CDV OF C.S. GENERAL GIDEON PILLOW

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Three-quarter standing view of Pillow in civilian clothes. Image is clear with good contrast. Photographer’s backmark, E. & H.T. Anthony, New York.

Gideon Johnson Pillow (June 8, 1806 – October 8, 1878) was an American lawyer, politician, speculator, slaveowner, United States Army major general of volunteers during the Mexican–American War and Confederate brigadier general in the American Civil War.

Before his military career, Pillow practiced law and was active in Democratic Party politics. In 1847, Pillow was commissioned a brigadier general of volunteers to serve in the Mexican–American War, and was later promoted to major general. He performed reasonably well, and was wounded that year at Cerro Gordo and Chapultepec.

Pillow served as a delegate to the Nashville Convention of 1850, where he supported compromise. He remained active in supporting the Democratic Party. At the start of the Civil War in 1861, Pillow supported secession, and was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate Army in July. Pillow received the thanks of the Confederate Congress for driving off the Union force at the Battle of Belmont, Missouri.

Pillow controversially failed to exploit a temporary breakthrough of Union lines by his troops which might have allowed the Confederate garrison of Fort Donelson to escape at the Battle of Fort Donelson on February 15, 1862. The next night, before the surrender of the fort, Brigadier General John B. Floyd passed overall command of the fort to Pillow, who in turn passed it to Brigadier General Simon Buckner. Floyd and Pillow managed to personally escape with a few aides before Buckner surrendered the remaining garrison to the Union Army of Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant. These actions sent his military career and reputation into decline.

Pillow commanded a brigade at the Battle of Stones River in 1863, where he performed poorly, and was among the few generals in the army to praise the leadership of commanding General Braxton Bragg. Removed from combat duty, he worked mainly in recruiting assignments through the remainder of the war.

Bankrupt after the war, Pillow recovered financially and resumed a successful legal career. He died near Helena, Arkansas in 1878; initially buried in Helena, Pillow was later reinterred at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis.  [jet]  [ph:L]

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