Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PILLOW, Gideon Johnson, soldier, born in Williamson county, Tennessee, 8 June, 1806; died in Lee county, Arkansas. 6 October, 1878. He was graduated at the University of Nashville, Tennessee, in 1827, practised law at Columbia, Tennessee, was a delegate to the National Democratic convention in 1844, and aided largely in the nomination of his neighbor, James K. Polk, as the candidate for president. In July, 1846, he was appointed brigadier-general in command of Tennessee volunteers in the Mexican war. He served for some time with General Zachary Taylor on the Mexican frontier, subsequently joined General Scott at Vera Cruz, and took an active part in the siege of that city, afterward being one of the commissioners that received its surrender from the Mexican authorities. At the battle of Cerro Gordo he commanded the right wing of the American army, and was severely wounded. He was promoted to major-general, 13 April, 1847, was engaged in the battles of Churnbusco, Molino del Rey, and Chapultepec, where he was wounded. He differed with General Scott in regard to the convention of Tacubaya, and the differences led to such results that General Pillow requested a court of inquiry to try him on charges of insubordination that were made by Scott. The court was ordered, and he was honorably acquitted. After the Mexican war he resumed the practice of law in Tennessee, and was also largely engaged in planting. In the Nashville southern convention of 1850 General Pillow took conservative ground, and opposed extreme measures, tie received twenty-five votes for the nomination for the vice-presidency at the Democratic National convention in 1852. On 9 May, 1861, he was appointed by Governor Isham G. Harris a major-general in the provisional army of the state of Tennessee, and aided largely in the organization of its forces. On 9 July, 1861, he was made a brigadier-general in the provisional Confederate army. He commanded under General Leonidas Polk at the battle of Belmont, Missouri, 7 November, 1861, and was second in command under General John B. Floyd at Fort Donelson in February, 1862. He declined to assume the chief command and to surrender the forces at this fort, so, turning the place over to General Simon B. Buckner, he escaped. He was now relieved from command, but subsequently led a detachment of cavalry, and served under Beauregard in the southwest. He was also chief of conscripts in the western department.
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