A Civil War Biography

Alvan Cullem Gillem

Gillem was born 29 July 1830 in Gainesboro, Jackson County, Tennessee. He studied in Nashville then headed to West Point. After graduating 11th in the West Point class of 1851 he was assigned to the artillery. He participated in the war against the Seminoles in Florida in 1851 and 1852 then was sent to the frontier. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant in the 1st US artillery on 3 March 1855.

When the war erupted Gillem was promoted to captain on 14 May 1861 in the 1st artillery and assigned as an assistant quartermaster in the western theater on George H. Thomas's staff. Gillem was brevetted major for his gallantry at Mill Springs. He was named quartermaster of Don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio and fought at Shiloh and during the siege of Corinth. At the latter Brandon commanded the siege artillery. On 13 May 1862 he was named colonel of the 10th Tennessee Volunteer infantry and was named provost marshal at Nashville, Tennessee. He led the 10th in several raids in Tennessee and Kentucky. Due in no small part to the influence of Andrew Johnson, Brandon was named adjutant general of the state of Tennessee and promoted to brigadier general of volunteers to rank from 17 August 1863. He commanded the troops guarding the Nashville & Norhtwestern railroad. Assigned to command the 4th division in the cavalry corps of the Army of the Cumberland on 1 April 1864 he took part in an expedition into eastern Tennessee. His cavalry division would remain in eastern Tennessee instead of taking part in the Atlanta campaign. When a new state government of Tennessee was organized in January 1865 Brandon was vice president of the constitutional convention. He was chosen a member of the new legislature. He was brevetted brigadier general in the regular army on 13 March 1865. He took part in Stoneman's rain into North Carolina and was brevetted major general in the regular army on 15 April 1865 for the capture of Salisbury, North Carolina.

After the end of hostilities Brandon remained in the volunteer service. He was promoted to major general of volunteers on 3 November 1865. He commanded the military District of East Tennessee. He was promoted to colonel in the regular army on 28 July 1866. He was mustered out of the volunteer service on 1 September 1866. He commanded the District of Mississippi in 1867 and 1868 but fell out of favor with the Radical Republicans in Congress because of his lenient treatment of former Confederates. He was sent to serve on the Texas frontier then to California where in 1873 he led troops against the Modoc Indians. His health failing Brandon went on sick leave. He died at Soldier's Rest, Tennessee on 2 December 1875.

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