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John Gibbon papers


Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

John Gibbon (1827-1896) was a life-long Army officer. He served in the Mexican American War, in the U.S. Army during the Civil War, and in the Indian Wars against the Sioux.

Gibbon was born on April 20, 1827, in Holmesburg, Pennsylvania. Soon after, his family moved to North Carolina, where he graduated from the United States Military Academy and entered his career in the Army. When the Civil War broke out, several of Gibbon's family members were slaveholders and fought in the Confederate infantry. He decided to remain loyal to the Union. Soon Gibbon was promoted through the ranks, and eventually became a Brigadier General for the 4th US Artillery and Western Volunteers, which became known as the Iron Brigade after the Battle of South Mountain.

Although Gibbon temporarily commanded other units when leadership changes occured, such as the 2nd Division of the II Corps at Gettysburg, Gibbon maintained control of the Iron Brigade throughout the war, fighting at the second Battle of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, the Wilderness Campaign, Spotsylvania, and commanding them in a successful block of a Confederate retreat at Appomattox Court House. He was one of the three commissioners for surrender for the Confederate Army at Appomattox.

After the Civil War, Gibbon maintained the rank of colonel and fought in Montana against the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Nez Perce in the Indian Wars. He then moved to the Department of the Platte in Seattle, Washington, in 1884 and took control of the command base there. He maintained that position until his death in 1896. He also acted as commander and chief of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion from 1891-1896. He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in the U.S. Army in 1885, and he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Gibbon published the 1859 Artillerist's Manual, which was used extensively in the Civil War and later campaigns. He also wrote several works that were published posthumously, including Personal Recollections of the Civil War (1928) and Adventures on the Western Frontier (1994).

This small collection contains mainly correspondence and memoirs from John Gibbon. There are also some miscellaneous materials, including account books from Gibbon's military schooling, scrapbooks, pamphlets, photographs, and a testimonial to Gibbon written by President Ulysses S. Grant.

His correspondence is outgoing to his wife, 1862-1893. Gibbons reports on the military campaigns, particularly the Civil War campaigns in Virginia and his role in the surrender at Appomattox.

The memoirs in this collection include some that were part of his published works, as well as unpublished memoirs on the lessons of war, the education of the army, autobiographical accounts, and a manuscript copy of the "The Army Under Pope," by John C. Ropes, which was published in 1881.

This collection was processed using the More Product, Less Process model, and is not arranged into series. Materials are arranged alphabetically by title.

PBS. "John Gibbon (c. 1827-1896)." New Perspectives on the West. (accessed August 20, 2010).

This collection was a gift of Mrs. Winthrop H. Battles in 1975.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Amanda Fellmeth
Finding Aid Date
This collection was processed as part of the Digital Center for Americana pilot project, which was funded by the Barra Foundation and individual donors.
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Collection Inventory

Correspondence, (1862-1893).
Box 1 Folder 1-15
Essays, (1881, undated).
Box 1 Folder 16-19
Memoir, (1885, undated).
Box 1 Folder 20-22
Memoir, (1891-1892, undated).
Box 2 Folder 1-8
Miscellaneous papers, (1862, undated).
Box 2 Folder 9
Notes, "The Army Under Pope", (undated).
Box 2 Folder 10
Pamphlets, (1862-1896).
Box 2 Folder 12-14
Newspaper clippings, (undated).
Box 2 Folder 11
Photographs, (1863-1865, undated).
Box 2 Folder 15
Testimonial by U. S. Grant, (1866).
Box 2 Folder 16
Photograph album, (undated).
Volume 1
Manuscript, "The Army Under Pope", (undated).
Volume 2
Newspaper scrapbook, (undated).
Volume 3
Report, 26th Annual Re-Union of Military Order of the Loyal Legion, (1895).
Volume 4
Account, Treasurer at Military Academy, (1845-1847).
Volume 5
Newspaper clippings re: military and battles, (1854-1886, undated).
Oversize flat file 1

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