Insignia Medal and Badge Grouping to a Brevet Brigadier General from New York


Jan 27, 2021
Boston Mass/ Seattle Wa
Hi folks!

Purchased this group a few weeks back but I’ve been preoccupied with research. But now I’m happy to present my newest civil war piece and the new centrepiece of my CA collection: a large grouping of medals, badges and insignia to Brevet Brigadier General Gilbert Hunt McKibbin, 7th NY Militia, 51st NYSV, Staff (Army Adjutant General Corps) - General Robert Potter (2nd Div, and commander of the Subdistrict of the Blackwater during the early post-war federal occupation of Virginia.

Brevet Brigadier General Gilbert H. McKibbin’s Service in the Civil War:

Gilbert H. McKibbin was born in 1835 to a well heeled New York City family. Much like many scions of wealthy families McKibbin served in the 7th NY militia. A regiment composed largely of the city’s elites and their children. As a result the 7th was oft seen as something of a social club. McKibbin attended City College of New York. After graduating it appears he went into the publishing business. Where he likely met and became friends with none other than Walt Whitman (Whitman’s brother refers to McKibbin as “one of Walt’s acquaintances” in a letter home).

When the Rebs fired on Fort Sumter McKibbin went south with the 7th. Which had been briefly federalised. The 7th would not see any combat during the stint in the south. However McKibbin would see more than his fair share of combat when he was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant, Co. A in the 51st New York (the Shepard Rifles). A regiment who Col. Fox eulogised as such “Few regiments saw a more active service and none left a more honorable record."

With the 51st 2nd Lt. McKibbin would see combat at Roanoke*, New Bern, 2nd Bull Run, Chantilly, South Mountain and Antietam. Where the 51st NY alongside the 51st PA were the first regiments to successfully cross Burnside’s Bridge. At great cost to both regiments. McKibbin was brevetted Captain in October of 1862, most likely for service during the Maryland campaign. Upon this promotion McKibbin mustered into the Adjutant General Corps and onto the staff of General Robert Potter. McKibbin went west with Potter and the 51st and was present at the Surrender of Vicksburg.

After Burnside’s eastern TN campaign the 9th Corps returned to the Eastern Theater and would fight with the Army of the Potomac for the remainder of the war. It was during the Overland campaign that McKibbin received further brevets. Specifically for “conspicuous bravery at all times during the Battle of the Wilderness and particularly in determining the enemy’s position by personal reconnaissance, May 6 1864, for conspicuous bravery at the Battle of Spotsylvania, May 12, 1864; also Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864 and Petersburg June 18, 1864. The regimental history of the 48th PV mentions McKibbin personally ordering the 48th into position while under fire. Clearly McKibbin did not lack for personnel courage. McKibbin was also tapped for the rank of colonel in the 51st but declined to be mustered. Perhaps for fear of being seen as an interloper by his old regiment.

It was at Petersburg that this personal courage would bite him in the rear. On June 21st McKibbin and a fellow officer (Col. Henry Pleasants) went scouting for a suitable place to build Burnside’s mine. While McKibbin paused to point out a rebel battery a shot rang out. McKibbin fell from his horse severely wounded. A rebel sharpshooter had shot McKibbin in the jaw, severing the tip of his tongue. George Washington Whitman (brother of Walt) described the wounding as such:

“One of Walts aquaintances Capt McKibben was severely wounded here a few days ago, he was on Gen Potters Staff, and has now gone home to New York.”

This grievous wound sent McKibbin back to New York for two months. He returned to service in late 1864. When he was brevetted to Brigadier General, USV. For “long and meritorious service”. The end of the war found McKibbin commanding a brigade in the Army of the James defending Bermuda Hundred.

After Lee’s surrender McKibbin was appointed commander of the Subdistrict of the Blackwater. Where he dealt with the headaches and tensions of occupation. He even merited a mention in firebrand Edmund Ruffin’s diary. McKibbin left the service in September of 1866. He spent his civilian life as a book publisher. He married a Sarah Rogers and the happy couple had one daughter. McKibbin was active in veterans affairs and passed at the ripe old age of 84 in New York City.

The group includes
  1. 7th NY militia long service medal, I assume the gold bars represent years of service
  2. 9th Corps badge
  3. A beautiful Army of the Potomac Society badge
  4. McKibbin’s MOLLUS medal
  5. 7th Regt. war vets society medal, numbered 6 on the reverse
  6. A Lafayette post GAR medal
  7. 7th Regt. long service medal, named to Gen. McKibbin
  8. 51st NY vets assoc. medal. Numbered 9 on the rim
  9. GAR medal
  10. 7th Regt. and GAR lapel pins
  11. City College badge

All in all, this is a one of a kind grouping. Hope y’all enjoy it as much as I do!

*sidenote: I find the burnside expedition to be super interesting. An early example of combined arms warfare and a pretty impressive logistical feat.