Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hidden Heroes: a few words on Isaac Gordon

On the Fourth, after the reading of the Declaration of Independence in Morristown, Ivan and I took a ride through Madison to visit the grave of a little-known Civil War notable, Isaac Gordon.

The story goes something like this: Born into slavery in the South, Gordon escaped to Union lines in Washington County, North Carolina during the Coastal Campaign in 1862. Intelligence he supplied to the Union Army eventually led to several key victories against Confederate troops in North Carolina and Virginia.

During his time with the Union soldiers, Gordon befriended Colonel Edward E. Potter, who commanded a newly formed African American regiment. Following the war, Potter brought Gordon back to Madison, where the Colonel, by then a general, retired as a gentleman farmer. Gordon served as Potter’s coachman and servant and died in 1917.

Gordon is buried in a back corner of Hilltop Cemetery on Main Street in Madison, and unfortunately on a day when flags had been placed on the graves of others who’d served our country, there was none on his. His gravestone, however, gives some indication of his contribution. If you get the chance, stop by and pay your respects.

Not much other information is readily available about Gordon, but I'll be looking into his background a bit more over the next few weeks. He's just one of many African Americans who risked their lives and freedom to help the Union cause during the Civil War, and his story deserves telling.

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