Robert's mother died when he was only four or five years old. He was later orphaned at the age of thirteen when his father died in 1855. His father had left a sizeable farm or plantation, but had not left a will, so Robert and his brother, Thomas, probably had to stay with relatives. His other siblings were half brothers and sisters who stayed with their mother.
A man by the name of Francis Gordon Jr., was appointed Administrator of the Estate of Andrew Gordon.At this printing, it is not known if Francis was a brother of Andrew (which he had), or a nephew. This author thinks the latter. The Estate was tied up in Probate court for sixteen years, and over the course of these years, each child had received approximately ten thousand dollars.
The rumor of war had become a reality, and on January 9, 1861 Mississippi seceeded from the Union. On February 4, 1861, along with Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, they formed the Confederate States of America. April 12, 1861, the Civil War began with the Confederates shelling of Fort Sumpter, South Carolina.
On June 8, 1861, at the age of 19, Robert enlisted as a private with Company "B", Captain R. Stuart Wier's Company (Enterprise Guards), 14th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry at Corinth, Alcorn County, Mississippi. They were nicknamed the "Quitman invincibles" under General William Edwin Baldwin, who on February 19, 1864, while visiting his troops, the stirrup on his saddle broke and he fell, suffering fatal injuries as a result.
The Fourteenth Mississippi Infantry participated in a number of various type engagements during its career. on November 21, 1861, it saw action at Rockcastle Hill, KY, and then on February 12-16, 1862, there was investment, battle and then their capture at Ft. Donelson, KY. The company was ultimately imprisoned at Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois. Camp Douglas was notoriously known as a death camp. Many prisoners did not survive this camp. Robert was a prisoner of war for 5 1/2 months before he and his unit were exchanged September 2, 1862, at Vicksburg, Mississippi. When the regiment reorganized, he was appointed Corporal, October 20, 1862.
There were many skirmishes and battles throughout Mississippi at such places as "Water Valley Station," "Newton Station," Jackson," "Champion's Hill," and "Big Black River Bridge." Between may 18 and July 4, 1863, Vicksburg was under siege. The major part of the unit succeeded in avoiding the encirclement and only a detachment was included in the surrender of that city.
On July 16, 1863, Robert was sent to Enterprise Hospital about 15 miles south of Meridian, and again September 12, 1863, by special orders of General Johnston (M175). he appears on a report of persons in the employ of serveral Staff Departments and of the Provost Marshals in the 4th District of Mississippi date "Meridian Mississippi, April 22, 1864." Nothing is on record as to why he was in the hospital. On April 30, 1864, he was returned to his company for duty, just in time for the great "Atlanta Campaign." It consisted of a battle at Resaca, combats near Kingston, operations on the line of Pumpkin Vine Creek, battles about Dallas, New Hope Chruch and Allatoona Hills. Skirmishes at Lost Mountain, operations about Marietta and against Kenesaw Mountain, operations on the line of Nickajack Creek and Chattahoochee River. On the 22nd of July, 1864, the battle of Atlanta began, and the siege lasted for more than a month. The 14th Mississippi saw action throughout Northern Georgia and Northern Alabama; then on November 30, 1864, engaged the Yankees at Franklin, Tennessee, Alabama, December 17-28. There were skirmishes about Columbia, South Carolina February 16-17, 1865, battles at Averysborough, and Bentonville, North Carolina, March 16-21, 1865. Then the final surrender was at Bennett's House, Durham Station, North Carolina, April 26, 1865.
Note: An unofficial report has been found that indicates that when the unit finally surrendered, it contained fewer than forty enlisted men, and no officers. The unit was under command of its first-sergeant at that time.
On June 3, 1865, Robert signed "The Oath of Allegiance" swearing not to bear arms against the United States. A description of him was also on the document saying that he was five feet, eight inches tall, with brown hair, bule eyes and of fair skin.
All this time, while the war was going on, the probate court was determining the fate of his father's estate.
In August of 1870, he moved his wife and two children to Texas. It had been readmitted as a state in the Union on March 30th of that same year.
It's known that he had settled around Brownwood in Brown County as at least two of his children were born there (Fred and Louis), and he is shown on the "Tax Rolls" for the years 1876, '77, '78. '79. Later, we know that he had moved to Hamilton County no later than March 12, 1880, where he lived out his life.
On the 18th of August 1881, Robert along with his uncle, J.D. Tolson of Newton County, Mississippi (his mother's brother), purchased 640 acres of land around Dry Fork for $320.00 (fifty cents an acre). On November 20, 1890 they legally divided the land between them. Robert and his sons (mostly Fred & Ada), worked the land till, in the mid 1940s, the remaining 304 acres were sold for $10,640, ($35.00 an acre). The year is now 2002 and Mr. Grey is now asking $300,000 for the land.
At some time, Robert had lost the signt in one eye from an accident while using a sledgehammer. He later lost sight in his other eye from cateracts, and before his death, had become senile.
Postscript: It was told to me by my uncle, that upon returning home after the war with his brother, they had found that the land had been stolen from them. Wanting to regain the land legally they took the person (or persons) to court. The judge ruled against them and Robert quickly appealed the judgement. But the same judge heard the appeals case and ruled against them again. It's been said that Robert then shot the judge and three of the jurors before stealing the sheriff's horse and hi-tailing it for Texas. No one can swear to this being true, but it certainly makes for a good story.
It was also told by my father (Fred Henry Gordon), that when he was a very small boy, he went to stay with his grandfather, Robert, for a few days and remembered him only as an old man with long white hair and a long white beard.
Personal Observation: On May 28, 1994, I was fortunate to have seen the "Old Gordon Homestead." It was nestled at the edge of many great oaks, with the same old wooden windmill standing at its side. Northeast of the house stands the barn as it has for so many years. According to the present owners, (Mr. and Mrs. Grey), they bought the land in 1947 from the person that had bought it from the Gordon family. He had only kept it for a year. When asked what changes had been made to the house, Mr. Grey responded by telling me that very little had been done. The front porch had been repaired several times and some windows had been replaced, but all in all, it looks the same as it did a hundred years ago. He had also built lean-to's on the barn and grain bin. As you approach the front of the house, you notice two entrances, one that now enters the living roomand the other that has always entered the bedroom. Entering the house, you are now standing in the living room. There once was a hall stretching from the front to the back of the house. The livingroom was just to the left of the hall, the bedroom to the right. A wall now cuts off the rear of the house. What was the kitchen is now the diningroom. He had enclosed the back porch and expanded the room where Robert had spent his last years; it's now the kitchen. The loft where the children most likely slept is now a bedroom, only the location of the entrance has changed. Behind the sheetrock and paneling stands the very house that heard the laughter and sorrows of the ancestors of today's "Gordons."
On a Thursday, December 28, 1995, my son Terry and I, Fred D. (Ric) Gordon, with the assistance of Tony Hauck (first husband of Christine Berkley), placed the bronze marker on his grave in memory of my Great Grandfather's participation in the War Between the States.
References: National Archives, Washington, D.C.
Confederate Research Center, Hillsboro, Texas
Probate Court Records, Lowndes County Court House, Hayneville, AL
Hamilton County Courthouse, Hamilton, Texas
Census records, Texas State Library & Archives, Austin, Texas