Born at his father’s estate in Sunswick, NY, now part of Astoria, in Long Island, Ravenswood district in New York, he was the grandson of Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury in the Washington and Adams Administrations. He attended school at White Plains, NY, and Dartmouth College before receiving an appointment to the Military Academy and graduated in the Class of 1846. He graduated with a brevet to 2nd Lieutenant, Mounted Rifles, on July 1, 1846. He served in garrison at Jefferson Barracks, MO, in 1846, before entering the Mexican War.
Gibbs was engaged in the Siege of Vera Cruz, March 9-29, 1847, and Battle of Cerro Gordo, April 17-18, 1847, where he was wounded. He was breveted to 1st Lieutenant, on April 18, 1847, for gallant and meritorious conduct in the Battle of Cerro Gordo. He was next engaged in the Battle of Contreras, August 19-20, 1847; Battle of Churubusco, and in Kearny’s Charge on the San Antonio Garita, August 20, 1847; Battle of Chapultepec, September 13, 1847; and the Assault and Capture of the City of Mexico, September 13-14, 1847. He was breveted to Captain, on September 13, 1847, for gallant conduct at Garita de Belen, Mexico City. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, Mounted Rifles, on December 31, 1847.
He served as Aide-de-Camp to Major-General Persifor F. Smith, March 27, 1848-July 1, 1856, in Mexico, 1848; en route to California, 1848- 1849; in the Pacific Division, 1849-1852; and the Department of Texas, 1852-1856. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, Mounted Rifles, on May 31, 1853.
Gibbs was on Frontier Duty, at Ft. Fillmore, NM, 1856-1857; Scouting, 1857, being engaged against the Mimbres Apache Indians in a Skirmish at Cooke’s Spring, NM, March 8, 1857, where he was severely wounded; at Ft. Fillmore, NM, 1857; Ft. Union, NM, 1857-1858; on Recruiting Service, 1858-1860. He was on Frontier Duty conducting recruits to New Mexico, 1860; on the Navajo Expedition, NM, 1860; at Albuquerque (Depot Commissary), NM, 1860-1861; and on the March to Ft. Fillmore, NM, being captured by Texas insurgents at San Agustin Springs, NM, July 8, 1861. He declined a brevet to Captain, Assistant Adjutant-General on May 11, 1861, but was promoted to Captain, Mounted Rifles, May 13, 1861, and assigned to 3rd Cavalry on August 3, 1861.
During the Civil War, Gibbs served in command of Ft. Wayne, MI, in December, 1861-August, 1862. He was promoted to Colonel, 130th NY Volunteers, September 6, 1862, and of the 1st NY Dragoons (aka 19th NY Cavalry), July 28, 1863.
He served in operations about Suffolk, VA, September 15, 1862-June 13, 1863, being engaged in the Action of Deserted House, January 29, 1863, and the Defense of Suffolk, May 11-20, 1863. Gibson was on Major-General Keyes’ Peninsular Expedition towards Richmond, June 13-July 12, 1863; at the Headquarters of the Provost Marshal of the Army of the Potomac, July 19-August 1, 1863; in organizing Regiment as Cavalry, at Manassas Plains, and guarding Orange and Alexandria Railroad, VA, August 1-November 26, 1863, being engaged in skirmishes, October 17-November 19, 1863; in command of Cavalry Reserve Brigade (Army of the Potomac), November 26, 1863-April 1, 1864, being engaged in guarding supply train during Mine Run operations, December 1863, and in the Attack at Barnet’s Ford, February 11, 1864.
Gibbs was in the Richmond Campaign, commanding Cavalry Reserve Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Army of the Potomac), May 7-August 5, 1864, being engaged in the Combat of Todd’s Tavern, May 7, 1864; Capture of Spottsylvania Court House, May 8, 1864; on “Sheridan’s First Raid” to Hexall’s Landing, and returning to New Castle, May 9-29, 1864, participating in the engagements at Beaver Dam, May 9-10; Yellow Tavern, May 11, Meadow Bridge, May 12; Mechanicsville, May 12; Hanover Town, May 27; and Hawes’ Shop, May 28; at the Action of Old Church, May 30, 1864; Combat of Cold Harbor, May 31-June 1, 1864; and “Sheridan’s Second Raid” to Trevillian Station and Lighthouse Point, June 7-28, 1864, including the engagements at Trevillian Station, June 12, Mallory’s Ford, June 12, Tunstall’s Station, June 21 and Darby Town, June 28. He was breveted to Major, on June 11, 1864, for gallant and meritorious services at the Battle of Trevillian Station, VA.
He continued in the Shenandoah Campaign, commanding Regiment, August 6-December 8, 1864; Cavalry Reserve Brigade, December 12- 30, 1864; and Cavalry Division, December 30, 1864, January 15, 1865. During this time he was engaged in Skirmishes at Newtown, August 11; Cedarville, August 16; Kearneysville, August 25; Shepherdstown, August 25; Smithfield, August 28; and Crossing of the Opequan, August 29, 1864. He was engaged in the Battle of Opequan, on September 19, 1864, and breveted that date to Lieutenant Colonel for gallant and meritorious services at the Battle of Winchester, VA.
Gibbs was thereafter engaged in the Battle of Fisher’s Hill, September 22, 1864; Skirmishes of Mount Jackson, September 23, New Market, September 25, Port Republic, September 26, Cross Keys, September 28, Tom’s Run, October 9, Woodstock Races, October 9, and Strasburg, October 14, 1864; and the Battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864. He was promoted to Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers, on October 19, 1864.
He was thereafter engaged in Skirmishes at Middletown, November 12; commanding the Raid on Gordonsville, December 9-29, 1864; on leave, January 18-February 5, 1865; in command of Reserve Cavalry Brigade on “Sheridan’s Sixth Raid” on Virginia Central and Danville Railroads, and James River Canal, February 27-March 20, 1865, being engaged in the Actions of the North and South Anna Bridges, March 14- 15, 1865.
Gibbs was in command of the Cavalry Brigade in the final Attack and Pursuit of the Rebel Army of Northern Virginia, March 29-April 9, 1865, being engaged in the Battle of Dinwiddie Court House, March 31, 1865; Battle of Five Forks, April 1, 1865; Battle of Sailor’s Creek, April 6, 1865; Action of Appomattox Station, April 8, 1865; and Surrender of General R. E. Lee at Appomattox Court House, April 9, 1865. Until the surrender at Appomattox, Gibbs’ command played a large part in enveloping the renowned Army of Northern Virginia.
Breveted to Colonel, March 13, 1865, for gallant and meritorious services at the Battle of Five Forks, VA. Breveted to Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, March 13, 1865, for gallant and meritorious services in the field during the Rebellion. Breveted Major-General, U. S. Army, March 13, 1865, for gallant and meritorious services during the Rebellion.
Gibbs was in command of the 1st Brigade Cavalry Forces (Military Division of the Gulf), August 20-October 17, 1865; and of the 1st Division, October 17-December 15, 1865. He was on leave of absence, January 15-April 30, 1866, and mustered out of volunteer service, on February 1, 1866.
He served on Recruiting Service, April 30-September 30, 1866, and was promoted to Major, 7th Cavalry, July 28, 1866. Gibbs served on Frontier Duty at Ft. Riley, KS, October, 1866-January 4, 1867; at Ft. Harker, KS, January 4-April 1, 1867; Ft. Riley, KS, April 1867; Ft. Hays, KS, May- July 1867; Ft. Harker, KS, September 15-November 6, 1867; Ft. Leavenworth, KS, November, 1867-September 5, 1868; Forts Dodge and Harker, KS, to November 30, 1868; and at Ft. Leavenworth, KS, to December 26, 1868, when he died suddenly of “congestion of the brain”. He was buried in St Mary’s Cemetery, Portsmouth, RI.