Thursday, December 15, 2011

Brothers versus brothers.

We are all familiar with the idea of the War being a War in which brothers fought against brothers. But how often do we actually come across those stories? In my research for Civil War Charlotte, I've actually found on such tale. Ok, I kind of knew this story before, but not all of the details. So, here are the details.
     In 1838, Dr. John H. Gibbons became chief assayer at the new United State Mint in, or near, Charlotte, North Carolina. The first gold rush was rapidly expanding the town. Previously, the Gibbons family had lived in Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia to be exact. There were ten Gibbons children.
     One of those sons was John Gibbon (no, I don't know why he does not have the s). John was eleven when the family moved, and went on to spend about five years in the Queen City. John graduated from West Point in 1847, and served in the Mexican War and the Seminole War, and taught artillery tactics at West Point.  When the Civil War started, John became chief of artillery for Irvin McDowell. In 1862, he was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers and assigned command of a brigade of Wisconsin Men. Later, this brigade was known as the Iron Brigade. John later commanded the 2nd Division, II Corps, and at Gettysburg, commanded the Corps during part of the battle. It was on his front that the Picket-Pettigrew-Trimble charge landed on July 3. He was also wounded the second time. Gibbon would later command the XVIII Corps, and then the XXIV Corps. Following the War, he served out West, battling the Sioux , Cheyenne, and Nez Perce. He later commanded the Army of the Pacific Northwest, before retiring in 1891. He died in Baltimore, Maryland,  and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
     An older brother was Lardner Gibbon. Lardner was a Lieutenant in the United States Navy and was sent by the US government to explore the Amazon River. On July 2, 1861, he was appointed a captain in the Confederate States Artillery. He is listed as ordinance officer and commander of corps artillery in the 2nd Military District of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.  He later resigned on August 5, 1863. Just what his role was after his resignation is unclear. An interesting aside is that both John and Lardner served as best men in the wedding of Daniel Harvey Hill. Lardner died on January 1, 1910.
     Yet another older brother to John was Robert Gibbon. He was born in 1822 and graduated from the Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia.  He returned to Charlotte where he was living when the War commenced. Robert was appointed surgeon of the 28th North Carolina Troops on or about September 25, 1861, and served in this capacity until appointed senior surgeon of James H. Lane's brigade on January 29, 1864. Once the War ended, Robert returned to Charlotte and practiced surgery in the Queen City. Two of his sons founded Presbyterian Hospital. Robert died on May 14, 1898.
     The last brother was Nicholas Gibbon. He was born in 1837 and was attending lectures at the Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia when the war commenced. He returned to Charlotte and enrolled in the North Carolina Military Institute, under the command of family friend D. H. Hill.  Nicholas served as a private in the 1st North Carolina Volunteers. Once that regiment mustered out of service, Nicholas was appointed Assistant Commissary of Substance in the 28th North Carolina Troops (under the command of James H. Lane, another North Carolina Military institute professor). Nicholas served in this capacity until resigning on September 17, 1863. He then served on Cadmus Wilcox's staff and in other positions until returning to North Carolina to look for deserters. Nicholas married into the Alexander family and farmed in Mecklenburg County after the War. He died on October 17, 1917.
     There you have it, brothers fighting brothers. By the way, two of the Gibbon sisters also married Confederate soldiers, and somehow, they are all related to James J. Pettigrew.

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