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General Richard Butler

Butler distinguished himself in the Revolutionary War, rising to the rank of Colonel, serving with George Washington and other luminaries, including the Marquis de Lafayette. Butler saw action at Valley Forge, Monmouth, and Saratoga. He also fought at Yorktown in 1781, participating in the battle that settled the war in America’s favor. Butler was promoted to brevet brigadier general before he mustered out.

After the war, General Butler became a wealthy landowner in western Pennsylvania, having been granted a thousand acres by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and six-hundred acres by the Continental Congress as part of his military pension. He also served as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the City of Pittsburgh and represented the districts of Allegheny and Westmoreland in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

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Born into an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family, young Richard Butler set sail for the American colonies with his parents, Thomas & Eleanor, and four brothers in 1748. The Butlers settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where Thomas opened a gunsmithing shop. There, Richard learned the craft of making Pennsylvania long rifles, highly prized for their perfect balance and deadly accuracy. By 1760, the family had moved to Carlisle, where Thomas and his sons continued to make long rifles.  

At age twenty, Richard Butler joined his local military regiment, traveled to western Pennsylvania, and fought in several colonial-era skirmishes. He remained on the western frontier after the Battle of Bushy Run in 1763, selling goods to settlers in the Pittsburgh area. When war between the American colonies and Great Britain erupted in 1776, Richard Butler entered military service once more.


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John Byrd


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246 S Main St, Butler, PA

Butler reentered military service once again when he joined General Arthur St. Clair to drive native peoples from their lands in the Northwest Territory (present day Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota). The American troops were not prepared for the type of warfare practiced by native warriors and suffered a crushing defeat in the Battle of Wabash River at Fort Recovery. There were roughly 900 causalities at Fort Recovery, including General Richard Butler, who sustained fatal wounds during the battle.

Nine years later, the new county of Butler in Pennsylvania was named in the general’s honor. It was the first of three counties to be named for Butler, including Butler Counties in Ohio and Kentucky. General Richard Butler’s distinguished service in the military, business, and political spheres made his name a perfect choice to bestow on our county and city.

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