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TheLafayette McLaws Papers

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Read the transcriptions of the Lafayette McLaws Papers (.pdf)




Biographical/Historical note

Scope and Contents note

Arrangement note 

Administrative Information

General note

Administrative information: Provenance, Preferred Citation note 

List of Letters and Links to digital copies 

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Repository:   The Littlejohn Collection at Wofford College
Creator  Lafayette McLaws (1821- 897)
Title:   Lafayette McLaws Papers
Dates:   1886-1889
Quantity:   9 items
This collection consists of 9 letters from Confederate Army general Lafayette McLaws to Philadelphia Press editor Isaac Pennypacker. McLaws and his family were living in Savannah, Georgia when the letters were written. The letters date from 1886 to 1889, when McLaws was in his late 60s and retired and spending his time composing articles and lectures. McLaws reveals in these letters the nature of his notorious conflict with General James Longstreet, who credited him for the failure of the Attack on Fort Sanders, although McLaws claimed he was scapegoated. He also discusses the character of many of his comrades and opposing generals in the war. His primary focus is the Maryland Campaign, a series of attacks in 1862 that is considered a major turning point in the war, and in which McLaws fought alongside General Longstreet, and against General Franklin, whom he also considers a poor leader. 
Language:   eng
 Finding aid by:  Stephanie Walrath, Hannah Jarrett, Luke Meagher



Biographical/Historical note

Lafayette Mclaws was born in Augusta, Georgia, in 1821, the third child of James, a local politician, and Elizabeth Huguenin McLaws. He attended the University of Virginia before graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in 1842.

While on tour at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, McLaws met and married Emily Allison Taylor, a niece of President Zachary Taylor and cousin of Jefferson Davis. They had seven children:William Huguenin, John Taylor, Laura Taylor, Uldrick Huguenin, Annie Lee, Virginia Randall, and Elizabeth Violet.

McLaws was commissioned into the United States infantry in 1842 and served in the Mexican-American War, as well as the Utah expedition of 1858. He was promoted to captain in 1851, but resigned when the Civil War began, volunteering for duty in the Confederate army 10th Georgia Regiment.  He was promoted to brigadier general in 1861 and participated in the battles of Yorktown and Williamsburg early in 1862. In May of 1862 McLaws was promoted to major general and put in command of a division of the 1st Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia under General Armistead Long. His division was involved in the capture of Harper’s Ferry and Sharpsburg, and at the latter his performance was praised by General James Longstreet. His heroism was also noticed at Marye’s Heights and Fredericksburg, and in his defeat of Major General Sedgwick at Chancellorsville. He is credited with the defeat of General Daniel Sickles after only two days of battle at Gettysburg. He fought alongside General Longstreet in the Knoxville Campaign of late 1863, but was later accused by Longstreet of failing to comply with commands and charged with 3 counts of “neglect of duty.” A court-martial followed, but McLaws was exonerated by President Davis. After the court-martial, he was assigned to the defense of Savannah and commanded the District of Georgia against Sherman’s advance in the winter of 1864. After the fall of Savannah, McLaws was assigned to the protection of the Carolinas from invasion, and fought at the Battle of River’s Bridge, the Salkehatchie River, the Battle of Averasborough, and the Battle of Bentonville. He surrendered at Greensboro, North Carolina under the command of General Joseph Johnston, and was paroled in October of 1865.

After the war, McLaws was appointed clerk of the inferior and superior courts of Richmond county until 1870, when he purchased a plantation in Effingham county that he named Egypt. He was not able to sustain a living there and moved his large family to Savannah in 1874, where for several years he served as a tax collector and then as postmaster. He dedicated much of his later life to historical review and composing lectures on the events of the war.

McLaws died in Savannah on July 24, 1897. 



Scope and Contents note 

This collection is comprised of 9 letters from Lafayette McLaws to Isaac Pennypacker, dating from March 8, 1886 to August 30, 1889. During this period, Pennypacker was the editor of the Philadelphia Press, and the topic of discussion tends to be relating to articles that McLaws has written and expects Pennypacker to publish. During the period in which the letters were written, McLaws was retired and writing from his home in Savannah. Some of the significant topics in the letters are the Battle of Gettysburg, the Maryland Campaign of 1862, the Battle at Fredericksburg, and the Battle at Sharpsburg (more commonly referred to as the Battle of Antietam). They also level accusations of poor leadership against officers of the Confederacy, including Generals Longstreet and Franklin.  In several of the letters, McLaws mentions attachments that he is sending for review and publication; unfortunately, however, these documents are not part of this collection. 


Arrangement note

Materials have been arranged in chronological order.



Administrative Information


Given to Wofford College by Broadus R. Littlejohn, Jr., 1925 - 2010, from his personal collection.

Preferred Citation note

Items from this collection should be cited as follows

[Item name, i.e. "Lafayette McLaws to Isaac R. Pennypacker, March 8, 1886"], Lafayette McLaws Papers, The Littlejohn Collection at Wofford College.


List of Letters

Lafayette McLaws to Isaac R. Pennypacker, March 8, 1886.

Lafayette McLaws to Isaac R. Pennypacker, March 27, 1886

Lafayette McLaws to Isaac R. Pennypacker, August 19, 1886

Lafayette McLaws to Isaac R. Pennypacker, February 13, 1888

Lafayette McLaws to Isaac R. Pennypacker, March 13, 188[8?]

Lafayette McLaws to Isaac R. Pennypacker, April 25, 1888

LafayetteMcLaws to Isaac R. Pennypacker, May 20, 1888

Lafayette McLaws to Isaac R. Pennypacker, August 28, 188

Lafayette McLaws to Isaac R. Pennypacker, August 30, 1889

Read the Lafayette McLaws Papers on Flickr gif 


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