Fact V. Myth? John B. Gordon Finds Francis Barlow Twice

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JPK Huson 1863

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barlow from harpers.jpg

General Francis Channing Barlow, Haper's Weekly 1865

Here's a few famous moments from July 1st, 1863 to track down- plus a few from 1899. Did John B. Gordon find Francis Barlow twice? Ot even once. There's so much disagreement out there I just cannot ascertain what on earth the case would be. Found this in an early 1900's era newspaper but the maddening thing about era newspapers is their unique mix of fact v. agoodstory. I will say that inventing stories about the war was risky. The old vets could be awfully touchy hence all the wonderful back and forths in post war newspapers.

We know Arabella Barlow did indeed come to nurse husband Francis ( again ) after his wound July 1st. I spent four years watching Gettysburg College rugby matches within sight of where it happened. Rugby is as baffling as the Barlow-Gordon story.

" Barlow's or Blocher's Knoll at Gettysburg is one of the less visited parts of the battlefield, but it is an important part of the Day 1 action. Barlow's Knoll, off the Harrisburg Pike and across Rock Creek from the Josiah Benner farm, was where the Union XI Corps was hit by Early's men, and was flanked, and pushed back toward Cemetery Hill as was the rest of the Union Army. The 153rd PA had the unfortunate position of being, along with companies from Ohio and New York in the XI Corps, in the same unenviable position as they had been at Chancellorsville, this time because of poor forethought by their commander, Francis Barlow . "
by @pamc153PA , here. https://civilwartalk.com/threads/barlows-blochers-knoll-then-photos.101916/


Back to the legend/story.

barlow 1.jpg

As chronicled by Mr. Reser from notes made at Attica, Indiana, while listening to General John B. Gordon speak. The thing is, the vets were pretty quick to jump on the slightest inaccuracy, you can see why. They were there. If this wasn't a true story they'd have erupted.

I'm sure everyone has seen the images posted here already- in the off chance someone missed one-
barlow knoll late 1800s.jpg

Probably taken around the same time Mr. Reser heard John B. Gordon speak- Barlow's Knoll, center and @reading48 commented in the other thread the almshouse cemetery is behind it. ( If so, Jennie Wade's father was buried there ).

barlow gordon image.JPG

I'm still back at Wrightsville bridge. The story of Gordon's men fighting flames along with civilians doesn't get a lot of ' press '. It's what made me interested in John B. Gordon in the first place.


barlow 2.jpg

Sorry it's such small print- it's a little lengthy.

barlow hancock.jpg

We've all seen this, too- I just like the image, always happy to see Hancock looking like a Winslow Homer hero and Barlow lounging.

barlow 3.jpg


I don't know enough to comment either way. If you think about it there are a lot weirder stories from those awful days we know are indeed true. " My brother Henry " for instance and Wesley Culp and the Sister nursing at St. Xavier's who came across her brother and a dozen others. You bump into statements on the Barlow-Gordon encounter like ' historians have been arguing for years...'. Why, please? True or not true?

AND now to go track down Mrs. Gordon's war. If she followed her husband she'll have a lot to say.
 

Lubliner

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View attachment 323207
General Francis Channing Barlow, Haper's Weekly 1865

Here's a few famous moments from July 1st, 1863 to track down- plus a few from 1899. Did John B. Gordon find Francis Barlow twice? Ot even once. There's so much disagreement out there I just cannot ascertain what on earth the case would be. Found this in an early 1900's era newspaper but the maddening thing about era newspapers is their unique mix of fact v. agoodstory. I will say that inventing stories about the war was risky. The old vets could be awfully touchy hence all the wonderful back and forths in post war newspapers.

We know Arabella Barlow did indeed come to nurse husband Francis ( again ) after his wound July 1st. I spent four years watching Gettysburg College rugby matches within sight of where it happened. Rugby is as baffling as the Barlow-Gordon story.

" Barlow's or Blocher's Knoll at Gettysburg is one of the less visited parts of the battlefield, but it is an important part of the Day 1 action. Barlow's Knoll, off the Harrisburg Pike and across Rock Creek from the Josiah Benner farm, was where the Union XI Corps was hit by Early's men, and was flanked, and pushed back toward Cemetery Hill as was the rest of the Union Army. The 153rd PA had the unfortunate position of being, along with companies from Ohio and New York in the XI Corps, in the same unenviable position as they had been at Chancellorsville, this time because of poor forethought by their commander, Francis Barlow . "
by @pamc153PA , here. https://civilwartalk.com/threads/barlows-blochers-knoll-then-photos.101916/


Back to the legend/story.

View attachment 323204
As chronicled by Mr. Reser from notes made at Attica, Indiana, while listening to General John B. Gordon speak. The thing is, the vets were pretty quick to jump on the slightest inaccuracy, you can see why. They were there. If this wasn't a true story they'd have erupted.

I'm sure everyone has seen the images posted here already- in the off chance someone missed one-
View attachment 323211
Probably taken around the same time Mr. Reser heard John B. Gordon speak- Barlow's Knoll, center and @reading48 commented in the other thread the almshouse cemetery is behind it. ( If so, Jennie Wade's father was buried there ).

View attachment 323208
I'm still back at Wrightsville bridge. The story of Gordon's men fighting flames along with civilians doesn't get a lot of ' press '. It's what made me interested in John B. Gordon in the first place.


View attachment 323205
Sorry it's such small print- it's a little lengthy.

View attachment 323209
We've all seen this, too- I just like the image, always happy to see Hancock looking like a Winslow Homer hero and Barlow lounging.

View attachment 323206

I don't know enough to comment either way. If you think about it there are a lot weirder stories from those awful days we know are indeed true. " My brother Henry " for instance and Wesley Culp and the Sister nursing at St. Xavier's who came across her brother and a dozen others. You bump into statements on the Barlow-Gordon encounter like ' historians have been arguing for years...'. Why, please? True or not true?

AND now to go track down Mrs. Gordon's war. If she followed her husband she'll have a lot to say.
AND now to go track down Mrs. Gordon's war. If she followed her husband she'll have a lot to say.


That would be an interesting tale for sure. I conclude (liking Gordon's use of the word with providence) the ladies were not allowed at these gatherings? Hopefully you find her still alive!
Lubliner.
 
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rpkennedy

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Take everything that John B. Gordon wrote after the war with a grain of salt. He seems to have been a firm believer in "Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story". It's interesting that he begins telling this story publicly only after Barlow died.

As for what happened, who knows? It's certainly possible that Gordon briefly stopped as his men passed over Barlow but he certainly would not have lingered as his men did not slow down but would have been in the middle of driving Barlow's men from the knoll (Barlow was shot between the skirmish line and his main battle line so the Georgians would have passed him during their assault). My guess is that Gordon stopped very briefly and then later embellished the story.

Ryan
 

Belfoured

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Take everything that John B. Gordon wrote after the war with a grain of salt. He seems to have been a firm believer in "Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story". It's interesting that he begins telling this story publicly only after Barlow died.

As for what happened, who knows? It's certainly possible that Gordon briefly stopped as his men passed over Barlow but he certainly would not have lingered as his men did not slow down but would have been in the middle of driving Barlow's men from the knoll (Barlow was shot between the skirmish line and his main battle line so the Georgians would have passed him during their assault). My guess is that Gordon stopped very briefly and then later embellished the story.

Ryan
This seems to be the current consensus - that Gordon may have briefly encountered Barlow but that he later embellished the story significantly. I believe there was a detailed examination of this in a Gettysburg magazine article a few years back. As somebody else pointed out, Gordon was a bit of a fiction writer - similar to Chamberlain. In fact, if you accept William Marvel's analysis, they combined their creative talents to come up with a nice story about the surrender ceremony at Appomattox. .
 

James N.

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It seems to have been accepted for some time now that Gordon's story was invented or at least embellished after Barlow was safely dead and couldn't contradict it, as part of the Reconciliation movement around the turn of the Twentieth Century. Interestingly enough, the NPS at one time promoted it through a diorama showing the incident in the old ca. 1963 Centennial Gettysburg NMP Visitor Center, later called the Cyclorama Center because it was home to the painting until the current Visitor Center was built. That building has been torn down now, but the last time I was inside it in the 1990's the diorama was still there.
 
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Lubliner

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Ah but listen to what Gordon says. First, he has witnesses at the convention when the story is told. They would have memory.
Second: He is leading the troops, sees a Major fall in front, stops to search for orders of command upon the fallen Major. He finds letters to his wife, and a living Major. This is the fuzzy hush up, and the doubt of why he would stop. Anybody else see the common cause in the fight?
Thanks, Lubliner.
 

Ole Miss

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I am shocked, shocked that anyone would question the authenticity of General Brown's story! Gentlemen of the South are well known for telling stories that do not always contain the truth and only the truth. Brown was an orator who happened to be an able soldier and his ability to merge his military and verbal skills was displayed with this famous speech.

After all do we really want to know the truth? Sometimes it is best to not look behind the curtain.
Regards
David
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Thank you for the replies! This all makes sense. I sincerely just, plain don't know enough about either man to be able to figure it out. So he was another of our Southern story tellers? I hate to defend a certain lack of veracity but boy, if there is a difference North and South that would be a delightful one. How many of us have melted into credulity listening to Shelby? We had a husband/wife team of North Carolina born ministers ( who fled back after 10 years ). All y'all must be born with it.

The Sundays he gave the sermon, the church was simply packed- members who were Christmas and Easter only before he arrived became regulars. It's never been the same since he left and I have a VERY hard time listening to sermons now. All the magic has gone. South.
 
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Ole Miss

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I admit that occasionally there are pronounced differences between Americans who live in different parts of our country. For example, on one of our New England jaunts we noticed that every small community had a large clapboard white church in the middle of the downtown area. Yet, not one of them had a church bus!!

Now in the South, we decide on which Baptist Church we join based on the numbers and sizes of the buses the congregation owns. How else can we get to the Gaither Homecoming concert or the local Passion Play?
Regards
David
 

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Thank you for the replies! This all makes sense. I sincerely just, plain don't know enough about either man to be able to figure it out. So he was another of our Southern story tellers? I hate to defend a certain lack of veracity but boy, if there is a difference North and South that would be a delightful one. How many of us have melted into credulity listening to Shelby? We had a husband/wife team of North Carolina born ministers ( who fled back after 10 years ). All y'all must be born with it.

The Sundays he gave the sermon, the church was simply packed- members who were Christmas and Easter only before he arrived became regulars. It's never been the same since he left and I have a VERY hard time listening to sermons now. All the magic has gone. South.
It should be remembered that Gordon was a politician in addition to having been a soldier when he wrote. He served as Governor of Georgia during a time when Reconstruction was fading, Atlanta was rebuilding - like in Gone With the Wind - Jim Crow was ascending, and Northern investments were vital to the Southern economy. Reconciliation was important to businessmen, politicians, and many others throughout the country on both sides of the old Mason-Dixon Line. If he was a story teller it was for a purpose - even his Sunday morning quarterbacking of especially his old commander Jubal Early served to separate him from Early's brand of Unreconstructed Rebel-ness.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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I admit that occasionally there are pronounced differences between Americans who live in different parts of our country. For example, on one of our New England jaunts we noticed that every small community had a large clapboard white church in the middle of the downtown area. Yet, not one of them had a church bus!!

Now in the South, we decide on which Baptist Church we join based on the numbers and sizes of the buses the congregation owns. How else can we get to the Gaither Homecoming concert or the local Passion Play?
Regards
David

Buses, as in plural? That's pretty awesome and explains a lot. Our church had a bus when no one else's did- but only during the ten years we were lucky enough to have our NC ministers. It was indeed unusual around here but extremely fortunate- that thing took us everywhere.

Please no one get upset- I don't mean this as some anti-north thing ( PA for an awful lot of generations ), wonder if it's a turn we took somewhere up here? There'll be exceptions but boy, there's a current lack of community in general. It's extraordinarily different from when I was a kid- everything revolved around the community. Churches were quite large and communities themselves inside the whole. A lot of congregations remain closely knit, there's just no energy when it comes to rubbing elbows with each other, you know?

Reconciliation was important to businessmen, politicians, and many others throughout the country on both sides of the old Mason-Dixon Line

Love it when stuff falls into place, as in makes sense based on something. I've read my gr( however many ) aunt's copy of the ' report ' on Atlanta's Exposition cover to cover a few times. It's always surprised me how much emphasis is placed on both Atlanta's thriving, new economy and welcoming those from northern states. Content reflects not just reconciliation but downright bonhomie. Since the whole exposition seems to have been about highlighting some sense of general prosperity too, easy ( now ) to see where it was awfully beneficial.
 
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Tom Elmore

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An interesting article on this incident was written by William F. Hanna, in The Civil War Times Illustrated, May 1985, vol. 24, no. 3. One of Hanna's points focused on Gordon's Reminiscences, in which Barlow reportedly asked him to remove a packet of personal letters from Mrs. Barlow that were in his pocket and destroy them. Barlow actually had two letters on him relating to his nomination as "Superintendent of the Freedmen throughout the U.S.," which he recalled having in his pocket before the Confederates reached him. Barlow wrote that he destroyed those incriminating letters along with all others in his pocket to keep them out of enemy hands. Hanna concluded: "While not based on fact, that chance meeting on the Gettysburg battlefield, characterized by compassion and brotherhood, symbolized for Gordon exactly those values he saw as essential to America's future." It's similar to the above comments by James N.

As an aside, Sergeant J. C. Clay of Company I, 107th Ohio served as Barlow's orderly at Gettysburg, and he claimed to have conveyed news of Barlow's supposed mortal wounding to Mrs. Barlow. (The National Tribune, February 6, 1896)
 
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