John Gibbon was born in North Carolina in 1827. After serving in the Seminole War he became an artillery instructor at West Point. On the outbreak of the American Civil War Gibbon joined the Union Army, while three of his brothers fought for the Confederate Army.
Commissioned as a brigadier general, he joined the Army of Virginia. He took part in the battles at Bull Run (August, 1862), Antietam (September, 1862) and Fredericksburg (December, 1862) where he was seriously wounded.
Gibbon returned to active service in March, 1863, until being badly wounded at Gettysburg (July, 1863). Gibbon returned to take part in the action at Wilderness (June, 1864). Promoted to major general, Gibbon took part in the siege of Petersburg.
After the war Gibbon remained in the army and led the relief column at Little Big Horn and was responsible for burying George Custer and his men. After retiring in 1891, Gibbon wrote Personal Recollections of the Civil War. John Gibbon died in 1896.