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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