The original name of the Lauderdale family, according to Betty Lawrence, author of A History Lauderdale Springs, Mississippi, was “Maitland.” Sir Richard Maitland the son of William Maitland, an early Scotch lawyer who, in 1562, was nominated a Lord privy Seal. His son, John, Prior of Codingham and later a Lord of Parliament, succeeded his father’s office of Lord Privy Seal. John’s son, who was also named John Maitland, was Duke of Lauderdale.
(“The Mighty Men” Feature photo is of Sir John Maitland, 1st Lord Thirlestane, born in 1545.)
A member of the Maitland family immigrated to America in 1714 and to this family seven sons and three daughters were born. One of the sons was James Lauderdale who settled in Mississippi at Panti on Possum Creek and founded the town of Lauderdale Springs. James Lauderdale, a Lieutenant Colonel of a regiment of mounted infantry in Coffee’s brigade, was severely wounded in the battle against the Creek Indians at Talladega, Alabama. He was in command of Dyer’s regiment in General Coffee’s brigade in the Battle of New Orleans, where he was killed. The official records of war stated:
“The Mississippi Territory suffered a loss in Colonel Lauderdale of General Coffee’s brigade who fell while heroically repulsing the enemy.”
LTC James Lauderdale died on the battlefield, his feet toward the enemy positions, sword still in hand pointed toward the enemy. His courage and valor inspired his regiment to rally and drive the enemy away after seeing their commander fall.
The Nashville Whig eulogized Lauderdale, saying:
“On the battle ground below New Orleans, on the night of the 23rd of December, James Lauderdale, colonel in the corps of mounted volunteers from this state. At any early period after the declaration of war, Colonel Lauderdale engaged in the service of his country, and was employed in the campaign against the Creek Indians, until the battle of Talladega, in which he fought with distinguished gallantry and was severely wounded. So soon as apprehensions were entertained for the safety of New Orleans and West Florida, Colonel Lauderdale, not yet recovered from his wounds, again offered his services to his country…On the evening of the 23rd he exposed himself as was his custom when in battle to every danger, and soon fell, leaving his brace soldiers to take encouragement from his noble example, and a grateful country to admire his valor and deplore his loss.
“Colonel Lauderdale was respected in private life and beloved by the men whom he commanded. In every situation in which he was placed his first object was to know and to do his duty. No dangers however great, no seducements however alluring, could divert him for an instant from this object. With that integrity and fortitude of character, for which he was so eminently distinguished, was combined an enthusiasm and glow of feeling which every one who knew him both perceived and admired. When graver matters pressed upon him, he was vigilant and thoughtful in battle – it was there that he shined with superior luster – it was in the ‘battle broil” that all the energies of his mind were put forth…it was in the defence <sic> of the rights of his country, and in the liberty of the citizens that he was most firm and determined…”
Lauderdale Counties in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and the towns of Lauderdale and Lauderdale Springs, Mississippi were named in his honor. According to the records, James Lauderdale was never married. Evidently, however, he was quite a man!