Biographical sketch of General Beauregard.

the greatest boon that can be bestowed upon a people is the adequate setting forth of the history of their illustrious men. The achievements of these, duly recorded, stand forth as beaconlights to guide coming generations; and as a just appreciation of greatness indicates worth in a people, and points to future advancement on their part, so surely does indifference to merited renown denote popular degeneracy and decay.

We therefore welcome every honestly meant publication concerning the struggle of the South for independence — a struggle replete with acts of heroic valor, and resplendent with examples of self-sacrifice, fortitude, and virtue.

Few, even now, are the remaining leaders of the great contest through which we have passed; and, as time goes on, gradually diminishing their number, the day approaches when nothing will be left of them except a memory. They must die, but the grand principles they strove, at so great cost, to maintain must not be buried with them. The Southern people, shackled by years of poverty and political helplessness, and circumscribed as they are in their sphere of action, cannot forget the teachings which, to them and to their posterity, embody the true meaning of our institutions.

In recording the causes for which the South armed and sent to the field her manhood and her youth, and in holding up before the public mind the great ability of some of her leaders, the devotion of all, we not only perform a sacred duty to our country and those who will come after us, but mark out the way for them to that peace, liberty, and prosperity which we failed to attain for ourselves. [2]

It is in furtherance of these views that the following biographical sketch is offered, of one of the most patriotic, skilful, farseeing and heroic chieftains of the Confederate army; whose military career and successes have called forth the admiration of Europe as well as of America, and of whom Louisiana, his native State, is—and well may be—fondly proud.

Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard was born in the parish of St. Bernard, near the city of New Orleans, State of Louisiana, on the 28th of May, 1818.

The earliest authentic records of his family, one of the oldest and most illustrious of Louisiana, go back to the year 1290, or about that time, when Tider, surnamed the Young, at the early age of eighteen, headed a party of Welsh in revolt against Edward I., then King of England. Overcome, and his followers dispersed, Tider took refuge in France, where he was presented to Philip IV., surnamed the Fair, and cordially welcomed to his court. He there married Mademoiselle de Lafayette, maid of honor to Madame Marguerite, sister of Philip.

War was then raging between France and England, and was only appeased by the marriage of King Edward with Marguerite of France.

Tider and his wife followed the new queen to England; but never were the suspicions and animosity of Edward against his former rebellious subject allayed. By the queen's entreaties Edward was induced to assign Tider to a government post in Saintonge, then part of the British possessions on the Continent; but soon afterwards he revoked his royal favor, and Tider was again compelled to seek shelter in France, where he lived, with his wife and children, on a pension left them by the dead queen. He died in the neighborhood of Tours, at the age of forty-one.

His eldest son, Marc, returned to Saintonge, and there endeavored to recover some of his father's property, in which he only partially succeeded. Having, through powerful influences, obtained a position under the English crown, and being desirous of propitiating the king, to whom the name of Tider was still odious, he changed it into Toutank. Gradually the letter ‘k’ was dropped, and the letter ‘t’ substituted in its place; thus transforming the old Celtic ‘Toutank’ into the Gallic ‘Toutant.’

During three centuries, the family bore, unaltered, the name of Toutant. [3]

Towards the close of the sixteenth century the last male descendant of the Toutants died, leaving an only daughter, who married Sieur Paix de Beauregard—hence the family name of Toutant de Beauregard.1 At what time the particle ‘de’ was abandoned and the hyphen resorted to instead, is not known.

Jacques Toutant-Beauregard was the first of the name who came from France to Louisiana, under Louis XIV., as ‘Commandant’ of a flotilla, the purpose of which was to bring assistance to the colony, and carry back timber for naval constructions. So thoroughly did he succeed in his enterprise in this connection that he was, on his return to France, decorated with the Cross of Saint Louis.

He finally settled in Louisiana; and there married Miss Magdeleine Cartier. Three sons were born to them, one of whom, Louis Toutant-Beauregard, was, in his turn, united to Miss Victoire Ducros, the daughter of a respected planter of the parish of St. Bernard, near New Orleans, who had honorably filled several offices of trust under the French and Spanish governments of Louisiana. They had one daughter and two sons, the younger of whom, Jacques Toutant-Beauregard, married, in 1808, Miss Helene Judith de Reggio. Several children were the issue of their union; the third being Pierre Gustave ToutantBeaure-gard, the Confederate general and Southern patriot, whose biography forms the subject of this memoir.

General Beauregard's maternal ancestry is even more illustrious, he being a descendant of the Dukes of Reggio and Modena, and, consequently, of the House of Este. His great-grandfather, Francois Marie, Chevalier de Reggio (akin to the reigning duke) accompanied his friend, the Duke of Richelieu, to the siege of Bergen-op-Zoom, and there so distinguished himself that he was given a captaincy in the French army by Louis XV., and was, shortly thereafter, sent to the colony of Louisiana, with his command. When Louisiana became part of the Spanish possessions, the Chevalier de Reggio was made Alferez Real, or, in other words, Royal Standard-bearer, and First Justiciary of the estates and property of the crown. He was nearly related to the Marquis de Vaudreuil, seventh Colonial Governor of Louisiana. Of his marriage with Miss Fleuriau, two sons were born, the younger [4] of whom, Louis Emmanuel, Chevalier de Reggio, married Miss Louise Judith Olivier de Vezin. The mother of General Beauregard—Helene Judith de Reggio—was the issue of this last marriage.

When scarcely more than eight years of age, young Beauregard was sent to a primary school kept by Mr. V. Debouchel, near New Orleans, where could then be found many of the sons of the best families of Louisiana. Being of studious habits, modest in his demeanor, ever fair in his dealings with comrades as well as with teachers, he soon became very popular with both, and always merited and obtained the highest marks of approbation. He was of a retiring disposition, but, withal, of great firmness and decision of character. His dominant trait, even at that early age, was a passion for all that pertained to the military life—a forecast of his future career. The sight of a passing soldier, the beating of a drum, would so excite and carry him away, that for the pleasure of following either or both he would forget everything —parental admonitions, boyish playmates, and even hunger; and many a long day was thus spent, to the great anxiety of all at home.

Several curious anecdotes of his childhood, illustrative of his independent daring, are preserved in his family, and are well worth recording. We mention two of them.

When a little boy about nine years old, he was spending a day at the house of one of his aunts, in the neighborhood of his father's estate, where had assembled several relatives and many comrades of his own age. Among the gentlemen present was one noted for his raillery and love of teasing. On that occasion he had taken young Beauregard to task, and was attempting to make a target of him for the amusement of the others. While this gentleman was in the full enjoyment of his practical jokes, young Beauregard, his patience being thoroughly exhausted, suddenly seized a stick that lay near at hand, and so violently and rapidly assaulted his tormentor, that he forced him in self-defence to make an inglorious retreat to an outhouse close by. His little enemy at once mounted guard over the building, refusing to release his prisoner until the latter had fully apologized to him.

The other incident is still more peculiar, and relates to Beauregard's uncommon—perhaps uncontrollable—taste for military things. [5]

A resident teacher of the household, attracted by the boy's steady, orderly habits, and most earnest attention during family prayers, had taken charge of his spiritual training, and had so well succeeded in her pleasing task, that, at the early age of ten and a half years, he was considered sufficiently prepared to go through that most beautiful and touching ceremony, in the Catholic Church, the children's First Communion. The appointed day had arrived. Young Beauregard, his mother, his elder brother, and the teacher were seated in one of the front pews of the old St. Louis Cathedral, awaiting the solemn moment when the young communicant was to approach and kneel at the altar. That moment at last came. His mother touched him on the shoulder, to admonish him that it was time to walk up the aisle. The child obediently rose, deeply imbued with the solemnity of the scene, and stepped reverently forward as directed. Just then, and when he had already walked half-way to the altar, the roll of a drum, as a perverse fate would have it, resounded through the cathedral. Young Beauregard stopped, hesitated, looked toward the family pew, where anxious eyes kept urging him forward. Again the roll of the drum was heard, more distinct and prolonged. Hesitation vanished at once. The little boy, fairly turning his back on the altar, dashed through the church and disappeared at the door, to the utter horror and dismay of his loving relatives. No stronger proof than this could be given of the bent of his character. His calling for a military career was there clearly manifested. It may not be considered out of place to add that he made his First Communion two years later, no drum then beating to interrupt the ceremony.

At the age of eleven he was taken to the city of New York, where he remained four years, under the firm and wise tuition of the Messieurs Peugnet, retired officers of the French army, who had both seen service under Napoleon I.—the elder as Captain of Cavalry, the younger as Captain of Engineers. They were exiles from France, on account of the active part taken by them in the ‘Carbonari’ trouble, so much commented upon at the time. Then and there it was that, under quasi-military training, his taste for a soldier's career was confirmed, and that, living amidst an English-speaking population, he grew so thoroughly familiar with the English language as to make of it, so to speak, his adopted mother-tongue.

Though he knows the French language and speaks it perfectly, [6] as do all Louisianians of his origin and time of life, still, most of his correspondence is conducted, and all his private as well as official writings are made, in English.

At sixteen he entered, as a cadet, the United States Military Academy at West Point. His parents, who had for several years persistently opposed his wish to obtain an appointment there, had finally yielded, overcome by his pertinacious entreaties. Here really began his brilliant career. Highly impressed with the nobleness and importance of the profession he had embraced, he devoted himself with ardent zeal and untiring perseverance to his multitudinous studies, and went through his four years course with no less distinction than success. He was graduated July 1st, 1838, being second in a class of forty-five, and on July 7th of the same year was appointed Second Lieutenant in the United States Engineers. Generals Hardee, Wayne, Ed. Johnson, Reynolds, Stevenson, Trapier, and Sibley, of the Confederate army, and Mc-Dowell, A. T. Smith, Granger, Barney, and McKinstry, of the Federal army, were classmates of his, and were graduated at the same time.

His life was uneventful from that date to the year 1846-47, when, according to plans drawn up by Captain J. G. Barnard, U. S. Engineers, and himself, he directed the fortification works at the city of Tampico. In the month of March, 1847, he joined the expedition under Major-General Scott, against the city of Mexico. He distinguished himself at the siege of Vera Cruz, in several bold reconnoissances before the battle of Cerro Gordo, and also in most of the engagements in the valley of Mexico.

The strongest proof of his merit—one that gave a forecast of his great strategic and engineering powers—was exhibited during the Mexican war, at a council of general officers, held at Piedad, September 11th, 1847, after the disastrous assault on the fortified positions of Molino del Rey. The attack on the city of Mexico, and the best mode of effecting its capture, were the main subjects under discussion. Lieutenant Beauregard, in opposition to most of the general officers there present, and contrary to the views of all his comrades of the engineer corps, advocated an attack by the western approaches of Mexico. His suggestion, though very much combated at first and nearly discarded, was finally adopted, with what successful result is now a matter of history. Soon after this episode—on September 13th—Beauregard was twice [7] wounded in the brilliant assault on the Garita de Belen, where so much dash was displayed by the American troops.

On the expiration of the Mexican war, when Major Beauregard returned to his home in New Orleans, General Totten, as chief of the Engineer Department, forwarded him the following copy of Gen eral Orders, publishing the brevets he had won on the field of battle:

1. For gallant and meritorious behavior in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, Mexico, August 20th, 1847, to be Captain by brevet. To date from August 20th, 1847.

2. For gallant and meritorious conduct in the battle of Chapultepec, Mexico, September 13th, 1847, to be Major by brevet. To date from September 13th, 1847.

And General Totten added:

It affords the department high satisfaction to communicate to you the wellearned reward of your efforts on the fields of Mexico.

In order to show the high estimation in which Major Beauregard was held, and the impression his eminent services had produced upon his superior officers and comrades in arms, we here insert the following letters, written with a view to dissuade him from his reported intention of resigning from the service, in the year 1856, during the lull in military affairs which followed the close of the Mexican war:

New York, Dec. 9th, 1856.
Major G. T. Beauregard, U. S. Engineers:
My dear Sir,—I am much concerned to learn that you think of leaving the army, after acquiring, at an early age, so much distinction in it, for science and high gallantry in the field. Your brilliant services in Mexico, nobody who witnessed them can ever forget. They bind the affections of the army to you, and ought, perhaps, to bind you to us. If you go abroad, you give up that connection at some hazard. My best wishes, however, will ever accompany my gallant young friend wherever he may go.

The second letter is from General Persifer F. Smith, under whom Major Beauregard had often served in Mexico. We extract from it the following passage:

I assure you, my dear Beauregard, that I look upon your quitting our service as the greatest calamity that can befall the army and the country. Let me assure you with sincerity, that I know no officer left behind who can replace you if we get into an important war.

Whether it was owing to these remonstrances, or for some other cause, that Major Beauregard altered his determination, we are unable [8] to state; but he did not leave the service; and from 1853 to the latter part of 1861 remained in charge of what was then called ‘the Mississippi and Lake Defences in Louisiana.’ He was also at that time superintending the building of the United States custom-house at New Orleans.

On the 20th of November, 1860, he was appointed to the high position of Superintendent of the Military Academy at West Point, but, owing to complicated events then darkening more and more our political horizon, and of which it is not now our purpose to speak, he only filled the position during a few days. He resigned his commission in the army of the United States in February, 1861; and on the 1st of March of that year entered the Confederate service, with the rank of brigadier-general.

From that eventful period to the close of the war he was ever in the van—active, self-sacrificing, vigilant, and bold. He displayed great forethought in his extensive views. He was masterly in his manner of handling troops and of leading them on to victory on the battle-field; and his record of strategic ability and engineering skill has made him immortal in the annals of war. Had more of his farsighted suggestions been heeded, the cause for which he fought would not, perhaps, be known to-day under the mournful —though, to us, erroneous—appellation of ‘the Lost Cause.’

His defense of the city and harbor of Charleston—unquestionably the most scientific, complete, and perfect of all defences devised during the war—has been partially comprehended and appreciated among military engineers in Europe and at the North.

When we consider with what scant and utterly inadequate resources General Beauregard held, for nearly two years, over three hundred miles of most vulnerable coast, against formidable and always menacing land and naval forces; when we bear in mind the repulse from Charleston on April 7th, 1863, of Admiral Dupont's fleet of ironclads and monitors, supported by General Hunter's army; when we mark the prolonged resistance made by a handful of men, in the works on Morris Island, against the combined land and naval batteries of General Gillmore and Admiral Dahlgren; the assault and repulse of June 10th, 1863; the defeat of the former's forces in an attack on the lines of James Island, on July 16th, 1863; the masterly and really wonderful evacuation of Battery Wagner and Morris Island, after the enemy's approaches had reached the ditch of the former work; when we remember [9] the holding of Fort Sumter, in August, 1863, under the most terrible bombardment on record, while its guns were all dismounted and the work was battered into a mass of ruins; the successful removal during that period of all the heavy artillery, of 30,000 pounds of powder, and hundreds of loaded shells, from the endangered magazines; then the permanent holding of the dismantled wreck with an infantry guard, and the guns of James' and Sullivan's Islands covering the approach by boats; the defiant, unhushed boom, morning and evening, of the gallant little gun—the only one—purposely left in the fort to salute its unconquered flag; we are struck with wonder and admiration, and we cannot but recognize the rare ability of the commander, the unsurpassed fortitude and gallantry of the troops under him.

Our object is not, at present, to mention at any length General Beauregard's many military services and victories. This interesting, important, and instructive part of the history of his military career is contained in the following pages, written from authenticated notes and documents, vouched for and furnished by General Beauregard himself, and to which this is but an introduction.

When, after voluntarily assisting General J. E. Johnston, during the last days of the war, he surrendered with that distinguished officer, in April, 1865, at Greensboroa, North Carolina, he addressed the following touching note to the members of his staff:

Headquarters, etc., etc., Greensboroa, N. C., April 27th, 1865.
To any Personal and General Staff,—Events having brought to an end the struggle for the independence of our country, in which we have been engaged together, now for four years, my relations with my staff must also terminate. The hour is at hand when I must bid each and all of you farewell, and a Godspeed to your homes.

The day was, when I was confident that this parting would be under far different and the most auspicious circumstances—at a moment when a happy and independent people would be ready, on all sides, to welcome you to your respective communities—but circumstances, which neither the courage, the endurance, nor the patriotism of our armies could overcome, have turned my brightest anticipations, my highest hopes, into bitter disappointment, in which you must all share.

You have served me, personally, with unvarying zeal, and, officially, with intelligence, and advantage to the public service.

‘I go from among you with profound regret. My good wishes will ever attend you, and your future careers will always be of interest to me.’


In 1866, war being imminent between Turkey and the Danubian principalities, the chief command of the Roumanian Army was offered to General Beauregard; and in 1869, a similar position in the army of the Khedive of Egypt was also tendered him. He declined both offers.

Since the war he has resided permanently in his native State, where he has been the president of two important railroad companies. He is now Adjutant-General of the State of Louisiana.

Wherever met—in the streets of New Orleans or elsewhere, in his native State or out of it—General Beauregard is always greeted with great cordiality and marks of the highest regard. Louisiana, as we have said, is proud of him. She knows that none of her sons has loved her more, or has done so much to protect her from the far-reaching grasp of centralized despotism which at one time seemed to threaten her. He is now the identical constitutional State-rights Democrat he was before the war, and though he takes no active part in politics, never neglects the performance of any of his civic duties when circumstances require it.

General Beauregard has been twice married. By his first wife, Miss Laure Marie Villere, great-granddaughter of the Chevalier de Villere, he had two sons and one daughter—all three living and residing with or near him in the State of Louisiana. He was but shortly married to his second wife, Miss Caroline Deslondes, daughter of one of the prominent planters of the state, when he was unexpectedly ordered to the command of Charleston, South Carolina, at the very outbreak of the war. On his return home, in 1865, he was for the second time a widower, and had been for more than a year. He had borne his affliction not only like a Christian but with all the fortitude of a soldier, none but his own military family being able to detect any sign of grief in the countenance of the bereaved husband.

General Beauregard is now (1883) sixty-five years of age, but few men of forty are so active as he, so alert, so full of life and vigor. Those who note his elastic military step, upright bearing, and quick yet thoughtful eye, feel well assured that, should occasion require it, he could again serve his country with energy and capacity equal, if not superior, to that displayed in the past. The only effect upon him of additional years since the war seems to have been further to develop and strengthen his powers by bringing to him additional knowledge and experience. [11]

He appears to us now to be precisely the same as when, on the second day of the battle of Shiloh, he led, flag in hand, one of the charges of the 18th Louisiana regiment. A hail-storm of minie-balls was then pouring into that gallant corps. One of his staff, expostulating with him, and almost rebuking his too-rash exposure of his person, he said: ‘At such moments as these, the order must not be “go,” but “follow!” ’ And he still tightly grasped the battle-flag. The whole man is portrayed in this brief sentence. His words were ever few at headquarters or on the field, but terse and to the point. One could read, by the flash of his eyes, that he meant what he said.

If, as we firmly believe, traits of character, scope of mind, even tastes and prejudices, can be transmitted from generation to generation, we can understand how and why Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard displayed the capacity for command and the inspiring influence which so distinguished him during our four years war, when we glance back over the long line of his ancestors, where, love of liberty and soldierly qualities were so conspicuous. We very much mistake, or there is still a goodly current of the Celtic Tider's blood running through General Beauregard's veins, and the high-toned chivalric courtesy, coupled with irreproachable integrity, so remarkable in him, must certainly be derived from the stately old Dukes of Reggio and Modena, the heads of the House of Este. [12]

1 From records still extant in the Beauregard family.

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