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"Controversial Civil War Commanders: Gideon Pillow" Topic

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American Civil War

377 hits since 6 Oct 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP06 Oct 2018 3:28 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 "I would not be surprised that he should be superseded in the command of the army."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 Oct 2018 9:24 a.m. PST

Grant claimed that he knew he could march right up to Fort Donelson without caution because Pillow was in command there, though I kind of think this was a later rationalization.

It will give my name a place in history

Actually his name is now best known in history for Forrest's massacre of U.S. Colored Troops at Fort Pillow, named for the general.

wpilon07 Oct 2018 10:03 a.m. PST

Is there really any controversy about Pillow? I thought everyone considered him to be an incompetent coward?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP07 Oct 2018 3:20 p.m. PST



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