Alfred Gibbs, born on his father’s estate of Sunswick, now within the confines of Astoria, Long Island, on April 22, 1823. He was a brother of chemist Oliver Wolcott Gibbs, son of mineralogist George Gibbs, and grandson of Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury in, the administrations of George Washington and John Adams.

Young Gibbs attended school in White Plains, New York, and Dartmouth College before receiving an appointment to West Point, where he was graduated in 1846, ranking forty-second in the class.

After receiving a wound at the Battle of Cooke’s Spring, and during the fighting with the Apache chief, either Itan or Monteras, was moving to attack a corporal named Collins who was on foot after having his horse shot out from under him. The Apache chief was intercepted by the Gibbs where the chief thrust a lance into the lieutenant Gibbs’ side but he was able to stop some of the lance’s force with his right arm. Gibbs fired more rounds into the combatant, but not before he received his lancer wound.

After the fight, Gibbs ended up receiving two brevets promotions, those being that of the first lieutenant for the battle at Cooke’s Springs, and that of captain for gallantry in the Mexican War.  Gibbs was later attached to the headquarters of General Persifor F. Smith as aide-de-camp and served as such until 1856.

From then until the beginning of the Civil War, Gibbs was on frontier duty with his troop of Mounted Rifles and was again wounded in a skirmish with Apaches at Cook’s Spring, New Mexico, in 1857.

On July 27, 1861, Gibbs was captured at San Augustin Springs, New Mexico, by the Confederate forces under Lieutenant Colonel John R. Baylor, in the course of the Union retreat from Fort Fillmore. He was paroled but not exchanged for more than a year.

In September 1862, he became colonel of the 130th New York Volunteer Infantry and was on duty in the area of Suffolk, Virginia, under the command of General Erasmus D. Keyes. In August 1863, his regiment was reorganized as cavalry under the name of 1st New York Dragoons, also known as the 19th New York Cavalry.

With it, he guarded the line of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad until November, when he assumed command of the Cavalry Reserve Brigade, Army of the Potomac, guarding trains until the spring of 1864.

In Grant’s offensive against Richmond, Gibbs’s brigade became part of the 1st Cavalry Division, which saw much hard duty until transferred to the Shenandoah for service with Philip Sheridan. As of the date of the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864, Gibbs was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers. Until the surrender at Appomattox, his command played a large part in enveloping the renowned Army of Northern Virginia.

Brevetted major general in both the regular and volunteer services, Gibbs became major of the 7th Cavalry in 1866. On December 26, 1868, he died suddenly at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, of “congestion of the brain” and was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Portsmouth, Rhode Island.


Warner Jr., Ezra J.. Generals in Blue (p. 173). LSU Press. Kindle Edition.