By: Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.
1064 West Mill Drive
Kennesaw, Georgia 30152
Phone: 770 428 0978
What a ex-Confederate soldier said about Gen. John B. Gordon: "He was a devout and humble Christian Gentlemen. I know of no man more beloved in the South, and he was probably the most popular Southern man among the people of the North." —–Stephen D. Lee, Commander-in-Chief, United Confederate Veterans
February is Black History Month. It is also the birthday month of George Washington, our first president and father of our country… And it is the birthday month of Gen. John B. Gordon of Georgia.
Please share this story with your children. I dedicated it to the late Tom Watson Brown. Brown loved American history and spoke on several occasions in tribute to Gen. John B. Gordon. He was proud and knew the true history of the South.
And who was Gen. John Brown Gordon?
John B. Gordon, born February 6, 1832, was an orator, lawyer, statesman, soldier, publisher and governor of the State of Georgia. He is best known as one of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s generals. At the South’s surrender at Appomattox, his corps encounter with the soldiers under Gen. Joshua Chamberlain is a classic story that began the healing of this country after four years of terrible bloodshed.
Would it surprise you that Carter G. Woodson, father of Black History Week, would have much in common with Gordon? Both of these men believed that true-accurate American history should be taught in the schools. Woodson supported the study of Black history should include those African-Americans who fought on both sides of the War Between the States.
Black History Week came Black History Month in the 1960s.
Woodson, eleven years after the first Black History Week, founded the Negro History Bulletin for teachers, students and the public.
Gordon also stressed the importance of telling the true story of those who fought for the Confederacy, After the war, only the Northern version of the War Between the States was taught to Southern children.
Gen. John B. Gordon supported the South’s Constitutional right to secession, but after the war, he worked to unite the nation and help white and black Southerners that were made poor by the war.
in Gordon’s day there were no skyscrapers, telephones, automobiles, bright lights or polluted air to block the view of heaven’s stars. The American Revolution was in the past only as far back as the Great Depression is today. It was during these times that American history was still taught in public school. It is ironical, today there are those who would hide both heaven and history and we accept their censorship of our birthright.
It was on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, February 6, 1993, when a Gen. John B. Gordon birthday celebration was held in Atlanta, Georgia. It was held in front of Georgia’s state capitol and close to a statue of Gordon that was dedicated 100 years ago.
An estimated one thousand people came to Atlanta to remember Gordon from as far north as Maryland. Rain and cold weather was forecast, but it was warm and sunny. Good laugher came from the crowd when someone remarked that God must be a Southerner.
When the band played "Dixie," the people arose to their feet. The band gave the melody, but the crowd sang the words.
Many spoke in praise of Gen. John B. Gordon that included the late attorney at law, historian and friend—-Tom Watson Brown. Another speaker turned to the statue of Gordon and asked "Gen. Gordon what would you say about those who would change the history of America?" Gordon, the American, the Southerner and the Confederate would have answered firmly, "Take your history and teach it to your children or others will teach their history!"
John B. Gordon set up a publishing company after the War Between the States to help teach Southern children Southern history. Oh, that Gordon was alive today!!!!
A third annual Gen. John B. Gordon birthday celebration was held at Atlanta’s Capitol in 1995. This time the weather was very cold and snowy. This year a young African-American man joined the list of speakers. Eddie Page knew his Southern history and did not parrot "Political Correct" history.
John B. Gordon descended from an Scottish lineage. He was born in Upson County, Georgia. Gordon was the fourth of twelve children born to Zachariah and Malinda Cox Gordon. Young John was said to be an excellent student at the University of Georgia.
He left the university before graduating and came to Atlanta, Ga. to study law. It was here that he met and married Rebecca Haralson and their union was long and happy.
September 17, 1862, is known as one of the bloodiest days in American history. Gen. Robert E. Lee assigned Gen. Gordon to hold the sunken road, also known as "Bloody Lane", during the Battle of Antietam. Gordon was shot five times. First, a mini ball passed through his calf. Then a second ball hit him in the same leg. A third ball went through his left arm. He continued to lead his men even though he was badly wounded. He was shot a fourth time. He continued to lead his men as they pleaded for Gordon to go to the rear. A fifth ball hit him in the face, passing through the left cheek and out his jaw. He fell with his face in his hat and would have drowned in his own blood except for a hole in his hat.
For years the Gen. John B. Gordon celebration in Atlanta, Georgia, was concluded by a mile long march to historic Oakland Cemetery where he is buried. Not since earlier Confederate Memorial Day has there been a scene of Atlanta’s streets of soldiers in gray and women and children in black mourning dress.
The parade route was by Martin Luther King, Jr Drive. Many black Atlantans watched the parade and some followed to Oakland Cemetery and watched the Gordon birthday memorial.
The spirits of Carter Woodson and John Gordon were there with us during those days of February. Though 130 years separated today from yesterday there was a spirit that transcended time and color. It was a American thing and it was a Southern thing.
When John B. Gordon died in 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt said of him, "A more gallant, generous, and fearless gentlemen and soldier has not been seen in this country."
Woodson and Gordon are still with us—in spirit and, if you listen, they are saying: "Teach your children the whole and true story about America."
Happy birthday Gen. John B. Gordon!!!