General Lachlan McIntosh

March 17, 1725–February 20, 1806

Lachlan McIntosh (1725–1806) was an officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

General Lachlan McIntosh, American Revolution

Lachlan McIntosh. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Who was General Lachlan McIntosh?

Lachlan McIntosh was a politician and a General in the Continental Army who is most well-known for killing Button Gwinnett in a duel and leading troops during the failed Siege of Savannah. He was born in Scotland and moved with his family to Georgia in 1736. After spending time working for Henry Laurens in South Carolina, McIntosh established a profitable rice plantation in Georgia. As the American Revolution started, he was drawn to the Patriot Cause. He played an active role in the Georgia Provincial Congress and was appointed as a Colonel in the Georgia Militia by the Provincial Congress in 1776. He helped defend Savannah during the Battle of the Rice Boats and was eventually promoted to brigadier general in the Continental Army in 1776. McIntosh engaged in a duel with Button Gwinnett, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and was subsequently transferred to the army under General George Washington. He also played a role in the failed attack on Savannah and was taken prisoner during the Siege of Charleston. After the war, McIntosh attempted to regain his wealth and held several state offices. He died in Savannah on February 20, 1806.

Lachlan McIntosh Facts

  • Date of Birth: Lachlan McIntosh was born on March 17, 1725.
  • Parents: His father was John McIntosh Mohr. His parents were Scottish immigrants.
  • Birthplace: He was born in Raits, Badenoch, Scotland.
  • Death: Lachlan McIntosh died on February 20, 1806, at the age of 80.
  • Place of Death: He died in Savannah, Georgia.

History of Lachlan McIntosh

Lachlan McIntosh was a Continental General, born in Raits, Badenoch, Scotland, in 1725. Following his family’s move to the military colony established by James Oglethorpe, he spent his early years in Georgia before relocating to Charleston, South Carolina. In Charleston, he worked in the counting-house of Henry Laurens, who would go on to sign the Declaration of Independence. Returning to Georgia, McIntosh established a profitable rice plantation but was not involved in politics. However, he was drawn to the Patriot Cause as tension rose with Great Britain, even though most Scottish immigrants were Loyalists.

Battle of the Rice Boats

In 1775, McIntosh went to Savannah as a member of the Georgia Provincial Congress. The following year, he became a Colonel in a Georgia battalion, which was later incorporated into the Continental Army. He helped defend Savannah during the Battle of the Rice Boats, despite shortages of men, money, and supplies. 

Duel with Button Gwinnett

He was promoted to Brigadier General in the Continental Army, on September 16, 1776. The promotion put him at odds with Button Gwinnett, a former Governor, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, who also wanted the position. The conflict between the two escalated to a duel on May 16, 1777. During the altercation, McIntosh was wounded, and Gwinnett was killed. Gwinnett’s supporters tried to have McIntosh charged with murder, but he was transferred north to the army under General George Washington.

Button Gwinnett, Duel with Lachlan McIntosh, Illustration
This illustration depicts the aftermath of the duel between McIntosh and Gwinnett. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Valley Forge and Command of the Western Department

After arriving at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777, McIntosh assumed command of a Carolina brigade. Afterward, he was also appointed by Washington to replace General Edward Hand as commander of the Western Department with headquarters at Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania.

Despite ongoing shortages of men and supplies, McIntosh was determined to drive the British out of Fort Detroit. The determination was driven by the damage inflicted by Native American Indians and Loyalists at the Wyoming Valley Massacre of July 1778. 

Throughout the summer and fall, he worked tirelessly to recruit troops and supplies. Additionally, he erected Fort McIntosh and Fort Laurens on the frontier in an effort to deter further attacks. Unfortunately, delays prevented McIntosh from commencing operations before October. This delay was too late in the season to achieve significant results.

Fort McIntosh, Illustration
Illustration of Fort McIntosh. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Return to Georgia and the British Southern Campaign

McIntosh was replaced by Colonel Daniel Brodhead, a move that led to a bitter dispute and nearly resulted in a duel. Afterward, he joined the Southern Army, under the command of General Benjamin Lincoln. He participated in the failed attempt to defend Savannah in 1778 and then played a prominent role in the failed attack on Savannah in October 1779, which ended the Siege of Savannah

After the defeat at Savannah, he went to Charleston with Lincoln. In May, the British laid siege to the city, eventually forcing Lincoln to surrender. McIntosh was taken prisoner in the aftermath. McIntosh remained in British hands until February 1782 when he was exchanged for General Charles O’Hara. He was reinstated to the Continental Army at the rank of Major General in September 1783.

Later Years and Death

Following the war, McIntosh attempted to regain his wealth, which had been significantly reduced. He held numerous state offices, served on various boundary commissions, and welcomed President George Washington to Savannah in 1791. McIntosh died in Savannah on February 20, 1806.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title General Lachlan McIntosh
  • Date March 17, 1725–February 20, 1806
  • Author
  • Keywords Lachlan McIntosh, Battle of the Rice Boats, Button Gwinnett, Valley Forge, Western Department, Fort McIntosh, Fort Laurens, British Southern Campaign, Danel Broadhead, Capture of Savannah, Siege of Savannah, Siege of Charleston
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date June 13, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 11, 2023

Taxonomies