Jeffrey Keene is a retired decorated firefighter and a retired Assistant Fire Chief of Westport, Connecticut. Following the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, Keene received a sad tour of “Ground Zero” going along with a group of firefighters who had had eleven members of their own elite unit, Rescue #1; die tragically on the morning of September 11, 2001.
In May of 1991, Keene, on vacation with his wife, visits Sharpsburg, Maryland, where it so happens, a very bloody battle in the Civil War of Antietam was fought. Hearing about the history of the area, he felt strangely compelled to visit the battlefield. Though Jeff had never read a book on the Civil War or had an affinity for that era, he could not explain his compulsion to go there. At a portion of the field called Sunken Road, Jeff listened to an audiotaped narration of events that took place in 1862. The battle involved a regiment called The Sixth Alabama, which was commanded by a Colonel John B. Gordon. After listening to the tape, as he walked along the old farm lane, Jeff unknowingly strolled into the area that had been occupied by Gordon and his men. At this location, Jeff Keene had the following reaction:
A wave of grief, sadness and anger washed over me. Without warning, I was suddenly consumed by sensations. Burning tears ran down my cheeks. It became difficult to breathe. I gasped for air, as I stood transfixed in the old roadbed. To this day I cannot tell you how much time transpired, but as these feelings, this emotional overload passed, I found myself exhausted as if I had run a marathon. Crawling up the steep embankment to get out of the road, I turned and looked back. I was a bit shaken to say the least and wondered at what had just taken place. It was difficult getting back to the car because I felt so weak. How could I explain it this? I did not have any answers– just questions.
Another coincidence was where Keene picked up a magazine on the civil war, and there was an article on Antietam. As he read the article, he started to experience the same emotions that he had felt at The Sunken Road, and tears came to his eyes. The article then described the wounding of a John B. Gordon in the battle. Gordon of The Sixth Alabama was hit in the left arm, the right shoulder and twice in the right leg before passing out from loss of blood after receiving a wound in the face.
Jeff himself writes of what happened next. “I turned back to the page with the picture of the Sunken Road, and on the page across from it was another picture. This time a chill ran through me, and the hair on the back of my neck stood up again. The picture was of Colonel John B. Gordon. The face was not unknown to me, I knew it well, and I shave it every morning.” Jeff noted that in the caption Gordon was identified as a general, whereas in the article Gordon was identified as a colonel at the time of his wounding. Gordon apparently had survived the battle at Antietam.
Jeff eventually wrote a book on his past life recall as John B. Gordon. In his book, Jeff describes how he later retrieved memories of his life as John B. Gordon. Jeff also describes habits and traits he has in common with Gordon. These include a preference to stand with arms crossed; similar clothing tastes, and scars on his face and body that reflect Gordon’s battle wounds.
Someone Else’s Yesterday: The Confederate General and Connecticut Yankee: A past Life Revealed Apr 15, 2003
by Jeffrey J. Keene