From Huntington County Biographical Memoirs, 1901
James E. Gordon, ex-soldier of the Rebellion and a railroad coach painter of unsurpassed ability and reputation, is one of the leading citizens of Jefferson township, Huntington county, Indiana, and is descended from a long line of soldier ancestors who were intrepid and brave in the cause of right. The family was represented in the Revolution, the War of 1812, and again in 1848. Their bravery and endurance was no doubt inherited from the Scotch forefathers from whom they sprang and whose characters they have so nobly sustained. James E. Gordon was born in Hanover, York county, Pennsylvania, December 13, 1844, and is a son of James A. and Susan(Carl)Gordon. Susan Carl was born in Maryland, but moved to York county, Pennsylvania, where she met James A. Gordon, to whom she was married in 1842. A family of fourteen children, seven sons and seven daughters, resulted, but the greater part of them have passed into the unknown world, one daughter and five sons alone surviving. The father was called to his reward September 17, 1878, but the mother is still living, a resident of Huntington. Of the children who are living, James E. comes first, as he is the eldest of the family; Charles H. was born September 5, 1855, and married Mrs. Sarah Campbell, of this county. He is a painter by trade and lives in Polk township; Henry was born in August, 1862, and married Miss Jennie Powell. They live in Huntington, where he is employed in the Erie car shops; Paul was born October 5, 1864, and is unmarried. He entered the service of the government when a young man and has traveled extensively both in this country and abroad. He served five years in the United States navy, then for ten years in the infantry. When the Spanish-American war broke out he was among the first to enlist, and served five years in the marine service on board of the Iowa, serving all through. At the time of the battle of Santiago and the sinking of the Spanish fleet he was marine orderly of the North Atlantic Squadron. He is the one who carried the canvas bag containing the documents of the investigating committee from the Iowa to Key West, Florida, and guarded the door while it was read to the committee before it went to the president, and then with another lieutenant took it back to the Iowa, whence it went to Washington. He is now engaged in the transportation department which runs from San Francisco to Hong Kong, and has already made seven trips. Alverta V. married James Rogers and lives in Huntington; and George was born March 24, 1870, and lives at Huntington, Indiana.
James E. Gordon enlisted as drummer boy in Company D, Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania, on August 16, 1861, and was raised to the rank of first lieutenant. He served the entire four years, and few soldiers saw more engagements or participated in fiercer ones than Mr. Gordon. After a number of preliminary skirmishes, he was with the boys in blue who so valiantly fought at Fort Pulaski, Georgia, April 11, 1862, and June 16 of the same year he was in the engagement at James Island, South Carolina. Among the battles in which he took part may be mentioned those of October 22, 1862, at Pocotaligo; Fort Wagner, July 1, 1863, and July 10-11-18, and was one of the besiegers of that fort. He was at Chester Heights and Swift's creek, Virginia, May 7, 1864; Drury's Bluffs and Bermuda Hundred, May 18; Cold Harbor, July 1, 2 and 3, 1864; at Petersburg, June 30, 1864, and at the mine explosion one month later. Then followed the engagements at Deep Bottom and Chaffin's farm on August 14; Harrison, September 28, 1864; Darby's Road, October 27; Fort Fisher, North Carolina, January 15, 1865; Wilmington, North Carolina, February 22, 1865. He was in the naval expedition to Fort Sumter, April 7, 1863; the battle at Raleigh; Fort Gilmer, September 29, 1864; August 14 at Strawberry Plains; engagement on the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, June 16; and was shipwrecked in North Caroina July 21, 1865. Company D was honored by being made the body guard of the following officers, viz: Major Generals I. A. Gilmore, A. H. Terry and David Hunter and of Brigadier Generals A. Ames and Robert Foster. Mr. Gordon received his honorable discharge at Raleigh, North Carolina, July 18, 1865, having served in one of the best regiments in the army, one seeing hard service and losing comparatively few men, six hundred and twenty-three representing the total number killed, wounded and taken prisoner during the war.
Mr. Gordon decided to see something of the United States before taking up the routine duties of life, and started on an extended trip through the western states and territories. He traveled leisurely and has probably seen as much of his native land as any man living. On April 1, 1868, he was joined in marriage to Miss Sarah Myers, the daughter of Matthew Myers, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Mr. Gordon is a well read, intelligent man, with whom it is a pleasure to converse. He is of a literary turn and has one of the finest and best selected private libraries to be found in the county. He took up the trade of a painter, and in the excellence and durability of his work is excelled by none and equaled by few. He located in Indiana in February, 1875, working as a carpenter and painter, and his services are in great demand wherever a good job of painting is desired. He is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and is past colonel of the Huntington County Battalion. In politics he is a Republican, and heartily endorses President McKinley in his administration of the affairs of the government.
The following incident is related by Mr. Gordon, and is a pen-picture of one of those trying events which are a part of our country's history, the minor details of which are only to be gleaned by contact and association with some one of the active participants, He says that "After the charge of the regiment, in which the Union troops were driven back with terrible slaughter, myself and fifteen others were in the moat, under the walls and guns of Wagner. We knew it would be death to try to make our escape at that time. After all our soldiers had left the bloody field we felt uneasy as to our safety, or of being taken prisoners. We got out of the big ditch around the fort unobserved by the enemy, and in making our way over the field, strewn with dead and wounded, black and white, mangled and torn in every conceivable form, we came to an officer mortally wounded, whom we knew to be Lieutenant Stephen S. Stephens, of the Sixth Connecticut, Acting Asst. Adjt. Gen., and on Gen. Seymore's staff. Under a heavy fire from Forts Sumter, Wagner and George, we picked him up and carried him to the beach behind a sand-bank, where we remained until the firing slackened. We found, after examining him, that he died while we were carrying him to the beach. I then took everything of value from his person--sword, belt and sash, gold watch, a bundle of despatches and a pocketbook containing three hundred and sixty-five dollars in greenbacks. The next morning we took the body to Gen. Seymore's headquarters and delivered the effects to the officers. The money I kept until the 20th. I then went to my captain (William S. Diller), and related the night's experience to him; gave him the three hundred and sixty-five dollars and asked him to return it to the commander of the Sixth Connecticut and have him forward it to the dead officer's friends in the north. The captain did as I requested, and the officers at headquarters gave me a very nice paper recommending me for promotion; also a testimonial for bravery and daring on the field of battle. Those papers were signed by Gen. Seymore."