John Brown Gordon "An Active Combatant For Lee" February 6, 1832 - January 9, 1904
Though he was by trade a lawyer with no military training before the Civil War, John Brown Gordon proved to be an excellent commander in battle. After recovering from five bullet wounds incurred at the Sharpsburg, the native Georgian even looked the part of a fierce fighter, sporting a deep scar on the side of his face from one of his wounds. One soldier said of his dashing leader, "most the prettiest thing you ever did see on a field of fight. It'ud put fight into a whipped chicken just to look at him."
Gordon was given command of a Georgian brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia and fought at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. At Gettysburg Gordon helped the wounded Union Gen. Francis Barlow, with whom he established a lifelong friendship. As a brigadier general in the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6, 1864, Gordon planned and carried out a brilliant attack. According to an onlooker, "Driving on furiously, he struck back the Federal front... forced them off the field in utter rout. Brigade after brigade fled from the Federal works." Promoted to major general on May 14, 1864, Gordon led a division during the Battle of Spotsylvania. He was an active combatant until the end of the war, fighting at Cold Harbor; in the Shenandoah Valley; outside Washington, DC, at Monocacy; at 3rd Winchester; at Fisher's Hill; and at Cedar Creek. He commanded the attack on Fort Stedman at Petersburg and led his men at Appomattox in the last charge of the Army of Northern Virginia.
After the Confederacy surrendered, the distinguished general returned to Georgia, where he resumed his law practice in Atlanta. Elected a U.S. senator in 1873 and 1879, Gordon resigned in May 1880 to promote a railroad venture. He was elected governor of Georgia in 1886, and returned to the U.S. Senate from 1891 to 1897. In 1903 Gordon published a good account of his Civil War service entitled Reminiscences of the Civil War. He died in Miami, Fla., at the age of 71 and was buried in Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, GA.
Fascinating Fact: General Gordon was made commander in chief of the United Confederate Veterans when the group was first organized. He held the position until his death in 1904.
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