John Gibson (England)
GIBSON, JOHN. (1740–1822). Continental officer. Pennsylvania and Virginia. Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on 23 May 1740, Gibson joined General John Forbes's expedition when he was 18, then settled at Fort Pitt to become an Indian trader. He was captured at the start of Pontiac's War, and released in 1764 after a year's captivity. During this period he seems to have been adopted by a Shawnee family and married an Indian woman who may have been Chief John Logan's sister. After resuming his trading enterprise from Fort Pitt, he took part in Dunmore's War and relayed Chief Logan's controversial speech, known as "Logan's Lament."
In 1775 Gibson was an agent of Virginia to the Indians and, being an excellent linguist by this time, he did much to keep them neutral. On 12 November 1776 he was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the Thirteenth Virginia Regiment, and on 25 October 1777 he was made colonel of the Sixth Virginia regiment. He took part in operations in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania before transferring west to take part in the inept expedition led by General Lachlan McIntosh in 1778. Gibson was left as commander of the newly established Fort Laurens when McIntosh returned in the late summer or early fall to Fort Pitt, and remained there throughout the winter. Meanwhile, in the reorganization of the Virginia line, he was given command of the Ninth Virginia Regiment on 14 September 1778. Soon after this he apparently returned to the Western Department as second in command to George Rogers Clark for a proposed expedition toward Detroit, but Daniel Brodhead refused to make his regiment available for this operation. Gibson helped oust Brodhead as commander of the Western Department toward the end of the year. He became commander of the Seventh Virginia Regiment on 12 February 1781 and was in command at Fort Pitt for a while before General William Irvine was ordered there on 8 March 1782. On 1 January 1783 he retired from the army, and on 30 September 1783 he was brevetted brigadier general.
Settling in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, he became judge of the court of common pleas and a major general of the militia. With Richard Butler he negotiated the purchase of the "Erie triangle" in 1789. During the Whiskey Rebellion (1794) he made serious enemies among his neighbors and within his own family by siding with the federal authorities. He was secretary of the Indiana Territory from 1801 to 1811, served as acting governor of the new state from 1811 to 1813, and took part in the War of 1812. He died near Pittsburgh on 10 April, 1822.
Hanko, Charles W. The Life of John Gibson: Soldier, Patriot, Statesman. Daytona Beach, Fla.: College Publishing Company, 1955.
revised by Michael Bellesiles
J. Curl (1990);
Dixon & and Muthesius (1985)