4th Bde – John Gibbon

John Gibbon Quotes

Iron Brigade Quotes

Last Updated April 24, 2011

 

 “These guns belong to your states, it is you duty to defend them.”

John Gibbon

Gibbon to new volunteers of Battery B

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 55

“I am right now down on the banks of the river opposite Fredericksburg with my brigade, and hard at work trying to knock the kinks out of it and indoctrinate the officers and men into the ways of the regulars.  It is sometimes pretty hard work but I am getting along as well as can be expected, and I think I have a very fine brigade.”

John Gibbon

Gibbon to his wife near Fredericksburg VA

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 55

 

“I made a discovery which was of infinite value to me thereafter.  With these men ‘the hope of reward was far more powerful than the fear of punishment’ and thencforward I acted on that principle.”

John Gibbon

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 56

“they did not smell exactly like roast beef.”

John Gibbon Aug 18 1862

Gibbon in a letter to his wife, describes the smell of burning horses on the Cedar Creek battlefield.  His tent was pitched near the dead horses

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 58

“Yes I did do that. I knew the men of my old brigade would fight without me and just at that particular moment that gun needed looking after to make its fire effective.”

John Gibbon

Gibbon to Harry Heth at the Army Navy Club in Washington DC regarding Gibbon taking over a gun at Antietam. As related by William Harries

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 61

 

“I was sent for this morning by Gen. [John F.] Reynolds wh commands our corps & offered the command of a Division. I hated to leave the old Brig. But could not refuse ahigher command & have just finished my farewell order to the Black Hatted Brigade almost ith tears in my eyes.  I would rather taken them into action than any Division I know of but cannot expect to keep them always, & so may as well give them up now, tho I think they might let me have them as part o my new command. I have been  much gratified atthe regrets expressed in the Brigade at the idea of my leaving and the desire to go woth me.  I take all my old staff with, but leave old Co. B [Fourth U.S. Artillery] behind.”

John Gibbon Nov 4 1862

Gibbon in a letter to his wife discusses his reassignment from the Iron Brigade

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 62

“emulate the gallant deeds of their brave Statesmen in the West, and prove to them that the heroism displayed at Fort Donaldson and Pittsburg Landing, can be rivaled by their brothers, who have come East to fight the cause of the ‘Union.'”

John Gibbon May 1862

Gibbon talking to his brigade after his assumption of command

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 67

 

“It is so easy to fight battles on paper, so different from fighting them on the ground.”

John Gibbon

Gibbon describes the difficulty of writing about war.

From Abner Doubleday A Civil War Biography by Thomas Barthel. Jefferson:  McFarland & Co., 2010. Page 207

“General Gibbon stood up with his command, face to face, against the flower of Jackson’s corps-and strong and chivalrous was the fore!hand to hand almost, was the battle of that night.  And then there it was that Jackson’s stubborn fighters learned that iron was as enduring and immovable as stone.”

Edward S. Bragg

Bragg recalls John Gibbon at Brawner’s Farm

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 66

“his tendency was strong to get up to the front where the bullets flew carelessly.”

Frank A. Haskell

Haskell describes John Gibbon

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 83

“General Gibbon, in this delicate movemenet, handled his brigade with as much precision and coolness as if upon parade, and the bravery of his troops could not be excelled.”

George B. McClellan

McClellan in his report touts Gibbon’s brigade

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 60

“General Gibbon was in the battery, and seeing the advantage which the enemy had, ordered one of the guns which was placed on the turnpike to be used against the enemy’s infantry in the cornfield, General Gibbon acting as both cannoneer and gunner at this piece.”

James Stewart

Lieutenant Stewart, a section leader in Battery B reports on the actions of Genl Gibbon

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 61

“Gibbon’s brigade consisted of some of the finest troops in the service, and the conduct of both men and officers was gallant and distinguished.”

John Pope

Pope describing the conduct of Gibbon’s men during the Second Manassas campaign

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 59

“General Gibbon mounted upon his horse and riding upon high ground where he could see his whole line, shouted orders in a voice loud and clear as a bell and distinctly heard throughout the brigade.  It was always, ‘Forward! Forward!'”

Rufus Dawes

Dawes describing Gibbon at South Mountain

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 60

“We have just learned that General Gibbon has been promoted to Major General.  His honors are fairly won.  He is one of the bravest of men.  He was with us on every battle field.”

Rufus Dawes

Dawes on Gibbon’s promotion to Major General

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 63

“Many a time, by day and by night, I have heard some old soldier in the ranks say when the general was making his way to the front while we were on the march, ‘There’s business ahead, here comes Johny [sic] the War Horse'; and his name stuck to him with the men of his old command.”

William Harries

A veteran recalls the nickname the Iron Brigade gave to their commander

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 59

Iron Brigade Quotes

Last Updated April 24, 2011

Organized by Regiment

19th Indiana Infantry Regiment

“I still think and know that our brigade is the best in the service.”

Henry Marsh

Sep 20 1862

Marsh in a letter to his father 19 IN Inf

From  “I Dread the Thought of the Place.” by Scott D. Hartwig. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 52

“Father, if I had a thousand lives I would rather lose them all than for our cause to be lost.”

Henry Marsh

Henry Marsh in a letter to his father 19 IN Inf

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 67

 

2nd Wisconsin Infantry Regiment

 

“We have a full blue suit a fine black hat nicely trimmed with a bugle and plate and ostrich feathers; and you can only distinguish our boys from the regulars, by their [our] good looks.”

A soldier in a letter to his hometown newspaper in Wisconsin 2 WI Inf

From “John Gibbon and the Black Hat Brigade.” by Steven J. Wright.  Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond.  Single Grand Victory The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 56

6th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment

“The men are growing steadier as we pushed them harder.”

Edward S. Bragg

Bragg recalls the initial training of the Iron Brigade  6 WI Inf

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 69

“He will not run but he is so terrified that he can’t give a command.  At Bull Run he had to go to the front to lead his company forward in line and you would have thought he was trying to sneak up on a wild turkey.” 

George Fairfield speaking about the cowardice of Captain Hooe 6 WI Inf

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 82

“”a feeling of personal responsibility, each man for the man whose elbow he touched in the ranks, and the responsive thought, ‘I must not fail myself in the duty I demand of my comrade.” 

Capt John Marsh, one of Bragg’s officers recalls the training 6 WI Inf

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998. Page 69

“Every man in my company seems a hero, and when a Corporal whom I had disliked quietly says during the hottest of the battle, Captain my gun’s so foul I can’t get the cartridge down; can you find me another?’ I felt like embracing him.”

Capt John Marsh, one of Bragg’s officers recalls the experience at Brawner’s Farm 6 WI Inf

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 70

“You become callous to those falling around you Dead or wounded in fact we have all become callous and the sights of Dead piled up in every direction on which we would have looked with Horror a few months ago we carefully examine now to see which is friend of foe.”

Julius Murray explains the change from rookies to veterans 6 WI Inf

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 79

“Our one night’s experience at Gainesville [Brawner Farm] had eradicated our yearning for a fight.  In our future history we will always be found ready but never again anxious.”

Rufus Dawes explaining the impact of Brawner’s Farm 6 WI Inf

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 73

7th Wisconsin Infantry

“For God’s sake kill us off in battle, and don’t do us to death as jack mules.”

A soldier Jun 1862

One of Gibbon’s soldiers wishing to get into action 7 WI Inf

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 67

“All were eager for the day when we might try our metal…most of us then knew little of grim-visaged war.”

Capt Joseph Bird recalls the desire to get into action 7 WI Inf

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 68

Other Quotes

“There are those d–d black hatted fellows again; taint no militia, it’s the Army of the Potomac!”

A rebel soldier

The response of the rebels upon encountering the Iron Brigade on the first day of the battle fo Gettysburg

From “John Reynolds and the Iron Brigade” by Lance J. Herdegen. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston VipondBloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 195

“Theirs was the enviable fate.  The quick sharp agony, as the leaden messenger of death tore its way through the quivering shrinking flesh, or at most a few days, or weeks or months of pain and suffering, and then rest-forever rest. The torn and bleeding heart may have been healed by the balm of time, but the scars are there, ever to remain.”

Albert Young offers this eulogy to those who died at Brawner’s Farm

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 78

“the Northwest where habitually good fighters are reared.”

Confederate D.H. Hill respecting the good fighting qualities of soldiers from the Northwest

From “They Must Be Made of Iron.” by Kent Gramm. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 27

“By gaining the name, we lost from the brigade seventeen hundred and fifty men.”

Hugh Perkins Sep 26 1862

A soldier describes the cost of earning the name Iron Brigade

From “They Must Be Made of Iron.” by Kent Gramm. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 24

“The habit of obedience and subjection to the will of another so difficult to instill into the minds of free and independent men became marked characteristics in the command.”

John Gibbon

Gibbon explaining the change in his men after rigorous training

From “The Dread Reality of War.” Alan D. and Maureen Gaff. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 79

“the Iron Brigade [is] in our front making plenty of music with their Enfields, driving the enemy before them and taking a line of log breastworks.”

Richard E. Matthews

A Pennsylvania soldier describes the Iron Brigade in the Wilderness

From “A New Kind of Murder- The Iron Brigade in the Wilderness.”by Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston VipondBloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page 135

“Loud cheers were frequently given when some particular regiment of brigade passed by.  Especially when…the 1st Corps came along with the ‘full moon” on its banners, and as the great Western or Iron Brigade passed, looking like giants with their tall black hats, they were greeted with hearty cheers….And giants they were, in action….I look back and see that famed body of troops marching up that long bloody hill unmindful of the pouring rain, but full of life and spirit, with steady step, filling the entire roadway, their big black hats and feathers conspicuous….”

Charles Steven May 1863

Capt Stevens recalls the Iron Brigade marching down a muddy road in a heavy thunderstorm Berdan’s USSS

From Giants in Their Tall Black Hats – Essays on the Iron Brigade. Ed. Alan T. Nolan and Sharon Eggleston Vipond. Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1998.  Page ix

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