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Lafayette McLaws

McLAWS, Lafayette, soldier, born in Augusta, Georgia, 15 January, 1821. After studying one year in the University of Virginia, he was appointed to the United States military academy, where he was graduated in 1842. He was stationed for some time in Indian territory, and in 1846 joined General Zachary Taylor's army of occupation at Corpus Christi, anal was engaged in the defence of Fort Brown, the battle of Monterey, and the siege of Vera Cruz. His health failing, he returned to the United States on recruiting duty, and after the peace was assistant adjutant-general in the Department of New Mexico for two years. He was promoted captain of infantry on 24 August, 1851, and took part in the expedition of 1858 against the Mormons, and in the operations against the Navajo Indians in 1859-'60. He resigned his commission and offered his services to his state on its secession from the Union. After the organization of the Confederate army he was appointed colonel of the 10th Georgia regiment, and on 25 September, 1861, was commissioned as a brigadier-general. He brought himself to notice by his conduct in an action at Lee's Mill, was afterward engaged in the retreat to Richmond and the battle of Williamsburg, and, oil the arrival of the army at Richmond was promoted major-general, 23 May, 1862. His division was engaged at Savage's Station and Malvern Hill, and when General John Pope's army retreated it remained for a time to watch the movements of the National troops at Harrison's Landing, but afterward joined the rest of the army near Warrenton, and marched with it into Maryland. General McLaws was placed in command of a corps, and ordered to march on Harper's Ferry and capture Maryland Heights. A road was built up the side of the mountain, by which cannon were got to the summit, and when they opened fire Harper's Ferry at once surrendered. The troops, who had been for sixty hours under fire and without water on Elk Ridge, halted a few hours in Harper's Ferry, and then marched all night, and reached Sharpsburg when the troops of Jackson and Hood were retiring in disorder, and, driving back the National troops, restored the Confederate line. At Fredericksburg his men were posted along the bank of the Rappahannock, opposite the city, and on Marye's Hill, where, from a sunken road, they drove back the National troops. At Chancellorsville his division formed the right wing of the Confederate force. At Gettysburg his division formed part of General James Longstreet's corps, which assaulted and drove back General Daniel E. Sickles's corps and other troops in the second day's fight. At the siege of Knoxville he reluctantly carried out General Longstreet's order to assault Fort Saunders, and desisted from the attack when he perceived that success was impossible. He was subsequently summoned before a court-martial, which justified his conduct. He was chief in command at Salem Church, where he defeated General Sedgwick's assault. During General William T. Sherman's invasion, McLaws commanded the military district of Georgia, conducting the defence of Savannah, and afterward falling back on the line of the Salkehatchie, where he attempted to cheek General Sherman's northward march and resisted the crossing of the army over the three bridges successively. He commanded a division at the battle of Averysborough, North Carolina, 16 March, 1865, and at that of Goldsborough, on 21 March, and then was sent back to Augusta to resume command of the district of Georgia, but before he reached that place Gem Lee had surrendered, and the surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston, which followed, included his command. After the close of the war General McLaws engaged in business, and was appointed collector of internal revenue at Savannah, Georgia, in 1875, and postmaster of that city in 1876. In November, 1886, he opened a series of lectures by northern and southern military leaders, that was instituted by the Grand army of the republic, in Boston, his subject being "The Maryland Campaign."

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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