George Gordon (Civil War General)
|Member of U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 10th district
March 4, 1907 – August 9, 1911
William Howard Taft
|Preceded by||Malcolm R. Patterson|
|Succeeded by||Kenneth D. McKellar|
|Born||George Washington Gordon
October 5, 1836
Pulaski, Tennessee, U.S.
|Died||August 9, 1911
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
|Resting place||Elmwood Cemetery|
|Political party||Democratic Party|
|Occupation||engineer, lawyer, Indian agent, railroad commissioner, school superintendent|
|Allegiance||Confederate States of America|
|Service/branch||Confederate States Army|
|Years of service||1861–1865|
|Commands||11th Tennessee Infantry Regiment
|Battles/wars||American Civil War|
George Washington Gordon (October 5, 1836 – August 9, 1911) was a general of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. After the war, he practiced law in Pulaski, Tennessee, where the Ku Klux Klan was formed. He became one of the Klan's first members. In 1867, Gordon became the Klan's first Grand Dragon for the Realm of Tennessee, and wrote its "Precept," a book describing its organization, purpose, and principles. He was also a member of the United States House of Representatives for the 10th congressional district of Tennessee.
Gordon was born on October 5, 1836 in Pulaski, Tennessee. His father was Andrew Gordon and his mother, Eliza K. Gordon. He grew up in Mississippi and Texas. Gordon graduated from the Western Military Institute in Nashville, Tennessee in 1859. He worked on the Nashville & Northwestern Railway.
At the start of the Civil War, Gordon enlisted in the military service of the Confederacy and became drillmaster of the 11th Regiment, Tennessee Infantry. In November 1862 he became the regiments colonel. Gordon was promoted to brigadier general in August 1864; and was one of the youngest Confederate generals. Gordon led Vaughn's Brigade, in Maj. Gen. John C. Brown's division, at the Battle of Franklin (November 30, 1864), where he was wounded and captured. Many of the men he led are buried at McGavock Confederate Cemetery in Franklin, Tennessee.
After the war, Gordon studied law, was admitted to the bar, and practiced in Memphis, Tennessee, until 1883. He was appointed one of the railroad commissioners of Tennessee. He received an appointment in the Department of the Interior in 1885, as special Indian agent in Arizona and Nevada, and he served until 1889. He returned to Memphis, Tennessee and resumed the practice of law. He was the superintendent of Memphis city schools between 1889 and 1907.
Ku Klux Klan involvement
The KKK (the Klan) was formed by veterans of the Confederate Army in Pulaski, Tennessee, in 1866 and soon expanded throughout the state and beyond. Gordon was an early member, if not a founder.
According to one oral report, he went to General Nathan Bedford Forrest in Memphis, and told him about the Klan, to which Forrest replied, "That's a good thing; that's a damn good thing. We can use that to keep the niggers in their place." The organization had grown to the point where an experienced commander was needed, and Forrest fit the bill. Forrest became involved sometime in late 1866 or early 1867. A common report is that Forrest arrived in Nashville in April 1867 while the Klan was meeting at the Maxwell House Hotel. In Room 10 of the Maxwell, Forrest was sworn in as a member. Forrest went on to become the nationwide leader of the first Klan.
- Allison, John (1905). Notable Men of Tennessee. Personal and Genealogical With Portraits. 2. Atlanta, Georgia: Southern Historical Association. pp. 51–53. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
- Martinez, James Michael, Carpetbaggers, Cavalry, and the Ku Klux Klan, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2007, ISBN 978-0-7425-5078-0, p. 15. Retrieved June 20, 2009.
- Hurst pp. 284-285. Wills p. 336. Wills quotes two KKK members who identified Forrest as a Klan leader. James R. Crowe stated, “After the order grew to large numbers we found it necessary to have someone of large experience to command. We chose General Forrest.” Another member wrote, “N. B. Forest of Confederate fame was at our head, and was known as the Grand Wizard. I heard him make a speech in one of our Dens.”
- Horn, pp. 314-15.
- Allison, John. Notable Men of Tennessee. Personal and Genealogical With Portraits. Volume 2. Atlanta: Southern Historical Association, 1905. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
- Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1.
- History of 11th Tennessee Infantry Regiment(Confederate), American Civil War
- Horn, Stanley F. Invisible Empire: The Story of the Ku Klux Klan from 1866 to 1871, Patterson Smith Publishing Corporation: Montclair, NJ, 1939.
- Hubbard, John Milton, Notes of a Private. By John Milton Hubbard, Company E, 7th Tennessee Regiment. Forrest's Cavalry Corps, C.S.A..
- Martinez, James Michael, Carpetbaggers, Cavalry, and the Ku Klux Klan, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2007, ISBN 978-0-7425-5078-0, p. 15. Retrieved June 20, 2009
- Sifakis, Stewart. Who Was Who in the Civil War. New York: Facts On File, 1988. ISBN 978-0-8160-1055-4.
- Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 978-0-8071-0823-9.
- United States Congress. "George Gordon (id: G000310)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved on 2008-10-13
|United States House of Representatives|
Malcolm R. Patterson
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 10th congressional district
March 4, 1907 – August 9, 1911
|Tennessee's delegation(s) to the 60th–62nd United States Congresses (ordered by seniority)|
|60th||Senate: J. Frazier, Sr. • R. Taylor||House: W. Brownlow • J. Gaines • J. Moon • T. Sims • L. Padgett • F. Garrett • N. Hale • W. Houston • G. Gordon • C. Hull|
|61st||Senate: J. Frazier Sr. • R. Taylor||House: W. Brownlow† • J. Moon • T. Sims • L. Padgett • F. Garrett • W. Houston • G. Gordon • C. Hull • J. Byrns Sr. • R. Austin • Z. Massey‡
†Brownlow died in Jul. 1910; ‡Massey elected in Nov. 1910
|62nd||Senate: R. Taylor† • L. Lea • N. Sanders‡ • W. Webb§
†Taylor died in Mar. 1912; ‡Sanders appointed to fill vacancy; §Webb elected to fill vacancy
|House: J. Moon • T. Sims • L. Padgett • F. Garrett • W. Houston • G. Gordon† • C. Hull • J. Byrns, Sr. • R. Austin • S. Sells • K. McKellar‡
†Gordon died in Aug. 1911; ‡McKellar elected in Dec. 1911