A Civil War Biography

Alexander Robert Lawton

Lawton was born 4 November 1818 in Beaufort District, South Carolina. He attended the US Military Academy, graduating 13th in the class of 1839. He served a year in the artillery before resigning to attend Harvard Law School from which he graduated in 1842. Lawton settled in Savannah, Georgia where he established a law practice. He also was involved in railroad administration and state politics. Lawton served in both the Georgia house of representatives and the state senate.

He favored Georgia's secession and as a colonel in the Georgia militia commanded the 1st Georgia Volunteers that seized Fort Pulaski on 3 January 1861 under orders from Georgia Governor Joseph Brown.

Lawton was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate army on 13 April 1861. He was with "Stonewall" Jackson during the Shenandoah Valley campaign. Lawton commanded the 4th Brigade in Jackson's command during the Seven Days and at Second Manassas. Lawton commanded Richard Ewell's Division at Sharpsburg and was severely wounded.

On 10 August 1863 Lawton took on the administrative position of quartermaster general of the Confederacy. A gifted administrator he conducted the first census of Confederate resources, established the plan of production and distribution, and organized the Bureau of Foreign Supplies in a strategy for importing parts, machinery, goods, and military uniforms. He was, however, unable to solve the problem of material shortages and poorly-regulated railroads.

Following the war Lawton became increasingly important in Georgia politics. He was a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1877 and a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1880 and 1884. He ran for the US Senate in 1880 but lost in what was considered a victory of the "New South" over the "Old South." Lawton was chosen president of the American Bar Association in 1882. He was appointed minister to Austria in 1887 and served until 1889. He died on 2 July 1896 at Clifton Springs, New York.

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