John B. Gordon, In his own words
b. Feb. 6, 1832,
Upson county, Ga., U.S.d. Jan. 9, 1904, Miami, Fla. Confederate
military leader and post-American Civil War politician who
symbolized the shift from agrarian to commercial ideals in the
accomplished little of note during his first 29 years. He attended
but did not graduate from the University of Georgia. He became a
lawyer but abandoned his practice to develop coalmines in Georgia's
northwestern tip. Then came the Civil War. Although lacking any
military education or experience, Gordon was elected captain of a
company of mountaineers and displayed remarkable capabilities. He
quickly climbed from captain to brigadier general (1862) to major
general (1864) to lieutenant general (1865). He was at many major
Civil War battles--Seven Pines, Malvern Hills, Chancellorsville,
Gettysburg, Spotsylvania, and Petersburg--and he commanded one wing
of General Robert E. Lee's army just prior to Appomattox.
A hero to
Georgians at the age of just 33, Gordon returned to his home state
and began to practice law once again. He vigorously opposed federal
Reconstruction policies, but, when he ran for governorship as a
Democrat in 1868, he was defeated by his Republican opponent.
Unquestionably a symbol of the age of white supremacy to his
Georgian constituents, Gordon was rumored to be a Grand Dragon in
the Ku Klux Klan.