Gideon J. Pillow, born in Williamson County, Tenn., 8 June 1806, graduated from the University of Nashville in 1827. He became a successful criminal lawyer, practicing for a time with James K. Polk, and was active in national politics. Appointed Brigadier General of Volunteers in 1846, he served with General Taylor on the Rio Grande and with General Scott at Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, Contreras, and Chapultepec. At the beginning of the Civil War, he accepted a commission as Brigadier General in the Confederate Army. General Pillow fought at Bel-mont, Mo., in 1861 and was second in command at Fort Donelson in February 1862 when it fell to General Grant. He escaped but held no important command after that time. When the war ended, Pillow returned to his law practice until his death at Helena, Ark., 8 October 1878.
(SwStr: t. 38; l. 81'5"; b. 17'1"; dph. 3'8"; a. 2 12-pdr. how.)
General Pillow (Gunboat No. 20) was originally Confederate steamer B. M. Moore (see DANFS II, 502) and served the South as a gunboat until she was captured on the Hatchee River, Tenn., by Pittsburg 9 June 1862. She was transferred to the Union Navy by the War Department; and after outfitting and repairs at Cairo, 111., General Pillow departed Cairo 23 August for duty with the Mississippi Squadron, Lt. LeRoy Fitch in command.
General Pillow became part of the light draft squadron on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, and for the next several months convoyed troop transports and fought guerrillas on the riverbanks. February 1863 saw her again at Cairo guarding mortar ships and ammunition barges, in addition to making occasional visits to Mound City, 111., and the mouth of the Tennessee River. She continued this duty until July 1865 when she was turned over to the Commandant of the Naval Station, Mound City, for disposal. General Pillow was sold at Mound City 26 November 1865 to Wetzel and Hallerburg.