- Josiah Gorgas
Josiah Gorgas (
July 1, 1818– May 15, 1883) was one of the few Northern-born Confederate generals in the American Civil War. As chief of ordnance, he managed to keep the Confederate armies supplied with weapons and ammunition, despite the Union blockadeand even though the South had hardly any munitions industry before the war began. He kept diaries during the Civil War which are now a popular subject of study for historians.
Josiah Gorgas was born in Dauphin County,
Pennsylvania. He was graduated from West Pointin 1841 and was assigned to the Ordnance Department. He served in the Mexican-American Warand was promoted to captainin 1855. In 1853, he married Amelia Gayle, daughter of former Alabamagovernor John Gayle. In 1854, their first son William Crawford Gorgas, who later became Surgeon General of the U.S. Army, was born. Gorgas served in arsenals in different parts of the country before the Civil War broke out. He was commanding the Frankford Arsenalwhen he resigned from the U.S. Army.
He followed his wife into secession, moved to Richmond and became chief of ordnance for the Confederacy. In this capacity, he worked to create an armaments industry almost from scratch. The South had no
foundryexcept the Tredegar Iron Works. There were no rifle works except small arsenals in Richmond, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, plus the captured machines from the Union armory in Harpers Ferry. Gorgas established armories and foundries, found alternative sources for saltpeter, and created a huge gunpowdermill at Augusta, Georgia. 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.
After the war, Gorgas accepted a position at the newly established
University of the Southin Sewanee, Tennessee. In 1878, he was elected president of the University of Alabamaand moved to the house that is still known as Gorgas House. In 1883, he died, after which his wife became the university's librarian. The main university library is named the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library.
*Frank E. Vandiver, ed., "The Civil War Diary of General Josiah Gorgas" (University of Alabama, 1947)
*Frank E. Vandiver, "Ploughshares into Swords: Josiah Gorgas and Confederate Ordnance" (Austin, Texas, 1952)
*McPherson, James M. "Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era" (1988)
*Wiggins, Sarah Woolfolk, ed., "The Journals of Josiah Gorgas 1857-1878" (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1995)
* [http://www.sewaneemuseum.org/Sewanee-s-FiveGenerals.html Brigadier-General Josiah Gorgas- the third of "Sewanee's Five Generals"]
* [http://americanhistory.si.edu/westpoint/history_3b1.html Smithsonian: West Point in the making of America]
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