John Oliver Gibbon

John Gibbon was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 20, 1827. As a small boy, he was taken to Charlotte, North Carolina, from which state he was appointed to the Military Academy. He was graduated from there in 1847, ranking in the middle of the class; his most famous classmates were Ambrose P. Hill of the Confederacy and Ambrose E. Burnside of the Union. Prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, Gibbon saw service in Mexico, against the Florida Seminoles, and at the Academy where he was on duty for five years as an artillery instructor and quartermaster. In 1861 he was a captain of the 4th Artillery, stationed at Fort Leavenworth. Although his wife was from Baltimore and three of his brothers entered the Confederate army, Gibbon adhered to the Union. After some months as chief of artillery in Irvin McDowell's division, he was made a brigadier general of volunteers on May 2, 1862, and assigned to the command of the "Iron Brigade," which he led at Second Manassas and in the Maryland campaign. In November, 1862, Gibbon was advanced to command of the 2nd Division of John F. Reynolds' I Corps and was badly wounded at Fredericksburg the following month. Returning to duty after a three-month convalescence, he directed the 2nd Division of Winfield S. Hancock's II Corps— and on two occasions the corps itself—with conspicuous gallantry and distinction at Gettysburg, until he was again wounded and carried off the field. Upon his recovery he commanded the Cleveland and Philadelphia draft depots until the commencement of U. S. Grant's Overland campaign in 1864, when he assumed the direction of his old division. With it he fought in all the battles between the Wilderness and the investment of Petersburg, and was promoted to major general to rank from June 7, 1864. In January, 1865, he was given command of the newly organized XXIV Corps, Army of the James. At Appomattox he was one of the commissioners designated to receive the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. After the war General Gibbon received the usual brevets and was appointed colonel of the 36th U. S. Infantry and in 1869 of the 7th U. S. Infantry; his service was mainly against the Indians on the frontier, where the fallacy of pursuing the world's finest horsemen with foot soldiers was indelibly illustrated. Nevertheless, Gibbon's overall conduct of operations was highly commendable. He shared no blame in Custer's headstrong conduct at the Little Big Horn, arriving in time only to rescue the survivors of Custer's command and to bury the dead. The following year he conducted a successful campaign against the Nez Perces and on July 10, 1885, was made a brigadier general in the Regular Army. After retirement in 1891, he made his home in Baltimore where he died on February 6, 1896, serving at the time as commander in chief of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion. General Gibbon was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was the author of The Artillerist's Manual, published by the War Department in 1860, and of Personal Recollections of the Civil War, written in 1885 but not published until 1928.

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