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Button Gwinnett v. Lachlan McIntosh
About North Georgia

I read your piece on Button Gwinnett and would like to know more about the duel during which Gwinnett died.

Donna Burruss

Donna

Trouble had been brewing between the McIntosh clan and Button Gwinnett for some time. Gwinnett wanted to be executive officer of the state and command its military forces, a situation that the assembly did not want. Instead, they made Gwinnett the executive and gave command of the Continental troops to McIntosh. Over the next several weeks Gwinnett stewed while McIntosh trained his men. Gwinnett saw an opportunity when he, as executive officer for the state of Georgia, ordered George McIntosh arrested on a charge of treason.

Gwinnett was organizing the Second Florida Expedition at the time and quickly realized that he could not raise the manpower needed to attack English Florida. He turned to George's brother Lachlan for help. Trained as a Continental soldier, McIntosh had a much better understanding of the situation than Gwinnett, but was saddled with a problem that plagued the army throughout the American Revolution - who controlled troops - the local government or the Continental commanders?

By the time the expedition left for Florida, the story had turned from bad to worse. Gwinnett and McIntosh were fighting like little children. When he returned to Savannah, the charismatic McIntosh denounced Gwinnett in a carefully worded statement in front of the Georgia assembly - the same body where Gwinnett had accused George McIntosh of treason.

Then the assembly elected John Treutlen to become Georgia's first governor, which irked the impetuous Gwinnett even more. With McIntosh's words still ringing in his ear, Gwinnett challenged the trained soldier to a duel on May 15, 1777...exactly what Lachlan McIntosh had been hoping for.

The following day Gwinnett and McIntosh rode out to Thunderbird and fired at 4 paces - about 25 feet. At that distance it would have been hard for either to miss. After a single shot each the two men retired, McIntosh completely unaware that he had seriously injured Gwinnett. Button Gwinnett did not die during the duel, but he was mortally wounded and died three days later.

For more information see Georgia in the American Revolution, The Second Florida Expedition.

County: Gwinnett County

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