Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Horace Gibson (b. circa 1841 - d. 1894)
MSA SC 3520-4599
USCT Soldier, Talbot County, Maryland


    Born around 1841 (22 years old at time of enlistment), Horace Gibson grew up as a slave to  in Talbot County, Maryland.1 As a slave, he was owned by Colonel Edward Lloyd and worked as a farm hand at Wye Farm, one of Lloyd’s plantations.2 According to an affidavit by Ennels Clayton, who knew Gibson since childhood, he stated that Gibson “ran off from his master and entered the Union army.”3 Col. Lloyd made it known that he was not in favor of slaves joining the Union army, because he stood to lose a significant amount of money. According to Joseph Sutton's oral folk history, the reference was made that "Colonel Lloyd was against the recruitin" because it was "his wealth they was takin away from him."4 When Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 slaves were called upon to join the Union military, which could have contributed to Gibson running away to join.5

    Despite being against the recruitment of slaves, Lloyd, like many slaveowners, may have viewed this as their final opportunity to receive compensation for the loss of their slaves as the institution of slavery was rapidly deteriorating. Not only were slaveowners entitled to compensation, but free blacks and slaves also counted towards the state quota, which meant many slaveowners could have protected their family members from having to join the war.6 Since he enlisted in the war, his owner Col. Edward Lloyd was eligible to receive a one hundred dollar bounty as compensation, which was paid to him on May 25, 1865.7  

    When Horace made it to Baltimore he enrolled in Company B of the 7th U.S. Colored Troops Regiment in September of 1863.8 He enlisted on September 21, 1863 in Baltimore, Maryland and was mustered into the service on September 26, 1863 by Col. William Birney.9 The service record also shows he attained the rank of corporal in October 1864.10 In the winter of 1864, Gibson suffered from a rupture around his right groin while at Benedict, Maryland. The case was difficult to prove because Horace admitted he never sought medical attention and did not complain about it frequently.11 Robert M. Spinney, a First Lieutenant was assigned to the same company and regiment in May of 1865.12 He stated that Corporal Gibson was “one of the best soldiers that ever stood in best – white or black.”13 Spinney never saw Gibson take a day off and knew nothing of the injury, but he was not assigned to the company until 1865.14 Spinney mentioned that John C. Kineyea, a Sergeant in the same company, was the person to contact because he would know if Gibson was injured or not.15 Spinney stated that “Kineyea knew about everything that was going on in the Company and was an intelligent, truthful man.”16 However, Kineyea was not able to be contacted, which made the case difficult.

    The special examiner believed the case “possessed little merit” because if he suffered from a rupture then he would have been transferred to light duty or discharged.17 A number of affidavits, including one from Alexander Russom stated that he could not "remember that he contracted, or suffered from any disease or disability."18 Another soldier in the same company and regiment, Perry Johnson, testified that he could not "remember that Gibson was ever wounded or injured while in the service, and that he  had any particular disease or disability."19 However, Jacob Sutton, who grew up with Gibson and served in the same company and regiment, testified that the injury occurred when he was “lifting logs to build winter quarters.”20 Gibson testified that the injury occurred while “carrying heavy poles for the purpose of building stockades.”21 He stated that he "never was treated in hospital while in the service."22 Based on affidavits, it appeared that he did injure himself, but did not complain about it, thus making it difficult for other soldiers in the company to remember the situation.23

    Despite being injured throughout the war, Corporal Gibson was honorably discharged at Baltimore, Maryland in October of 1866.24 Once he was discharged, he moved back to Talbot County and resided in Miles River Neck, Tunis Mills, and worked as a farm hand.25 Soon after his discharge, he was married by the Reverend Peter Burrows to Maria Gibson on June 29, 1867.26 Together, Horace and Maria had five children with only one of those being under the age of sixteen. The child under the age of sixteen was Greenberry.27 He was examined to determine his age by Dr. James B. Merritt who assessed him as being between 14 and 15 years old in 1894.28 Peter Johnson noted that he remembered Horace and Maria's son, Greenberry, was born in the spring of 1880.29 This information was helpful towards Maria keeping the pension and securing an additional amount of money for their son since he was under the age of sixteen. Being under the age of sixteen meant they were eligible to receive an additional $2.00 per month for each child that was under that age.

    The ramifications of the war were costly for Horace Gibson. Various affidavits stated that he could not perform manual labor at a high level. Jacob Sutton stated that Gibson was about “two thirds disabled to earn a support for himself.”30 He suffered from a "hernia of right side, rheumatism, severe pains in head, lumbago, and failing eyesight."31 His health declined significantly by the early 1890s. According to Solomon Shields, on February 10, 1894, Horace Gibson passed away at a place called Copperville in Talbot County.32 Peter Johnson noted that Horace was a poor man and he "left a small one story house" after his death, which was not worth more than $150.33


1. U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865. Record for Horace Gibson. Company Descriptive Book. Company B. 7th United States Colored Infantry. Page 287.

2. COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY (Bounty Rolls) MSA S629, Horace Gibson, Volunteers, Dates: 1864-1880, Page 152, MSA S629-1.

    SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 4126] Horace Gibson, Box 23, Folder 487, Page 32.

    William H. Dilworth. Map of Talbot County. 1858. District 1. Library of Congress. MSA SC 1213-1-456.

3. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) Horace Gibson, Page 64.

4. Shephard Krech III, "The Participation of Maryland Blacks in the Civil War: Perpectives from Oral History," Ethnohistory 27, No. 1 (Winter, 1980): 70.

5. Agnes Kane Callum, Colored Volunteers of Maryland: Civil War 7th Regiment United States Colored Troops, 1863-1866 (Baltimore, MD: Mullac Publishers, 1990), 1.

6. ARCHIVES OF MARYLAND ONLINE. Supplement to the Maryland Code, Containing the Acts of the General Assembly, Passed at the Sessions of 1861, 1861-62, 1864, 1865, 1866, and 1867. Vol. 384, Ch. 15, Section 4. Page 31.

7. COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY (Bounty Rolls) Horace Gibson, Page 152, MSA S629-1.

8. U.S., Colored Troops. Horace Gibson. Company Descriptive Book. Page 287.

9. Ibid.

10. U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865. Record for Horace Gibson. Promotion to Corporal. Company B. 7th United States Colored Infantry. Page 296.

11. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) Horace Gibson, Page 73.

12. Ibid., 9.

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid., 10.

16. Ibid.

17. Ibid., 11.

18. Ibid., 14.

19. Ibid., 19.

20. Ibid., 20.

21. Ibid., 72.

22. Ibid., 30.

23. Ibid., 73.

24. U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865. Record for Horace Gibson. Muster Out Roll. Company B. 7th United States Colored Infantry. Page 306.

25. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) Horace Gibson, Page 32.

26. Ibid., 90, 91, 92.

27. Ibid., 104.

28. Ibid., 99.

29. Ibid., 87.

30. Ibid., 21.

31. Ibid., 34.

32. Ibid., 93.

33. Ibid., 87.

Researched and Written by Tanner Sparks, 2013.

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