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Chapter 28:


General Beauregard, having accomplished the object of his visit to Savannah, on the 30th of October returned to Charleston, where he found Captain D. B. Harris waiting for him. His pleasure and relief were great indeed, for he knew that this trusted officer would now relieve him of the immediate supervision of the works to be remodelled and constructed in many portions of his extensive command.

It cannot be expected that we shall pass in review and comment upon all the official orders emanating from General Beauregard's headquarters, nor that the reader should be made acquainted with every one of his acts from the time he assumed control of that Department until he left it in the spring of 1864. No more can be looked for than a careful summary, in chronological order, of all events of importance that occurred within [36] his jurisdiction, showing the part he took in each, and giving such explanation as the occasion may call forth.

1. On November 1st he officially informed General Cooper of the result of his inspection of the defences of Savannah, and expressed his views and recommendations ‘more,’ he said, ‘as an Engineer officer than as the commanding general of the Department.’1 The preceding chapter and its comprehensive Appendix have already sufficiently apprised the reader of what these views and recommendations were.

2. On November 3d he instructed Major Pope, Chief of Ordnance, to transfer an 18-pounder cannon from White Point Battery, where it was comparatively useless, to one at Church Flats, in the Second Military District, so as to enfilade the John's Island Bridge and Causeway, which were liable to be taken by a sudden coup de main.

On the same day he called on Captain Ingraham, C. S. N., commanding the Naval Department in Charleston, to furnish him three hundred pieces of gunboat plating, to be used in completing the boom across the channel between the two main forts of the harbor. He also suggested that the three merchant ships lying off the wharves should be armed with quaker guns, and anchored near the boom, to deceive the enemy.

3. On November 4th he applied to Governor Pickens for the iron plating which protected the old floating battery used, in April, 1861, during the attack on Fort Sumter. He accepted the four regiments of reserves (infantry) offered him by the governor for the defence of the sea-coast of South Carolina. Two of these he immediately ordered to Pocotaligo, in the Third Military District, and the two others to Georgetown, in the Fourth District (a new one), now being organized, which was afterwards placed under the command of Brigadier-General Trapier.

Governor Pickens answered in his usual earnest way, granting General Beauregard's request about the iron. He suggested a plan for the proper management of negroes, and the care to be bestowed upon them while working on the defences of the city and coast, and thought they could be organized into a corps of spadesmen and axemen, to be permanently attached to the army. [37]

4. On November 6th General Beauregard wrote an important letter to Brigadier-General Gist, commanding James Island and the Main, acknowledging receipt of his communication of that date alluding to the good condition of the battery at Mayrant's, near Georgetown. The proposed battery at Frazer's Bluff, though, most desirable, was, he feared, liable to be cut off and seized by the enemy. He desired the construction of a work for two or three 24-pounders, to command the North Santee, at a bluff near Ladson's, in the direction of Hame's Ferry. He also inquired about the condition of the battery of one 32-pounder, commanding the South Santee, and wished to know whether or not the stream could be so obstructed as to allow the removal of that gun to the battery at Ladson's.

5. On the 7th General Mercer was requested to confer with Commodore Tatnall, C. S. N., commanding the Naval Department in Savannah, concerning the fitting out of a small gunboat (not ironclad) with heavy guns, to be placed in a cut near the river obstructions, where the ground was known to be low and soft. General Beauregard suggested the construction of an iron shield on board, arranged to protect the guns, and the throwing up of a levee around the gunboat further to secure its safety. He thought it would be a great saving, both of time and labor.

6. On the 8th of November he wrote the following letter to Governor Pickens:

Governor,—Your letter of the 5th inst. was received after I had given the orders for Cash's regiment to report to General Walker, who, being nearest to the enemy, will require one of the best colonels with him; but I will endeavor to leave him in the Georgetown District.

With regard to the labor furnished for the defences of the city, the planters have done nobly, but they must not stop three-fourths of the way. Should Charleston fall for want of proper works, they will be the largest sufferers in the end. Your idea of organizing negro laborers with the troops is one I have already recommended to the Government long ago. I think that one company of one hundred negroes, as pioneers, per two regiments of one thousand men each, would be a good proportion of laborers, and would leave the troops to attend to their legitimate duties of drill and guard, so that each brigade of the four regiments would have two hundred negro pioneers or laborers. Our Southern soldiers object most strenuously to work with spades and shovels. They will do it in very pressing emergencies, but, on ordinary occasions, do more grumbling than work. They prefer, decidedly, to fight.

I find so much difficulty in procuring mechanics and materials here for the construction of Captain Lee's marine torpedo-ram, that I will have to stop [38] building it. Charleston cannot furnish all the labor and material required for the building of three rams at once; one or two of these must be stopped, to enable the other to be completed; otherwise all three will remain unfinished when the enemy will make his appearance here. I am free to confess that I believe our ordinary gunboats will effect but little against the enemy's new gigantic monitors, provided they can get here in safety from the North. We must attack them under water, where they are the most vulnerable, if we wish to destroy them, and the torpedo-ram is the only probable way of accomplishing that desirable end. Moreover, one of these can be furnished in at least half the time required for an ordinary-sized gunboat-ram.

With regard to your supposition that the enemy will not make a land attack on our coast before disposing of Lee's army, I believe they will do so as soon as the forces in Virginia shall have gone into winter-quarters, thus enabling them to send reinforcements South for a campaign; and, with their great facilities of transportation, they could get them here before we could ours.

Respectfully, your obdt. servt.,

7. Two days after the foregoing letter was penned the following communication was sent to Colonel James Chestnut, Jr., at that time in command of the State Reserves of South Carolina:

Headquarters, Dept. S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Nov. 10th, 1862.
Colonel,—A few days ago I answered your telegram, informing you that I would be able to furnish an artillery officer to make the examination of the Santee River, referred to by you in your telegram, asking you to name when and where he should report, but thus far I have received no answer. Meanwhile I have read with satisfaction the excellent report of Mr. Niernsee relative to his reconnoissance of the Santee River, from Lownde's Ferry to Nowell's Point, and of the information obtained by him relative to the North and South Santee, from the point of junction to their mouths. My conclusion is, that Nowell's Point is the proper position to be fortified, and the river ought to be obstructed, not more than four hundred yards below the fort. This obstruction, I think, can be made of several rows of piles (should the bottom permit it), interlaced with a properly constructed abatis of trees—live-oaks, if possible.

As it is not probable that the enemy's ironclad boats will be able to ascend to that point of the river, the armament of the battery need not consist of heavier guns than 32-pounders, smooth-bore (three or four), and about two rifled 24-pounders. All of these guns to be separated by heavy traverses, or placed by twos in detached batteries. Rifle-pits should also be provided (not enfiladed from the river) for the infantry support to the batteries. The thickness of the parapets of the latter should be about twenty feet, and of the rifle-pits twelve or fifteen feet. The height of the crest of the batteries (which may be half sunk) should be about six feet above the front ground, [39] and about eight feet above the rear terre-plein, for the greater protection of the men.

I have given orders for the construction of a battery of three or four guns at or about Ladson's Bluff, on the North Santee, which, I suppose, is the one called by Mr. Niernsee “Bear Hill Bluff.”

I am informed that the battery at Mayrant's Bay, towards Georgetown, is armed and completed; and I hope that the new regiment of the State Reserves (Cash's) I have ordered to report to General Trapier, in command of Georgetown District, will be able to support these two batteries until other forces can be sent in that direction.

Respectfully, your obdt. servt.,

8. The following letter was addressed to the Hon. William P. Miles:

Charleston, S. C., Nov. 11th, 1862.
Dear Colonel,—* * * I regret much to learn that we are to receive no more additional 10-inch columbiads than the ten referred to by you. Of course I understand the inability of the War Department to furnish more, but it is worth the most serious consideration of the Government to determine which is of most value to us at this moment—the free navigation of the Mississippi, which, from the nature of things, we cannot use; or the port of Charleston, which is now our only means of communication with Europe, especially at this juncture, when we are expecting so many things of vital importance to the country from that quarter. I sent, yesterday, to the Department a letter of General Ripley's on the subject of having a 15-inch gun cast here. It seems it can be done—at a high cost, it is true; but I have great faith in the weight of metal (about 500 pounds) which could be thrown from it. Three of such guns—one at Sumter, one at the Enfilade Battery, and one at Fort Ripley—would, I think, supply the place of a good boom across the channel between Sumter and Moultrie.

Should you think favorably of the project, I hope you will support it towards the War Department. Why could not 10-inch guns be made at Macon, getting the iron from Spartanburg, which, I understand, is about the best in the country, according to General Ripley?

Hoping to see you soon, I remain, yours very truly,

9. On the 17th the gratifying news was received that the Secretary of War had authorized the immediate casting of the 15-inch gun, and that through him Colonel Miles hoped to be able, erelong, to procure other 10-inch guns for Charleston. But the concluding part of the despatch spoke of Mr. Randolph's resignation, just sent in, and deplored it as ‘a great loss to us,’ for he took deep interest in General Beauregard's efforts thoroughly to secure [40] Charleston and its harbor, and would have done his utmost in furtherance of that end.

On the same day the condition of General Trapier's Military District was made known to the War Department, and prompt action solicited for his immediate relief. The means at his command were alarmingly small. The battery at Mayrant's Bluff, reported to be in a state of readiness, had no other support than such as could be afforded by mounted troops and field artillery. The regiments of infantry under him (Colonel Cash in command) were State Reserves, called out for ninety days, and had been sent to their post of duty without arms or ammunition.

10. On the 21st General Beauregard, in reply to General Howell Cobb's inquiries as to the precise nature of his duties in Middle Florida,2 wrote the following letter:

Dear General,—Your letter of the 19th inst. has just been delivered to me by Captain Banon, your Adjutant-General.

The order you refer to was not understood at first by me either; but I learn that you are to be in command of one of the Districts (not Departments) in Florida—under my orders—and Brigadier-General Finegan of the other. Your headquarters are to be at Quincy.

General Finegan is at present in Tallahassee, where you will go to relieve him, and receive whatever instructions he may have in his possession from the War Department.

The means at our command, for the defence of my Department (S. C., Ga., and Fla., to the Chattahoochee) are very limited; so much so, that I am unable to spare one man from South Carolina and Georgia for Florida at present; but I hope, after the fall campaign in Virginia, troops will be sent for the defence of my Department. Meanwhile, we must do the best we can, by calling on the State authorities for all the assistance they can furnish us. I think, on assuming command of your district, it would be desirable to draw up a concise statement of its exact defensive condition and resources for the files of this Department. General Finegan will do the same for his own district. In conclusion, I am most happy that you have been ordered to assist me in the defence of so large and so important a section of our country, and I have no doubt that, with sufficient means, the result can but be honorable to yourself and advantageous to our cause.

I hope, erelong, to have the assistance of your brother in Georgia. I am happy to hear of his recent promotion.

Yours, very truly,


11. Major Pope, Chief of Ordnance, received the following special instructions on the 22d:

1. The 8-inch shell (naval) gun, now on the wharf, will be transported and placed on the new battery at John's Island Ferry.

2. The 32-pounder navy gun, being rifled and banded at Eason's shop, must be sent, when ready for service, to White Point Battery, to be placed in position on the Ashley River, adjoining the position at the salient intended for heavier guns.

3. The 10-inch bronze (old pattern) mortar on wharf will be placed in Battery Wagner, Morris Island.

4. New beds and elevating screws will be supplied, as soon as possible, for three 10-inch mortars in Fort Sumter.

5. If not already done, one rifled and banded 32-pounder will be transferred from Battery Means to Beauregard.

6. If not already done, a 12-pounder rifled piece outside of Fort Pemberton will be sent, with the proper supply of ammunition, to Winyaw Bay.

7. Two 24-pounder guns (on siege carriages) now on the eastern cremaillere lines of James Island will be sent to battery at Willtown Bluff, in Second Military District.

8. The 32-pounder recently ordered to be banded to replace a defective piece in Fort Moultrie, when ready for service, will be sent to Battery Glover, to take place of a 32-pounder to be brought here by commanding officer of First District, to be banded and rifled.

‘9. All guns, when sent or transferred to positions not already sufficiently supplied with ammunition, will be at once furnished with about one hundred rounds of the proper character and proportion.’

12. On the same day plans and instructions for placing obstructions, by piling, etc., in the Chattahoochee (Florida) and Flint River (Georgia) were forwarded to Captain F. Moreno, Corps of Provisional Engineers, at Columbus, Ga. And General Finegan, at his own request, was also advised as to obstructing the Appalachicola River below the batteries, with a view to avoiding complication with the State authorities.

13. The effects of the resignation of Mr. Randolph, as Secretary of War, were soon felt in Charleston, as will be seen by the following telegrams:

Richmond, Nov. 25th, 1862.
Genl. Beauregard:
The two 7-inch guns are turned over to navy for Mobile.

T. S. Rhett, Col. and Insp. of Ord'ce.

Richmond, Nov. 26th, 1862.
Genl. G. T. Beauregard:
After all our efforts we lose the two 7-inch guns. Dispute between Gorgas and Mallory was laid before President yesterday, and he ordered guns to Mobile. Great disappointment.


General Beauregard remonstrated, but without avail. In a telegram to General Cooper he said:

‘I learn with regret from Colonel Rhett that the two 7-inch rifled guns have been turned over to the navy for Mobile. The necessity for a much larger number of the heaviest guns here is increased, as the boom is likely to prove a failure.’

14. A very unpleasant misunderstanding now occurred between the Commanding General of the Department and Major Childs, ordnance officer in charge of the Charleston Arsenal. A clear and comprehensive explanation of it is given in the following letter:

Headquarters, Department of S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Nov. 27th, 1862.
Genl. Sam. Cooper, Adjt. and Insp.-Genl., Richmond, Va.:
General—About the 20th inst., having ascertained that a sufficient number of guns of the heaviest calibre could not be procured for the defence of this important harbor, and that the floating boom across its entrance would possibly be a failure, I determined to hasten, by all practicable means in my power, the rifling and banding of as many 42 and 32 pounders, already in position in the works of this harbor, as time and the limited means under my control would permit.

But having ascertained by actual experiment that the rifling and banding of a 32-pounder by the ordnance officer, Major F. L. Childs, in charge of the Arsenal here, had taken more than four weeks to be completed, and having at least twenty other guns of that calibre and of 42-pounders to rifle and band in a similar manner, it became evident to me it would be utterly impossible to complete them in time for the pressing emergencies of our situation.

About the same time Brigadier-General R. S. Ripley, commanding First Military District, having informed me that he felt convinced he could have the alterations desired made in less than half the time taken by the Ordnance Department, if I would place the matter under his control, and being extremely anxious to have the work done as soon as practicable, I issued Special Orders No. 229, of which the following is the section bearing on the case, viz., par. III.: “The Commanding General of the First Military District has the authority to direct and order the rifling and banding of such guns as require it within his command, to the extent of the capacity for doing the work effectually, and may make requisitions directly upon the Charleston Arsenal, or other proper source, through his district ordnance officer, for the necessary material for the work.”

General Ripley immediately took the matter in hand, caused several heavy guns to be dismounted from the works and brought to Messrs. Eason & Co.'s foundery in this city, and made on Major Childs a requisition, in pursuance of the orders already referred to, for two sets of bands for 42-pounder guns in depot. Major Childs declined to issue, enclosing me the requisitions endorsed as follows: [43]

Respectfully referred to General Beauregard, to know if it is his desire to devolve any portion of my duties upon General Ripley. The bands wanted have been waiting at Cameron's establishment for some time for the guns to be sent up. If General Ripley continues to send guns as fast as they are wanted, he will accomplish all he can possibly do, and not violate the reiterated orders and regulations of the Ordnance Bureau.

This paper was returned by me with the following endorsement:

The necessities of the service require that Special Order No. 229, from these headquarters, shall be carried into effect.

But having called on both of said officers for a statement of the shortest time in which the rifling and banding could be done, under the superintendence of each, their answers were as follows:

General Ripley says:

Messrs. Eason & Co. inform me they can band and rifle two guns in nine days from this date, and that they can continue to turn out one or two guns thereafter every five or seven days, if they have the bands. They can furnish the bands themselves after ten days. I believe them.

Major Childs says:

That full three weeks have heretofore been taken by Messrs. Eason & Brother in rifling and banding 32-pounder and 42-pounder guns, but that by working at night and on Sunday, and distributing the work between Eason and Cameron, I hope to be able to finish one gun per week. I should state that it is only lately that Cameron & Co. have procured a lathe large enough to hold a 32-pounder.

I therefore determined that the former should direct those important alterations, on which might depend the safety of this harbor and city.

On or about the 23d instant Major Childs called on me to express his objection to Order No. 229, stating that the Ordnance Department would not pay for work done at the founderies of this city not ordered by him. I then remarked that in that event I would procure the money from other sources, intending in that case to call on the City or State authorities to pay for the rifling and banding of the guns intended specially for the defence of this harbor.

On the 26th instant General Ripley again sent the same requisitions to Major Childs, who reiterated positively his refusal until he had seen me. General Ripley then went to the Arsenal in person, accompanied by an armed force, to compel, if necessary, obedience to Order No. 229. Major Childs, having again refused to issue the bands called for, alleging that he wished to see the General commanding the Department before complying with the Orders he had received, General Ripley felt compelled to arrest him; and as he refused to turn over his duties to the next officer in rank, Lieutenant Fraser, General Ripley called on the latter to inform him where the bands were.

They were found in a yard adjoining the Arsenal, and were taken possession of; the necessary invoices and receipts were furnished, and the bands transported to the foundery, where the guns were waiting for them. In order, however, not to delay at this critical moment the important operations of the Ordnance Department, the limits of Major Childs had been extended to those [44] of the City of Charleston, and he had been authorized to attend to all the current duties of his position.

Charges and specifications have been preferred against Major Childs by General Ripley, as per copy herewith. Before ordering a court I shall await the instructions of the War Department in this case. I can but express my regret at the occurrence just referred to, especially at this critical juncture, when so much energy and harmony should prevail in all the departments of the service. But I must be permitted to state, as my deliberate opinion, that so long as the Arsenal is kept here, in so close proximity to the headquarters of the Department and of the First District, so long will there be a clashing of authority between them; for in the military service an imperium in imperio cannot be permitted without a conflict of authority sooner or later. Moreover, the Chiefs of Ordnance of this Department and District, relying too much on the supplies of the Arsenal, of which they are not fully informed, often make requisitions at too short notice, thereby causing unnecessary delays and confusion.

Again, the failure of the floating boom across the entrance of this harbor, and the impossibility of obtaining a sufficient quantity of the heaviest ordnance (as already called for), renders the removal of the Arsenal to a safer locality a matter of urgent necessity, leaving here only such stores and supplies as may be absolutely required for the immediate wants of this District and Department. Several weeks ago I called the attention of Major Childs to the probable necessity of such a change of locality, and he reported to me, a short time after, that he had made the selection of a place in the northwestern part of this State for the Arsenal to be removed to, and that he had given orders for the immediate construction there of the necessary buildings, etc. I therefore respectfully but earnestly request the War Department to give such orders as will insure the immediate translation of the Arsenal from this city to the place already selected by Major Childs.

I remain, Sir, very respectfully, your obt. servt.,

P. S.-The accompanying papers are enclosed herewith, marked as follows:

A.—R. S. Ripley, Brig.-Genl. Commanding. Reports circumstances connected with arrest of Major F. L. Childs, and encloses charges and specifications against that officer.

B.—R. S. Ripley, Brig.-Genl. Charges and specifications preferred against Major F. L. Childs, C. S. Art'y.

C.—F. L. Childs, Major, C. S. A. In relation to his arrest by Brig.-Genl. Ripley, for refusing to fill a requisition.

D.—G. T. Beauregard, Genl. Commanding. Giving reasons for the arrest of Major F. L. Childs, etc.

N. B.—Charleston, S. C., Nov. 30, 1862.
This letter and accompanying papers have been delayed to enable Major-General B. Huger to arrange this whole matter without resorting to a courtmartial; but he has failed to do so, Major Childs not yet understanding the gravity of his offence. He seems to think that the Ordnance Department was created solely for the special benefit of its officers; and as I will necessarily [45] be compelled to bring charges against him myself, I have the honor respectfully to suggest that the War Department will order, as soon as practicable, the assembling of a court for his immediate trial.


G. T. B.

It is proper here to state that, before the foregoing letter had had time to reach General Cooper—for, as it was shown, circumstances prevented it from being forwarded until several days after it was written—a telegram from Richmond, dated December 1st, was received by General Beauregard. It read as follows:

The Secretary of War directs that you will release Major Childs, restore him to duty, and report the facts to this office.

Jno. Withers, Asst. Adjt.-Genl.

In vain was the War Department asked to suspend its decision until the matter could be further examined into. The order was reiterated and insisted upon, as appeals by this telegram, dated Richmond, December 2d, 1862:

The Secretary of War directs that commanding officers of arsenals are immediately responsible to the War Department, and not subject to arrest by the commanding generals, unless under extraordinary circumstances. Unless Major Childs's case be deemed such, he directs that the order of yesterday be executed.

S. Cooper, A. and Ins.-Genl.

General Beauregard thought he had been sufficiently clear in his explanation to the War Department. He would have nothing further to do with the matter; and the order was executed.

Thus was the querulous freak of a subordinate officer openly upheld by the authorities at Richmond, regardless of the pernicious example set by such a precedent, and of the mortification it would bring upon a commanding general, whose only motive was to hurry up his arrangements to meet the threatened assault of the enemy, and who knew what prompt and vigorous action the emergency required.

Governor Pickens happening to be in Charleston at that time, General Beauregard called on him and explained the unwarrantable interference of the Government. The general's indignation was so great that he declared his intention to apply at once to be relieved from the command of his Department and ordered ‘to the field;’ and, should this request be denied, then—as the only alternative left him—to resign his commission. But Governor Pickens, while acknowledging the unfairness of the [46] Administration, vehemently protested against the adoption of such a course. He appealed to General Beauregard—first as a friend, then as the Governor of South Carolina—and entreated him to remain at his post. He declared that he had faith in no other commander for the safety of Charleston at this juncture, and that South Carolina would willingly defray the expenses of banding and rifling all the guns needed, should Congress fail to pass a special bill to that effect. He was so earnest, and spoke so feelingly on the subject, that General Beauregard determined to overlook this new affront, and continue his efforts to save Charleston, despite the annoyances and obstacles thrown in his way.

It may be added, before dismissing this subject, that General Beauregard was hardly through with the work of banding and rifling his heavy guns when, in April, 1863, the attack of the Federal fleet was made. That event will be discussed hereafter. It is historically true, however, that the repulse of that attack was due, not only to the intrepidity of the troops in forts Sumter and Moultrie, and in the other defensive works in and around the harbor, but also—and in no small degree—to the heavy banded and rifled guns prepared for, and so effectually used on, that memorable occasion. And yet when, several months afterwards, the Ordnance Department was called upon to pay for the important work thus performed for the safety of Charleston and of the Confederate cause, it peremptorily declined to do so. The matter was brought before Mr. Seddon, the successor of Mr. Randolph as Secretary of War, but he would have nothing to do with it, because, as he said, ‘the Ordnance regulations had to be obeyed and carried out.’ It was only when Colonel William Porcher Miles, Chairman of the Military Committee in the House, expressed his intention to lay the question before Congress, and demand a special appropriation for that purpose, that Mr. Seddon finally issued the order, and had the bill paid by the Ordnance Department.3

15. On the 29th of November General Beauregard received information from his Signal Corps that the enemy's ordinary fleet had left Hilton Head, either for an expedition to some point on the coast or for the North. If the latter, the movement related [47] to Burnside's operations; if not, the intention of the enemy was yet to be discovered.

General Beauregard lost no time in apprising the War Department of the facts, and, by special despatches, warned Generals Whiting, at Wilmington; Mercer, at Savannah; and Hagood, Walker, and Trapier, commanders of the Second, Third, and Fourth Military Districts of South Carolina. He also wrote the following letter to General Ripley:

Charleston, S. C., Nov. 29th, 1862.
Brig.-General R. S. Ripley, Comdg. First Mil. Dist., Dept. S. C., Ga., and Fla.:
General,—I am informed the enemy's fleet has left Hilton Head. We must be prepared to meet him at all points. You will issue three days provisions to movable troops, and sufficient ammunition. See that all troops are provided with haversacks. Collect cars enough to transport two regiments at a time on the Charleston and Savannah Railroad and the Northeastern Railroad. No trains should be overloaded.

My impression is that the enemy's demonstration is intended against Georgetown. If so, we may have to march also some troops from here. Make all necessary preparations. You will be put in command of all troops moving in that direction. You will please forward, by express, the enclosed note to General Trapier.

Respectfully, your obdt. servt.,

The note referred to as addressed to General Trapier was in these terms:

General,—The enemy's fleet has left Hilton Head. Destination unknown, but it may be for your district. Be prepared for their reception. See to the provisions, ammunition, and haversacks of your troops. Reinforcements will be sent to you from here in case of necessity. Keep your troops well in hand.

Respectfully, your obdt. servt.,

On the 30th General Walker telegraphed that he had nothing further to report about the enemy's fleet, and that all was quiet in his locality. General Mercer, in his despatch of the same day, said: ‘Nothing seen of the enemy's fleet in this district. Cars collected ordered to be discharged.’

16. The idea of utilizing the gunboat-rams in other localities than the Charleston Harbor, without passing outside the bar, had occupied General Beauregard's mind for some time. On the 2d of December he issued an order to Major Harris, Chief-engineer, to cut a channel, twenty-five feet wide and thirteen feet deep at [48] high water, in the Wappoo Cut, from the Ashley to the Stono, so that the gunboat-rams might operate in either river, and retake and hold Cole's Island, at the mouth of the Stono, which would enable us to reduce the force on James Island to a minimum.

Major Harris's instructions were to do the work ‘as quietly as possible, in order not to awaken the suspicions of the enemy's gunboats in the Stono, and afford us the opportunity of taking them, and of re-opening our inland water communications with Port Royal,’ or of obtaining ‘stronger engines for our iron gunboats and rams in Charleston.’

17. On the following day General Cooper was telegraphed that the enemy's fleet had returned to Port Royal; and Major Pope was ordered to furnish certain guns, implements, and ammunition to Colonel Colcock, at Ocean Landing, and to General Walker, in the Third Military District.

18. The boom across the channel gave no satisfaction. General Beauregard determined to give up all work on it, and resort only to a rope obstruction, to be placed in its front. Major Cheves was instructed accordingly, and was also ordered to turn over to Captain Echols all materials collected for the boom, but to remain in charge of the torpedo constructions for the entrance of the harbor. He was thanked for the zeal and energy displayed by him in the discharge of his duties, in the face of so many difficulties.

19. An important order was also given to Major Harris in relation to General Raines's submarine batteries. The Engineers' Department was told to locate them below Simon Bluff, in the Wadmalaw; below Grimball's, in the Dawhee; and in the South Edisto, opposite Aiken's Mills; or at some proper place in the Pon Pon River. Major Harris was also instructed to construct a magazine at Summerville for the safe-keeping of ordnance stores in an emergency.

20. General Ripley was directed to attend to the armament of the two redoubts in rear of Fort Pemberton, and to transfer thither as soon as possible one 24-pounder on siege-carriage from the cremaillere line, and one 24-pounder in barbette from Fort Moultrie or Castle Pinckney.

21. The battery at Church Flats was also ordered to be converted at once into a small enclosed work, to hold two 12-pounder smooth-bore guns, an 18-pounder, and two 6-pounder light pieces, [49] to be taken from different works indicated and placed in position on the land-front.

The foregoing synopsis is presented to the reader to show that General Beauregard's attention was turned to the minutest details of the service—details which he knew to be of great importance in all military operations; and it is a fact worthy of note that all orders given and executed in relation to any portion of his vast command emanated, directly or indirectly, from him alone. The epithet of ‘felix,’ so often applied to him during the war, and alluded to by Mr. Pollard, in ‘The Lost Cause,’ can be explained in no other way. It was due, not to his having been in reality more favored by chance—some would say ‘luck’—than any other commander, but mainly, if not altogether, because of his incessant toil and vigilance. ‘Experrectus,’ it is suggested, would have been more appropriate than ‘felix.’

22. The following communication, forwarded to the War Department by General Beauregard, is now submitted. It shows how well-founded was his complaint of the slowness of Major Childs's work at the Charleston Arsenal:

Guns are now being rifled and banded here, under my orders, at the rate of one per two and a half days, instead of thirty-five days, as heretofore. Cannot a rifling and banding establishment be added to foundery at Savannah for guns there?

23. Turning his thoughts towards the defence of that part of Florida included in his command, General Beauregard caused the following instructions to be written to General Cobb:

Headquarters, Department of S. C., Ga., and Fla., Charleston, S. C., Dec. 10th, 1862.
General,—Your communication of the 3d instant has been duly received and considered by the Commanding General, who instructs me to answer it as follows:

Captain Moreno was at these headquarters some days ago, and received verbal instructions to this effect: The Chattahoochee is to be obstructed at Fort Gaines, and a battery to be erected, to cover the obstructions, for two 32 and one 24 pounder pieces. At Rack Bluff, fifty-four miles above the junction with Flint River, another obstruction is to be established, with three batteries commanding it, one for three 32-pounders, one for two 24-pounders, and the third for two 18-pounder guns.

At the “Narrows,” at Fulton's Bend, on the Appalachicola, sixteen miles [50] below junction with the Flint River, other obstructions and a battery for one 24 and one 18 pounder gun are likewise to be constructed. In this way will be disposed the twelve pieces which Captain Moreno has available at present.

The positions just named are all regarded as favorable for the end in view.

Captain Moreno will be further instructed to examine Flint River, with a view to finding a good position (on the north bank, if possible) for a battery for three or five guns, and obstructions not to exceed five hundred yards distant from the work.

Heavier guns will be procured, if possible.

In relation to the suggested danger to be apprehended that the enemy may land in force at St. Mark's, march via Tallahassee, or by a more direct route, to the left of that place, on the Appalachicola River, and thus turn the obstructions, it is the opinion of the Commanding General that the distance and character of the country to be traversed will be found highly unfavorable for such an attempt. To insure success or guard against serious disaster, the enemy would be obliged to move in larger force than he can bring to bear for such an enterprise at present, it is believed. * * *

Any force landing at St. Mark's or Port Leon must necessarily have with it its own means of transportation; for as soon as a descent on the coast should be made in such force as to indicate such an expedition, nothing were easier than for you to cause the timely removal beyond the reach of the enemy of all the means of transportation of the planters in Middle Florida. In this way a delay would ensue, during which all the defensive resources of Middle Florida and of the adjoining sections of Georgia could be collected for a successful resistance.

Under these circumstances the Commanding General is mainly solicitous that such obstructions should be constructed in the Appalachicola and Chattahoochee rivers, with defensive works to cover them at points which cannot be turned by a force thrown up the Appalachicola by transports supported by gun-boats.

The Commanding General regrets profoundly the utterly inadequate force under your command,4 but sees at present no way for increasing it. You are authorized, however, in an emergency to call on the Governors of Florida and Georgia for any troops at their disposition.

The General will be pleased for you to communicate your views and wishes freely and fully at all times, and will comply with your requirements to the utmost of his limited powers.

There are certain companies of troops west of the Appalachicola, over which you are to exercise command. A copy of General Forney's letter on the subject will be transmitted to you.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Jordan, Chief of Staff.
[51] P. S.—Since the forgoing was written Captain Moreno has been telegraphed to construct the battery at the “Narrows” for three guns instead of two, and to substitute two 32-pounders from Fort Gaines for the 18-pounder originally designed for the “Narrows” work.

T. J., C. S.

24. On the 12th of December, General Beauregard informed the War Department, by telegram, that General Banks's fleet had left, suddenly, two days before, with about ten thousand men, diverging from its southern course and making directly for Cape Lookout. The information, General Beauregard said, could be relied upon.

The enemy had been making preparations for some time past for a descent along the Southern Atlantic coast, and all General Beauregard's disposable troops were held in readiness to move at once to any threatened point of his Department. To hold his own within its limits was all that he could reasonably hope to do. But, whatever may have been his expectations, he certainly had no idea that troops would be taken from him to reinforce neighboring commands. Such was the case, however, as will appear by the following telegram:

General Lee has just telegraphed to General Smith5 as follows: “For Wilmington and the coast of North Carolina, draw reinforcements from North Carolina and General Beauregard.” Other intelligence induces General Smith to conjecture the purpose of the enemy to march, in conjunction with the force from the fleet to be landed at Beaufort (N. C.), on the railroad, and then to assail Wilmington in reverse. It is recommended to you, in case of a telegram confirmatory of such movements, to act on the suggestion of General Lee, and send reinforcements, if, and to the extent you think it can be done, without too greatly risking your command. Should communication between Wilmington and this city be broken, you will give to Wilmington special attention and such aid as you can spare. Of this order General Whiting will be notified.

Jas. A. Seddon, Secretary of War.

This telegram was far from explicit, and left upon General Beauregard the responsibility of following or not following its instructions. He determined, however, to give Generals Whiting and Smith all the assistance in his power, even at the risk of the enemy breaking through his coast-line, by a sudden coup de main [52] —an eventuality not altogether unlikely, owing to the great resources in men and means of transportation at the disposal of the Federals. Immediate orders were issued to the district and subdistrict commanders of the Department, and all possible diligence used to hurry on the transfer of the troops.6

On the 14th this letter was written to General Whiting:

General,—I send one of my volunteer aids, Colonel A. G. Rice, with a telegraphic cipher for use between us in cases of importance. You will please give him all necessary information relative to your present condition, future intentions, and present available means.

I have ordered 5000 men and three light batteries (all excellent troops) to be held in readiness, under Brigadier-General Gist, to be sent to your assistance whenever called for by you, if they can then be spared from here. Should the contingency contemplated by the War Department occur, and my presence be required by you, I will hasten to join you, although I have little doubt that you will be able to take good care of General Banks and his associates.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

On the next day the following despatch was forwarded to the War Department:

I am sending five thousand infantry and three batteries to Wilmington, to be returned as soon as practicable. All quiet here.

The force of the enemy was greatly exaggerated, though it might with truth have been put down at twenty thousand men. His object was never well understood, nor was it at any time very well defined. He certainly failed to accomplish what his movements seemed to indicate as his purpose. General Beauregard's direct co-operation was desired by Generals Whiting and Smith. The latter was of opinion that, should Banks's forces unite with Foster's, as reported, more troops would be needed from General Beauregard, and that he could come over with them, as ‘all geographical lines’ should then be considered as no longer existing. But General Smith's apprehensions were not realized. On the 18th, from Goldsboroa, whither he thought the Carolina and Georgia troops should be sent, he forwarded this despatch:

The enemy's army have gone to Newbern, moving in great haste.


And on the same day he also telegraphed as follows:

‘The enemy burned the railroad bridge yesterday. They were in force more than twenty thousand. Retired during the night towards Wilmington, devastating the country as they go. I have not transportation sufficient for ammunition even. Will move as soon as possible. They have a large army, and I believe are aiming at Wilmington.’

The reason for such ‘great haste’ on the part of the enemy was not perceptible, as General Smith's forces did not exceed six thousand men, without cavalry, and exclusive of the troops sent by General Beauregard, which, owing to unavoidable delays from Wilmington, had not reached their destination in time. On the other hand, the danger apparently threatening General Whiting's Department was not a serious one; and this expedition, from which so much was expected at the North, proved to be a complete failure.

Less than three days after these events General Beauregard was informed, through Colonel Clinch, commanding in Southeast Georgia, that the enemy's gunboats had left St. Simon's Bay, on their way to Charleston, which, it was reported, would soon be attacked, by land and water. This news was in some degree confirmed by the following telegram from the Secretary of War:

Richmond, Dec. 24th, 1862.
General Beauregard:
Information from L. Heylinger, a friend to our cause in Nassau—with the assurance that it comes from New York by a trustworthy source—states that the attack on Charleston will be made, about the holidays, by four ironclads. This news has not got into the papers.

Jas. A. Seddon, Secretary of War.

The substance of the foregoing despatch being repeated the next day, General Beauregard began to prepare for the emergency.

As might have been expected, his first step was to recall his troops from North Carolina. He telegraphed General Whiting to that effect, and at the same time authorized him to select either a 42-pounder rifled gun or a 10-inch columbiad, which would be sent him from Richmond to Charleston, and to use it for the defence of Wilmington. General Whiting, in a letter dated December 31st, thanked General Beauregard for his readiness to assist him, and took occasion to say, in his characteristic [54] manner, that, having served under him at the opening of the war, he would ask nothing better than to continue doing so until the very end.

Meanwhile, on the 27th, General Beauregard received the following telegram from Colonel William Porcher Miles:

‘Have appealed to President in vain for the two 7-inch guns. Says they belong to navy, and must go to Mobile, for floating-battery just finished and waiting for guns. Secretary of War did all he could for us.’

General Beauregard was astonished, for the President knew— or believed, which amounted to the same thing—that Charleston was on the eve of an attack. On the other hand, he should have been aware that no real danger threatened Mobile at that time; and yet, in spite of repeated entreaties, he preferred acceding to the request of General Forney, as though (even admitting that both cities were equally menaced) Charleston were not of more importance than Mobile to the safety of the Confederacy.

1 General Beauregard's Report to the War Department, to be found in the War Records Office, Washington, D. C.

2 General Cobb had been ordered by the War Department (November 1) to report for duty to General Beauregard.

3 When General Beauregard left Charleston for Weldon, in 1864, the work had not yet been paid for.

4 His effective force did not reach eight hundred men, with an extent of territory, from the Suwanee to the Choctawhatchee, of about one hundred and forty miles.

5 General G. W. Smith, then commanding in South Virginia and North Carolina.

6 See telegrams, in Appendix.

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