John Laurens

Laurens, John, 1754–82, American Revolutionary soldier, b. Charleston, S.C.; son of Henry Laurens. In 1777 he joined George Washington's staff as a volunteer aide-de-camp, fought at Brandywine and in subsequent battles, and was promoted (1779) to lieutenant colonel in recognition of his bravery and ability. The intemperate criticism of Washington by Charles Lee caused Laurens to challenge Lee and fight an inconclusive duel. Going to the South, Laurens was captured (1780) when the British took Charleston, but was soon exchanged. In 1781 he was sent on a special and successful mission to France to procure money, arms, and supplies. He showed conspicuous gallantry in the Yorktown campaign and drew up the terms for the surrender of General Cornwallis. He accompanied Nathanael Greene on a mopping-up campaign in the Carolinas and was killed in a minor skirmish.

See his Army Correspondence, 1777–78 (1867, repr. 1969); biography by D. D. Wallace (1915, repr. 1967).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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