Red Jacket History


In 1906, Secondary Industrial School was founded as an experiment becoming the first school in the nation to combine vocational and academic courses in a public school system. The school became known as Columbus Industrial High School. Columbus Industrial High School it remained until March 12, 1937. On March 12, 1937, the student body which exceeded 1,000 marched from the school on 29th Street to the present location at 3200 Howard Avenue. T. Hicks Fort, president of the board of trustees, announced that the school would be named in honor of the late G. Gunby Jordan.

In 1955 Jordan was the largest school in the state, and to accommodate the growing enrollment, a new cafeteria and 6 classrooms were added along with a band room. Jordan’s marching Red Jacket Band had already received international recognition. Second place in the competition at the Lions International Convention in Chicago in 1950 was only the beginning. Our band was judged National Junior Marching Band Champions at the American Legion Convention in New York in 1952; in 1956 the band, one of only four chosen to play, was acclaimed the nation’s best at the Midwest National Clinic in Chicago and was described as “the best ever to perform in the clinic.”The Red Jacket band continued to make its own commotion at Jordan. The band was selected to perform at the Presidential Inaugural Parade. One of its members was selected to the first McDonald’s All-American Band and marched in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as well as the Rose Bowl Parade the following year. The Red Jacket band continued to make its own commotion at Jordan. The band was selected to perform at the Presidential Inaugural Parade.

“Red Jacket” is the name of a small brass cannon, first used during the Civil War to fire salutes. The history is deeply interwoven within Columbus’ culture and traditions. The cannon was first used by the Columbus Guards to fire a salute of 500 guns when Georgia seceded from the Union and was also used to fire salutes for Confederate Army and Navy victories. At the fall of Columbus to General Wilson in 1865, the cannon was thrown into the Chattahoochee river, near the city Warf, to prevent it from being captured by the Federal Army.

Four years later, the steamboat Shamrock found the cannon entangled in its anchor. Several years later a reporter wrote a description of the Red Jacket in a New York paper. Tom Blanchard of Columbus saw the article and sent it to Captain Lamar H. Chappel of the Columbus Guard. Correspondence ensued and Mr. Godfrey returned the cannon to the Columbus Guards.

The Red Jacket was placed outside of the old Columbus library and courthouse, where it remained for many years. During this time it gave its name as the Jordan Vocational High School Mascot. In 1930 the cannon was stolen from its carriage and taken to the river in an attempt to fire it. The gun exploded, bursting into many pieces. Alva C. Smith, secretary-treasurer of the Historical Society of Columbus, gathered the pieces and had the cannon rebuilt. The original Red Jacket was taken to the Columbus Ironworks Trade and Convention Center where it remains on permanent display.