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What Should I Do With My Family's Confederate Hero?

My great-great-great-grandfather, a Civil War general and reputed Klan leader, sits atop an equestrian statue in front of the Georgia State Capitol. Some local lawmakers think it’s time for him to come down.
A boy sits in front of Stone Mountain—the Atlanta-area monument to the Confederacy.
A boy sits in front of Stone Mountain—the Atlanta-area monument to the Confederacy. John Bazemore/AP

Colonel John Brown Gordon was extraordinarily lucky to survive the Battle of Antietam. On September 17 in 1862 near Sharpsburg, Maryland—still the bloodiest date in U.S. history—Gordon was wounded not once or twice, but five times. Bullets punctured his right leg twice, his arm, and his shoulder. Weak from blood loss, the Confederate officer continued to lead his men until a fifth bullet hit him in the cheek.

The colonel pitched forward, face first into his hat, and bled into the dirt road that became known as Bloody Lane because of the thousands of casualties that occurred there that day. He only avoided drowning in his own blood, Gordon later said, because a “thoughtful Yankee” had previously put another bullet hole in his hat, which allowed the blood to drain.