile campaign and was mustered out on August 24, 1865. General Gilbert then established residence in Burlington, Iowa, where he resumed his 1851 partnership with his two brothers in the lumber business. Although this was a successful venture, in 1877 he embarked on a series of "extensive mining transactions" in Colorado which, according to his obituary,  "proved disastrous." In the last eighteen months of his life he resided in Topeka, Kansas, where on February 9, 1884, he died of a heart attack. General Gilbert was buried next to his wife in Aspen Grove Cemetery, Burlington.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.