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Chapter 25:


General Beauregard arrived at Tupelo on the 7th of June. The main body of the army reached there on the 9th. The position had been previously reconnoitred, and no difficulty was encountered in the selection of the grounds whereon the different corps were to be encamped. Many orders and telegrams, forwarded and received from different parts, far and near, show the watchful supervision exercised by General Beauregard to complete the movement he had thus far successfully accomplished. Although paying little heed to the rumors circulated by his foiled adversary, still he used all necessary precaution to meet any advance that might be attempted against him the hoped that, once concentrated and reorganized in his new position, the enemy would [401] soon be compelled to divide his ponderous forces, thereby materially improving our condition, and demonstrating the judiciousness of the diversion previously undertaken in middle Tennessee.

As soon as it became evident that the enemy did not intend to attack our forces at Tupelo, and that two of his divisions—Mc-Cook's and Crittenden's,1 and, as reported, others also 2—were moving eastward, General Beauregard, relieved from the harassing duties that had so absorbed him of late, was able to attend more directly to the recuperation, discipline, and comfort of his command.

On the 9th he addressed a communication to General Cooper, calling his attention to the necessity of furnishing funds for the payment of his men, who were growing dissatisfied—and justly so —on this score, suggesting that the War Department, through the Assistant Treasurer at Jackson, Mississippi, should make use of several millions of dollars withdrawn from the banks of New Orleans, and seized by his (General Beauregard's) orders, when informed that these funds were about to be sent back to that city in obedience to instructions from General Benjamin F. Butler. The bank agents who had the money in charge had often expressed their willingness to see it applied to the wants of our army, provided the government made itself responsible for the same.3 He also urged the department to appoint an additional Chief Commissary to the army, and stated that there was no less need of a good and energetic Chief Quartermaster. He recommended several officers and citizens for the important positions referred to. ‘These are times,’ he wrote, ‘when the man best fitted for an office should be appointed, regardless of all other considerations.’

At or about that time Colonel N. B. Forrest, who had been wounded on the day after the battle of Shiloh, reported for duty at Tupelo. He was hardly convalescent, but thought himself able, nevertheless, to resume command of his regiment. He had exhibited so much coolness and daring near Pittsburg Landing during the night of the 7th of April and the day following, while charging a strong reconnoitring party of the enemy, that General [402] Beauregard determined to do all he could to increase, if possible, his sphere of usefulness.

The reader is aware that three regiments of cavalry—Colonels Scott's, Wharton's, and Adams's—had been sent, nearly two months before, to assist General E. Kirby Smith in an offensive movement into middle Tennessee from Chattanooga. This force, instead of operating together against the common enemy, as ordered, kept separated, because of some trivial misunderstanding about rank among its officers, and was unable to accomplish any valuable result. General Beauregard, troubled at such a state of affairs, so clearly prejudicial to good order and discipline, resolved to put a stop to it by placing Colonel Forrest in command of those regiments, with special instructions to afford their officers no time for further disputes. Forrest hesitated at first, modestly alleging his inability to assume such a responsibility; but yielded, finally, when again urged by General Beauregard, and after receiving the promise that his old regiment should be sent to him as soon as it could be spared from the Army of the Mississippi. The following order was thereupon written and immediately handed to him:

Headquarters Western Department, Tupelo, Miss., June 9th, 1862.
Colonel N. B. Forrest, Comdg. Cavalry:
Colonel,—The general commanding directs that you will, with as little delay as practicable, repair to north Alabama and middle Tennessee, and assume command of the cavalry regiments in that section, commanded respectively by Colonels Scott, Wharton, and Adams.

You will carry into effect the verbal instructions communicated to you by the general commanding.4

I am, Colonel, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Geo. Wm. Brent, Acting Chief of Staff.

Thus began the brilliant military career of this remarkable man. He was a born soldier, and had he received a military education, would have ranked among the greatest commanders of the late war. Even as it was, he should, perhaps, be counted as one of the first.

It was shown in the preceding chapter with what persistence Mr. Davis demanded of General Beauregard his reasons for abandoning [403] Corinth, as though the possibility of such a movement had never occurred to the President, and as though no communication upon the subject had, up to that time, been addressed to the War Department. General Beauregard wrote his report three days later, and forwarded it to Richmond.5 He counted upon no congratulatory reply. The government had not habituated him to such favors; but, knowing how fully he had performed his duty to the cause, he anticipated no reproof or censure on the part of the Chief Executive of the Confederacy. The sequel will show how much he erred in that respect.

General Beauregard's infirm health, which, however, had never proved an obstacle to the discharge of the arduous duties devolving upon him, had been severely tried by the wear and care of the march from Corinth to Tupelo. He was, as usual, uncomplaining, but his impaired physical condition had not escaped the observation of his two physicians, Doctors Brodie and Choppin—the former the Medical Director, the latter the Medical Inspector, of the army, and both esteemed members of his military family. They now urged him (for the third time since his departure from Virginia) to take advantage of the partial lull in military operations at and around Tupelo, and seek a brief rest from the incessant labors incident to his immediate presence with the troops. He finally agreed to follow their advice; and they, gratified at this result, but fearing he might let the opportune moment slip by, wrote out and handed him the following certificate, which they endeavored to make as impressive as possible:

Headquarters Western Department, Tupelo, June 14th, 1862.
We hereby certify that, after attendance upon General Beauregard for the past four months, and treatment of his case,6 in our professional opinion, he is incapacitated physically for the arduous duties of his present command, and we urgently recommend rest and recreation.

R. L. Brodie, Surgeon P. A. C. S., Sam. Choppin, Surgeon P. A. C. S.

On the very day on which the foregoing certificate was delivered to General Beauregard, the following telegram was directly forwarded to General Bragg from Richmond. The word ‘directly’ is here intentionally used, because, strange to say, this [404] telegram reached General Bragg without having first been sent to General Beauregard, as was clearly required by all rules of propriety and of military usage. None will deny that, at that time (14th of June), General Beauregard was still in command of Department No. 2, and of the Confederate army encamped at Tupelo. The full text of the telegram referred to is not in our possession. It was an order addressed to General Bragg, and sending him to Mississippi, to relieve General Lovell. Mr. Davis, in his book, gives its concluding part, as follows:

After General Magruder joins, your further services there may be dispensed with. The necessity is urgent.

General Bragg referred this communication, so irregularly forwarded, to General Beauregard, who, immediately after reading it, telegraphed General Cooper, in these words:

Tupelo, June 14th, 1862.
General Bragg has just communicated to me a telegram sending him to relieve, temporarily, General Lovell. His presence here I consider indispensable at this moment, especially as I am leaving for a while on surgeon's certificate. For four months I have delayed obeying their urgent recommendations in that respect. I desire to be back here to retake the offensive as soon as our forces shall have been sufficiently reorganized. I must have a short rest.

There was nothing improper or discourteous in the foregoing despatch. No one could have interpreted it to involve disobedience of the President's order. That it was laconic we readily concede, but telegraphic despatches are never otherwise. We ask the reader to examine its phraseology carefully, and say whether it could be so construed as to convey the idea that General Beauregard was about ‘to leave, on surgeon's certificate, for four months.’ Knowing, however, that he had not sufficiently explained himself, and wishing to create no false impression as to his intentions, General Beauregard, on the succeeding day, wrote the following letter:

Headquarters Western Department, Tupelo, Miss., June 15th, 1862.
General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:
General,—After delaying, as long as possible, to obey the oft-repeated recommendations of my physicians to take some rest, for the restoration of my health, I have concluded to take advantage of the present lull in the operations of this army, due to the necessity of attending to its organization and discipline, and to the uncertain movements of the enemy, for absenting myself [405] for a short while from here, hoping to be back to assume the offensive at the earliest moment practicable. Meanwhile, I will transfer the command of the forces and of this department to the next officer in rank, General B. Bragg, furnishing him with such instructions as will enable him to give all orders required during my absence. I propose leaving here to-morrow, at 12 M., for Mobile, where I will remain a day or two, inspecting the condition of its defences, and will offer to Brigadier-General Forney such advice as, in my judgment, may be necessary, and he may be willing to accept. I will then repair to Bladon Springs, on the Tombigbee River, about seventy-five miles north of Mobile, where I will remain about one week or ten days, or long enough to restore my shattered health,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

General Beauregard, after a conference with General Bragg, left the latter in temporary command of the army and of the entire department, and started, not hurriedly, as Mr. Davis, in his book, indicates, but on the 17th of June, after all his arrangements had been leisurely completed. Knowing that there was no danger, just then, in absenting himself from his forces, and believing, in all honesty, that no other answer than a favorable one could possibly come from the War Department—for he knew of no army regulation denying a commanding general the right, for reasons of health, to move even beyond the boundaries of his own department—he proceeded quietly on his journey, never suspecting the result awaiting him, nor anticipating President Davis's resentment at so simple an act.

Mr. Davis quotes the answer made by General Beauregard when General Bragg presented him the first despatch received from Richmond; but without prefixing any date to it.7 It is not denied that that answer contains the substance of General Beauregard's telegram and letter—the first, of June 14th, the second, of June 15th—but it remains none the less a fact, that it was not General Beauregard's real answer to Mr. Davis or to the War Department: it was nothing more than the statement of General Bragg's interpretation of General Beauregard's remarks to him. Mr. Davis had also before him General Beauregard's own telegram, as forwarded by himself, when informed of the President's action with regard to General Bragg's departure for Vicksburg. That despatch has already been submitted to the reader, and is, undoubtedly, the best evidence to be offered in the case. [406]

General Bragg, after General Beauregard had left for Mobile, on the 17th, informed the President of the fact, and, doubtful as to what course to pursue, asked for further instructions.

And here it is but fair to assert that, on the 17th of June, the War Department, and Mr. Davis likewise, had already received General Beauregard's telegram of June 14th; for if the President's telegram, forwarded from Richmond, at that date, to General Bragg, had taken but one day to traverse the wires—and the proof is there, none can deny it—it is certain that no greater time was required for General Beauregard's despatch to travel the same distance over the same line. And it should be stated further, that, on the 20th of June, when the President sent his order, assigning General Bragg to the permanent command of the Western Department and of the Army at Tupelo, he had not only full cognizance of General Beauregard's telegram of the 14th, but also of his explanatory letter of the 15th. The true motive actuating General Beauregard in temporarily leaving his command, was, therefore, perfectly brought home to the President, before he penned the peremptory order, so uncalled for and so arbitrary, by which—judging from appearances—he sought to humiliate and cast aside one of the most prominent generals of the South, who enjoyed then, as always during the war, the full confidence and affection of the people—if not of the President—and whose influence with the army was undoubted. If Mr. Davis had been animated, at that time, by other feelings than those of personal dislike towards General Beauregard, he would, with a view to the public weal and to the eminent services of the latter, have simply sent General Van Dorn—as he actually did—to relieve General Lovell at Vicksburg, and would have ordered General Bragg to remain with the forces at Tupelo until General Beauregard's return. It is claimed, on behalf of Mr. Davis, that had such a course been adopted, General Beauregard, though absent, would still have retained command of the department, and orders to General Bragg would have had to pass through General Beauregard's hands before finally reaching the actual commander of the forces; which would have entailed much delay, if nothing worse. This objection is utterly futile, inasmuch as General Beauregard had transferred to General Bragg the temporary command of the department as well as of the army proper.8 But even admitting that such a [407] transfer had not been effected, is it not a fact—well known to Mr. Davis—that, while in command of a mere military district,9 under General Joseph E. Johnston, commanding the Department of Northern Virginia, General Beauregard corresponded directly with the Secretary of War, with the Adjutant-General, and with the President himself, without incurring the displeasure, or in any way interfering with the red-tape routine, of the War Department? General Beauregard did the same thing again when he commanded an army in Western Tennessee, under General A. S. Johnston. The President and the War Department had never been known to be so punctilious as to the observance of military etiquette in matters of this kind, and Mr. Davis had clearly violated it before General Beauregard's departure from Tupelo.

The order removing General Beauregard read as follows:

Richmond, June 20th, 1862.
General Braxton Bragg, Tupelo, Mississippi:

Your despatch, informing me that General Beauregard had turned over the command to you and left for Mobile, on surgeons' certificate, was duly received. You are assigned permanently to the command of the department, as will be more formally notified to you by the Secretary of War. You will correspond directly, and receive orders and instructions from the government in relation to your future operations.

The opportunity was seized upon, and, under the transparent pretense of affronted dignity, President Davis worked his will. Thus was consummated an act of grossest injustice, one of the most inexcusable abuses of power perpetrated by him during the war. This was not all. His irritation at an assumed slight to his authority induced him to go still further. He prepared the list of interrogatories contained in a letter of instructions to Colonel W. P. Johnston, A. D. C., dated Richmond, June 14th, the day General Beauregard's first despatch was received. This reached General Beauregard in Mobile, on the 20th, and shows the searching ingenuity used to find him at fault, not only with regard to the evacuation of Corinth, but also as to all orders and instructions issued or given by him, for the defence of the Mississippi River. These interrogatories and General Beauregard's [408] answers to them were given at the end of the preceding chapter. Nothing more, therefore, need be said about them here.

General Bragg informed General Beauregard of the President's last order to him. He telegraphed as follows:

Tupelo, June 21st, 1862.
General G. T. Beauregard:
I have a despatch, from the President direct, to relieve you permanently in command of this department. I envy you, and am almost in despair.

This was the first intimation General Beauregard received of the arbitrary decree throwing him out of service. He felt it keenly, as it was natural that he should. He knew he had done nothing to merit such treatment, but understood the implied disgrace intended by the President. The consciousness of his worth, however, and his devotion to the cause, lent him a dignity and forbearance deserving of high praise. His answer to General Bragg exhibited no irritation whatever. It was a quiet, uncomplaining acquiescence in the government's action, and read thus:

I cannot congratulate you, but am happy for the change. It will take me some time to recuperate. I will leave my Staff with you until required by me. You will find it very useful.

On the next day, the Hon. George W. Randolph, Secretary of War, confirmed General Bragg's despatch, as follows:

Richmond, June 23d, 1862.
General G. T. Beauregard, Mobile, Alabama:

General,—I enclose copies of a telegram from the President to General Bragg, and a letter which I have addressed to him.10

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

George W. Randolph, Sec. of War.

Not a word of explanation, not an expression of regret at the abrupt change, are to be found in the few lines given above. An act of greater official discourtesy could hardly have been committed. A delinquent second lieutenant could not have been more summarily dealt with.

General Beauregard made no direct answer to the Secretary of [409] War; but, on the 25th, from Mobile, where he still was, advising General Forney, as he had said he would do, he wrote this letter to General Cooper:

General,—Enclosed please find the certificate 11 of my physicians, members of my general staff as inspectors, recommending that I should withdraw for a while from the command of Department No. 2. This is the third certificate to the same effect I have received from them since my arrival at Jackson, Tennessee; but finding, or believing, that my presence until now was absolutely necessary, with the forces under my command, I persistently refused to avail myself of their recommendation until the present moment, when I feel that in justice to myself and to the cause I am endeavoring to defend I must take a little rest, and retire for a while from the active scenes of life to which I have been accustomed for the last sixteen months. I will, for the present, repair to Bladon Springs, Alabama, where I will be always ready to obey any orders of the department (regardless of my health) to resume the active duties of the field, whenever circumstances will require that I should be so ordered.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

G. T. Beauregard, General C. S. A.

We have now to refer to what Mr. Davis says in his book upon this unfortunate incident of his administration, and to disclose the errors he commits while relating it.

After giving his own version of what occurred at the time of General Beauregard's departure from Tupelo, and producing such evidence as might best support the conclusions he intended to draw, Mr. Davis says:

‘From this statement it appears: First, that General Beauregard was not, as has been alleged, harshly deprived of his command, but that he voluntarily surrendered it, after being furnished with medical certificates of his physical incapacity for its arduous duties. Second, that he did not even notify his government, still less ask permission to retire. Third, that the order, assigning another to the command he had abandoned, could not be sent through him, when he had departed and gone to a place where there was no telegraph, and rarely a mail. Fourth, that it is neither customary nor proper to send orders to the commander of an army through a general on sick-leave; and in this case it would have been very objectionable, as a similar order had just been sent and disobeyed.’12

The mere recital of the facts, as already given, clearly disproves the foregoing statement: [410]

I. It would be as true to allege that General Beauregard was never relieved of his command at all, as to state that he was not ‘harshly deprived’ of it. Mr. Davis, who had before him, or at his disposal, every telegram and letter inserted in this text, could not have believed that General Beauregard had ‘voluntarily abandoned’ his command—in other words, permanently withdrawn from it, of his own free will—when it was so evident that the absence spoken of would only be for a short time, and that, ‘meanwhile,’ the command of the army would be intrusted to General Bragg. No better proof could be offered to show that both General Beauregard's intention and desire were to resume his command as soon as he could.

II. If Mr. Davis is correct in his second point, what becomes of General Beauregard's telegram of June 14th, where he says: ‘I am leaving for a while, on surgeon's certificate. I must have a short rest’? He had certainly not left Tupelo when that despatch was forwarded. He had therefore ‘notified his government,’ in the telegram and in the letter. His ‘government,’ therefore, knew, before his departure, that his intention was to leave. True, no ‘permission’—in the strict sense of the term—was asked of the War Department. But it was clearly with no thought of ignoring—still less of overriding—the authority of the War Department or of the Commander-in-Chief. No formal permission was asked, because General Beauregard believed that, under the circumstances, he could freely transport himself to any place in the Confederacy, even outside of his territorial command, without special leave from Richmond—all the more so, that he clearly indicated the precise localities to which he was going, the reasons for which he was leaving, and the length of time he proposed being absent.

III. Mr. Davis's assertion that ‘the order assigning another to the command he had abandoned could not be sent through him (General Beauregard), when he had departed and gone to a place where there was no telegraph and rarely a mail,’ is, indeed, extraordinary, to say the least of it. ‘Mobile’ was not an inaccessible place, nor was ‘Bladon Springs’ an unknown locality. General Bragg found no difficulty in notifying General Beauregard of the order superseding him; and the curt, unceremonious, official note of Mr. Randolph, dated Richmond, June 23d, also reached General Beauregard without difficulty or delay. [411]

IV. If, as Mr. Davis has it, General Beauregard had abandoned his command without ‘permission’—that is to say, in violation of army regulations—he was not absent on ‘sick-leave,’ or any other ‘leave;’ he had simply deserted his post. If, on the other hand, as Mr. Davis plainly states, he was ‘on sick-leave,’ the temporary arrangement made at and before his departure should have been acquiesced in; for he was clearly not at fault, if on ‘sick-leave.’

But it is an undeniable fact that, when the government's despatch of June 14th was sent directly to General Brag, General Beauregard was still in full command at Tupelo, and had not, then, even intimated his intention of going to the inaccessible place Mr. Davis objects to. He only disclosed that intention after the President's order had reached General Bragg; and this is the ‘similar order,’ which, Mr. Davis states, was sent through General Beauregard and disobeyed. Scarcely over three weeks after he left Tupelo, General Beauregard—had he not been, at that time, tacitly ‘shelved’—could have resumed his active duties in the field or elsewhere. His health was sufficiently restored by the rest, quiet, and salubrious air he had enjoyed at Bladon Springs. But, as is now apparent, the current of succeeding events did not require his presence with the army, even a fortnight after his sufficient restoration to health. And this had been clearly foreseen by him before he left Tupelo. Nor was the hurried departure of General Bragg, so much insisted upon by President Davis, at all indispensable. General Van Dorn, when sent to relieve General Lovell, did just as well; and we have yet to learn that he took even a company with him to reinforce a place which, Mr. Davis said, was so imminently threatened.

Days, and even weeks, passed by. General Beauregard was still in retirement at Bladon Springs. Letters of sympathy and regret reached him from all points of the Confederacy, and proved what a high place he occupied in the public esteem. Yet some injudicious friends, or ‘mischief-makers’—as the Hon. John Forsyth, who had been one of our three Peace Commissioners to Washington, so aptly called them—strove hard to create feelings of suspicion and animosity between our leading men, and, what was worse, between Generals Beauregard and Bragg. The former did his utmost, incessantly, not only to screen his successor from all imputation of blame concerning the action of the Executive in placing him in [412] command of Department No. 2, but made it a point (except when speaking to a limited circle of tried friends) to approve of all that had been done in that respect. We give here a few passages from a letter from General Bragg to the Hon. John Forsyth, dated Tupelo, July 17th, written in acknowledgment of a very remarkable article printed by the latter in the Mobile Evening News. In the Appendix will also be found a letter of General Beauregard on the same subject.

After speaking of his determination ever to avoid discussions in the public press, and thanking Mr. Forsyth for the sentiments he had expressed concerning the positions, ‘personal and official,’ of General Beauregard and himself, General Bragg said:

No two men living ever served together more harmoniously, or parted with more regret. None of us are free from our faults and weaknesses, but among mine will never be found a jealousy which would detract from so pure a man and eminent a general as Beauregard.

No one could have been more surprised at the order assigning me to his command than myself; and certainly the idea of my being a “pet” with any part of the administration is laughable. . . . Upon the urgent appeal of his physicians, after arriving here, where it was supposed we should not be assailed by the enemy for a few weeks, he retired to seek some relief from the toils which have made him an old man in the short space of one year. If it be his friends who have started this discussion, they are doing him great injustice, and so far as I am concerned I can only say to them, the records here will show with what regret I parted with their chief, and how ardently I hoped for his restoration, that he might resume the position he had filled so honorably.13

On the 22d of July, from Tupelo, where no incident of note had thus far happened, General Bragg addressed an interesting communication to General Beauregard, setting forth a plan of active operations which he had prepared, and asking his opinion and advice thereon.14 General Beauregard answered as follows:

Cullum Springs, Bladon, Ala., July 28th, 1862.
General Braxton Bragg, Commanding Department No. 2, Mobile, Ala.:

My dear General,—Your letter of the 22d instant was received only last night. I give you with pleasure the following views on your proposed operations from Tupelo, for I wish you the amplest success, both on your own and the country's account.

You have evidently but one of four things to do. First, to attack Halleck [413] at Corinth; second, to attack Buell at or about Chattanooga; third, to attack Grant at or about Memphis; fourth, to remain idle at Tupelo.

From what you state the first is evidently inadmissible, and the last cannot be entertained for one moment, for action, action, is what we require.

Now, with regard to the other two propositions, it is evident that unless you reinforce General E. K. Smith, at Chattanooga, he will be overpowered by Buell, and that our communication with the East, and our supplies at Atlanta, Augusta, etc., will be cut off; also that a partial reinforcement would so weaken you at Tupelo as to paralyze you for any other movements from there; hence you have adopted the wisest course in sending to Smith all your available forces, except just enough to guard your depots, etc., to the rear of your present position at Tupelo.

The third proposition would have afforded you some success, but not as brilliant and important in its results as the second one, if the newspapers will permit you to carry it successfully into effect; for Halleck and Buell, occupying the base of a long isosceles triangle, of which Mobile is the apex, could get to Chattanooga before you if they should become aware of your movements, and then you would have to contend again with superior forces, as usual to us. 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.

I am happy to see that my two lieutenants, Morgan and Forrest, are doing such good service in Kentucky and Tennessee. When I appointed them I thought they would leave their mark wherever they passed.

* * * * * * * * *

Sincerely your friend,

General Bragg, for reasons we cannot explain, did not follow the advice given; and his campaign into middle Tennessee and Kentucky ended almost in disaster.

General Beauregard, it seems, had not given up all hope of again assuming command of his army. He followed its every movement with the greatest interest and anxiety; and during the leisure now afforded him, drew up an extensive plan for its further success, which he finally forwarded to the War Department. In the meantime—namely, on the 25th of August—he had officially reported ‘for duty in the field.’ The plan we here refer to was addressed to General Cooper, whose relations with General Beauregard had not ceased to be of an agreeable character. It was marked ‘Confidential,’ and read thus: [414]

Mobile, Ala., September 5th, 1862.
General,—Under the supposition that on the restoration of my health I would be returned to the command of Department No. 2, I had prepared while at Bladon, Alabama, a plan of operations in Tennessee and Kentucky, based on my knowledge of that part of the theatre of war; but hearing that my just expectations are to be disappointed, I have the honor to communicate it to the War Department, in the hope that it may be of service to our arms and to our cause. It was submitted by me to General Bragg on the 2d instant. By looking at the map it will be seen that the forces operating in that section of country will be separated at first by one river (the Tennessee), and afterwards by two (the Tennessee and Cumberland), hence they will be unable to support each other, being unprovided with pontoon trains; but their operations must be more or less dependent on or connected with each other. I will first refer to those in East Tennessee and then to those west of it.

In the first case, our objective points must be, first, Louisville, and then Cincinnati. How best to reach them from Chattanooga, with Buell at Huntsville and Stevenson, is the question. It is evident he has the advantage of two bases of operations, the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, and that if we advance towards our objective points without getting rid of him, we would expose our lines of communication with Chattanooga. We must, then, give him battle first, or compel him to retire before us.

Should he retire on Nashville (as the newspapers say he is now doing), we will be advancing towards Louisville; but should he venture on Florence or Savannah, to unite his forces with Rosecrans and Grant, we will have to concentrate enough of our forces from Mobile and East Tennessee to follow him rapidly and defeat him in a grand battle, when we would be able to resume our march as before indicated. We must, however, as soon as practicable, construct strong works to command the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, for otherwise our communication would be cut off by the enemy as soon as those two rivers shall have risen sufficiently to admit the entrance of their gunboats and transports.

The best positions for said works are about forty miles below forts Donelson and Henry, not far from Eddysville, where those two rivers come within one and a half miles of each other. I am informed there is at that point a commanding elevation where a strong field-work could be constructed for a garrison of about twenty-five hundred or three thousand men, who could hold out (with ample provisions and ammunition) against a large army. Under the guns of this work, and along the bank of each river, a series of batteries, armed with the heaviest guns (eight, nine, ten inch, and rifled guns), could be constructed, bearing directly on obstructions placed in each of said rivers.

When Louisville shall have fallen into our possession, I would construct a work there for the command of the Ohio and the canal, and I would destroy the latter as soon as possible, so completely that future travellers would hardly know where it was. This I would do as a return for the Yankee vandalism in attempting to obstruct forever the harbors of Charleston and Savannah. A detachment of our army could, I think, take Louisville, while the main body would be marching to Cincinnati; but if we could get boats enough it would [415] be shorter to go up the Ohio in them. To keep the command of Cincinnati, I would construct a strong work, heavily armed, at Covington.

Now, for the operation of Western Tennessee. The object should be to drive the enemy from there and resume the command of the Mississippi River. For these purposes I would concentrate rapidly at Grand Junction Price's army, and all that could be spared from Vicksburg of Van Dorn's. From there I would make a forced march to Fort Pillow, which I would take with probably only a very small loss. It is evident that the forces at Memphis and Yazoo River would then have their line of communication by the river with the North cut off, and they would have either to surrender or cross without resources into Arkansas, where General Holmes would take good care of them. From Fort Pillow I would compel the forces at Corinth and Jackson, Tennessee, to fall back precipitately to Humboldt and Columbus, or their lines of communication would be cut off also. We would then pursue them vigorously beyond the Mississippi at Columbus, or the Ohio at Paducah. We would thus compel the enemy to evacuate the State of Mississippi and Western Tennessee, with probably the loss on our part of only a few hundred men. General Price could then be detached into Missouri to support his friends, where his presence alone would be worth an army to the Confederacy.

The armament and ammunition of the works referred to should be collected, as soon as possible, at Meridian and Chattanooga. Such are the operations which I would carry into effect, with such modifications as circumstances might require, if the President had judged proper to order me back to the command of that army which I had, with General Bragg's assistance, collected together and organized, and which I had only left to recover my shattered health, while my presence could be spared from it, and until he informed me that it was ready to take the offensive.

Hoping for its entire success, I remain, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

G. T. Beauregard, General C. S. A.

Hardly a week had elapsed after the foregoing communication was forwarded to Richmond, when the Hon. Thomas J. Semmes and the Hon. Edward Sparrow, Members of Congress from Louisiana, called by agreement, with their colleagues, on President Davis, to present to him a petition, signed by nearly sixty Senators and Representatives from different States of the Confederacy. It is a paper of great interest, giving additional information upon the subject which occupies our attention:

To the President of the Confederate States:

Sir,—The undersigned Senators and Representatives in Congress from the Western and Southwestern States have learned with pleasure that General Beauregard, restored in health, has reported for duty, and that he has been assigned to the command of South Carolina and Georgia. They have also been reliably informed that the General is anxious and eager to return to the command [416] of the Army of the West. Without in any manner desiring to interfere with the military dispositions of the government, or with the prerogatives of the President as Commander-in-Chief of all the forces, they would respectfully submit that a due regard, consistent with the best interests of the country, should be paid to the wishes of one who has given such proofs of disinterested devotion to our cause, and who has contributed so much by his generalship to insure the success of our arms. Compelled by the exigencies of the country to separate himself from his Army of the Potomac to go West in a new field, at a most gloomy period of our revolution; then, with scanty resources, to form a new army, under every possible disadvantage, consequent upon the unexpected fall of forts Henry and Donelson, he was found equal to every emergency; and then at the battle of Shiloh, and in the masterly retreat from Corinth, saved that army. We know the enthusiasm with which his return would inspire our noble army, who long to see him, and that the worthy general commanding would be rejoiced and gladdened by his presence. As representatives aforesaid, knowing well the sentiments and wishes of the people we represent, we unhesitatingly say that the restoration of General Beauregard to the Army of the West would be hailed with great joy by them; and without detracting from the acknowledged merit and well-earned reputation of the present commander, we respectfully submit that a new guarantee for the success of our arms would be given. For these reasons we earnestly ask the President to duly consider the expressed desire of General Beauregard, ere he be definitely assigned to any position. Understanding that the assignment of General Beauregard to Charleston has been pressed upon the government by the Governor and Council of South Carolina, we tender herewith the names of the representatives of that State, as expressive of their assent to our petition.

It is but justice to General Beauregard to say that this step is taken without his knowledge or consent.

Ed. Sparrow,La.
T. J. Semmes,
W. L. Yancey,Ala.
L. C. Haynes,Tenn.
H. C. Burnet,Ky.
J. B. Clark,Mo.
G. A. Henry,Tenn.
L. T. Wigfall,Texas.
C. W. Bell,Mo.
C. J. Villere,La.
G. D. Royston,Ark.
J. M. Elliott,Ky.
David Clopton,Ark.
G. W. Ewing,Ky.
W. N. Cooke,Mo.
F. S. Lyon,Ala.
J. Perkins, Jr.,La.
C. M. Conrad,
J. Wilcox,Texas.
P. W. Gray,
T. B. Cexton,
J. C. Atkins,Tenn.
W. G. Swan,
H. S. Foote,
T. B. Handle,Ark.
H. W. Bruce,Ky.
R. J. Breckinridge,
W. R. Smith,Ala.
E. L. Gardenshire,Tenn.
J. W. Moore,Ky.
D. F. Kenner,La.
L. C. Dupre,
E. S. Dargan,Ala.
F. J. Batson,Ark.


J. B. Heiskell,Tenn.
G. B. Hodge, Ky.
T. A. Harris,Mo.
H. E. Reid,
C. C. Herbert,Texas.
Wm. H. Tibbs,Tenn.
F. J. Foster,Ala.
J. L. M. Curry,Ala.
E. M. Bruce,Ky.
A. W. Conrow,Mo.
A. H. Garland,Ark.
F. W. Freeman,
G. G. Vest, Mo.
Wm. Porcher Miles,S. C.
J. D. Crocket,Ky.
M. L. Bonham,
W. R. Machen,
W. W. Boyce,
H. R. Wright,Ga.
F. Farrow,
M. D. Graham,Texas.
J. McQueen,
D. M. Currin,Tenn.

A true copy.

Charles J. Villere, Representative in Congress.

President Davis's answer to this earnest appeal, supported by such an imposing array of representative names, was truly characteristic. The reader will judge of it after reading the following paper: Notes of an Interview with the President relative to Transferring General Beauregard to the Command of Department No. 2.

Richmond, September 13th, 1862.
General Sparrow and myself this day called on the President, and delivered to him a petition, signed by about fifty members and senators from the Western and Southwestern States, in which the restoration of Beauregard to the command of the army now under Bragg was solicited, it being stated in the petition that it was known that Bragg would welcome the restoration of Beauregard. The President received it politely, and immediately read it aloud in our presence, making, en passant, some running comments on the correctness of some of the facts stated in the petition. He then calmly and dispassionately read aloud all the signatures attached to the petition. Having sent to an adjoining office for five or six despatches, he read them aloud in the order they were sent or received, according to date, and accompanied them in a calm manner with the following explanation, prefacing it with the remark that he supposed we had not a correct and faithful apprehension of the facts. He stated that on the day preceding his first despatch commanding Bragg to proceed to Vicksburg (14th June, I think), he received a despatch from Governor Pickens, of South Carolina, informing him that Beauregard (to whom Pickens had previously sent a despatch requesting him to come to Charleston and take command there) had replied that his presence was absolutely necessary to the army at Tupelo, and that he could not leave it. He (the President) further stated the following condition of things existed at that time: Columbus and Island No.10 had surrendered; Fort Pillow was evacuated, Memphis was abandoned, the enemy were taking possession of the line of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, and threatening a descent through Mississippi; that New Orleans had fallen, and the disposition seemed [418] to be to give up everything; that he had just received a despatch from Lovell, stating, unless reinforced, he would abandon Vicksburg; besides all this, he knew the people had no confidence in Lovell, and would not serve under him. He at once determined to send Bragg to Vicksburg, and on the 15th June, I think, telegraphed to Bragg to proceed at once to Vicksburg, as the danger was pressing and imminent, and that the assignment of him to Vicksburg was but temporary. Bragg immediately replied by telegraph (16th or 17th, I do not remember) that Beauregard, being in bad health, desired temporary repose, and intended to leave the army for a short period, and concluded by saying he would await further orders. When this despatch arrived in Richmond, the President was at Raleigh; as soon as he received it from the Adjutant-General, he telegraphed Bragg to go at once to Vicksburg, the danger was pressing and imminent, and he was sorry he had permitted anything to interfere with his orders. Bragg replied on the 18th or 19th, that Beauregard had left on a surgeon's certificate of four months, stating, however, that Beauregard would return in a short time, and as soon as the army was reorganized. I forget the exact terms of the despatch. It conveyed the idea of Beauregard's absence being temporary, and of no very long duration; but how long was uncertain, and where he had gone was not stated.15 Bragg informed the President his presence had now become absolutely necessary to the army, and that he awaited further orders. The President replied, giving Bragg the command of the department, and ordered Van Dorn to Vicksburg through Bragg. The President stated that under these circumstances every military man will say that Beauregard should have remained at Tupelo, even if he had to be carried about in a litter.16 He knew that Bragg's assignment to Vicksburg was but temporary, and he ought to have waited at least two or three weeks; that he left the army under these circumstances without permission, and that he had no right to leave on a surgeon's certificate without permission, and he had not stated where he had gone; that so long as Beauregard remained invested with the command of the department, Bragg was only the commander of that army at Tupelo; that Bragg could not correspond with the War Department except through Beauregard, and no orders could be issued to other forces in the department at Vicksburg or elsewhere, except through Beauregard as head of the department, and therefore, under the circumstances, a change of the head of the department was absolutely necessary for the public interest. The President, though stating the irregularities of Beauregard's conduct in leaving the army, said he had overlooked all that, and disavowed its influence on his conduct, and based his action exclusively on the public interests at that time.

That so far as giving Beauregard command of Bragg's army is concerned, that was out of the question. Bragg had arranged all his plans, and had cointelligence with the department, with Kirby Smith, and Humphrey Marshall, and to put a new commander17at the head of the army, would be so prejudicial to the public interests, he would not do it if the whole world united in the petition.18 He further stated that Charleston was no unimportant command, that [419] Charleston and Savannah were of vast consequence to the Confederacy, and as he believed General Beauregard's qualifications peculiarly fitted him for its defence, he had selected him on that account as the best man in the army for the South Carolina and Georgia Department. The President read aloud to us all the despatches spoken of above. I may not therefore give their tenor accurately; he promised us copies, and, moreover, authorized us to repeat what passed in conversation. The above, however, is substantially what passed, as far as I can recollect; it is not all that passed, nor do I pretend to give the exact language.

A few words more, and we have done with this subject. We have furnished the whole of the evidence relating to it; and, in order to make the chain more complete, we now refer the reader to the despatch of Governor Pickens, and General Beauregard's answer to it, to be found in the Appendix to this chapter. Let the reader carefully compare the facts composing that evidence with what Mr. Davis writes in his book, and with what he said to the committee of Congressmen who called on him to petition for General Beauregard's restoration to his army. He will need no further enlightenment in order to draw a just conclusion. We do not intend to scrutinize the motives which actuated Mr. Davis in his conduct at that time towards General Beauregard; but, that he was not moved by a spirit of patriotism, or influenced only by a pure desire to advance the interests of the cause, is shown by the expressions used by him on that occasion: ‘He would not do it, if the whole world united in the petition.’ Here was the President of the Confederacy, the first and most prominent servant of its people, ready to oppose his will, his rule, not only to the desire of the majority of that people, but—if need be—to the declared opinion of ‘the whole world:’ the plain meaning of which was that should he and the rest of mankind, including the whole population of the South, differ as to the wisdom of any measure of public interest, he would be right, and the ‘whole world’ wrong. What monarch, in this or in any former age, could have regarded his power as more absolute?

Taken as a whole, the military operations in Department No. 2, from Bowling Green to the evacuation of Corinth, including the stand made at Tupelo, presented some of the most difficult problems of war. Without the wish to claim undue credit for the manner in which these were solved, in view of the desperate beginning, the wretched want of preparation, the deficiency of men and [420] arms, the raw and incomplete materials, collected by such strenuous efforts, the friends of General A. S. Johnston and of General Beauregard may be proud of the results; of the skill with which they met every emergency, and, with heavy odds against them, balked the plans of the enemy.

1 Van Horne's ‘History of the Army of the Cumberland,’ vol. i. p. 142.

2 Captain L. E. Hill's telegram to General Beauregard.

3 The communication spoken of is in the Appendix to this chapter.

4 Copies of the order were furnished for the information of Colonels Scott, Wharton, and Adams.

5 See Appendix to Chapter XXIV.

6 A severe attack of laryngitis.

7 ‘Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government,’ vol. i. p. 74.

8 See his letter of June 15th to General Cooper.

9 The ‘Potomac District,’ created in October, 1861. See General Orders No. 15, Adjutant and Inspector General's office, in Appendix to Chapter XIII.

10 The telegram has already been given in our text. The letter referred to is in the Appendix to this chapter.

11 It has already been given to the reader.

12 ‘Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government,’ vol. II. p. 75. The italics are ours.

13 The entire letter is in the Appendix to this Chapter.

14 This communication is to be found in Appendix.

15 The italics are ours.

16 The italics are ours.

17 The italics are ours.

18 The italics are ours.

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