He was the second-highest ranking Georgian in Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and fought in every major battle, but was court-martialed for neglect of duty.
Lafayette McLaws was born in Augusta in 1821. a West Point graduate, he served in the Mexican War, but resigned his commission to fight for the Confederacy. McLaws rose quickly from major to major general and commanded a division in the First Corp of Lee’s Army under fellow Georgian James Longstreet. He saw action in the Battles of Seven Days, Second Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.
McLaws distinguished himself at Fredericksburg and Gettysburg, but Lee found his generalship lacking in aggression. Longstreet later relieved McLaws of his command for being too timid in the Knoxville campaign. Though a court martial exonerated him, he was stripped of his command, and in the post-war years he was denied a place in the pantheon of Confederate heroes.
A bronze bust of McLaws stands in Savannah’s Forsyth Park, honoring the Confederate general born on January 15, 1821, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.