Born February 6, 1832 – Died January 9, 1904
John B. Gordon was born in Upson County, Ga. in 1832. He dropped out of the University of Georgia to study law and became a member of the Atlanta bar. Wanting to serve the Confederacy when the Civil War started, Gordon raised a company called the Raccoon Roughs, made up of men from the mountains, who elected him to be their captain.
Beginning in May 1861 with Company I, 6th Alabama, Gordon quickly rose through the ranks as he proved to be a good organizer and tough fighter. After the 1st Battle of Bull Run, Gordon was elected colonel, and he led his reorganized regiment at Williamsburg, Va. He assumed command of the brigade at Seven Pines and showed himself to be a valuable battlefield commander. He again led a brigade through some of the fighting in the Seven Days’ campaign.
On September 17, 1862, while positioned in the middle of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s line in the Battle of Sharpsburg, Gordon demonstrated incredible bravery and superior leadership. The first horrific volley from the advancing Union soldiers sent a minie ball through Gordon’s right calf while all around him chaos reigned. “On the right and the left my men were falling under the death-dealing crossfire like trees in a hurricane . . . Higher up in the same leg I was again shot . . . I was able to walk along the line and give encouragement to my resolute riflemen . . . Later in the day the third ball pierced my left arm.”
Even though his men pleaded with him to go to the rear, Gordon said, “I could not consent to leave them in such a crisis . . . A fourth ball ripped through my shoulder . . . tyhe shocks and loss of blood had left but little of my normal strength.” While attempting to encourage a wavering line, “I was shot down by a fifth ball, which struck me squarely in the face, and passed out.” Gordon was later carried to the rear and revived late that night.
Fascinating Fact: At one point Gordon fell unconscious into his cap, and he would have drowned in his own blood had it not been for a hole shot through his cap earlier in the day.