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Military operations of General Beauregard.

By Colonel Alfred Roman.

A Review by Judge Charles Gayarre paper no. 2—conclusion.

In March, 1862, a well organized and fully equipped Federal force, of over forty-seven thousand men, was gathered in front of Pittsburg landing, on the Tennessee river, a few miles from Corinth, where the Confederates were assembling for arming and drilling as fast as possible. This army, of which at least forty per cent were flushed with recent victories, was soon to be reinforced by General Buell, already on the march from Nashville, Tenn., with, at the lowest estimate, an effective force of thirty-seven thousand disciplined and superbly-equipped troops.

General Albert Sidney Johnston, the comander-in-chief, who had been retreating from Kentucky and Tennessee to avoid being enveloped by these overwhelming forces, arrived on the 22d of March at Corinth, where Beauregard, with infinite trouble, energy and perseverance, had succeeded in mustering twenty-five thousand men. [434] It was not yet an army, but only a heroic mob, who had responded to his eloquent appeal to their patriotism.

Beauregard, on the arrival of Johnston, proposed to surprise the Federal force, under command of General Grant, who had reached the Tennessee river, and defeat him before the coming of Buell, whose junction was shortly expected. General Johnston assented. The plan was to be in the vicinity of the enemy by the evening of the 4th of April, and attack on the morning of the 5th, twenty-four hours before the probable arrival of Buell. But heavy rainfalls during the night of the 4th and the early part of the next day, the narrowness of the roads running through a densely wooded country, the rawness of the troops and the inexperience of their officers, including some of superior rank, were the causes of much delay, and the Confederates had reached a position to attack only on the morning of the 6th instead of the 5th, as originally intended. This was not all. The transportation wagons, containing five days uncooked, reserved rations, for all the troops, were miles away in the rear, not having been able, on account of the heavy roads, to keep up with the march, and the march itself had been conducted with such open imprudence, in violation of the strictest orders given to the contrary, that it was impossible to entertain any longer the hope that the enemy would be surprised. Wherefore General Beauregard, who had planned and organized the offensive movement, proposed that it be converted into a reconnoisance in force, with the purpose of drawing the enemy nearer to our base at Corinth. This shows that General Beauregard, who had always been considered as too fond of a dangerous and aggressive strategy, knew how to control, when necessary, his natural disposition, and restrain his boldness with the curb of prudence.

General Johnston dissented for several reasons, one of which was that a retrogade movement would, under present circumstances, discourage his troops, who were full of confidence and hopeful of success. Our army had been put in motion for battle. It was now on the field chosen for it, and it was thought better to cast the die and risk the venture on the gaming table of Mars. Consequently preparations were made for an attack at dawn the next day, 6th of April, and what has been called the battle of Shiloh, was fought according to the decision of the Commander-in-chief, but not with the endorsement of the next in command.

It was the opinion of General Sherman that the position of the Federals was the strongest that could be found in the world, and that General Beauregard ‘would not be such a fool as to attack, and that his [435] movement was only a reconnoisance in force.’ Hence it is proved that the Federals were suprised, notwithstanding the probabilities to the contrary, and that they were driven into a battle for which they were not prepared. It was fought with great fury on both sides during two days. The Confederate loss, out of forty thousand men, was ten thousand. The Federals, whose ranks had been, swelled particularly during the battle of the second day, by strong reinforcements, that raised their forces to seventy-two thousand, lost over twelve thousand men.

General Albert Sidney Johnston was killed at 2.50 P. M. on the first day of the battle, and General Beauregard, who had acted under him, continued it with great vigor and intelligence until nightfall. We think it useless, for the purpose we have in view, to notice the controversy which has arisen about whether the Federals would or would not have been crushed if General Johnston had not been killed and General Beauregard not assumed command, for which it is contended that he was not prepared, on account of bad health and other circumstances. It is difficult to read Colonel Roman's narrative without being convinced that General Beauregard acted on that occasion with his usual valor and ability.

At the end of the first day's battle, as demonstrated by Colonel Roman, the starving and weary Confederates had, during the long and exhaustive conflict, been thrown into much confusion, resulting partly from their pillage of the enemy's camps to satisfy their hunger and recuperate their overtaxed strength, when they believed themselves to be victorious, and partly from the disjointed condition in which the different corps found themselves on the approach of night. A further struggle would have been usless, if prosecuted under existing disadvantages, and it looked as if imperatively necessary to cease it, and to reorganize for the next day. But, in the meantime, all the forces of Buell had arrived, and Beauregard went into the bloody battle of the next day, merely to deceive the enemy about the retreat which he meditated back to Corinth, and which he executed with consummate skill.

At Corinth it soon became apparent to General Beauregard that the insalubrity of that locality would, says Colonel Roman, ‘increase as the season advanced,’ and that, apart from the danger of being overwhelmed by a steadily growing army in his front, he would have to select another strategic point more salubrious, and in which he could hold in check the enemy and protect his rear. For these reasons he evacuated Corinth and fell back on Tupelo, where begins [436] the fertile and healthful black-land region of Mississippi. With his usual caution, celerity, and success he executed this retreat, which is always a difficult military operation to effect without disaster, when having to elude the grasp of an enterprising and vigilant enemy.

Whilst at Corinth General Beauregard, by dint of excessive efforts and by the magnetism of his popularity, had succeeded in concentrating again fifty thousand men, with whom he had to contend against one hundred and twenty-five thousand under General Halleck, as first, and General Grant, as second in command. Before retreating, as we have related, from this eminently important strategic point, which he had to abandon, General Beauregard, with his well-known sagacity and his boldness of conception, had devised a scheme to strike a powerful blow at one of the numerous corps that he had in front. It was to be a flank movement, and was only partially successful, on account of the inefficiency of a leading guide and the slowness of one of the commanding Generals of the expedition. Meanwhile General Beauregard had taken the most minute precautions to protect his falling back to Tupelo, as before stated; and we believe that Colonel Roman correctly says ‘that no other retreat during the war was conducted in so systematic and masterly a manner, especially when we consider the comparative rawness of some of our troops and the disparity of numbers and resources between the two confronting armies.’ On the 5th of June, 1862, our army was safe at Tupelo, fifty-two miles from Corinth, in a salubrious region, where all the requirements of subsistence and of a good defensive position were found.

It was at Tupelo that the misunderstandings, incessantly occurring between the President and General Beauregard, attained a more acute degree of intensity. Believing that his presence could be dispensed with for a few days, the General went to Bladon Springs, in Alabama, in the hope to benefit his health, which was completely shattered, and transferred, temporarily, the command of the army to General Bragg, one of his Lieutenants. Whereupon, President Davis removed General Beauregard and substituted for him General Bragg, to whom he gave permanent and complete command. General Beauregard felt it to be an injustice and an affront, but he took it magnanimously, showing no irritation and no resentment.

On the 20th of July, General Bragg addressed a letter to his former commander, then at Bladon Springs, and consulted him on a projected campaign from Tupelo into Tennessee and Kentucky. He was answered in a most kind and cordial manner. After having fully developed his views on the subject, Beauregard concluded thus: [437]

‘The moment you get to Chattanooga, you ought to take the offensive, keeping in mind the following grand principles of the art of war: First, always bring the masses of your army in contact with the fractions of the enemy; second, operate as much as possible on his communications without exposing your own; third, operate always on interior or shorter lines. I have no doubt that, with anything like equal numbers, you will always meet with success.’

Colonel Roman remarks: ‘General Bragg, for reasons we cannot explain, did not follow the advice given, and his campaigns into Middle Tennessee, and in Kentucky ended almost in a disaster.’

In September, 1862, General Beauregard was assigned to duty in the military department, comprehending South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, with headquarters at Charleston. The minimum of the forces for the defense of this extensive district was reported to him as somewhat exceeding forty-three thousand men. He immediately established signal (flag) stations at the most important points along the coast of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, where the enemy's ships, or fleets, could be observed. So effective was the inaugurated system, that, during the twenty months he remained there in command, he never was, on any occasion, taken by surprise. He prepared all the means in his power to give the enemy as warm a reception as circumstances would allow, and, as usual with him, no detail, however insignificant in appearance, was neglected. He actually looked to everything with his own eyes, and always took care to give, himself, verbally or otherwise, all the instructions necessary to the full execution of his orders.

We will not go into the details, extraordinary as they are, of the defence of Charleston against the powerful fleet that so long assailed that city. But we may be permitted to assert, without much fear of contradiction, that it was a marvellous display of engineering skill. The incessant labors which such a masterly defence required did not prevent General Beauregard from turning his attention to the military operations conducted by his companions in arms in other parts of the Confederacy. For instance, he suggested to General J. E. Johnston, then at Jackson, Mississippi, that by concentrating his own and other forces not actively engaged at the time, he could inaugurate a vigorous and successful campaign into Tennessee and Kentucky. On the 15th of May, 1863, he drew a plan of operations which he communicated to General J. E. Johnston, saying: ‘These views, if they coincide with yours might be, if not already done, submitted to the War Department.’ [438]

That plan was extremely brilliant—almost dazzling. It consisted, as recommended on previous occasions, in the concentration of all our available forces on the defensive, and next, in the execution of rapid and offensive movements. It would at least have relieved, if it had accomplished nothing more, the State and Valley of Missisippi, by marching a large Confederate army into Tennessee and Kentucky. Rosecrans's corps could have been suddenly attacked and crushed; Grant's corps might have had his communications cut off and would have had to surrender, or cut his way through the victorious and enthusiastic hosts that encompassed him. Then sufficient forces could have been spared to send to the assistance of Kirby Smith in Louisiana, of Price in Missouri, and back to Virginia, to reinforce the troops left there, should they have been pressed by the enemy—a contingency hardly to be supposed, considering the condition of our foes in that State after their terrible defeat at Chancellorsville. Finally the navigation of the Mississippi could have been resumed, New Orleans retaken and Banks's army captured. These possibilities presented by General Beauregard in a plan which must be admitted to have been graphically drawn, and in support of which plausible reasons were alleged, produced, we confess, a sort of vertiginous effect upon our mind. We could not prevent the results, announced with such faith, from rising before us like a glorious mirage. But General Lee, instead of being sent to Kentucky, as he should have been, to co-operate with our other forces, was ordered into Pennsylvania, and the disaster of Gettysburg was the awful consequence of what is considered by many as an egregious mistake.

General Beauregard, in his anxiety for the fate of the Confederacy, did not confine his attention to the defence of Charleston; his mind glanced over a much broader surface. He never, as much as possible, lost sight of our military movements, wherever they were expected to be of any importance. Thus, on the 7th of October, 1863, he wrote to General Bragg, commanding the army at Chattanooga, Tennessee. With much lucidity he laid before him the plan of a campaign, and predicted what would follow should some such plan be not adopted. With remarkable modesty and with patriotic disinterestedness he said to his successor and friend:

‘Should you approve of this plan, can you not address it as your own to the War Department in the hope of its being adopted? What I desire is our success. I care not who gets the credit for it. Our resources are fast getting exhausted; our people, I fear, are getting disheartened, for they can see no bright spot on the horizon to revive [439] their drooping hopes after the sacrifices they have made in this terrible contest. Let us then unite all our efforts in a last deadly struggle, and with God's help we shall triumph.’

As usual, that new plan was rejected, as the others had been, and it is remarkable that on this occasion, as on the preceding ones, all that General Beauregard predicted as liable to happen, in case of the rejection of his views, took place almost to the very letter. Could it have been worse if his plans had been followed?

On the 8th of December, 1863, General Beauregard, while contemplating from Charleston the military situation in Virginia and the West, where disasters were following disasters, drew at the request of Pierre Soule, ex-Senator of Louisiana in the Congress of the United States, a comprehensive plan of campaign, which the latter desired, if it were possible, to submit to the authorities at Richmond. In that communication General Beauregard said:

The system hitherto followed of keeping in the field separate armies, acting without concert, on distant and divergent lines of operation, and thus enabling our enemy to concentrate at convenience his masses against our fractions, must be discontinued, as radically contrary to the principles of the art of war, and attended with inevitable results, such as our disasters in Mississippi, Tennessee and North Georgia.

We must arrange for a sudden and rapid concentration—upon some selected, decisive point of the theatre of war—of enough troops to crush the forces of the enemy embodied in that quarter. This must necessarily be done at the expense or hazard, for the time, of other points less important, or offering less advantages to strike the enemy. A blow thus struck must effectually disorganize his combinations, and will give us the choice of the field of operations.

I am sensibly aware of our limited means, our want of men, the materials and appliances of war and of transportation, and hence the difficulties which will embarrass us in the execution of this plan of concentration. But I see no way to success except through and by it, and nothing but ultimate disaster without it. A different course may, indeed, protract the contest, which will become, day by day, more unequal. We may fight stoutly, as hitherto, many bloody and undecisive battles, but will never win a signal, conclusive victory, until we can manage to throw a heavy and overwhelming mass of our forces upon the fractions of the enemy, and at the same time successfully strike at his communications without exposing our own.

Of course my views must be subject to such modifications, as my [440] want of precise information relative to the number and location of our troops may render necessary. The hour is critical and grave. I am filled with intense anxiety lest golden opportunities shall be lost forever. It is concentration and immediate mobility that are indispensable to preserve us.

The plan, although hurriedly drawn, was admirably conceived, and founded on the principles of the art of war. The only question was as to its feasibility. It is worthy of notice, that in his communication to Soule, General Beauregard foresees, with the clearness of a true prophet, that Atlanta is the objective point of the enemy, and predicts the consequences that would and did ensue should the enemy take possession of that strategic point.

This plan was communicated to the War Department, and no action taken upon it. About eleven months later Atlanta fell, and the Southern Confederacy was mortally wounded. The sword of Sherman had gone through its vital parts. Beauregard had prophesied correctly. If the man-of-war had been fanciful in his military scheme of salvation, the prophet had not erred in his vaticinations.

From impregnable Charleston, under his command, Beauregard was removed in April, 1864, to Virginia, with headquarters at Petersburg. While at that city he proposed a plan of offensive operations, which was opposed by General Bragg, military adviser to the President. Among the arguments used by General Beauregard in pressing his views, we remark this one: ‘That, if successful, the stroke would, in all probability, terminate the war; while, if it should not be successful, the end to which the Confederate cause was hopelessly drifting, unless redeemed by some early, bold and decisive success, would only come sooner.’ It is difficult for the reader not to be favorably impressed by this argument. But the President persisted in his refusal to acquiesce in the views of the General.

The want of time and space does not permit the author of this essay to go into a review of the defence of Petersburg, protected by fortifications that cavalry could ride over, and by ten thousand against ninety thousand men. Sufficient to say that it was a prodigy of engineering, generalship, indomitable endurance, and superb tenaciousness of will.

From Petersburg, which he had saved, General Beauregard was ordered to take the command of what was called the Military Division of the West, embracing two departments respectively under Generals Hood and Taylor. ‘He knew,’ says Colonel Roman, [441] ‘that he was not superseding General Hood, but that he was merely sent to him as an adviser.’ General Hood, however, seems to have acted very little in concert with any advice from General Beauregard, and the plan of campaign which he had prepared, when carried into execution, ended in disaster for the Confederacy near Nashville, in Tennessee. The demoralized army became disorganized and was rapidly degenerating into a rabble. The days of the Confederacy were numbered and it was easy to foresee that its extinguishment was near.

On the 1st of February, 1865, Sherman began his famous march to the Atlantic Ocean. Beauregard was at Augusta. The estimate of the forces in and about that city and in the State of South Carolina, was 33,450 demoralized men, only one-half of them available at that date. It was the ghost of an army, with which to oppose at least 58,000 disciplined and well organized troops under Sherman.

It was then that General Beauregard, refusing to despair, and with a fortitude derserving of a better fate, conceived a plan by which he hoped, late as it was, to redeem the fortune of the Confederacy, and which he presented to President Davis, repeatedly in two telegraphic dispatches. He advised and demonstrated the policy of promptly abandoning all those cities and ports which he knew must soon fall of their own weight, and for whose protection troops were used that could be better employed at other points. But no attention was paid to his suggestions. ‘The government,’ says Colonel Roman, ‘persevered in following the beaten track, and preferred fighting the enemy's superior forces with disjointed portions of our own—--thus reversing the essential maxim of war: to command success concentrate masses against fractions.’

This plan is minutely transcribed in Colonel Roman's book, because, as he says, ‘of its strategic value and entire feasibility.’ He further remarks: ‘It was indeed unfortunate that the War Department and Generals Bragg and Hardee did not understand the wisdom and necessity, at this juncture, of the concentration he advised. It would have resulted in the re-establishment of our lines of communication and depots of supplies, and in the eventual relief, if not permanent salvation of the Confederate capital.’

Acknowledging our incapacity in this matter, we leave to competent critics the task to pronounce judgment on the ‘strategic value and entire feasibility’ of the plan to which neither the government nor Generals Bragg and Hardee gave their assent. But we cannot but admire the stoutness of a heart impervious to despair, and the fertility [442] of that brain which to the very last was teeming with strategic conceptions of striking boldness. In the days of ancient Rome such a man would have been thanked by the Senate for his resolution still to continue the defence of what looked as a ‘lost cause.’ But although he had not, like Varro, lost by his fault the battle of Cannae and left dead on the battle field near seventy thousand of his countrymen, yet not only was he not thanked for not having despaired of the Republic, but even very little attention was paid to his suggestions. Was it because, unlike Varro, he was not liable to reproach?

At last the cataclism arrived. Charleston was evacuated, Columbia burned, and nothing had been done by those who had rejected, one after another, all of General Beauregard's plans and suggestions. ‘The wisdom of the policy advocated by General Beauregard, weeks before,’ says Colonel Roman, ‘was clearly demonstrated. Had our untenable seaports and harbor defences and even the Confederate capital been abandoned in time, and the troops occupying them withdrawn and concentrated at or about Branchville, South Carolina, reinforced by two or more corps from the army of Northern Virginia, a stand could have been made by which Sherman's invading army, then so far from its base—the sea coast—would have been effectually checked and the course of events materially changed. As it was, place after place fell before overpowering numbers and the junction of General Bragg's forces with those of General J. E. Johnston was only partially effected after Schofield had united his forces with those of Sherman.’

It may be said truly that the last effort, a spasmodic one, made by the Southern Confederacy in its agonies of death, was at Bentonville, when General Joseph E. Johnston, with about 14,000 men, struck, on the 20th of March, 1865, a vigorous blow on the flank of Sherman's army, composed of at least 60,000 men. It was the last leaf of laurel gained and much stained with bloodshed, with no result worthy of the sacrifice. We now hasten to avert our eyes from the painful and humiliating scenes which attended the end of our civil war. But before dismissing the subject, it gratifies us to say that Colonel Roman shows General Beauregard to have remained equal to himself to the last; and this is saying much; for very few historical characters have remained consistent and compact from the begining to the termination of their career.

Colonel Roman does not leave us unacquainted with the feelings of his hero when retiring into the shades of private life after his final struggle in favor of the ‘Lost Cause.’ [443]

General Beauregard,’ he says, ‘bitterly reflected on General Sherman's long and slow march from Atlanta to Savannah, from Savannah to Goldsboroa, and from Goldsboroa to Raleigh, a distance of 650 miles, which it had taken him 100 days, or an average of six miles a day to accomplish. He knew that this had been effected without material opposition, because of want of forethought on the part of the officers of the War Department, from whom no reinforcement could be obtained, and by reason of whose apathy no concentration could be made at any point, notwithstanding his repeated and urgent appeals. And what added keenness to his regret, was the recollection that had General Hood crossed the Tennessee river at Gantersville, when he should have done so, he would have had ample time to destroy the scattered Federal forces in that part of the State, take Nashville, with all the supplies there collected, and march to the Ohio without encountering serious obstacles. Or, possibly, he might, after taking Nashville, have crossed the Cumberland mountains and gone to form a junction with General Lee, so as to strike General Grant before General Sherman could come to his assistance. The success of either movement might have compelled General Sherman to follow the Confederate forces into Middle Tennessee, thus showing the correctness of General Hood's original plan, which, though badly executed, was, nevertheless, undoubtedly well conceived.’

After having read Colonel Roman's book twice with minute attention, we asked ourself what impression it had left on our mind as to the character, the talents, and military career of General Beauregard. Our appreciation we give here for what it is worth. It has, at least the merit, if no other, of sincerity, impartiality, and conviction.

The moral qualities of General Beauregard are transparent, and cannot be questioned—integrity, high-mindedness, magnanimity, delicate sensitiveness under a cold exterior, disinteredness, and a chivalrous refinement of feelings, to which we may add self-abnegation and self-sacrifice, when required by the public good. We are not sure that we might not, with equal propriety, extend this disposition so as to embrace his usual course of action within the sphere of private interests.

As a military man, he shows himself a wonderful organizer, a rare quality, so much appreciated in Carnot, whom Napoleon called the ‘organizer of victories.’ He is equally skillful in the attack and in the retreat, and he unites in his person what is seldom found together, the genius of the engineer with the quick and comprehensive conceptions of the strategist in the field. The great Conde was one of [444] those to whom these two special and very different gifts had been granted by nature. Beauregard's sagacity in foreseeing, as if by intuition, the intended movements of the enemy; his inexhaustible fertility in inventing and devising plans after plans to meet his own exigencies and those of others; his ingenuity in gathering means of defence or offence, his indefatigable attention to the smallest details, which is the characteristic of great commanders; his sleepless capacity for labor, the precision and lucidity of his orders and military correspondence, are individual traits which are conspicuous. He also posseses that magnetism which all great captains have exercised on their troops. In his campaigns he combined caution with dash, boldness with prudence; a boldness which he thought justified by the hesitations and timidity, if not by the actual incapacity, of the enemy. Wherever he appeared despondency gave way to encouragement. His equals in command, although sometimes differing with him, would repeatedly consult him, by telegrams or otherwise, on the propriety of their own movements, thereby exhibiting complete reliance on his judgment and on his coup d'oeil, embracing, like the eagle's eye, an immensity of distance and a variety of objects.

From the beginning to the end of the Secession War, there was an irreconcilable divergence of opinion between General Beauregard and the Confederate Government as to the policy of the military operations to be adopted. Yielding, probably to the clamors of localities, and to the pressure of other exigencies and considerations, the Government endeavored to protect every portion of the very extensive area of the Confederacy. This necessitated a scattering of forces. Beauregard was for concentrating all the vitality of the Confederate body into a large army, which would have made short the arbitrament of arms, instead of its being prolonged. Such a system might have been successful, and if not, it would have left us less exhausted by a defeat which would at once have put an end to the conflict. Unfortunately it continued to be throughout the policy of extension against concentration, of general, permanent and indiscriminate retention against partial and temporary abandonment. But this universal would-be protection turned out to be universal and absolute ruin; for, as we have said in the first pages of this essay, nothing can be more surely fatal than the prolongation of the struggle of a much weaker power against a much superior one, because, when it comes to bleeding, a giant can more easily afford to lose one pint of blood than a pigmy one single drop.

A man, like Frederic the Great, would have allowed Richmond to [445] be sacked seven times, as Berlin was, rather than not concentrate every man and every resource he could command to strike incessantly at his enemies; for he was not much inclined to the defensive, when the contest was between a population of five millions against one hundred millions, between Prussian poverty and the comparatively immense wealth of his adversaries He had too much sense in his brain and too much steel in his nerves to pursue such a course. But Frederic, it is true, had the advantage of being a despot, with no hand but his own to hold the bridle of his horse, which he spurred to victory or death at the four quarters of the horizon, according to his supreme will; and Prussia was an armed and disciplined camp. It was all sting. But would Frederic have done what he did if he had been the fettered President of a Democratic Republic, dozing in his Executive arm-chair, under the opiate of a congressional body, and, instead of being on horseback in the field to direct everything in person, waiting patiently for the passage of laws in a revolutionary crisis, which is always the negative of all law, and when there should be no other legislation than that of the sword? Would Napoleon have achieved his stupendous victories if he had been compelled to submit his plans, before their execution, to a council of lawyers in Paris? The Romans knew better. In perilous times, when the life of the Commonwealth was at stake, their patrician Senate always appointed a dictator, and never attempted to exercise any control over the man upon whom they had imposed such immense responsibility. That dictator always saved the Republic.

The numerous plans of campaigns devised by General Beauregard, and minutely described by Colonel Roman in his work, seem to have been considered by the Government either as too bold, too perilous, or too deficient in feasibility. ‘But,’ as observes Colonel Roman, ‘war is essentially a contest of chances, and he who fears to encounter any risk, seldom accomplishes great results.’ I believe it was Frederic who said to his officers, assembled around him, ‘Gentlemen, in front of us are the Austrians. They are in an impregnable position; they are two to one, and yet I am going to attack them in violation of all the rules of war. If not victorious, you will see me alive no more.’ This was risky enough; but this man of iron had no cause to repent of his temerity, and of his having rashly violated ‘all the rules of war.’

Under the walls of Rocroy, the French, commanded by Conde, then only twenty-one years old, met the famous Spanish infantry, who had been, for almost a century, the terror of Europe. The enemy [446] was superior in numbers, in discipline, in experience, and expected large reinforcements at any moment. The Prince was for attacking without loss of time, and he did so not withstanding the opposition of the council of war, who thought that it would be too risky. The battle was lost twice by the fault of subalterns and the misconception of orders, and twice re-established by the youthful Commander. But the French again began to waver and to retreat slowly, when Conde by a manoeuvre, which, says the Duke d'aumale, ‘had never been executed before, and never has been executed since’—so perilous it was, we presume—completely annihilated the Spanish army, and gained the first of that series of victories by which he is immortalized.

We do not share the opinion of those who think that General Beauregard may have been too obtrusive in presenting repeatedly so many plans of military operations to the Government, and in insisting on their adoption with too much confidence in himself. It was his duty, if he was convinced that his views were correct. His conduct is not without numerous precedents in history. The men who have accomplished the most on earth, and who have left their names imperishably engraved on its surface, had implicit and absolute faith in themselves, next to God, or to the gods. This was an invariable characteristic in those superior beings. Hence, nothing humbled by disaster and the unjust disregard of men, they still retained on their brows the imprint of dignity from an abiding faith in their own worth and in the correctness of their motives and designs. This is not the ignoble vanity or foolish imprudence of mediocrity. It is the consciousness of the possession of real innate powers, of self-relying genius, whose existence cannot be destroyed by the malignancy of the world, although its light may be kept concealed under a bushel by the mysterious decree of adverse fate.

We are convinced, after reading Colonel Roman's book, that General Beauregard had in himself the faith which we have described in others. It has been said, ‘that true modesty exists only in strong heads and great souls;’ but certainly it cannot exclude from those ‘strong heads and great souls’ the self-perception of what they are. General Beauregard undoubtedly believed, with that faith which removes mountains, that the military line of action which he recommended to the Government, if adopted, would save the Confederacy. What must then have been the agonies of his heart when he saw all his plans rejected, and a system of warfare pursued, which, in his opinion, would lead to infallible destruction! Whether he was right or wrong in his conceptions and recommendations on which we are [447] not competent to pass judgment ex cathedra, we cannot but sympathise with the keenness of his disappointment and the honesty of his patriotic grief. With such a deep-rooted conviction of the correctness of his views, it is perhaps not astonishing that he attributed the persistent neglect of them, and the treatment which he thought he received in other respects, to personal enmity from the Government which he was anxious to serve so zealously. We leave aside these grievances, whether real or fancied, as not coming within the scope of this essay.

Colonel Roman's ‘Military Operations of General Beauregard’ is an important work. We feel personally indebted to him for the information which we have derived from its perusal. The style of his narrative, bating some repetitions which might have been spared, is all that the nature of his composition required. It is pure, elegant, lucid, and vigorously descriptive in more than one page. There is occasionally some pardonable vivacity of personal feelings, but always expressed in proper and dignified language. He has done full justice to his subject, which is no small achievement, for it is seldom that as much can be said of most writers. If his impartiality is questioned by some, we believe that his evident intention to be just will be acknowledged by all. His assertions and appreciations are based on documents which he puts on record as judicial evidence. Henceforth, of our civil war, it will be impossible to write the history without taking this valuable contribution td it into the most serious consideration.

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