Monday 28 August 2023


Gordon, the man who never gave up on freedom, 1863 - This picture here shows a former African American slave called Gordon or "Whipped Peter" and the extent of the brutal whippings he received during his time as a slave.

The picture is known as "The Scourged Back" and it became one of the most important and recognisable pieces of Union material during the American civil war. It exposed the physical injuries slaves often received while being held prisoners. It inspired the populations of the Union in the civil war to continue the fight, and to aim to end slavery, which had become a stain on American society.

Gordon escaped John and Bridget Lyons cotton plantation in Louisiana in 1860. The plantation had about 40 slaves in total at the time of Gordon's run for freedom. He was chased after by bloodhounds but confused them by rubbing his body with onions that he stole and by jumping over a creek or going through a river. This messed up his trail of scent, which allowed him to go over 40 miles (64 KM) to a Union Army camp, where he signed up to fight for the Union.

Upon a physical examination, Gordon's scars were discovered. Gordon was described as a respectful, intelligent and brave man. At one point he was captured by confederate soldiers in which he was beaten, tied up and left for dead. Gordon escaped once again and made it back to the Union lines, where he continued to serve.

Photographer: William D. McPherson

Source: BBC

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