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This Day in Georgia History

January 15, 1821

Lafayette McLaws Born

To view Lafayette McLaws’ Oath of Allegiance to the state of Georgia, see the Georgia Archives

Military officer Lafayette McLaws was born in Augusta, Ga. Attending West Point, he graduated as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1842, subsequently fighting in the Mexican War. Following Georgia’s secession, McLaws resigned from the Army in March 1861. He then helped organize the 10th Georgia, serving as a colonel in June 1861. The following September, he was promoted to brigadier general, serving under Magruder in the Peninsula campaign. In May 1862, McLaws was promoted to major general and commanded McLaws’ Division under Longstreet in the battles of Seven Days, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Knoxville. In Dec. 1863, Longstreet relieved McLaws of command on the grounds that the Georgian exhibited “a want of confidence and plans.” Pres. Jefferson Davis subsequently restored McLaws to command and transferred him to Georgia to prepare for the defense of Savannah. His final duty was under Joseph E. Johnston in the Carolinas. After the war, McLaws was an insurance agent, internal revenue collector, and postmaster. He died July 24, 1897, in Savannah, Ga. and was buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery. In 1902, a monument with a bronze bust of Gen. McLaws was erected in Savannah’s Chippewa Square, along with an identical monument with the bust of Col Francis Bartow. The two monuments were located on opposite sides of the fountain in the center of the square. In 1910, city officials decided to use Chippewa Square as the site for a new monument honoring Georgia founder James Edward Oglethorpe (click here to view). Because of the Oglethorpe monument’s size, they located it at the site of the fountain in the center of the square. To make room for the new monument, the monuments of McLaws and Bartow were relocated several blocks away to Forsyth Park, where they were placed on opposite sides of the tall Confederate monument.