The most uniformly fortunate General of the late war was Beauregard
So marked was this circumstance, and so regularly did victory perch upon his standard, that Daniel
, the trenchant and hardy critic of the Examiner
, called him Beauregard Felix.
Among the Romans that term signified happy, fortunate, favoured of the gods; and what is called “good luck” seemed to follow the Confederate
leader to whom it was applied.
Often he appeared to be outgeneralled, checkmated, and driven to the “last ditch,” but ever some fortunate circumstance intervened to change the whole situation.
More than once the fortune of war seemed to go against him, but he always retrieved the day by some surprising movement.
In the very beginning of his career, at the first great battle of Manassas
, when his left was about to be driven to hopeless rout, his good genius sent thither Evans
, those stubborn obstacles, and the battle which was nearly lost terminated in a victory.
Of this famous soldier I propose to record some traits rather of a personal than a military character.
As elsewhere in this series of sketches, the writer's aim will be to draw the outline of the man rather than the official.
History will busy itself with that “official” phase; here it is rather the human being, as he lived and moved, and looked when “off duty,” that I am to present.
The first great dramatic scene of the war, the attack
, the stubborn and victorious combat of Shiloh
, the defence of Charleston
, the assault upon Butler
near Bermuda Hundred
, and the mighty struggles at Petersburg
, will not enter into this sketch at all. I beg to conduct the reader back to the summer of the year 186 , and to the plains of Manassas
, where I first saw Beauregard
My object is to describe the personal traits and peculiarities of the great Creole
as he then appeared to the Virginians, among whom he came for the first time.
He superseded Bonham
in command of the forces at Manassas
about the first of June, 1861, and the South Carolinians said one day, “Old Bory's come!”
Soon the Virginia
troops had an opportunity of seeing this “Old Bory,” who seemed so popular with the Palmettese.
He did not appear with any of the “pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war.”
No flag was unfurled before him; no glittering staff officers were seen galloping to and fro; for some days the very presence of the man of Sumter
was merely rumour.
Then the troops began to take notice of a quiet-looking individual in an old blue uniform coat of the United States Army, almost undecorated, who, mounted on an unimposing animal not at all resembling a “war horse,” moved about quite unattended, to inspect the works in process of construction, or select new sites for others.
Often this solitary horseman of the reserved demeanour and unobtrusive air was seen motionless in the middle of the plains, gazing around him; or in clear relief against the sky, or looking toward Bull Run
, he peopled the landscape doubtless with imaginary squadrons in hot conflict.
Then another step was taken by the men in making acquaintance with the new commander.
The silent horseman would pause as he passed by the camps, and speak to the sentinels-brifly but not stiffly.
When they returned to their quarters they told how General Beauregard
had thus stopped upon his way, spoken with them familiarly as comrade to comrade, and returned their salute at parting, with his finger to the rim of his cap. Finally, the troops had “a good look at him.”
He reviewed a fine regiment from Tennessee
, and all eyes were fixed upon his soldierly figure with admiration-upon the lithe
and sinewy form, the brunette face and sparkling black eyes, the erect head, the firm seat in the saddle, and the air of command.
When this nervous figure passed at a rapid gallop along the line, the keen eyes peering from beneath the Zouave
cap, the raw volunteers felt the presence of a soldier.
The hard battle of Manassas
followed, and as noon approached on that famous twenty-first of July, the Southern
army seemed completely flanked-Beauregard outgeneralled.
had turned the Confederate
left, and, driving Evans
, and Bartow
before him, seized on the Henry-House hill, the key of the whole position.
was four miles off, awaiting an advance of his right wing and centre on the Federal
rear at Centreville
, ordered hours before.
The order miscarried, and the advance was not made; at near two o'clock the troops were still within the lines of Bull Run
, and on the extreme left nothing but the two thousand six hundred and eleven muskets of Jackson
, with a few companies of Bee
, was interposed between the Southern
troops and destruction.
About thirty thousand men under General Hunter
were advancing upon about three thousand-and to this critical point Beauregard
now went at a swift gallop, with General Johnston
The scene which followed was a splendid exhibition of personal magnetism.
's men were routed; his ranks broken to pieces; the battalions which had breasted the torrent had been shattered by the weight of the huge wave, and were now scarcely more than a crowd of fugitives.
, with the fiery dash which lay perdu under his grave exterior, caught the colours of an Alabama regiment, calling on the men to follow him; and Beauregard
passed along the lines at full gallop, rallying the men amid the terrific fire.
If he is ever painted, it should be as he appeared that day; eyes flaming, the sallow face in a blaze of enthusiasm, the drawn sword pointing to the enemy, as with a sonorous voice which rang above the firing, he summoned the men to stand for their firesides, and all they held dear upon earth.
was the superb leader at that moment, and the cheeks of the gray-haired soldier of to-day must flush sometimes as he recalls that death grapple in which the flash of his sword led the charge.
When not thus filled with hot blood, the face of the great Creole
, even amid the heat of battle, was composed, firm, set, and did not exhibit, save in a slight deepening of the dusky tint of the complexion, any unwonted feeling.
The man was quiet, silent, and seemed to be waiting calmly.
I never saw a smile upon his face until some months after the battle, when President Davis
came to review the troops at Fairfax Court-House.
That smile was caused by a little incident which may entertain some readers.
The present writer was sent one day as aide-de-camp in waiting, to escort the wife and little son of General Stuart
from the Court-House
to the nearest station on the Orange railroad; when, just as the ambulance reached a point midway between the two points, a company of cavalry made its appearance in front, and the officer commanding requested that the vehicle should draw out of the road to “make way for the President
This was done at once, and soon his Excellency
, President Davis
, appeared, riding between Stuart
— the latter wearing his dress uniform with a Zouave cap, the crown of which was an intensely dazzling circle of scarlet, burning in the sunshine.
As soon as young J. E. B. Stuart
, a little gentleman who used to call himself General Stuart, Jr.
, saw his father, he stretched out his arms and exclaimed, “Papa, Papa!”
in a tone so enthusiastic that it attracted attention, and General Stuart
said, “This is my family, Mr. President
,” Whereupon Mr. Davis
stopped, saluted the young lady, patted the boy upon the head, and endeavoured to attract his attention, in which he failed however, as the boy's mind was absorbed in the effort to climb before his father.
The scene made everybody laugh, from the grave President
to the men of the escort, and among the rest General Beauregard
His laugh was peculiar; the eyes sparkled, the firm muscles slowly moved, and the white teeth came out with a quite startling effect under the heavy black moustache.
When the cavalcade passed on he was still smiling.
I pray the reader to pardon this long description of a smile.
The strangest of all phenomena is the manner in which trifles cling to the memory.
One more personal recollection of Beauregard
as I saw him — not
on review, neither at Manassas
, or elsewhere; a stiff official figure in front of the lines, but in private, and this time on the outpost.
It was at “Camp Qui-Vive,” the headquarters of Stuart
, beyond Centreville
, and in December, 1861.
He came to dine and ride out on the lines to inspect the cavalry pickets; and it is not difficult to recall what manner of man he was-so striking was his appearance.
He wore the uniform coat of an officer of the United States Army, dark blue with gilt buttons and a stiff collar.
The closely buttoned garment displayed his vigorous chest; from the upper edge protruded a sharp, white, standing collar, and he wore the inseparable Zouave cap, with its straight rim projecting over the eyes.
The face of the soldier speedily drew attention, however, from his dress.
The countenance, with its broad brow, firm mouth, covered with a heavy black moustache, and protruding chin, full of courage and resolution, was that of a French Marshal
of the Empire
to the very life.
The iron nerve of the man was indelibly stamped upon his features.
It was impossible to doubt the fighting instincts of the individual with that muscular contour of face which seemed to defy opposition.
The rest of the physiognomy was gaunt, hard, somewhat melancholy.
In the complexion was observable the Southern Creole
descent of the soldier; it was brunette, sallow, and the sun and wind had made it resemble bronze.
It had the dusky pallor, too, of care and watching — that bloodless hue which the pressure of heavy responsibilities produces in the human face.
The position of an army leader is not a bed of roses, and the bloom of youth and health soon fades from the cheeks which are hollowed by the anxieties of command.
Such was the appearance of the “Man of Sumter
,” but I have omitted the most striking feature of his face — the eyes.
Large, dark, melancholy, with the lids drooping and somewhat inflamed by long vigils — of a peculiar dreamy expression-those eyes impressed the beholder very strangely.
It was the eye of the bloodhound with his fighting instincts asleep, but ready at any moment to be strung for action.
It was impossible not to be impressed by this resemblance.
Not that there was any ferocity or thirst for blood in that slumbrous
glance; but if ever “fight” was plain in any look-obstinate, pertinacious, hard “fight” --it was plain in Beauregard
The outline here drawn of the General
's appearance may produce the impression that he was stiff, stern, and unsocial.
Such was very far from the fact.
On the contrary, the manner of the individual was eminently modest, courteous, and pleasing.
This may seem to clash with the bloodhound illustration-but both were true.
It would be difficult to imagine a finer air of grave politeness, or a more courtly simplicity than General Beauregard
's. Of this the writer took especial note, for at that period a great many very foolish things were written and published in relation to the eminent soldier.
It was said that he was frigid, moody, unsocial, rude, repulsing all advances to friendly converse with a military coolness amounting to discourtesy.
Stray correspondents of the journals had drawn a curious figure and labelled it “Beauregard
” --the figure of a sombre, mysterious, and melodramatic personage, prone to attitudinizing and playing the “distinguished warrior;” fond of wrapping his cloak around him, folding his arms, and turning his back when any one addressed him, as though absorbed in some gigantic scheme upon which his mighty brain was working, in a region far above the dull, cold, every-day earth!
Such was the Beauregard
of many “intelligent correspondents” --play-actor turned soldier; a sort of Manfred in gray uniform; and lo!
here before me was the real man. Instead of a mock hero of tragedy stalking about and muttering, the General
appeared to me to be a gentleman of great courtesy and simplicity, who asked nothing better than for some kind friend to amuse him and make him laugh.
For the General
laughed; and when he did so, he, strangely enough, seemed to enjoy himself.
Standing on the portico of the old house in which Stuart
had established his quarters, or partaking of his dinner with mundane satisfaction, he appeared entirely oblivious that he was “Beauregard the great Tragedian,” and joined in the conversation simply and naturally, losing
no opportunity to relax by laughter the weary facial muscles which had settled into something like grimness and melancholy from care and meditation.
The conversation turned during the day upon the first battle of Manassas
; and when some one mentioned the report in many Northern journals that he, Beauregard
, had continued to ride a horse after the animal's head was carried off by a cannon-ball, the General
's moustache curled and he chuckled in the most untragic manner.
“My horse was killed,” he said, “but his head was not carried away.
He was struck by a shell, which exploded at the moment when it passed under him. A splinter struck my boot, and another cut one of the arteries in the animal's body.
The blood gushed out, and after going fifty yards he fell dead.
I then mounted a prisoner's horse — there was a map of the country in the saddle pocketand I remember it was a small dingy horse with a white face.”
Laughter followed the remembrance of the small dingy horse with the white face; and when one of the company observed that “General Beauregard
had done himself considerable credit in Missouri
,” meaning to have said “General price,” the General
burst into a laugh which indicated decided enjoyment of the mistake.
The incidents here recorded are not to be found in any of the regular histories; and I doubt if any description will be found of the manner in which General Beauregard
essayed to assist a young lady bearing a very famous name, to mount her horse.
The lady in question was a very charming person, an intimate friend of General Stuart
; and as she was then upon a visit to the neighbourhood of Centreville
, she was invited by the gay cavalier to dine with Beauregard
, and afterwards ride out upon the lines under escort.
A young aide was sent for Miss
; she duly arrived, and dined at the outpost headquarters, and then the moment came to set out for the lines.
Before she had taken two steps toward her horse, General Beauregard
was at her side, completely distancing the young Prince Polignac, that brave and smiling youth, afterwards Brigadier-General
, but at this time serving upon Beauregard
To see the grave commander assist the fair young lady to mount her horse was a
pleasing sight, and communicated much innocent enjoyment to the spectators.
He brought to the undertaking all the chivalric gallantry and politeness of the French De Beauregards
; stooping down with an air of the deepest respect; hollowing his hand to receive her slipper; and looking up to ascertain why she did not take advantage of his offer.
Whether it was that the young lady thought it indecorous to make such use of that distinguished hand, or did not need his aid, I know not; she laughed, gracefully vaulted into her saddle, and mounting his own steed, the General
gallantly took his place at her side.
These things are recorded in place of the “important events” of Beauregard
A narrative of his military operations may be found in the “regular histories,” and an estimate of his merits as a commander.
Upon this latter point a diversity of opinion exists, owing to the tragic termination of the recent conflict.
The secret archives of the Confederate government were destroyed, or remain unpublished.
Many questions thus remain unanswered.
fully aware of the enemy's movement against his left at Manassas
, and did he disregard it, depending on his great assault at Centreville
Did he, or did he not, counsel an advance upon Washington
after the battle-an advance which events now known show to have been perfectly practicable?
Were his movements on Corinth
, in the West
Were his operations at Petersburg
in accordance with the views of the government?
All these questions remain unanswered; for the dispatches containing the solution of the whole were destroyed or are inaccessible to the world.
One fact is unfortunately very well known — that there was “no love lost” between the celebrated soldier and the Confederate Executive
; and by a portion of the Southern
press little praise was accorded him. But he did not need it. The victor of Manassas
, the man who clung to Sumter
until it was a mass of blackened ruins, will be remembered when partisan rancour and injustice are forgotten.
Fame knows her children, and her bugle sounds across the years.
A notable trait in the personal character of Beauregard
was his kindly bonhomie
to the private soldier.
In this he resembled
the officers of Napoleon
, not those of the English Army
He had the French
habit of mingling with the men when not upon duty, sharing their pursuits, conversing with them, and lighting his cigar at their camp fires.
From this sprang much of his personal popularity, and he thus excited largely that sympathy which rendered him so acceptable to his troops.
To a General, nothing is more important than this sympathy.
It is a weapon with which the master soldier strikes his hardest blows, and often springs from apparent trifles.
became the idol of his troops as much by his personal bearing toward them as from his victories.
He was the grand Napoleon-but
he stopped to talk with the men by their fires: he called them “mes enfans
:” he fixed his dark eyes with magnetic sympathy upon the dying soldier who summoned his last remains of strength to half rise from the earth, extend his arms, and cry, “Vive l'empereur
He took this personal interest in them — the interest of.a comrade-and no one else could rival him in their favour.
had certainly secured this personal popularity.
He invariably exhibited the utmost kindness, compatible with discipline, toward his men, and they remained true to him-as the Federal
troops did to McClellan-through all his reverses, giving him in return for his sympathy and familiarity an immense amount of good feeling and regard.
A trifling incident will illustrate this.
A private soldier of the “Powhatan troop” --a company of cavalry which served as the General
's bodyguard-one day entered Beauregard
's apartment, and wishing to write a letter, seated himself, as he supposed, at the desk of one of the clerks for that purpose.
Taking a sheet of paper and a pen which lay near, he commenced his letter, and was soon absorbed in it. While thus engaged, he heard a step behind him, turned his head, and saw General Beauregard
enter, whereupon he suddenly rose in confusion — for all at once the truth flashed upon him that he was writing at the General's desk, on the General's paper, and with the General's pen
! Fearing a harsh rebuke for this act of military lese-majeste
, the trooper stammered out an apology; but no storm came from the General
“Sit down and finish your letter my friend,” he said, with a
good-humoured smile; “you are very welcome, and can always come in here when you wish to write.”
It was trifles like this which made the announcement of his removal from the command of the Army of the Potomac run like an electric shock through the camps, which caused a great concourse of soldiers to follow him through Centreville
and far upon his road, shouting “Good-by, General!” --“God bless you, General!”
To suppose that this brother-feeling of the soldier for his troops ever led him to relax in discipline, would be a great mistake.
In official matters, and wherever “duty” was concerned, he was rigid and immovable, exacted from every man under him the strictest obedience and was wholly inaccessible to any prayer which came in conflict with the good of the public service.
When at Centreville
, in the fall of 1861, he expected daily an advance of McClellan
One morning a cannoneer from one of the batteries came in person to ask for a leave of absence of ten days to see his dying mother.
“I cannot grant any leave,” was the reply.
“Only for ten days, General,” pleaded the soldier.
“Not for ten hours!”
; and the interview terminated.
Had the moment not been critical he would have given this private soldier the desired leave with the utmost readiness — as he would have commended and promoted him, for the display of skill or gallantry.
That all-important point of rewarding merit in the private soldier was never neglected by Beauregard
An instance was the promotion of a young man in the Loudoun cavalry, whose conspicuous courage and efficiency in reconnoitring and carrying orders at Manassas
attracted his attention.
At the close of the day the obscure private was summoned to headquarters and informed by Beauregard
that he would henceforth rank as a captain of his staff.
This gentleman was afterwards Colonel Henry E. Peyton
of the Army of Northern Virginia, one of the bravest and most accomplished officers in the service.
A last incident relating to “Beauregard the great Tragedian,” who was supposed to be playing “Lara
,” “Manfred,” or some other sombre and mysterious character at Manassas
, in those far
It may add an additional touch to the outline I have aimed to draw.
It was in the summer of 1861 that some young ladies of Prince William prepared a handsome nosegay for presentation to the General
; and as he had amongst his clerks a gentleman of high culture, the nosegay was entrusted to him for delivery.
He consented with reluctance.
To present a bunch of flowers to the silent and abstracted commander, whose faculties were burdened by great cares and responsibilities, seemed an incongruity which strangely impressed the ambassador; but there was the nosegay, there were the young ladies, there was his promise, and he nerved himself for the task.
Waiting until all intruders had left the General
's presence, he timidly knocked at the door of his sanctum, was bidden in a grave voice to enter, and advancing into the apartment, found opposite to him the imposing eye and “brow severe” of General Beauregard
, who had never looked more stern.
The spectacle very nearly disarmed the ambassador of his presence of mind; but he determined to accomplish is errand in the best manner possible, and accordingly proceeded to address the solemn General in what the newspapers call a “neat little speech.”
Having finished, he presented the flowers, drew back respectfully, and nerved himself for the result.
That result surprisingly differed from his expectations.
cleared his throat, looked extremely confused, and stammering “Thank you!
I am very much obliged!”
received the bouquet, blushing as he did so like a girl.
Such was the tragedy-hero of those journalists of 1861.
I have tried to draw an outline of the actual man, not to make a figure of the fancy; to present an accurate likeness of General Beauregard
as he appeared to us of Virginia
in those first months of the war, not to drape the individual in historic robes, making him an actor or a myth.
He was neither; he was simply a great soldier, and a finished gentleman.
Once in his presence, you would not be apt to deny his claim to both of these characters.
The nervous figure, the
, fighting, brunette countenance, deeply bronzed by sun and wind-these were the marks of the soldier.
The grave, high-bred politeness; the ready, courteous smile; the kindly and simple bearing, wholly free from affectation and assumption-these were the characteristics of the gentilhomme
by birth and habit, by nature as by breeding.
Ten minutes conversation with the man convinced you that you stood in the presence of one of those men who mould events.
The very flash of the dark eyes “dared you to forget.”
Nor will the South
forget this brave and trusty soldier.
His name is cut upon the marble of history in letters too deep to be effaced by the hand of Time, that terrible disintegrator.
As long as the words “Manassas
” and “Shiloh
” strike a chord in the bosoms of men, the name “Beauregard
” will also stir the pulses.
Those mighty conflicts meet us in the early epoch of the war, grim, bloody, and possessing a tragedy of their own. The soldier who fought those battles confronts us, too, with an individuality of mind and body which cannot be mistaken.
is the Virginian
, Hood the Texan
is the marshal of Napoleon-or at least he looked thus in those early days when the soldiers of Virginia
, gathering at Manassas
, closely scanned the form and features of their new commander.
the great captain went to the West
, where, as the world knows, he won new laurels; and to the end he continued to justify his title of “The fortunate.”
That is only, however, another name for The Able, The Skilful, The Master of events — not by “luck,” but by brains.
Good-fortune is an angel who flies from the weak and fearful, but yields herself captive to the resolute soul who clutches her. If any doubted that Beauregard
owed his great success to the deepest thought, the most exhausting brain-work, and those sleepless vigils which wear out the life, they had only to look upon him in his latter years to discover the truth.
Care, meditation, watching-all the huge responsibility of an army leader-had stamped on the brow of the great Creole
their unmistakable impress.
The heavy moustache, which had once been as black as the raven's wing, was now grizzled like the beard.
In the hair, which before was
dark, now shone those silver threads which toil and anxiety weave mercilessly in the locks of their victims.
The mouth smiled still, but the muscles had assumed a grimmer tension.
The eyes were still brilliant, but more deeply sunken and more slumbrous.
In the broad brow, once so smooth, the iron hand of care had ploughed the inexorable furrows.
Beauregard the youthful, daring, and impetuous soldier, had become Beauregard
the cautious, thoughtful, self-sacrificing patriot-one of the great props of the mighty edifice then tottering beneath the heavy blows it was receiving in Virginia
and the West
“The self-sacrificing patriot.”
If any one doubts his claim to that title, it will not be doubted when events now buried in obscurity are known.
was superb when, in the midst of the dense smoke of Manassas
, he shouted in his inspiring voice, “I salute the Eighth Georgia with my hat off!
History shall never forget you!”
But he was greater still — more noble and more glorious-when after the battle of Corinth
he said nothing.
He was silent, and is silent still; but history speaks for him, and will ever speak.
He lives in the memories and the hearts of his old soldiers, as in the pages of our annals; and those who followed his flag, who listened to his voice, need no page like this to bring his figure back, as it blazed before their eyes in the far away year ‘61.
They remember him always, and salute him from their hearts — as does the writer of these lines.
Wherever you may be, General-whether in Rome
or New Orleans, in the Old World or the New-whether in sickness or in health, in joy or in sorrow-your old soldiers of the Army of Virginia remember you, and wish you long life, health, and happiness, from their heart of hearts.