A Civil War Biography

George Washington Gordon

Gordon was born 5 October 1836 in Pulaski, Giles County, Tennessee. His youth was spent in rural Mississippi and Texas where he obtained his early education. He studied engineering under Bushrod R. Johnson, a future Confederate major general, at the Western Military Institute in Nashville, Tennessee. Gordon graduated in 1859 and was employed as a surveyor until the war erupted.

After Tennessee left the Union Gordon joined the 11th Tennessee infantry as drillmaster. He served in East Tennessee with Felix K. Zollicoffer then E. Kirby Smith. In December 1862 Gordon was promoted to colonel and commanded the 11th at Stone's River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Kennesaw Mountain, and in the fighting around Atlanta during which he would temporarily succeed to brigade command. He was promoted to brigadier general to rank from 15 August 1864 and given command of a brigade in Benjamin F. Cheatham's division in John B. Hood's army. At Franklin on 30 November 1864 Gordon led his brigade deep into the Union center and was wounded and captured. He spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner.

When the war ended Gordon was confined at Fort Warren in Boston Harbor. He was released in July 1865 and returned to Tennessee settling in Memphis where he studied the law. After being admitted to the bar he practiced law in Memphis until 1883 when he was appointed one of the state railroad commissioners of Tennessee. In 1885 he was appointed a special Indian agent in Arizona and Nevada. He stayed in this Department of the Interior position until 1889. He returned to Memphis and his law practice and served as superintendent of the Memphis city schools from 1889 until 1907. He was elected as a Democrat to the US House of Representatives from Tennessee's 10th district in November 1906 taking his seat on 4 March 1907. He remained in Congress, being reelected twice, until he died on 9 August 1911. He was the last former Confederate general to serve in Congress. Gordon also twice served as commander-in-chief of the United Confederate Veterans.

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