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Collection Number: 00472

Collection Title: Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897.

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the section for more information.


This collection was rehoused and a summary created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities; this finding aid was created with support from NC ECHO.

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Size 1.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 460 items)
Abstract Lafayette McLaws was a United States and Confederate Army officer, and a postmaster and collector of internal revenue in Savannah, Ga., 1885-1886. The collection includes letters and military papers of Lafayette McLaws including items related to the United States Army campaigns against the Navajos, 1858-1860, and the Civil War campaigns in which McLaws participated. Civil War actions discussed include the Peninsula Campaign and Maryland Campaign in 1862; the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863; action in Tennessee in late 1863, especially in the vicinity of Knoxville; McLaws's court-martial in 1864 for failure to cooperate with General James Longstreet, and his exoneration; his command in Georgia and South Carolina in 1864; and actions in North Carolina in 1865. Civil War maps of sites in Virginia, and Gettysburg, and other battles are also present. Post-war items include articles and addresses on military campaigns, especially the Battle of Gettysburg, and McLaws's relationship with General Longstreet. Earlier items are miscellaneous McLaws family papers. Volumes consist of a letter book, 1858-1864, containing abstracts of McLaws's letters to his wife during the Navajo campaign, and an order book, 1865, with journal entries for military operations in North Carolina, and a biographical sketch of McLaws.
Creator McLaws, Lafayette, 1821-1897.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Lafayette McLaws Papers, #472, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Virginia McLaws prior to 1940.
Additional materials purchased from Charles Hamilton, June 1975.
Additional Descriptive Resources
A copy of the original finding aid for this collection is filed in folder 1a.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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Lafayette McLaws (1821-1897) was a United States and Confederate Army officer, and a postmaster and collector of internal revenue in Savannah, Ga., 1885-1886. During the Civil War, McLaws served in Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina. He was engaged in the Peninsula and Maryland campaigns in 1862; the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863; action in Tennessee in late 1863, especially in the vicinity of Knoxville; in Georgia and South Carolina in 1864; and actions in North Carolina in 1865. In early 1864 McLaws was court-martialed, and later exonerated, for failure to cooperate with General James Longstreet.

McLaws was the son of James and Elizabeth McLaws of Savannah, Ga. He married Emily Allison Taylor, niece of Zachary Taylor. They had at least five children including William, John Taylor, Laura, Uldrick Hugenin, and another daughter.

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The collection includes correspondence, maps, orders and official documents, speeches, and clippings, chiefly related to Lafayette McLaws's military career. There is little personal or family information except as relates to his personal health and living conditions in the various camps at which he was stationed.

The bulk of the papers relate to McLaws's service as a Confederate officer during the Civil War. Items, 1861-1865, are chiefly letters from McLaws to his wife commenting on Union and Confederate troop movements and strategy, military engagements, and criticize other Confederate officers. The letters and other military papers disuss campaigns in which McLaws participated, includind the Peninsula and Maryland campaigns in 1862; the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863; action in Tennessee in late 1863, especially in the vicinity of Knoxville; McLaws's court-martial in 1864 for failure to cooperate with General James Longstreet, and his exoneration; his command in Georgia and South Carolina in 1864; and actions in North Carolina in 1865. Civil War maps of sites in Virginia, and Gettysburg, and other battles are also present. The papers also include a letter from Robert E. Lee, 1862; papers in McLaws' defense following the evacuation of Pocotaligo; and journal entries concerning his role in the North Carolina campaign.

Post-war papers are primarily articles and speeches made by McLaws on military engagements, especially the Battle of Gettysburg, and McLaws's relationship with General Longstreet. The papers, 1876-1896, consist mainly of correspondence about Civil War issues and battles between Lafayette McLaws and James Longstreet. There are also scattered letters from Goode Bryan, Benjamin G. Humphries, P. G. T. Beauregard, Marcus J. Wright, D. Wyatt Aiken, Edward Porter Alexander, J. B. Kershaw, and Thomas Munford. Topics include battles of Gettysburg, Knoxville, Harpers Ferry, the Maryland campaign, and Seven Pines.

The earliest papers include items related to Lafayette McLaws's youth and career in the United States Army prior to the Civil War, some concerning his involvement in the Utah campaign against the Navajo Indians.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated.

Folder 1a

Original finding aid #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 1a

Folder 1

1836-1858 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2

1860 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 2

Folder 3

January-June 1861 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 3

Folder 4

July-December 1861 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 4

Folder 5

January-July 1862 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 5

Folder 6

August-December 1862 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 6

Folder 7

February-July 1863 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 7

Folder 8

August-November 1863 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 8

Folder 9

December 1863 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 9

Folder 10

January-6 March 1864 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 10

Folder 11

7 March-July 1864 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 11

Folder 12

September-December 1864 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 12

Folder 13

1865 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 13

Folder 14

Civil War map #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 14

Northern Virginia around Spotsylvania County, Va. "From Richmond to Fredericksburg + a little North + West to Culpepper CH."

Folder 15

Civil War maps #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 15

One printed map of the vicinity of Brown's Ferry in Tennessee. Other hand drawn and traced maps include areas in or near the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, Chickamauga River in Tennessee, and Lookout Mountain in the vicinity of Knoxville, Tenn. Also contains a photostatic copy of an unidentified map and two unidentified hand drawn battlefield maps labeled "Gen Petty's line of assault from rear of Railroad" and "Several successive lines of Federals whose advance reached the wheat field."

Extra Oversize Paper Folder XOPF-472/1

Civil War maps #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." XOPF-472/1

Post bellum printed maps of the Battlefield of Chattanooga and the Battlefield of Antietam. Other hand drawn maps are of the "Battle Field of McLaws Division" at Gettysburg, Penn.; Battle of Chancellorsville; Hanover County, Va.; area east of Chattanooga, Tenn.; and North Carolina around Halifax County.

Folder 16-17

Folder 16

Folder 17

Civil War letters and papers, undated #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 16-17

Folder 18

1866-1867 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 18

Folder 19

1870-1878 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 19

Folder 20

1881-1882 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 20

Folder 21

1883-1889 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 21

Folder 22

1890-1891 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 22

Folder 23

1892-1893 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 23

Folder 24

1894-1895 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 24

Folder 25

1896-1897 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 25

Folder 26

Miscellaneous papers and letters #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 26

Folder 27-37

Folder 27

Folder 28

Folder 29

Folder 30

Folder 31

Folder 32

Folder 33

Folder 34

Folder 35

Folder 36

Folder 37

Addresses and articles on Civil War battles #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 27-37

Folder 38-41

Folder 38

Folder 39

Folder 40

Folder 41

Newspapers and clippings #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 38-41

Folder 42

Volume 1: Letterbook, 1858-1864 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 42

Entries are not in Lafayette McLaws's hand, but contain what appear to be excerpts of his letters to his wife written while campaigning against the Navajos and in the opening months of the Civil War.

Folder 43

Volume 2: Order book, Lafayette McLaws, 1865 #00472, Series: "Lafayette McLaws Papers, 1836-1897 and undated." Folder 43

Also includes journal entries from the North Carolina campaign.

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Processing Information

Processed by: SHC Staff

Encoded by: Noah Huffman, December 2007

Updated by: Kate Stratton and Jodi Berkowitz, October 2009

This collection was rehoused and a summary created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This finding aid was created with support from NC ECHO.

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