Gorgas, Josiah

Tenth child of a poor Pennsylvania clockmaker, Josiah Gorgas graduated from West Point and married into Alabama aristocracy. He followed his wife into the Confederacy and served brilliantly as Chief of Ordnance, one of the south's few northern-born generals. After the war he became president of the University of Alabama.
Life Span
Full name
Josiah Gorgas
Place of Birth
Burial Place
Birth Date Certainty
Death Date Certainty
Sectional choice
Free State
No. of Siblings
No. of Spouses
No. of Children
Joseph Gorgas (father), Sophie Atkinson Gorgas, Amelia Gayle (wife)
West Point (US Military Academy)
US military (Pre-Civil War)
Confederate Army

Josiah Gorgas (American National Biography)

When the Civil War came, Captain Gorgas commanded Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Asked to join the Confederacy, Gorgas hesitated, but his wife's influence and his continuing troubles with superiors pushed him at last to accept a commission (effective 8 Apr. 1861) as major in the artillery of the Confederate states with assignment to the important duty of chief of ordnance. General P. G. T. Beauregard, who knew him slightly, had urged his appointment on President Jefferson Davis. The appointment would be one of Davis's best.

Gorgas's challenges were staggering. The South boasted scant manufacturing facilities, only one large foundry capable of casting heavy cannon (in Richmond, Va.), and although each state had an armory, arsenals capable of repairing or making arms were few. Across the Confederacy Gorgas counted only 159,010 small arms of all kinds, about 3.2 million cartridges of various calibers, powder enough for another 1.5 million bullets, and an indeterminate amount of cannon powder. Close to 3 million percussion caps were counted, along with saltpeter and sulphur enough to make an additional 200 tons of powder. Supplies were scattered across different states, and governors tended to guard their hoards with parochial jealousy.
Frank E. Vandiver, "Gorgas, Josiah," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/04/04-01181.html.
Chicago Style Entry Link
Vandiver, Frank E. "A Note on Josiah Gorgas in the Mexican War." Journal of Southern History 11, no. 1 (February 1945): 103-106. view record
Vandiver, Frank E. "The Mexican War Experience of Josiah Gorgas." Journal of Southern History 13, no. 3 (August 1947): 373-394. view record
How to Cite This Page: "Gorgas, Josiah," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php/node/22961.