“Peter” Sometimes Identified As “Gordon”
This photograph turned him in to a symbol of the courage and patriotism of African Americans, Abolitionsts distributed this photograph of Gordon throughout the US to show the abuses of slavery
This beating left him with horrible welts on much of the surface of his back. While the plantation owner discharged the overseer who had carried out this vicious attack, for the next two months as Gordon recuperated in bed, he decided to escape. He escaped from his Louisiana plantation in March 1863, gaining freedom when he reached the Union camp near Baton Rouge.
Gordon joined the Union troops as a guide three months after the Emancipation Proclamation allowed for the enrollment of freed slaves into the U.S. military. On one expedition he was taken prisoner by the Confederates; they tied him up and beat him, leaving him for dead. He survived and once more escaped to Union lines.
Gordon soon afterwards enlisted in a U.S Colored Troops Civil War unit. He was said to have fought bravely as a Sergeant in the Corps d’Afrique during the Siege of Port Hudson in 1863. This was the first time that African-American soldiers played a leading role in an assault.