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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Josiah Gorgas
Josiah Gorgas.jpg
Born(July 1, 1818)
near Elizabethtown, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
DiedMay 15, 1883(1883-05-15) (aged 64)
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Allegiance United States of America
 Confederate States of America
Service/branch United States Army
 Confederate States Army
Years of service1841–1861 (USA)
1861–1865 (CSA)
Rank
Union army cpt rank insignia.jpg
Captain (USA)
Brigadier general (CSA)
Battles/warsMexican–American War
American Civil War
Spouse(s)Amelia Gayle Gorgas
ChildrenWilliam C. Gorgas

Josiah Gorgas (July 1, 1818 – May 15, 1883) was one of the few Northern-born Confederate generals and was later president of the University of Alabama.[1]

As chief of ordnance during the American Civil War, Gorgas managed to keep the Confederate armies well supplied with weapons and ammunition, despite the Union blockade and even though the South had hardly any munitions industry before the war began. In this effort he also worked closely with the Fraser, Trenholm shipping company that brought in shipments of ordnance by means of blockade runners. He kept diaries during the Civil War which are now a popular subject of study for historians.[2]

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  • ✪ The Masterpiece Sword of Confederate General Paul J. Semmes
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Transcription

In the 2018 April Premiere Firearms Auction Rock Island Auction Company is going to be offering, quite possibly, the single most significant weapon we have ever sold. We've sold Teddy Roosevelt's hunting knife. We've sold John F. Kennedy's M1 Garand, but this item is... different. This item combines the luxury of the most masterfully crafted weapons, the rarity of a Confederate artifact, and the violent battlefield history of our nation's bloodiest conflict. This incredible sword has been laying in wait for over 30 years. 30 years. And it's been worth the wait. This is an Ames sword, the Rolls-Royce of American sword makers. It is the only diamond mounted Ames sword known to exist. Its use of silver, gold, relief carving, expert engraving, and extraordinary etching place it in a category of artwork all its own. Combined with its historic significance, it's a wonder this sword is not housed in a worthy museum. But don't take my word for it. When the sword was last seen 30 years ago experts and collectors heaped praise upon it for its beauty and its unique place in American history. In 1854, this exquisite gift was presented from the Columbus Guards to then Captain Paul J. Semmes, by one John A. Johnson who won that honor by winning the company's target shooting contest. Semmes' sword quite literally saw it all. It never left his side from the moment it was presented. From the pageantry of the Jefferson Davis inauguration to the carnage and destruction of the Civil War battlefields at Antietam, Chancellorsville, and finally at Gettysburg. On the second day of Gettysburg Semmes' brigade of Georgia infantrymen were a critical part of General James Longstreet's historic charge on the Union left flank. They fought bitterly on Rose Hill, crushed sickles Brigade in the Wheatfield, and continued to push across Plum Run Valley just beneath Little Round Top. It would be Semmes' final action. It was there that the Union guns opened up, pouring shot and canister into Confederate troops. Men were ripped apart. Semmes suffered a horrific wound to his thigh, to which he applied a tourniquet before being carried off the battlefield. Eight days later, on July 10th, Semmes would succumb to his wounds. A nurse wrote his wife stating, "A few moments before the general died he asked for his sword, laying it across his arm. "He again asked for his Testament... he took it - and with it in his hand expired." It is impossible to understate the significance that this sword holds. It incorporates several high arts arguably executed to perfection. The gushing accolades from noted authors, experts, and historians clearly place it in the highest pinnacles of arms collecting. It's unequivocal historic significance, to both the Confederacy and Gettysburg, give it a near-sacred status in the story of America. This is one of the most important Confederate artifacts you will see in or outside of a museum.

Contents

Early life

Josiah Gorgas was born near Elizabethtown in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He was graduated from West Point in 1841 and was assigned to the Ordnance Department. He served in the Mexican–American War and was promoted to captain in 1855. In 1853, he married Amelia Gayle, daughter of former Alabama governor John Gayle.

Gorgas served in arsenals in different parts of the country before the Civil War broke out. Early in his career, Gorgas served at Watervliet Arsenal near Troy, New York, and at the Detroit Arsenal. Following the Mexican–American War, Gorgas served in Pennsylvania and in November 1851 was transferred to Fort Monroe in Virginia. There he began his association with the Tredegar Iron Company, which would become an important Southern foundry once the Civil War began. Gorgas went on to serve at the Mount Vernon Arsenal north of Mobile, Alabama beginning in 1853. He was commanding the Frankford Arsenal when he resigned from the United States Army on March 21, 1861 (effective April 3).[2]

Civil War

Having made the decision to participate in the secession, apparently motivated as much because of professional conflicts as by political principle, he moved to Richmond and became Chief of Ordnance for the Confederacy with the rank of Major.[2] Having served in nearly every arsenal in the nation he was the perfect choice for the position.[3] In this capacity, he worked to create an armaments industry almost from scratch. The South had no foundry except the Tredegar Iron Works. There were no rifle works except small arsenals in Richmond, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, plus the captured machines from the U.S. arsenal in Harpers Ferry.

In the procurement of arms Gorgas also corresponded with Charles Prioleau, who headed Trenholm's Liverpool office, arranging for the shipping of arms and other supplies to the Confederacy. Most of the arms sent to the Confederacy departed from Liverpool. During the summer of 1861, Gorgas stockpiled supplies and prepared his first load of cargo while the Trenholm company procured a suitable ship for the voyage. A 1,200 ton iron-hulled steamer, the Bermuda, was chosen to make the voyage.[3]

Gorgas established armories and foundries, found alternative sources for saltpeter, and created a huge gunpowder mill at the Augusta Arsenal. Thanks to his efforts, the Southern armies never lacked weapons, though they were short on almost everything else. On November 10, 1864, Gorgas was promoted to brigadier general.[2]

Postbellum

After the war, Gorgas purchased an interest in the Brierfield Furnace in Bibb County, near Ashby in Alabama, which had helped supply the in Confederate Naval Ordnance Works in Selma.[4] The other directors appointed him to manage the iron works and he moved his family to the furnace site. Due to high operating and management costs he was forced to lease the iron works after just a couple of years in operation.[2][5]

In 1870 Gorgas accepted a position as the 2nd vice chancellor of the newly established University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. His position there was marked by discord with the Board of Trustees and the stress of keeping the university financially afloat. A student residence hall built as part of the Sewanee Military Academy was later renamed "Gorgas Hall" in his honor.

In 1878, Gorgas was elected 8th president of the University of Alabama. When he was forced to resign due to ill health, the trustees created the position of librarian for him, the position in which his wife was to succeed him. Upon his resignation as president, the university allowed the Gorgas family to move into the Pratt House, which also housed the campus post office and student hospital. The building had originally been the 1829 dining hall and later converted to a faculty residence in 1847. The building was dedicated as a memorial to the family in 1944, and became a museum now known as the Gorgas House upon the death of the last two surviving Gorgas children in 1953.

Death and legacy

Gorgas died at the age of 65 in Tuscaloosa in 1883, and was buried at Evergreen Cemetery.[6] His widow Amelia served as the university's librarian for 23 years after his death and the main university library is named the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library in her honor. Their oldest son, William Crawford Gorgas (born 1854) served as Surgeon General of the U.S. Army and is credited with implementing preventative measures against yellow fever and malaria that allowed for the completion of the Panama Canal.[2]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Vandiver, Frank E. (1952) Ploughshares into Swords: Josiah Gorgas and Confederate Ordnance. Austin, Texas
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Josiah Gorgas (1818-1883)". DeCredico, M. A.
    Encyclopedia Virginia and Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
    External link in |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ a b Konstam, Bryan, 2004 p.8
  4. ^ "Bibb Furnace". Historical Marker Database. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  5. ^ Kennedy, Victoria (August 23, 2010) "Team digs up 1850s historic Gorgas family home site." Birmingham News
  6. ^ https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10878/josiah-gorgas

References

  • Gorgas, Josiah (1995). Sarah Woolfolk Wiggins, ed. The Journals of Josiah Gorgas, 1857-1878.
    University of Alabama Press. p. 305. ISBN 0-8071-0007-2.
    Url
  • Konstam, Angus; Bryan, Tony (2004). Confederate Blockade Runner 1861-65.
    Osprey Publishing, Wisconsin. p. 48.
    Url
  • McPherson, James M. (1988), Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, Oxford History of the United States, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-503863-7
  • Vandiver, Frank E., ed., The Civil War Diary of General Josiah Gorgas (University of Alabama, 1947)
  • Warner, Ezra J. (1959), Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders, Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, ISBN 978-0-8071-0823-9

External links

This page was last edited on 8 April 2019, at 20:14
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