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George L. Gillespie, Jr.
[[Image:File:USACE George Lewis Gillespie Jr.jpg|center|200px|border]]Brigadier General George Lewis Gillespie, Jr., Chief of Engineers 1901–1904
Personal Information
Born: October 7, 1841(1841-10-07)
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Died: September 27, 1913 (aged 71)
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Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
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Branch: United States Army
Union Army
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Rank: Brigadier General
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Commands: Department of the East
Chief of Engineers
Battles: American Civil War
Awards: Medal of Honor
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George Gillespie, Jr., (October 7, 1841-September 27, 1913) was an American soldier who received the highest military decoration that the United States bestows to members of the military, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the American Civil War.


He was born October 7, 1841, in Kingston, Tennessee. He graduated second in the class of 1862 at the United States Military Academy and was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers. A Southerner who remained loyal to the Union, Gillespie joined the Army of the Potomac in September 1862. He commanded two companies of the engineer battalion which built fortifications and ponton bridges throughout the Virginia campaigns until the Surrender at Appomattox.

Gillespie received the Medal of Honor for carrying dispatches through enemy lines under withering fire to Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan at the Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia.[1] He was later Sheridan's Chief Engineer in the Army of the Shenandoah and the Military Division of the Gulf.

After the Civil War, Gillespie successively supervised the improvement of harbors at Cleveland, Ohio, Chicago, Boston, and New York City. He initiated construction of the canal at the Cascades of the Columbia River and built the famous Tillamook Rock Lighthouse off the Oregon coast. Gillespie also served on the Board of Engineers and for six years as president of the Mississippi River Commission. He commanded the Army's Department of the East in 1898. While Chief of Engineers, he was acting U.S. Secretary of War in August 1901. He had charge of ceremonies at President William McKinley's funeral and at the laying of the cornerstone of the War College Building in 1903. He served as Army Assistant Chief of Staff in 1904-05 with the rank of major general.

Maj. Gen. Gillespie retired June 15, 1905. He died September 27, 1913, in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Medal of Honor citation[]

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army. Place and date: Near Bethesda Church, Va., 31 May 1864. Entered service at: Chattanooga, Tenn. Birth: Kingston, Tenn. Date of issue: 27 October 1897.


Exposed himself to great danger by voluntarily making his way through the enemy's lines to communicate with Gen. Sheridan. While rendering this service he was captured, but escaped; again came in contact with the enemy, was again ordered to surrender, but escaped by dashing away under fire.[1]

See also[]


PD-icon This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
  1. 1.0 1.1 "Civil War (A-L); Gillespie, George L. entry". Medal of Honor recipients. United States Army Center for Military History. August 6, 2009. Retrieved July 14, 2010. 

This article contains public domain text from "Brigadier General George Lewis Gillespie, Jr.". Portraits and Profiles of Chief Engineers. Retrieved August 24, 2005. 

External links[]

Template:Start box |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #CF9C65;" | Military offices

|- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
John W. Barlow |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Chief of Engineers
1901–1904 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Alexander Mackenzie |- |}