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"Controversial Civil War Commanders: Gideon Pillow" Topic


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335 hits since 3 Jun 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP04 Jun 2018 3:02 p.m. PST

"Few Mexican War generals fought more battles than Tennessee-born Gideon Pillow—the problem was that many of those battles were with his own superiors. That they were fought with pen and ink rather than pistol and sword made them no less desperate in their undertaking. A patron and early sponsor of fellow Tennessean James K. Polk, Pillow helped Polk win the presidency in 1844 as a decided Democratic dark horse. With Polk's victory over Whig candidate Henry Clay, Pillow rode the winds of political preference to a post as brigadier general when war with Mexico broke out in 1846. It did not take him long to become embroiled in controversy. "The war is miserably managed by Genl. Taylor," Pillow wrote home. "I would not be surprised that he should be superseded in the command of the army."


Pillow made a poor showing at the Battle of Cerro Gordo (future Union general George McClellan called Pillow's performance "worse than puerile imbecility"), then played a major part in the American victory at Chapultepec, which he characteristically sought to identify as his own, telling his wife that "your husband has the name in the army of ‘Hero of Chapultepec.'" Pillow went on to describe his part in the battle as "unequaled in the history of American arms. It will give my name a place in history which will live while our Republic stands…."
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donlowry07 Jun 2018 8:37 a.m. PST

Is there a controversy about Pillow? I think everyone agrees he was a rotten general.

Trajanus08 Jun 2018 8:12 a.m. PST

Nah, that was his brother – Feather!

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2018 12:37 p.m. PST

Sometimes at night when we are sitting around the campfire we play the game "name the worst general in the Civil War." We used to talk about the best, but the bad ones are more fun. The only controversy about Pillow is "was he actually the worst?"

You may discuss…

Bill N08 Jun 2018 3:34 p.m. PST

Who are some of your other candidates?

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