previous next

Chapter 49:

  • General Beauregard completes his last official duties.
  • -- turns his thoughts homeward. -- names of the officers serving on his Staff. -- his efforts during the War to obtain promotion for deserving Staff-officers. -- his telegram to General Cooper, April 28th. -- General Cooper's reply. -- promotion demanded for other meritorious officers, but granted for two only. -- abandoned box-car at the depot at Greensboroa containing Confederate archives.-General Beauregard forwards it to Charlotte. -- he Starts to return home on the 1st of May. -- expedients employed to defray his expenses on the journey. -- instance given to show the patriotism of the Southern people. -- General Beauregard Reaches Newberry, S. C., on May 5th.-he bids Adieu to those members of his Staff who were from South Carolina. -- his parting visit to Governor Pickens. -- he Passes through Augusta, Atlanta, West Point, and Montgomery, reaching Mobile on the 19th. -- is impressed by the depression of the people. -- how General Sherman could have been checked and defeated. -- General Beauregard avoids the visits of Confederate officers and men while in Mobile. -- leaves for New Orleans. -- Arrives on the 20th of May at the Pontchartrain end of the Railroad, five miles from the City. -- is informed of crowds waiting to greet him. -- endeavors to avoid all public demonstrations. -- is welcomed at every step. -- Reaches home at Sunset.

As soon as the work of arranging and verifying the muster-rolls and other papers relative to the return of the troops to their respective States had been completed, General Beauregard, released from these sad but necessary duties, turned his thoughts to his own personal affairs and his approaching departure for Louisiana. He had, on the 27th of April, addressed an affectionate farewell letter to the officers of his personal and general staff, which we have already inserted in the biographical sketch immediately preceding the narrative of his military operations. We append a list of their names :1

Personal Staff.

1. Lieutenant A. R. Chisolm, of South Carolina, A. D. C.

2. Lieutenant A. J. Toutant, of Texas, A. D. C. [409]

3. Captain R. T. Beauregard, of Louisiana, Acting A. D. C.

4. Cadet H. T. Beauregard, of Louisiana, Acting A. D. C.

5. Lieutenant-Colonel A. G. Rice, of South Carolina, Volunteer A. D. C.

6. Lieutenant-Colonel S. B. Paul, of Virginia, Volunteer A. D. C.

General Staff.

1. Colonel George W. Brent, of Virginia, A. A. G.

2. Lieutenant-Colonel John M. Otey, of Virginia, A. A. G.

3. Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Roman, of Louisiana, A. A. and I. G.

4. Major Henry Bryan, of Georgia, A. A. and I. G.

5. Major James Eustis, of Louisiana, A. A. and I. G.

6. Captain Albert Ferry, of Louisiana, A. A. and I. G.

7. Lieutenant-Colonel J. R. Waddy, of Virginia, Chief Ordnance Officer.

8. Surgeon R. L. Brodie, of South Carolina, Medical Director.

9. Surgeon Samuel Choppin, of Louisiana, Medical Inspector.

During the war General Beauregard had exerted himself to the utmost to have additional rank given to staff-officers who, in his opinion, were worthy of promotion. He thought that a full general should be entitled, in war, to four aides-de-camp—a colonel, a lieutenant-colonel, a major, and a captain. Instead of which two aids only, with the rank of lieutenant, had been allowed a full general, according to law. During the winter of 1864-1865 Congress, however, at last passed a bill giving three aids, with the rank of major, to every full general. But the law, as was well known, was never enforced by the War Department. Fearing lest the Confederacy should die without doing at least partial justice to that faithful and self-sacrificing class of officers, General Beauregard addressed the following telegram to Adjutant-General Cooper, who at that date was still at Charlotte:

Greensboroa, N. C., April 28th, 1865:7.30 A. M.
Before leaving here the Secretary of War promised to have General Johnston's aids and mine commissioned majors, according to law. Has it been done? It is highly desirable it should be done before disbanding troops. I am glad to hear of Lieutenant-Colonel Riley's promotion.

General Cooper's answer was forwarded and duly received the same day. It ran thus:

Charlotte, April 28th, 1865.
General G. T. Beauregard:
The Secretary of War and myself strongly recommended to the President the promotion of yours and General Johnston's aides-de-camp; and though the matter was considered by him, the order for their promotion was not given. He has left, and I am powerless to effect your wishes. It would give me pleasure if I could.

S. Cooper, A. and I. G.


While at Charleston, General Beauregard had also recommended many of his officers as deserving of promotion for gallant and meritorious services during the long and remarkable siege of that city; but none of them were promoted save two—namely, Major (afterwards Brigadier-General) Stephen D. Elliott, one of the commanders of Sumter after its first intrepid defender, Colonel Rhett, had been withdrawn from the unconquered fortress, with all its heavy artillery; and Major D. B. Harris, the able and indefatigable Engineer, who was made a lieutenant-colonel, and was even promoted to the rank of brigadier-general, though he died without being apprised of the fact. The others remained unnoticed until the very last moment during the expiring hours of the Confederacy, when, at General Beauregard's solicitation to the Secretary of War, two of them, by going to Charlotte, N. C., in person, obtained deserved promotion. The first, Brigadier-General Taliaferro, was thus made Major-General; and the second, Captain F. D. Lee, who had been in charge of the Torpedo Department at Charleston, became a major. This was tardy justice; and it is surprising, when we remember the confusion prevailing at that time in the Executive Bureaus, that even so much was obtained.

As an illustration of the intense preoccupation then existing among some of the high civil functionaries of the defunct Government, General Beauregard relates that, shortly after the President had left Greensboroa for Salisbury and Charlotte, he noticed at the depot, at Greensboroa, a train of box-cars, from one of which some straggling soldiers were throwing out papers which were flying to and fro in every direction. Upon inquiry it was ascertained that these cars contained the official records of the Government from Richmond, and had been abandoned there, without a guard, and without directions as to the disposition to be made of them. General Beauregard gave orders at once that sentinels should be put over them, and that they should be immediately forwarded to Charlotte; which was done. He afterwards learned that General Johnston, on arriving at that place, found these cars again unprotected, and that he also took special pains to have them properly guarded. They were finally turned over to the Federal authorities, in order to prevent further destruction.

It was only on the 30th of April that General Beauregard was able to begin preparations for his homeward journey. He had collected from Greensboroa all the Louisianians who were there [411] on detached service, separated from their commands, and had invited them to join his staff and to return with him to New Orleans. He thus got together about twenty of them, who gratefully accepted his kind offer; and on the 1st of May, at 10.30 P. M., after making his adieus to those members of his general staff whose route lay in a different direction, to General Johnston, to his military household, and to many officers who had not yet left, he started, with his party, travelling sometimes by rail, sometimes on horseback, and sometimes even—for the few who had no horses—on foot.

General Beauregard felt the difficulty of procuring the necessary funds for defraying his own and his companions' expenses on the journey. Except the silver coin ($1.15 each) which had been given to himself, his staff, and the troops, as already related, neither General Beauregard nor those who accompanied him had any money in specie; and even Confederate notes, which had become altogether valueless, were scarce among them.

But one of General Beauregard's aids, Lieutenant Chisolm, who was seldom at a loss for resources in an emergency, proposed that a wagon should be procured and stocked with provisions and stores, such as tobacco, nails, yarn, twine, thread, and whatever else the people along their route were likely to be in need of, and that these articles should be used in lieu of money. The suggestion was adopted; and as the quartermaster and the commissary of the post had received orders to distribute their supplies on hand to the several commands, the wagon was soon loaded as desired, and the plan of barter, when tried upon the journey, surpassed the most sanguine expectations. The people on the way were happy to secure these useful commodities in return for what few provisions they could spare. It is our duty to add that, however poor or helpless the people were, as soon as they learned that what they were asked to barter was needed by General Beauregard and his staff, they almost invariably refused to accept any compensation whatever. This was carried so far that General Beauregard, although deeply touched by it, had to forbid his name being mentioned until the exchange had been entirely effected and the goods carried off.

To show the patriotism of the Southern people—notably of the women—even at that hour, an incident may be mentioned which occurred just before General Beauregard and his companions [412] reached the South Carolina and Georgia border. They had come to a small town, and were relating the latest news of the surrender of our armies to the inhabitants, who had rushed to the road to obtain what they knew would be trustworthy information. There, as everywhere, they heard it with great sorrow. Old men—for no others were there—and women of all ages, of all classes, shed tears as they took General Beauregard's hand and asked him ‘if he really thought the struggle was over forever.’ Among those present was a tall, gaunt old lady, who, although sunburned and with hands hardened by toil, had an unmistakable air of culture and refinement. She took the general warmly by the hand, the tears meanwhile running down her furrowed cheeks, and said, ‘General, is there no longer any hope of success’ ‘None, madame,’ was the answer; ‘we have fought our last fight, and must now submit bravely to our hard fate.’ ‘Ah! General, I lost four brave, manly sons in this war, and I have but one left, my youngest, but I would have given his life too for the triumph of our cause!’ No Roman matron could have spoken more nobly.

On arriving at Newberry, S. C., on the 5th of May, General Beauregard told those officers of his staff who were citizens of South Carolina that they must now leave him and return to their families. They strongly objected, and insisted upon accompanying him until he should have reached his home in safety. This he positively refused to allow; for travelling was then very difficult, especially in Georgia, owing to the destruction of the railroads; and he was unwilling that they should put themselves to so much inconvenience on his account. They yielded, therefore, though reluctantly, and on the next morning (May 6th) finally parted from the General, after a most affectionate leave-taking. Four years of toil and dangers, shared together, had cemented between them a friendship which no after-event could possibly impair.

General Beauregard and the remainder of his party arrived at Augusta, Ga., during the afternoon of the 8th, after passing through Charlotte, N. C., Rockhill, Newberry, Edgefield, and Hamburg, S. C. He had stopped at Edgefield on the morning of the 7th to pay a parting visit to Governor Pickens, whose residence stood just outside of the town. At the Governor's kind and pressing invitation he and his staff remained there an entire day. [413]

General Beauregard prolonged his stay in Augusta several days, for the sake of the rest he so much needed after the fatigue and emotions of the last few weeks. He then started by rail for Atlanta, which he had not seen since the destruction of the town by General Sherman's army. Of that handsome and fast-growing city there remained but a few houses standing here and there on its outskirts. Only blackened walls and chimneys now marked the alignments of the streets. It was a relief to General Beauregard when the train left for West Point, which was then the terminus of the railroad, since the destruction by Wilson's cavalry of that part of the track running to Montgomery. From West Point he went across country to Montgomery, then occupied by Federal troops under Major-General A. J. Smith, a former friend and classmate of General Beauregard at the United States Military Academy. This was on the 17th of May. General Smith did all in his power to assist General Beauregard in his further journey southward.

Mobile was reached on the 19th. General Beauregard went directly from the railroad depot to the steamer by which he was to leave for New Orleans. He refused to stop in the city, in order to avoid the visits of a number of Confederate officers and men, who, he was told, proposed calling on him. The fear of involving them in trouble with the Federal authorities was his reason for depriving himself of the pleasure of meeting them once more.

There were now but a few hours intervening before General Beauregard would again set foot in Louisiana. When about to enter upon this last stage of his long journey he could not help painfully noting the difference between the feeling, the tone, and the outward appearance of the people four years before, when he was on his way to take command in Charleston, and that which he now felt and saw around him. Free, resolute, hopeful were the masses then; sorrowful, despondent, heart-broken he found them now. Johnston's army after Lee's, Taylor's after Johnston's, had surrendered. The Trans-Mississippi forces, under Kirby Smith, must soon do the same. It was for them a question not even of days but of hours. None, except perhaps Mr. Davis, could then imagine that General Kirby Smith was capable of making a stand in the Trans-Mississippi country and of continuing there to uphold our cause. ‘The great resources of his Department, its vast extent, the numbers, the discipline, and the efficiency [414] of his army’2—words copied from General Kirby Smith's order of April 21st to his forces—were in striking contrast with his refusal, and his reasons given at the time for refusing,3 to send assistance to General Hood, in his hard campaign around Nashville, after the battle of Franklin. Mr. Davis had, no doubt, forgotten the expression of opinion of the War Department (December 4th, 1864) concerning General Kirby Smith: that he had heretofore failed to respond to many calls made on him, and ‘that no plans should be based on his compliance.’4

General Beauregard also bitterly reflected upon 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 109 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 reinforcements 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 Guntersville 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 [415] 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.

On the 20th of May, General Beauregard and his party arrived at the Pontchartrain end of the new canal and shell road, five miles in rear of New Orleans. There he was informed that crowds of people were anxiously awaiting his return to greet his passage through the city. Acting under the same impulse, and for the same reasons that led him to avoid all public demonstration in Mobile, he determined at once to reach his residence through the most retired streets. But he was only partially successful in doing so, for even there, wherever he appeared, men, women, and children flocked out from their houses, waving their handkerchiefs and pressing around his horse to shake the General by the hand. He could find no words to say in response, but was most deeply moved by such a spontaneous outburst of sympathy and affection. And thus, as the sun was setting in the west, he finally came to his once happy home, left more than four years before, to find—as he feelingly said—a seat vacant that formerly was occupied by one who had never heard his footsteps at the door without hastening to welcome him to his own fireside.

1 A complete list of the staff, and of all detached officers and men serving at General Beauregard's headquarters, up to the 1st of May, is given in the Appendix.

2 ‘Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government,’ vol. II., p. 697.

3 See his letter to General Beauregard, in Appendix to Chapter XLII., wherein he wrote, under date of January 6th, 1865: ‘* * * The country has been so devastated by the contending armies, and is so exhausted, that the troops would require transportation for supplies for near three hundred miles from the interior to the Mississippi. * * * The country north of Red River is bare of supplies, and is at this season utterly impracticable for the operations of armies and the movement of troops. More than two hundred miles of destitution intervene between our supplies and the enemy's works on the Arkansas. Near five hundred miles of desert separate our base on Red River from the productive region of Missouri,’ etc.

4 See, in Appendix, Mr. Seddon's telegram to General Beauregard.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May 1st (3)
May 20th (2)
May 5th (2)
April 28th (2)
19th (2)
April 28th, 1865 AD (1)
January 6th, 1865 AD (1)
1865 AD (1)
December 4th, 1864 AD (1)
1864 AD (1)
May 17th (1)
May 6th (1)
April 30th (1)
April 27th (1)
April 21st (1)
8th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: