A Review by Colonel Wm. Allan, formerly Chief of Ordnance Second corps, A. N. V.
This book contains much of interest and value.
was one of the highest officers in rank in the Confederate
service, and was concerned in many important operations during the civil war. Indeed, few officers on either side had an experience more varied and extensive.
The narrative throws light on many of the great junctures of that struggle, and is enriched by a mass of official documents, many of which are here published for the first time.
Though there is no little diffuseness and repetition in the book, the arrangement is clear and the style easy and attractive.
The care and
labor shown in the preparation, as well as the mass of valuable materials it contains, render this book indispensable to the student of the history of the war.
We regret that we cannot go farther in praise of this book, but its whole tone, temper and manner of composition forbid it. Its faults are too glaring to be overlooked.
The chief sufferer from its publication is likely to be General Beauregard
himself, and it had been better for his reputation if he had assumed less directly the responsibility for Colonel Roman
The book is not so much a history of General Beauregard
's career as it is a fulsome panegyric of him, an overstrained and often disingenuous defence of everything he did, or did not do, during the war, and an unfair and ill-natured critique upon the conduct of his superiors.
We believe there is not a single superior officer of General Beauregard
that is not disparaged in this book, and accused of damaging, at one time or another, the cause of which General Beauregard
is represented as the only ever wise and ever unselfish defender.
The object of our author's special hostility is Mr. Davis
, but the Confederate Secretaries of War
, the chiefs of the war bureaus in Richmond
, and Generals Cooper
, A. S. Johnston
, J. E. Johnston
, besides many of lower rank, come in for their share of criticism — a criticism often ill-judged, in most cases partial, and nearly always truculent.
The author's mode of dealing with history is illustrated by his account of the first battle of Manassas
The facts in regard to this are simple.
In July, 1861, the Confederate Government had two principal bodies of troops, hastily collected, to oppose the invasion of Virginia
, threatened by the as hastily gathered levies of the Federal Government
The larger of these, under General Beauregard
, held the line of Bull Run
, and in its front was the principal Federal army under General McDowell
's force was being augmented by new regiments as fast as they could be armed and equipped out of the meagre supplies the South
could then command, and by the middle of July numbered about 20,000 men. The other Confederate army, of about 10,000 men, under General J. E. Johnston
, was opposing General Patterson
's advance into the Shenandoah Valley.
Besides these, General Holmes
had a small force on the lower Potomac.
Both of the larger bodies were greatly inferior to the Federal
forces opposing them.
had about 35,000 men and Patterson
's was the principal Federal army, it was pretty clear that the first serious advance would be made by it. It was also evident that the Confederate forces at Manassas
not grow fast enough to place it on an equality with the army in its front, and therefore General Beauregard
suggested the expediency of uniting the forces of Johnston
with his own for a sudden attack upon the Federal
armies in succession.
This proposal Beauregard
submitted through one of his staff to Mr. Davis
on the night of July 14. Generals Cooper
were called in conference by Mr. Davis
The plan required that General Johnston
, who was seventy-five miles away, should leave 5,000 men to hold Patterson
in check, and rapidly join Beauregard
This would double the Confederate
force at Manassas
and make it superior to McDowell
, who was to be attacked and beaten.
was to return with his own and 10,000 of Beauregard
's men and overwhelm Patterson
thought a week would suffice for this, after which Johnston
was to reinforce Garnett
in West Virginia
and destroy McClellan
's and Garnett
's forces were to cross the Potomac
and attack Washington
in rear, while Beauregard
assailed it in front.
This scheme was rejected as impracticable by all present at the conference, because: 1, Johnston
had hardly 10,000 men, instead of 25,000, which Beauregard
's plan assumed; 2.
's army was too close to Washington
to permit of its being crushed in the way indicated.
If pressed, it could readily fall back to that city and its reserves.
Another reason General Beauregard
might himself have added: neither of the Confederate armies was supplied with transportation or stores sufficient for the complicated movements mapped out.
On July 17, the third day after this conference, McDowell
advanced, and Beauregard
telegraphed the fact and asked for reinforcements.
was then ordered to join him if practicable with his effective force, and Holmes
was also sent up. Next day occurred Tyler
's attempt at Mitchell's Ford, ending in a Federal repulse.
's report apparently caused the Confederate
authorities to think that McDowell
had been severely checked, for next day (19th) Beauregard
was telegraphed as follows: ‘We have no intelligence from General Johnston
If the enemy in front of you has abandoned an immediate attack, and General Johnston
has not moved, you had better withdraw the call upon him, so that he may be left to his full discretion.’ * * * Beauregard
, seeing that the Federal
army in front was only perfecting its plans for attack, of course did not stop Johnston
, who reached Manassas
on the 20th, followed by his troops during that night and the next day. As Johnston
had merely eluded Patterson
, who must soon learn of his movement,
both Confederate Generals
felt that no time was to be lost in fighting McDowell
was senior, and in command, but, having no time to learn the country or disposition of the troops, adopted Beauregard
's plan of attacking McDowell
next day (21st). The aggressive movements of the Federals
early on the 21st prevented the execution of this plan.
then proposed to check McDowell
's movement against the left by attacking with the Confederate
This, too, was approved and adopted, but the orders sent by General Beauregard
failed to reach the Confederate
right in time.
had turned the Confederate
left and was pressing back with overwhelming force the troops there stationed.
All plans of aggression were now abandoned in order to resist McDowell
's attack, and a battle, unforeseen in character, location and disposition of troops, ensued.
hastened to the point of danger and exerted themselves successfully to stay the progress of the Federals
then left Beauregard
in command of the troops engaged, and, taking a position with reference to the whole field, devoted himself to hastening forward reinforcements.
These came up so promptly that Beauregard
, taking advantage of the check which Jackson
's stubborn stand had wrought, was soon able to resume the offensive, and within a short time the Federals
were not only defeated but routed and driven with fearful panic across Bull Run
reached the field after the battle was over, and that night, when the panic of the Federal
army had become partially known, was anxious for an immediate advance toward Washington
thought this inadvisable, so great was the exhaustion and confusion in the Confederate
ranks produced by the battle, and so inadequate the stock of supplies and transportation then available.
On the night of the 22d, at another conference, the Generals
declared it was impracticable to cross the Potomac
or to advance at once on Washington
in the wake of the defeated army.
seems to have been satisfied with the propriety of this judgment, and the idea was abandoned.
Such are the facts.
Let us see what Colonel Roman
makes of them.
On the rather slim basis of the reduction of Fort Sumter
, General Beauregard
's skill and reputation are spoken of in the most extravagant terms.
He then describes the proposal of July 14 as a stroke of genius, and says: ‘A high tribunal, composed of the President
, Generals Cooper
, took upon itself to check and render barren the strategic powers so greatly developed in General Beauregard
and in which the immortal Jackson
alone is acknowledged to have been his peer.’
Over and over again, with tiresome iteration, are Davis
denounced for not committing themselves without hesitation to a scheme utterly impracticable as Beauregard
put it, since it assumed nearly three times as many troops with Johnston
as he actually had. Had the troops been at hand, half-drilled, inexperienced, badly equipped, with insufficient transportation, as they were, the chances of success would not have been more than one in one hundred, and there is nothing in General Beauregard
's subsequent career to lead to the conviction that he was the man to seize that single chance.
Again, the dispatch of the 19th is tortured to mean a withdrawal of assent to the union of Johnston
, and the latter is highly praised for pocketing the dispatch and thus insuring the junction of the two forces, while Mr. Davis
is unsparingly condemned for sending it. The dispatch shows for itself.
was not to be stopped unless McDowell
had abandoned his immediate attack, and even then discretion was left with Johnston
(the senior officer
) as to his movements.
had not abandoned his attack, and therefore Beauregard
did simply his duty in holding the dispatch.
goes on to say:
‘We assert it as an incontrovertible truth, fully proved by later events, that the President
of the Confederacy
, by neglecting to compel his Quartermaster-General
to procure the transportation which could have been easily procured more than a month before the battle of Manassas
; by refusing, as early as the 13th of June, to assent to General Beauregard
's urgent request that authority should be given to concentrate our forces at the proper moment at Manassas Junction
; by again refusing, on the 15th of July, to allow him to execute his bold, offensive plans against the enemy, the certain result of which would have been the taking of Washington
—that the President
of the Confederacy
, by thus persisting in these three lamentable errors, lost the South her independence
It is hard to know how to characterize this wild statement seriously.
That the Quartermaster
and Commissary, as well as all other departments of the Confederate Government and army, were new and in many respects inefficient, was certainly the case; but probably no country without any military establishment or central government, and peopled by citizens untrained to war for generations, ever acted with greater energy than did the South
in the three months between the opening of the war and the battle of Manassas
in raising and supplying armies.
The victory of Manassas
is itself one of the best
proofs of this.
is entitled to a large share of credit for this remarkable victory, and we think this has been accorded to him; but it must have been under some malign star that he allowed his biographer to make such claims as we have quoted.
There is no better commentary to be found upon the claim that General Beauregard
was prevented from taking Washington
and thus perhaps ending the war, than in Beauregard
's own action after Manassas
's claim is that if Johnston
had been ordered to join Beauregard
on July 15th, McDowell
would have been overthrown, and next Patterson
, and next, perhaps, McClellan
, and that then Washington
might have fallen before the Confederates
advancing on both sides of the Potomac
Well, Johnston was
ordered to join Beauregard
with his whole force on July 17, and eluding Patterson
with great skill he reached Manassas
in time to secure a victory over McDowell
, a victory one of the most thorough and complete upon record.
This was in accordance with General Beauregard
What then became of the rest of that plan?
We do not hear that Beauregard
urged the return of Johnston
to demolish Patterson
, and Colonel Roman
informs us distinctly that Beauregard
opposed any advance on Washington
at the time and declared it impracticable.
Now, no one can show that General Beauregard
could have reasonably expected more favorable conditions, had Johnston
joined him two days earlier, than were actually at the command of the Confederate
leaders after their victory.
Yet he saw then that it was impossible to carry out the scheme he had proposed.
It would be perhaps unkind and unfair to Beauregard
to say he ought to have seen this before the proposition was made, but surely, to speak of Colonel Roman
's course as unkind and unfair, in bitterly denouncing Beauregard
's superiors twenty years after the above facts became known, is to characterize that course but mildly.
Our author continues in the same strain in regard to Beauregard
's position on the field of Manassas
, about which there is no proper room to doubt.
He was second in command under Johnston
, who adopted his plans until McDowell
's advance checkmated them, when each in his sphere did his best to secure success—Beauregard as commander of the troops engaged, and Johnston
After the battle Johnston
was strongly opposed to advancing, and so, too, was Beauregard
for a time.
But Colonel Roman
, through many pages, labors to prove that Johnston
had nothing to do with the battle of Manassas
except to act as a dead weight upon Beauregard
A similar tone pervades the whole book.
When General Beauregard
is sent to the West
, he finds everything wrong in General A. S. Johnston
The line of defence has been badly chosen, the works to strengthen it have been laid out without judgment, the vital importance of the defence of the Cumberland
and Tennessee rivers
has not been foreseen or properly provided for. General Beauregard
promptly proposes a plan of operations to counteract these blunders.
It is not adopted, and hence follow, in his opinion, the fall of Donelson
and the subsequent disasters of the Confederates
Again, it is General Beauregard
who, in spite of the indifference or opposition of his Government, and without the aid of his commanding officer, collects and organizes an army at Corinth
, urges and finally induces General Johnston
to unite his forces with it, and plans and does everything about the battle of Shiloh
—except to fight it. General Beauregard
is made to stand out as a solitary rock in a sea of incompetency and petty jealousy.
Yet when the chief command devolved upon Beauregard
, by the death of Johnston
, he no doubt realized more fully how much easier it was to criticize the shortcomings of others than to master the tremendous difficulties which beset the Confederate Government and its Generals
in the field.
A great victory was just within the grasp of the Confederates
It was allowed to slip away from them.
Next day the tables were turned, and Beauregard
was forced to retire to Corinth
Weeks followed, during which not a single stroke by the Confederates
checked the onward progress of the Federal
arms in the West
's strategy consisted in waiting at Corinth
until the advance of the Federal
army made a retreat necessary.
He then fell back to Tupelo
Again we find it impossible to sympathize with the violent attacks made upon the Confederate
administration in connection with the controversies in which General Beauregard
's ideas of official propriety sometimes involved him. Most remarkable, however, is the complaint made about his removal from command after his retreat from Corinth
The Confederate army had just fallen back before overwhelming forces, the Mississippi
seemed about to fall into Federal hands.
It was the first of June, when the Union
armies might be expected to push their advantage with increasing vigor.
At this juncture, without conference, and without any notice beyond a telegraphic dispatch to his Government, General Beauregard
proposed to leave his army, on a surgeon's certificate, to seek rest and recuperation at a distant watering-place.
, the next officer in rank, had been ordered elsewhere by his Government, but General Beauregard
retained him, turned over the command to him,
and actually left his post for the purpose indicated.
The Richmond authorities promptly relieved Beauregard
and placed Bragg
permanently in command.
It is hard to see how so intelligent a soldier as Colonel Roman
can complain of this, but he does.
's sickness was not sudden or unforseen.
It was a trouble he had been suffering from for months.
Either he was fit to command his army or he was not. If not, no injustice was done.
But in either case, the Richmond
authorities should have been informed, and the step of turning over the command to the next in rank not entered upon without conference with and approval by them.
It will be hard to convince anyone that at the first of June, and in the circumstances that then surrounded the western army, General Beauregard
was justified on the plea of ill-health and that his presence was not important, in leaving his post for a contemplated absence of some weeks without waiting to learn the views of his Government.
's book is so filled with indiscriminate praise of General Beauregard
, and indiscriminate blame of nearly everybody else, that we are apt to lose sight of General Beauregard
's really brilliant achievements.
It is far more pleasant to contemplate these than to read Colonel Roman
's incessant criticisms of distinguished Confederates, whose sacrifices for the land of their birth were not less costly, whose conduct was not less unselfish, whose patriotism was as devoted, whose aims were as high, whose courage was as marked as General Beauregard
's, and whose ability and skill were certainly not inferior to those of the distinguished Louisianian
was assigned to the command of South Carolina
in September, 1862, his most important duty being the defence of Charleston
Here General Beauregard
had a field eminently adapted to his talents.
A most skillful and accomplished engineer, he not only displayed ability of the highest order in this memorable defence, but exhibited astonishing fertility of resource and tenacity of purpose.
At the end of January, 1863, the Confederate gunboats made such a descent upon the blockading squadron as to cripple it and drive it off for the time.
Early in April the Federal fleet, under Dupont
, made the first grand attack upon Fort Sumter
, but was beaten off with terrible loss.
Again in July a most formidable armament, equipped with the best means at the command of the Federal Government
, and under one of the best engineers in the old army, General Gillmore
, began a most determined and protracted attack upon the defences of Charleston
With comparatively slender means Beauregard
completely baffled and kept at bay the prodigious armament with which the Federal Government
sought to reduce the ‘cradle of secession.’
For nearly six months his works sustained a fire which has rarely, if ever, been excelled in persistence and weight of metal.
When Fort Sumter
had become simply a heap of rubbish he continued to hold it and to defeat every attempt on the part of his assailants to capture it. At the end of the year the Federals
gave up in despair, and the Confederate
flag continued to float over Fort Sumter
's march northwards from Savannah
, in the early part of 1865, compelled the evacuation of the city.
There is probably in modern warfare no more splendid instance of a skilful and determined defence than that of Charleston
, and it will ever remain a noble testimony to the ability of Beauregard
In the Spring
of 1864, General Beauregard
was called from Charleston
, with a large part of his forces, to Richmond
, to take part in the defence of the Confederate Capital
Here, General Beauregard
's achievements were such as to add deservedly to his reputation.
He saved the Southern
approaches to Richmond
and, perhaps, that city itself, by defeating and ‘bottling up’ Butler at Bermuda Hundred
But his greatest feat in this campaign was his defence of Petersburg
on June the 15th, 16th, and 17th. General Grant
managed his crossing of the James
so well as to deceive General Lee
for some days and to keep him in ignorance of his real design.
In this way Grant
succeeded in throwing a large part of the Federal
army against Petersburg
, before General Lee
reached there with the advance of his army on June 18.
meantime held the defences of Petersburg
, and made a brilliant and tenacious struggle for them.
He managed his small force with such skill and courage as to keep back the half of the Federal
army, and though forced from his advanced positions he saved the city, and placed his troops on the lines which the Army of Northern Virginia was to defend with such wonderful pluck for more than nine months thereafter.
We have not space to follow General Beauregard
's career in the West
in connection with Hood
's disastrous campaign, or his operations in Sherman
's front in the spring of 1865, until General J. E. Johnston
was placed in command.
There was nothing done on either of these fields, however, that could add to the reputation which General Beauregard
won at Charleston