Birthplace: Holmesburg, PA
Location of death: Baltimore, MD
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Led the Civil War's Iron Bigade
Military service: US Army (1847-91, to Brig. Gen.); Union Army
Brigadier General John Gibbon was born in Pennsylvania but raised a son the South, in a well-off, slave-owning North Carolina family. Still, he remained loyal to the Union during the American Civil War, even as his three brothers fought for the Confederacy. He said that he sympathized with the Seminole Indians in Florida, though as a young officer he followed orders and participated in evacuating them to their assigned territory in Oklahoma. In 1859, in the aftermath of the "Mormon War", he commanded a prison in Utah holding Southern secessionists, and had his unit's band play "Dixie" for the prisoners. For this he was charged with treason, but acquitted.
As Brigadier General, his troops suffered heavy casualties in the Second Battle of Bull Run on 28 August 1862 against the forces of Stonewall Jackson, but earned the nickname "Iron Brigade" for their legendary tenacity. He also saw battle in Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg, and was present when Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army surrendered. After the war, he commanded the troops that came upon the remains of George Armstrong Custer's Seventh Cavalry at Little Big Horn, and later lost a famous battle to Chief Joseph at Big Hole, Montana. His last action came in 1886, when he enforced martial law in Seattle, to quell deadly anti-Chinese race riots. Three times in his career he was seriously wounded in battle, and his meticulous diaries were edited into two autobiographies, both published after his death. His grand-nephew was Dr. John H. Gibbon, Jr., who invented the heart-lung machine and performed the first open heart surgery.
Father: John Heysham Gibbon (US Mint executive)
Mother: Catharine Lardner Gibbon
University: US Military Academy, West Point (1847)
Teacher: Artillery, US Military Academy, West Point (1855-59)
Treason 1859 (acquitted)
Military Order of the Loyal Legion
Author of books:
The Artillerist's Manual (1859, nonfiction)
Personal Recollections of the Civil War (1928, memoir)
Adventures on the Western Frontier (1994, memoir)
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