Benjamin Franklin Gordon
Benjamin Franklin Gordon was born
in Henry County, Tennessee, on May 18, 1826, the son of Thomas W. and Eliza
(Brooks) Gordon. The family moved to Lafayette County, Missouri, in the spring
of 1831. The elder Gordon, a farmer, settled in the Lexington area and was
elected justice of the Lafayette County Court. During the Mexican War the
younger Gordon enlisted in Doniphan's Missouri regiment, serving in that war as
a private and bugler. After the war Gordon prospected for gold in California.
Returning to Missouri, he became a partner in a merchandising business in
Waverly and in 1858 opened his own store, selling drugs, patent medicines, and
When the governor proclaimed the establishment of the Missouri State Guard in 1861, Gordon was one of the first to enlist. The records show that Gordon was adjutant of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division. On August 10, 1861, at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, he was severely wounded. In 1862 he assisted future Major General Joseph Shelby in raising a regiment in Lafayette County. Shelby's 5th Missouri Cavalry was mustered into service on September 12, 1862; Gordon was elected the 5th's lieutenant colonel. The "knightly Gordon" served under Jo Shelby throughout the war. Shelby took command of a newly recruited brigade of Missouri cavalry when the 5th was mustered in, and thus Gordon led the 5th for most of the war. Gordon saw action at the Battle of Prairie Grove on December 7, 1862, and his courageous conduct was mentioned in Shelby's report of the battle. In early 1863 Shelby's brigade and Gordon participated in Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke's two raids into Missouri. Gordon led Shelby's "Iron Brigade" during the Little Rock campaign (August through September, 1863) while Shelby was recovering from a wound. On December 15, 1863, when Shelby was promoted to brigadier general, Gordon became full colonel of the 5th. In March and April, 1864, Shelby's troops harassed Major General Frederick Steele's Union army in their advance from Little Rock to Camden, Arkansas. Gordon led more than one charge with his "usual impetuosity" during the Camden campaign. At the Battle of Mark's Mills on April 25, Gordon's men were effective again and captured two artillery pieces. In July, 1864, the "brave and skillful" Gordon' routed the 10th Illinois Cavalry at Searcy, Arkansas, and two weeks later routed Union forces near Helena. He led his regiment during Major General Sterling Price's Missouri Raid from August through December, 1864. At the Battle of Westport on October 23, 1864, the 5th made a successful attack, but was forced to halt when the Confederate rear collapsed. Gordon's cavalry made an about face and cut their way through the encirclement to safety. At the Battles of Mine Creek and Second Newtonia Gordon's men helped to slow down the pursuing Union force that had shattered two divisions of Price's army. After Price's Raid ended, Gordon was assigned to permanent command of Shelby's "Iron Brigade." On May 16, 1865, one month after Appomattox, General E. Kirby Smith, commander of the Confederate Department of the Trans-Mississippi, assigned Gordon to duty as brigadier general.
Upon the surrender of the Trans-Mississippi Department Shelby and Gordon fled to Mexico. Unlike Shelby, Gordon quickly returned to Missouri. He died on September 22, 1866, in Waverly, Lafayette County, and is buried in Waverly Cemetery.
Wood and Heitman list Gordon as a general.
Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.