Gordon, or "Whipped Peter", was an enslaved African American who escaped from a Louisiana plantation in March 1863, gaining freedom when he reached the Union camp near Baton Rouge. He became known as the subject of photographs documenting the extensive scarring of his back from whippings received in slavery. Abolitionists distributed these carte de visite photographs of Gordon throughout the United States and internationally to show the abuses of slavery. Gordon escaped in March 1863 from the 3,000-acre (12 km2) plantation of John and Bridget Lyons, who owned him and nearly forty other slaves at the time of the 1860 census. The Lyons plantation was located along the west bank of the Atchafalaya River in St. Landry Parish, between present-day Melville and Krotz Springs, Louisiana.
In order to mask his scent from the bloodhounds that were chasing him, Gordon took onions from his plantation, which he carried in his pockets. After crossing each creek or swamp, he rubbed his body with these onions in order to throw the dogs off his scent.
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