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Chapter 44:


On his arrival at Augusta, General Beauregard was met by Lieutenant-General Hardee, who had been invited to await him there. The object of their conference was to adopt a plan for opposing the probable immediate advance of Sherman from Savannah, Beaufort, the southeastern portion of South Carolina, and the whole extent of the Confederate line, along the Salkehatchie and the Combahee.

Major-General D. H. Hill, commanding the Subdistrict of Augusta, and Major-General G. W. Smith, commanding the ‘Georgia reserves,’ occupied at that time the defensive line of Briar Creek, some twenty-five miles south of Augusta, with their headquarters at or near Green's Cut Station, on the Augusta and Savannah Railroad. General Beauregard was desirous that both of them should be present at the projected meeting; and as they could not, just then, absent themselves from their commands, it was decided that Generals Beauregard and Hardee should go to them. [337]

The conference was held on the 2d of February, at Green's Cut Station, and lasted several hours. The views and measures there presented by General Beauregard were accepted with but little—if any—modification. They are embodied and clearly expressed in the following document, which is laid before the reader. Therein will be found a succinct but correct picture of the military situation at that time, and the reasons actuating General Beauregard in the formation of his judgment upon the subject:

Headquarters, Military division of the West, Augusta, Ga., Feb. 3d, 1865.
Notes of conference had on the 2d day of February, A. D. 1865, at Green's Cut Station, Ga., at which General Beauregard, Lieut.-General Hardee, Major-General D. H. Hill, and Major-General G. W. Smith were present.

The following was the estimated strength of the forces, in and about Augusta and the State of South Carolina, which could be relied on as effectives to resist the advance of Sherman:

General Hardee: Regular infantry, P. A. C. S8,000
Militia and reserves3,000
Light artillery2,000
Butler's division, mounted and dismounted1,5001
Total under General Hardee14,500
Major-General Smith: Georgia militia1,200
General Brown: Reserves250
Lee's corps: Infantry4,000
Cheatham's corps: 3,000
Stewart's corps: 3,0002
Total infantry22,450
Army of Tennessee10,800
Wheeler's cavalry6,700
Total infantry 22,450
light artillery2,800
cavalry, mounted and dismount8,200
Grand total33,450


Cheatham's and Stewart's corps had not arrived. The head of Cheatham's corps was expected to come on the 4th or 5th, and the head of Stewart's on the 10th or 11th.

In view of Sherman's present position, his manifest advance towards Branchville from Pocotaligo and Coosawhatchie, the weakness of our forces, and the expected arrival of the reinforcements above referred to, it was deemed inadvisable to concentrate our forces at Branchville and there offer battle to Sherman.

During the pending negotiations for peace it was thought of the highest importance to hold Charleston and Augusta as long as it was humanly possible. Moreover, it being in violation of all maxims of the military art to adopt a place as a point of concentration which it was possible that the enemy, with a largely superior force, could reach before our columns could arrive, it was, therefore, concluded—

1st. That the line of the Combahee should be held as long as practicable, resisting the enemy strongly at all points.

2d. Should the enemy penetrate this line or turn it in force, General Hardee should retire with his forces, covering his rear with about five hundred cavalry, towards Charleston, resisting the advance of the enemy in that direction vigorously behind every available creek, river, or swamp; while Wheeler, dividing his forces temporarily, should fall back with the main portion in the direction of Columbia, checking the enemy's advance, should he follow, and hold the line of the Congaree until reinforcements could arrive. The other portion of his cavalry was to fall back towards Augusta, covering that place.

3d. Should the enemy follow General Hardee and indicate an attack on Charleston, and whenever it should become evident that a longer defence was impracticable, General Hardee should abandon the place, removing all valuable stores, and hasten to form a junction in front of Columbia with the forces of General Beauregard, who would have to cover Columbia, and take up the Congaree as a line of defence.

4th. That the infantry now on the line of Briar Creek (about twenty-five miles south of Augusta) should be removed as soon as the stores were brought back, and take up a new position along Spirit Creek, about fifteen miles nearer, which should be fortified. A four-gun battery, with embrasures and heavy traverses, was to be placed on the Savannah River, near the mouth of Spirit Creek, and a similar one at Sand Bar Ferry, both batteries aided by torpedoes in the river.

5th. It was held in contemplation to send Lee's corps to Branchville; and in the event of the happening of the contingency alluded to in the second and third resolutions, Major-General Stevenson, commanding that corps, should retire towards the Congaree, protected by the cavalry, where he would watch and guard its crossings until the arrival of Generals Beauregard and Hardee.

In the course of the conference General Hardee expressed the opinion that it would require at least twenty thousand men to defend Charleston successfully during about twenty days—the extent of provisions there accumulated. He said, however, that his subordinate commanders in that district, [339] Brigadier-Generals Taliaferro and Elliott, and Colonel Rhett, estimated the force required at from that number to about twenty-five thousand men.

The troops arriving from the Army of Tennessee were still without artillery and wagons. Three batteries were expected to arrive at Augusta in two or three days, but the other six and the wagon-trains could not be expected to commence arriving before eight or ten days.

The enemy, moving with a certain number of days' rations for all his troops, with the hope of establishing a new base at Charleston after its fall, has in reality no lines of communication which can be threatened or cut—his overpowering force enables him to move into the interior like an ordinary movable column.

Respectfully submitted.

Geo. Wm. Brent, Col., and A. A. G.

The foregoing report, written by Colonel Brent, from notes furnished him by General Beauregard on his return from the conference, was forwarded to the War Department, with the following endorsement:

Headquarters, Military division of the West, Augusta, Feb. 5th, 1865.
Respectfully forwarded to the War Department for the information of the President. If it be true, as reported by prisoners and deserters, that Schoefield's corps (23d), from Middle Tennessee, and Sheridan's (19th), from the Valley of Virginia, have joined Sherman's army, it cannot be estimated at less than fifty-four thousand infantry and artillery—i. e., six corps, at nine thousand men each—to whom must be added about four thousand cavalry, forming a total of not less than fifty-eight thousand disciplined and well-organized men.3

When it became necessary to operate with the Confederate forces mentioned in the first part of the foregoing report, it was found that their number was most sadly diminished. This reduction—which caused extreme disappointment to General Beauregard—was due to the exhaustion of the men, numbers of whom had dropped out of the ranks on the march, never afterwards reporting for duty; and to the fact that the Georgia State troops, or ‘reserves,’ amounting to about fifteen hundred effectives, were not allowed to pass beyond the boundaries of their State, and were, therefore, not available for any operations in the two Carolinas. Cheatham's and Stewart's corps had also been delayed on their march from Tupelo, Miss.; and Lee's corps, under Major-General [340] C. L. Stevenson, was still destitute of its means of transportation and of its artillery.

On the 3d General Hill was required to return one of the brigades of Lee's corps which he then had with him at Green's Cut Station, and the following order was thereupon issued to Major-General Stevenson:

Augusta, Feb. 3d, 1865.
General,—General Beauregard desires that you will forthwith move with your corps by rail to Branchville, and assume command at that point of all troops which may be there. You will carry with you five days cooked rations. On reaching Branchville you will open communication with Lieutenant-General Hardee, at Charleston, and advise him of your arrival. You will report here in person to General Beauregard, to receive instructions from him.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Geo. W. Brent, Col., and A. A. G. Major-General C. L. Stevenson, Comdg. Lee's corps.

During the latter part of the month of January reports were rife that General Sherman would resume his march, on or about the 1st of February, after having consumed nearly a month and a half in recruiting and refitting his army. This would have given the Confederates ample time to collect and reorganize another army in his front, if the resources of the country had not been exhausted, and if the railroad communications and rollingstock then at our disposal had not been so much damaged by hard usage and the raiding incursions of the enemy. As it was, and despite very great efforts to that end, the remnant of Hood's army, with its artillery and wagon-trains, could not be transported in time to defend the interior of South Carolina.

On the 1st of February, General Wheeler, commanding the Confederate cavalry, with headquarters near Lawtonville, S. C., about half-way between the Salkehatchie and Savannah Rivers, telegraphed that the enemy had commenced his forward movement, with infantry and cavalry; that he had crossed the Coosawhatchie at McBride's Bridge, and was marching in a northerly direction. That Federal force consisted of the 14th Corps, commanded by General Jefferson C. Davis, first on the left, according to General Sherman's map; and of the 20th Corps, coinmanded by General A. S. Williams, second on the left; both under General Slocum, and constituting the left wing of the advancing column. Then came the 15th Corps, commanded by [341] General J. A. Logan, being third from the left, and the 17th, commanded by General F. P. Blair, being fourth from the left. These two latter corps were under General Howard, and formed, together, the right wing of this invading expedition. Each corps consisted of about fifteen thousand men, infantry and artillery, exclusive of the cavalry, under General J. Kilpatrick, reported to be about four thousand strong.

On the 3d of February, having more fully ascertained the condition of affairs in South Carolina and Georgia, and knowing how insufficient would be the forces then at our command in these two States to oppose any serious movement on the part of Sherman, General Beauregard conceived a plan by which he hoped, late as it was, to redeem the fortunes of the Confederacy, and sent to Mr. Davis the following telegrams:


Three points threatened by enemy are of greatest importance to hold at present: Charleston, Branchville, and Augusta. Sherman is now apparently moving on Branchville. If we had sufficient force to give him battle a concentration of forces should immediately take place there; but General Hardee reports only thirteen thousand seven hundred effectives, infantry and artillery, of whom about three thousand are State reserves and militia. Lee's corps, just arrived here, and now on its way to Branchville, numbers only about four thousand effectives.4 Cheatham's and Stewart's corps, averaging about three thousand each,5 will not all arrive here before 10th instant, by which time enemy will probably have possession of Branchville. Concentration of Hardee's forces and mine cannot, therefore, take place south of Columbia.

I respectfully urge the vital importance of concentrating at Columbia such forces as can be sent from North Carolina and Virginia. Ten or twelve thousand additional men would insure the defeat of Sherman and the reopening of General Lee's communications with his base of supplies. I will repair to Columbia as soon as practicable, and, with your approval, will assume command of all forces which may be assembled there. When railroad to Branchville shall have been tapped by enemy General Lee's supplies will have to be sent via Washington, Ga., and Abbeville, S. C.


The fall of Charleston and Columbia would necessitate soon abandonment of Wilmington and East North Carolina. If troops from there and [342] from Virginia could be sent me at Columbia, with their transportation, I would defeat, and might destroy, Sherman's army. No time, however, should be lost.

The two telegrams here submitted show how clear to General Beauregard was the necessity of abandoning all those cities and posts which he knew must soon fall of their own weight, and for whose protection troops were used that could now be better employed at other points. But no attention was paid to his suggestions. The Government persevered in following its 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.’

If General Beauregard had been aided in his effort to collect, in time, at or near Branchville, along the Charleston and Augusta Railroad, a force of some twenty-five thousand men, infantry and artillery, independently of the ten or twelve thousand General Hardee had behind the Combahee and Salkehatchie, his defensive plan would have been as follows.

As soon as he ascertained how General Sherman's four corps were advancing towards Branchville and the four principal crossings of the south branch of the Edisto (which are lined with endless, impassable swamps), he would have put some five thousand men to defend, aided by abatis and rifle-pits, the three left crossings from the west; guarding each of the minor ones with dismounted cavalry and two or three field-pieces. General Beauregard would then have retired, with the rest of his troops—numbering about twenty-two thousand—in front of Sherman's extreme right flank corps, the 17th, which crossed at Bionnecker's Bridge. He would have allowed this corps to cross about two-thirds of its number, when he would have attacked it with his whole force, and the result could not have been doubtful. He would then have pursued the remainder of that corps with about five thousand infantry and some cavalry; and, with the main body of his troops—seventeen thousand, more or less—he would have turned westwardly, crossing at Bionnecker's Bridge, and, marching thence towards Hobman's Bridge, would have attacked the 15th Corps in rear, while the five thousand men left to defend the bridge would have assailed them in front. Thus pressed the 15th Corps might have been captured or destroyed. General Beauregard, reinforced successively by the troops at the other two bridges, and those left to [343] guard Augusta, would have been able to march against the remaining two corps of Sherman's army. It is evident that these corps (isolated so far from their base), at Beaufort or Savannah, could not have reached either point without being sorely crippled, if not destroyed.

We have thus minutely transcribed this plan, because of its strategic value and entire feasibility. General Beauregard had veteran troops under him and veteran commanders, who were all confident of his ability to lead them; and he was justified, by the light of his past experience, in again counting upon victory. 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 Capitol.

On the 4th of February, General Beauregard was ordered to ‘(assume command of all the forces in the district as defined before his departure to the West,’ with authority, should he deem it advisable, to re-assign General Hardee to his old corps, and attach to it any other forces he might select. Had the reinforcements asked of the War Department been sent with this order, the military situation in South Carolina would soon have worn quite a different aspect. As it was, the authority to act, without the means, could and did avail little.

On the same day General Beauregard forwarded the following instructions to General Wheeler. They are given in full, because they show the movements of the enemy at that time, and indicate what measures were about to be adopted to oppose him:

Headquarters, Military division of the West, Augusta, Ga., Feb. 4th, 1865:11.45 A. M.
Major-Genl. Jos. Wheeler, comdg. cavalry at Fiddle Pond, near Barnwell Court-house, S. C.:
General,—General McLaws reports that the enemy, late last night, had forced a passage across the Salkehatchie, in the vicinity of River's Bridge, forcing him back towards Branchville. Should you have received no definite orders from General Hardee, for the present contingency, you will cross the Salkehatchie, with the bulk of your forces, as close to River's Bridge as safely practicable, and re-establish your communications with General McLaws (of Stevenson) at or about Branchville, protecting, at the same time, the Charleston Railroad from that point towards Blackville, and beyond it, if possible. [344]

When compelled to fall back from the railroad you will defend the crossings of the Edisto above Branchville, operating in conjunction with General Stevenson for the protection of Columbia, and the crossings of the Congaree above and below that city.

The remainder of your force (say about one brigade) left south of the Salkehatchie will retire fighting in the direction of Augusta, holding the enemy in check wherever practicable. It will be sent to rejoin you as soon as circumstances will permit.

Continue to keep General Hill advised of your movements, and of those of the enemy.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

On the 6th it was still uncertain whether the enemy, after reaching Branchville, would attempt to strike Augusta, Columbia, or Charleston. He was, no doubt, inclined to move on the two last at once, and our force was insufficient to check his progress. He was advancing upon the Charleston Railroad, General Wheeler striving to get between him and Augusta, and having all bridges below Holman's Bridge destroyed.

The following telegram from General Beauregard to General Cooper, dated Augusta., February 8th, 1865, describes the situation then existing:

Enemy cut railroad to Charleston yesterday (the 7th) near Blackville. Lee's corps is in position on south fork of Edisto, protecting approaches to Columbia. Head of Cheatham's corps arrived here last night. McLaws's division is at and about Branchville. I shall leave here to-morrow for Columbia.

Upon reaching Columbia, about noon on the 10th, General Beauregard immediately telegraphed General Hardee advising the concentration of his forces from the Combahee line to a line behind the Edisto, so as to shorten it as much as possible.

On the day following, in answer to General Hardee, who had informed him of the crossing of the enemy to James Island in front of his works, General Beauregard forwarded the following telegram:

By late movements of the enemy it is apparent that he intends to move upon Charleston, or to cut off your communications along the Northeastern Railroad. It is therefore advisable that you proceed to execute, as soon as possible, the movement agreed upon the 2d instant. Guard well your left flank and the crossings of the Santee.


But General Hardee, for reasons which were never clearly explained, imprudently delayed following the advice thus given him. It is easy to understand that he was loath to abandon Charleston, in the effort to capture and destroy which millions of dollars had been spent in vain by the Federal Government, thousands of lives lost, and more than one military reputation irretrievably wrecked. No one felt greater reluctance than General Beauregard to abandon Charleston. He had largely contributed to build up that city's high renown, and valued it as he did his own. Still, an imperative duty lay before him and before those who, up to this time, had helped to place that brave city beyond the grasp of the enemy. The place must be evacuated; and the sooner this should be done the better it would be; otherwise its garrison, its stores, and public property must fall into the hands of the enemy, thus adding disgrace to misfortune. On the 12th of February, the evacuation not having yet begun, and General Hardee having asked for additional advice, General Beauregard replied that he could not judge of the precise moment for beginning the movement, but that, in his opinion, further delay might be fatal.

In the mean time the War Department, as usual, had been kept well informed of the movements of the enemy, and knew that General Stevenson had fallen back to the north branch of the Edisto; that Wheeler was moving towards Augusta, to check the advance of the invading column; also that; a monitor was in the Stono, and constant firing maintained, though not, as yet, upon Charleston; that the enemy had crossed the North Edisto near Orangeburg; that McLaws had retired from Branchville to the ‘Four-hole Swamp;’ and that sixteen transports had appeared in Bull's Bay, north of Bull's Island, on the coast of Christ Church Parish.

A few hours after his arrival at Columbia, General Beauregard had a long interview with the Mayor of the city, Doctor T. J. Goodwyn, and, almost at the same time, with Major-General Wade Hampton, who was then in South Carolina with Brigadier-General Butler, for the purpose of recruiting men and horses for his division of cavalry. As they were both of that State, and well acquainted with its topography and resources, General Beauregard requested their assistance in the defence of Columbia. They responded with alacrity, and were forthwith assigned to duty. [346] General Hampton was given the command of the city and its vicinity, and General Butler placed under him. But soon perceiving the necessity of having a single head to the cavalry—now materially increased by the accession of General Butler's command—and desirous of availing himself of the ability of so distinguished an officer as General Hampton, General Beauregard applied for his immediate promotion to the rank of lieutenant-general. His request being readily acceded to, that tried and experienced cavalry commander, the acknowledged peer of the hard-fighting Forrest, was thus enabled to take precedence over General Wheeler, who, though an active, zealous, and gallant officer, was comparatively unknown in South Carolina, and, therefore, could not have rendered equal service with General Hampton.

At this juncture General Hardee's anxiety and uncertainty of mind as to the evacuation of Charleston appear to have been extreme. He had apparently forgotten, or was no longer heedful of, the clear and definite arrangements agreed upon at the Green's-cut Station conference on the 2d of February, which should have been amply sufficient for his guidance. So urgent and repeated, however, were his calls upon General Beauregard, that the latter concluded to comply with them. Accordingly, notwithstanding the threatening movements of the enemy in the direction of Branchville and Columbia, which required his close supervision, he ordered the railroad track to be cleared of all trains that might impede the celerity of his trip; and, on the afternoon of the 13th, after sending a telegram to that effect, started for Charleston, where he arrived shortly after daylight on the 14th.

To his extreme surprise and regret, he found that no positive step had yet been taken for the evacuation so much spoken of, because, it was said, of a certain opposition on the part of Governor Magrath and of the Confederate Government itself. General Beauregard, however, had no trouble in convincing General Hardee of the absolute necessity of abandoning the city and concentrating our forces, not at Columbia, as had been originally decided—for it was then too late to do so—but at another point on the Charlotte Railroad, namely, Chesterville, S. C.

Most of the day which General Beauregard spent in Charleston on that occasion was devoted to the preparations for the movement of the troops, embodied in the following document, which he left with General Hardee for his guidance: [347]

Headquarters, Military division of the West, Charleston, Feb. 14th, 1865.
Memoranda of Orders for Lieutenant-General W. J. Hardee.

1st. One brigade of Wright's division in St. Paul's will move by railroad to Monk's Corner, and thence march into position (at or about Snowden's), from Sandy Run to Santee River.

2d. The remainder of Wright's division to move via Summerville, thence to Groomsville, thence along Northeastern Railroad to St. Stephen's depot.

3d. The troops around Charleston will commence their movement when Wright's division shall have reached Summerville.

4th. Troops in Christ Church will take steamers to Strawberry Ferry, via Cordesville, to St. Stephen's depot.

5th. The troops from James Island along sea-front first, thence in succession to Ashley Ferry; thence to Six-mile House; thence to St. Stephen's depot.

6th. Troops in Charleston to follow movements to Six-mile House, thence to St. Stephen's depot.

7th. When the troops shall have arrived at Monk's Corner, McLaws shall commence the retrograde movement from the left flank, resting at Four-hole Bridge, passing in rear of Four-hole Swamp; thence by Pineville road to Pineville; thence to St. Stephen's depot.

8th. The troops on McLaws's right shall follow the movement as they are uncovered from the left.

9th. The rear-guard of the troops executing these movements shall destroy all bridges and trestle behind them, and railroads, when possible.

10th. The troops concentrated at St. Stephen's shall move to form a junction with the troops at Columbia, or with the same at Chesterville, following one of the routes, according to the movements of the enemy, as follows:

1st. Via Manchester and Kingsville to Columbia or Manchester, Camden, and Brown's Ferry, on the Catawba, to Chesterville.

2d. Via Darlington, Kelly's Bridge, on Lynch's Creek, and Brown's Ferry, on the Catawba, to Chesterville.

3d. Via Cheraw, Chesterville, Lancaster, and Brown's Ferry, on the Catawba, to Chesterville.

In view of the facility the enemy has at Branchville and Orangeburg, and in the direction of Columbia, to cut the line of retreat of the garrison of Charleston, as above referred to, it becomes necessary to commence the evacuation as soon as the necessary preparations can be made.

The holding of Charleston is now reduced to only a question of a few days. Its loss does not jeopardize the safety of the State of South Carolina, but the loss of its garrison would greatly contribute to that end.

That night (February 14th) General Beauregard ordered the track cleared again, and started on his return to Columbia. On [348] arriving at Florence, at 7 A. M., on the 15th, he sent the following telegram to General Hardee:

Order all roads and bridges repaired on the three routes designated. Horses impressed in and about Charleston must be used for remounting Young's cavalry. Impress, also, saddles and bridles, if necessary.

On the same day, and from the same place, he telegraphed General Lee as follows:

I have arranged with General Hardee for the immediate evacuation of Charleston, and concentration of our forces at Chesterville, S. C.; if those of General Bragg could be added thereto success might crown our efforts, however dark may appear the present hour.

While stopping, a few hours later, at Sumterville he forwarded this telegraphic message to General Lee:

Sumter Station, S. C., Feb. 15th, 1865.
General R. E. Lee, Richmond, Va.:
Generals Stevenson and Hampton report from Columbia enemy has appeared in their front and driven their pickets across Congaree, at railroad bridge near Kingsville. They consider movement on Columbia serious. I am on my return there.

And to General Hardee he sent the following important despatch:

Commence immediately movement as arranged; and, if practicable, average twenty miles a day. Collect at once sufficient provisions and forage, at proper points, on the several routes designated.

General Beauregard reached Columbia on the afternoon of the 15th, and soon afterwards sent a message to General Lee as follows:

Columbia, S. C., Feb. 15th, 1865:7.30 P. M.
General R. E. Lee, General-in-chief, Richmond, Va.:
Have just arrived from Charleston. Generals Stevenson and Hampton report Sherman's four corps moving on this place, two of them pressing our troops back on south side to within about four miles of the river. Cheatham's corps has not yet arrived. We will hold the city as long as practicable with present available means.

He had already had despatches sent to Generals Stewart and Cheatham, calling upon them to hasten their movements on Columbia; and to Major Roland Rhett, A. Q. M., and Captain J. D. [349] Witherspoon, A. C. S., orders were given, on the 15th, to remove all quartermaster and subsistence stores, with the exception of fifty thousand rations, to some point on the Charlotte Railroad, in the direction of Chesterville.

During the evening of the same day (15th) General Beauregard received a telegram from General Hardee, enclosing one from Mr. Davis, showing that, even at that late hour, he was still hesitating concerning the evacuation of Charleston. As will be seen, the President encouraged, and, in a great measure, was the direct cause of this blameworthy procrastination.

General Hardee's telegram read thus:

Charleston, Feb. 15th, 1865.
To General Beauregard:
‘The following dispatch was received last night from President Davis: “Your despatch of 12th received to-day. The enemy may, and probably does, intend an attack on Charleston, but it is by no means manifested by present operations. It is proper, under the view presented, to remove whatever is not needful for defence of the place, and then to postpone evacuation as long as prudent. If General Beauregard can hold the enemy in the field, the course herein indicated may preserve the city and harbor for further uses, and save us the pain of seeing it pass into the hands of the enemy. General Beauregard and yourself are so well informed of the condition of the armies and the practicability of routes, that I must leave you to the free exercise of your judgment. It, however, seems to me that the bridge over the Santee can be defended against a boat expedition up that river without materially injuring other operations; and a movement by the enemy, overland, from Bull's Bay is hardly to be anticipated.” ’

General Beauregard's answer followed without delay. It was in the following words:

Despatch of to-day received containing President's. I have far from sufficient force to hold the enemy in check in the field. He is, at this moment, investing Columbia with his four corps (as reported), on the south side of Congaree. Hence I see no good reason for deviating from the plan already decided upon; on the contrary, I urge its immediate execution.

The movement was accordingly ordered to begin, on the 16th, without further delay.6 Unfortunately, however, General Hardee, who had been unwell for several days, was obliged, at this critical hour, to leave his post; and the command of his forces [350] devolved upon the officer ranking next under him, General L. McLaws.7 It is for this reason, no doubt, that the evacuation was not effected until the night of the 17th and the early morning of the 18th.

The following telegrams, sent by General Beauregard to General Lee, so thoroughly explain the whole situation, that no further explanation seems necessary:


Columbia, S. C., Feb. 16th, 1865.
General R. E. Lee, General-in-chief, Richmond, Va.:
I returned last evening from Charleston. I shall assume command to-day of all forces in South Carolina. The present military situation is thus: our forces, twenty thousand effective infantry and artillery, more or less demoralized, occupy a circumference of about two hundred and forty miles, from Charleston to Augusta. The enemy, well organized and disciplined, and flushed with success, numbering nearly double our force, is concentrated on one point, Columbia, of that circumference. Unless I can concentrate rapidly here in my rear all available troops, the result cannot be long doubtful. General Hardee still hesitates to abandon Charleston, notwithstanding I have repeatedly urged him to do so, thereby losing several days of vital importance to future operations.


Columbia, S. C., Feb. 16th, 1865.
General R. E. Lee, General-in-chief, Richmond, Va.:
Enemy commenced shelling the city this morning. He is apparently moving up towards Saluda River. Our forces occupy south bank of that stream and Congaree.


Columbia, S. C., Feb. 16th, 1865.
General R. E. Lee, General-in-chief, Richmond, Va.:
Enemy has forced a passage across the Saluda River above Columbia. I will endeavor to prevent him from crossing the Broad, but my forces here are so small it is doubtful whether I can prevent it. Columbia will soon be evacuated.

From the contents of this chapter, and the orders and telegrams annexed, it is evident that, in the amended version of his account of the evacuation of Fort Sumter,8 Mr. Davis is hardly more correct than when he first stated that Colonel (afterwards General) Elliott was then in command, and ‘on receiving the general order of retreat * * * addressed his men in the glowing language of [351] patriotism and unswerving devotion to the Confederate cause.’9 Mr. Davis now admits that General Elliott was not there at the time, and that to Captain Huguenin, the last commander of the fort, was reserved the sad honor of retiring the garrison. The acknowledged efficiency of Captain Huguenin, and the peculiar circumstances under which he was placed, deserved notice on the part of the ex-President of the Confederacy. We have already endeavored, in a preceding chapter, to do justice to Captain Huguenin and to the other meritorious officers who made famous the successful defence of Fort Sumter, but whose names are not even mentioned in Mr. Davis's account.

The ‘plan of evacuation’ of Charleston and its harbor—attributed by Mr. Davis to General Hardee—was devised by General Beauregard. The minutest details concerning it were marked down by him and impressed upon General Hardee, who, far from having formed any ‘plan’ to that effect, did not even perceive the necessity of withdrawing the troops at that time, and so long delayed the execution of the movement that, with a view to carry it out, General Beauregard resumed command of the Department, and then ordered General Hardee to evacuate at once. This is the first error noticeable in Mr. Davis's amended account of that event. Another is his omission to state that, because of General Hardee's ill-health and absence at the time, it was General McLaws who commanded the troops at the evacuation. His third error is the mention he makes of ‘Colonel Stephen Elliott, Jr.,’ as ‘the gallant commander of that fort,’ intimating thereby, and leading the reader to believe, that, prior to July, 1864, when Captain Huguenin was sent there, no other officer than Colonel Elliott had been in command of Fort Sumter. The reader is aware that, after Colonel Rhett had defended the fort for a prolonged period, he was withdrawn from that work, to take charge of the city defences; and that Fort Sumter was afterwards commanded—first by Major Elliott; second, by Captain Mitchell, who fell at his post; and third, by Captain Huguenin, one of the gallant officers of the 1st South Carolina Infantry (Regulars), who was still on duty there when the evacuation took place.

1 One-half only available at that date.

2 Only about two-thirds of that number ever reported.

3 General Sherman afterwards informed General J. E. Johnston, in North Carolina (April 18th, 1865), that he had over seventy thousand men in all.

4 It had no more than thirty-three hundred and fifty.

5 The strength of each was twenty-five hundred men.

6 See General Hardee's telegram, in Appendix.

7 See Appendix for despatch of Major Roy, A. A. G.

8 See the amended version of the first edition of ‘Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government,’ vol. II., p. 204.

9 See first edition (as originally published) of ‘Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government,’ vol. II., p. 204. The italics are ours.

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