War can make or break a man. The Civil War made John Brown Gordon.
Born in Upson County in 1832, he was managing his father’s coalmines in northwest Georgia when the war began. Although he lacked any military experience, Gordon was elected captain of the Raccoon Roughs, a company of mountain men, and he rose through the ranks to become a lieutenant general at age 33, in command of one-half of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia by 1865.
Gordon fought in many of the war’s pivotal battles, including Antietam, where he was wounded five times, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness, before formally surrendering Lee’s Army at Appomattox.
After the war, Gordon worked for a railroad as a staunch proponent of the New South creed and boosted the "cult of the Lost Cause" as the first commander of the United Confederate Veterans.
Enormously popular, Gordon served as governor and U.S. Senator, and was rumored to have been the head of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia.
The man who became the living embodiment of the Confederacy was sworn in as Georgia’s governor on November 9, 1886, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.