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Federal (USV)


John J. Gosson


(c. 1826 - ?)

Home State: New York

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, II Corps

Before Antietam

He had previous service in the Austrian Army, last with the 7th Hussars. Age 35, he enrolled in New York City to serve three years, and mustered in as 2nd Lieutenant, Company B, 69th New York Infantry on 15 October 1861. He was assigned to General Meagher's staff by the Spring of 1861. Soon afterward ...

Major-General Sumner [was] appointed to the command of the Second Corps; the command of his division devolving on Major-General Dick Richardson ... Richardson soon became very much attached to the [Irish] Brigade, which was, in a great measure, owing to the finesse of Captain Jack Gosson, of General Meagher's Staff ... Full of fun, jokes, and witticism, a thorough soldier both in drill and appearance, he literally kept the camp in roars. He could polish off the most barefaced lie as the gravest truth. He was never at a loss for words or repartees, and was the ruling spirit in every carouse, fun, and battle.

General Richardson was rather of a sociable, easy disposition, and something after Captain Jack's own taste. The captain thought it important, then, to establish the best possible understanding - a regular bond of friendship between the general and the Irish Brigade ...

Now was Jack's opportunity, so he rode along the line and informed the boys that General Richardson was on his way to take command; "and what do you think of the brave old fellow, but he has sent to our camp three barrels of whiskey, a barrel to each regiment, to treat the boys of the brigade; we ought to give him a thundering cheer when he comes along."

The bait took. The general and staff soon after rode along the lines: the captain only took off his cap, it was the signal, and a wild cheer ran through the Brigade that nearly startled the whole army. The general took the compliment paid to the three barrels of whiskey all to himself, and became deeply attached to the brigade, making a special favorite of Captain Jack.

The men were sorely disappointed when they got into camp and found no whiskey, but with true Celtic humor enjoyed the joke.

On the Campaign

He was on General Meagher's staff as aide-de-camp on the Maryland Campaign. His horse was shot under him but he was not injured in action at Antietam on 17 September 1862. He was noted for his performance by General W.S. Hancock in his after-action Report.

The rest of the War

He was promoted to First Lieutenant, Company C on 1 October 1862. He mustered out, while absent, sick, 12 June 1863 on the consolidation of the regiment.

References & notes

Service information from the Roster,1 which also has him as John Gozzon, Gasson, and Gorson. Further details and the whiskey story above from Conyngham.2 He's frequently referred to as "Captain Jack" in wartime anecdotes, perhaps in reference to pre-War European service. His mother died at age 96 in 1890, and he was at her funeral in New York.


c. 1826 in IRELAND


1   State of New York, Adjutant-General, Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of New York [year]: Registers of the [units], 43 Volumes, Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1893-1905, For the Year 1901, Ser. No. 28, pg. 134  [AotW citation 18192]

2   Conyngham, David Power, The Irish Brigade and Its Campaigns, New York: William McSorley & Co., 1867, pp. 109-110, 306-307, 555  [AotW citation 18193]