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William Lauderdale

A planter-soldier for whom Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is named, William Lauderdale was born in Virginia between 1780 and 1785, the son of a prominent Sumner County family. Lauderdale first served as a lieutenant under Andrew Jackson in the Tennessee Volunteers dispatched to New Orleans in 1812. Although the troops were discharged before they saw combat, the experience made Lauderdale a member of Jackson's inner circle. Lauderdale left his Goose Creek plantation in Hartsville again to fight in the Creek War. He became Jackson's chief quartermaster in the campaign that culminated in the battle of New Orleans in 1815. Lauderdale's brother James, for whom Lauderdale County is named, was the highest-ranking Tennessee officer killed in that conflict.

Lauderdale took up arms again as a militia captain during the Seminole Indian campaigns of 1836. Jackson recommended Lauderdale's return to Florida in the war against the Seminoles. In the fall of 1837, Lauderdale formed a battalion of mounted spies. This company helped push American claims far south in Florida, establishing a post on the New River named Fort Lauderdale. The volunteers were ordered to Baton Rouge to be mustered out, and Lauderdale died there of a pulmonary disorder May 11, 1837. Lauderdale's various military exploits, though fought in Jackson's shadow, marked him as a Tennessee volunteer in the age of American expansion.

Suggested Reading

Kirk Cooper, William Lauderdale: General Andrew Jackson's Warrior (1982).

Published » December 25, 2009 | Last Updated » January 01, 2010