Cody McDonald's first goal for the club proved to be the difference at Priestfield as the Gills held out against seventh place Burton.
His decisive 50th minute header meant the Gills registered their second home win in succession, a result which took them up the table into 17th place.
The Gills will certainly want to forget long periods of the first 40-odd minutes as the visitors constantly put them under pressure but it was the home side who took the points.
Gills boss Andy Hessenthaler made one change to his team that lost in the final minute at Bradford last week, Curtis Weston coming in for the injured John Nutter. Chris Palmer was switched from the midfield into the left-back berth.
The Brewers almost got off to a fantastic start. Not even a minute was on the clock when Matt Lawrence was adjudged to have nudged Shaun Harrad and a free-kick awarded by referee Rob Lewis. The Burton striker cracked the resultant over the ball which thankfully struck the top of the bar on its way over.
Unfortunately this didn't work as the wake up call the Gills required as Paul Peschisolido's side dominated the early proceedings.
In the seventh minute the visitors went close again, a Russell Penn 20-yarder was diverted goalwards by Richard Walker forcing the alert Lance Cronin into a neat save.
Moments later a Jacques Maghoma run down the right ended with him setting up Harrad but his low shot was straight at the Gills keeper.
The Gills created an opening in the 15th minute. Danny Spiller swept the ball out wide to Palmer, he curled in a great cross which was inches away from Cody McDonald and forced Aaron Webster to head out for a corner.
In the 24th minute the Gills went close again. Palmer pumped a free-kick forward which fell nicely for Adebayo Akinfenwa but the big forward's angled shot flew across the face of goal.
Then at the other end Jimmy Phillips played in a corner from the left into the near post, Walker glanced a header towards goal where Jack Payne was able to block and clear off the line. There were plenty of appeals from Albion players for a penalty against the Gills midfielder but these were waved away by the referee.
The official was in action soon afterwards though, when Spiller was booked for a foul on Andy Corbett - 28 minutes were on the clock.
A long throw from Payne caused the Burton rearguard problems on the half-hour. It was only cleared as far as Weston on the edge of the area but he thundered a shot wide of Adam Legzdins right-hand post.
Burton then had another great chance. Maghoma played a marvellous low ball out of defence to send Harrad clear. He clipped a first-time shot goalwards which the advancing Cronin did brilliantly to not only reach but manage to touch over the top.
The keeper was involved again when John McGrath drilled a low free-kick straight at him.
Just before the break the Gills almost snatched the lead. Palmer put a corner over from the right and McDonald stole in to get a free header but saw his effort come back off the cross-bar.
The Gills got the confidence boosting first goal in the 50th minute. Palmer curled in a free-kick from the left and McDonald, in amongst a clutch of players, headed home into the far corner from 10 yards. It was the strikers first goal for the club.
Spiller struck a low free-kick which forced keeper Legdzins to push round the post for a corner before the Brewers made a double attacking substitution bringing on former Gills trialist Lewis Young and Greg Pearson for Phillips and Walker.
Just after the hour mark Cronin suffered one of those 'rush of blood' moments when he raced out to clear but failed to connect, Matt Lawrence tidied up to save the keepers blushes.
Then McDonald, who had just been booked, twice went through on goal, the first time he was crowded out but the second, following a slip, saw a fierce low shot well saved by Legzdins.
Some hesitant defending then saw Pearson create space for himself but both Cronin and Lawrence were on hand to block at close range.
In the 73rd minute, the Gills boss made his first change. French winger Bruce Inkango came on for his debut to replace Weston and he saw a deflected low shot easily saved soon afterwards. A Spiller volley then forced Legzdins into another scrambling save.
In the 80th minute another corner whipped in by Palmer fell towards Inkango who attempted an overhead kick which took a couple of deflections on its way through to the keeper.
There was another overhead effort shortly afterwards at the other end. Most of Priestfield held their breath as former Tottenham youngster went up to attempt it but thankfully his effort flew well wide.
As the minutes ran out substitute Stefan Payne made a nuisance of himself, forcing the visitors defence into hurried clearances.
Josh Gowling then failed to steer a header goalwards before four minutes of time were added on.
There weren't any more worries for the Gills though as they ran the clock down, the only noteworthy thing was a booking for Burton's veteran defender Darren Moore. He and Akinfenwa had a 'monster' battle throughout the game with neither coming out a clear winner.
The final whistle was greeted with relieved cheers from three sides of Priestfield Stadium.
Gillingham: Cronin, Fuller, Weston (Inkango 73), Bentley, McDonald (S Payne 84), Palmer, Lawrence, Gowling, Spiller, Akinfenwa, J.Payne
Subs: Julian, Maher, McCammon, Sinclair, Rooney
Burton Albion: Legzdins, Corbett, Austin, Moore, Webster, Maghoma, McGrath, Penn, Walker (Pearson 58), Harrad, Phillips (Young 58)
Subs: Poole, James, Boertien, Ellison, Dyer
Assistants: Charles Breakspear and Nigel Lugg
Fourth Official: Philip Knight