George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lachlan McIntosh, 20 April 1784

From Lachlan McIntosh

Savannah in Georgia 20th April 1784.

Dear General

Your Excellencys very obliging and kind favor of the 15th December last was delivered to me four days ago, inclosing Copy of the Letter you humanely wrote to the Minister of France in behalf of the unfortunate Captain DuCoins, who I hope through your Excellencys powerful Intercession may be restored again to his friends and Country & made happy.1

Please to accept my Sincerest Thanks for that as well as the concern you have been pleased to take in the injurys done to my own honor, altho’ I have had no reparation for them yet, which probably may be owing as your Excellency observes to the Resolve of our Assembly of 1st Feby 1783 not being properly Authenticated—the Speaker and Clerk of our Assembly happening to be absent that time, as they are now. but I conceived ’twould be less Necessary as the Journals are always published in our Gazettes one of which that has the Resolve I have the honor of inclosing—wherein your Excellency cannot help Noticeing part of the Art and Management of Walton’s party who composed the Committee, in softening as much as they could, and afterwards putting off their Report from day to day, keeping the House ignorant of it, untill they first Chose him Chief Justice to protect him from Insults, and which the Wretch still retains unmollested in Compassion to his Family.2 I am with real Respect and Esteem Your Excellency’s obliged & most Hble servt.

Lachn McIntosh

ALS, DLC:GW. The first of these two letters from McIntosh of 20 April is marked private.

Lachlan McIntosh (1727–1806), a Highland Scot who was brought to the colony of Georgia in 1736, assumed command of the Georgia battalion in 1776. After mortally wounding Button Gwinnett in a duel in May 1777, McIntosh left Georgia, and in December 1777 GW gave him command at Valley Forge of the North Carolina Brigade. McIntosh returned to Georgia in 1779 after the siege of Savannah, and in 1780 he was captured by the British at the fall of Charleston. This ended McIntosh’s military career. He spent much of the rest of his life trying to repair his damaged reputation (see note 2) and, unsuccessfully, to restore his personal fortune in Georgia.

1John Du Coin was the pseudonym of Jean-François Borigere de Costia. Borigere de Costia, it seems, had left France under a cloud when he joined a Georgia regiment in July 1777 as a lieutenant and then served until the end of the war, reaching the rank of captain. GW wrote La Luzerne on 14 Dec. 1783 enclosing a letter from McIntosh (not found) describing Du Coin’s “situation.” GW confessed to being “unacquainted with the young Gentleman,” but, GW wrote, since Du Coin had served “with Credit” during the war GW would be “obliged” to La Luzerne “by any thing your Excellency can do for him” (FrPMAE).

2Just as McIntosh’s involvement in Georgia’s virulently factional politics had led to his duel with Button Gwinnett and his departure from Georgia in 1777, local political animosities accounted for “the injurys done” to McIntosh’s honor when he returned to Georgia in 1779. After the failure of the siege of British-held Savannah in 1779 by French and American forces, McIntosh accompanied Gen. Benjamin Lincoln to South Carolina where he was given command of a body of South Carolina militiamen for the defense of Charleston. On 17 Mar. 1780, shortly before Charleston fell, McIntosh received a letter dated 15 Feb. 1780 from the president of Congress, Samuel Huntington, dispensing with McIntosh’s services as a brigadier general in the army. Congress acted in response to a letter from Gov. George Walton of Georgia, dated 15 Dec. 1779, calling for McIntosh’s removal because of “a general and settled Aversion” in Georgia to his having a military command (Hawes, McIntosh Papers, description begins Lilla M. Hawes, ed. The Papers of Lachlan McIntosh, 1774–1799. Savannah, 1957. In Collections of the Georgia Historical Society, vol. 12. description ends 115–16). The British granted McIntosh a parole in May 1781, and McIntosh persuaded Congress on 16 July to repeal its resolution of 15 Feb. 1780 suspending him from his command. McIntosh returned to Georgia in 1782 after the British evacuation of Savannah and mounted a campaign against George Walton and his political allies. At McIntosh’s insistence the Georgia legislature appointed a committee to hear his charges against Walton. The committee, composed of William Gibbons, William Few, and young James Jackson, reported on 1 Feb. 1783 that Walton’s letter to Congress regarding McIntosh was “unjust, Illiberal, and a misrepresentation of facts” (ibid., 117). George Walton, however, was not prosecuted as McIntosh hoped he would be. Instead, he was made chief justice of the state court the day before the committee issued its report and went on to become briefly in 1789 governor of the state for the second time, then a superior court judge, and in 1795 a United States senator from Georgia.

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