Military operations of General Beauregard.
- Effort made to obtain a suitable command for General Beauregard. -- he is assigned to duty in South Carolina and Georgia. -- he reaches Charleston on the 15th of September. -- unpopularity of General Pemberton. -- pleasure of the City and State authorities at General Beauregard's superseding him. -- loss of General Beauregard's papers of this period of the war. -- General Beauregard's tour of inspection throughout his Department. -- criticism of the lines of works as constructed by General Pemberton. -- General Beauregard's regret at the abandonment of the exterior system of coast defences. -- interior lines most defective. -- General long attributes these lines to General R. E. Lee. -- error of General long. -- General Pemberton's estimates of the minimum forces necessary for the defence of Charleston. -- General Beauregard assumes command September 24th. -- General Pemberton given command of Department of the Mississippi. -- conference of officers on the 29th. -- matters discussed by them. -- General Beauregard begins the armament of forts and the erection of fortifications. -- anchorage of boom in the main channel. -- alteration made by General Beauregard in the position of the heavy guns. -- enemy attack on St. John's River. -- unprepared condition of the third military district. -- letter to Colonel Walker. -- General Beauregard's system of Signal stations -- its usefulness and success.
when it was learned in Richmond that General Beauregard had reported for duty a strong effort was made to obtain for him a command suitable to his rank. A personal friend of his, the Hon. C. J. Villere,1 on September 1st, telegraphed him as follows: ‘Would you prefer the Trans-Mississippi to Charleston?’  His characteristic reply was: ‘Have no preference to express. Will go wherever ordered. Do for the best.’ The War Department had already issued orders assigning him to duty in South Carolina and Georgia, with Headquarters at Charleston; but he did not become aware of the fact until the 10th of September.2 He left the next day for his new field of action, and, in a telegram apprising General Cooper of his departure, asked that copies of his orders and instructions should be sent to meet him in Charleston. Thus it is shown that the petition to President Davis, spoken of in the preceding chapter, was presented while General Beauregard was on his way to his new command, in obedience to orders from Richmond, and that he knew nothing of the step then being taken in his behalf. Charleston was a familiar spot to General Beauregard, and one much liked and appreciated by him. With the certainty he now had of not being reinstated in his former command, no other appointment could have given him so much pleasure. He arrived there on the 15th of September, and received a warm and cordial greeting both from the people and from the authorities. It was evident that grave apprehensions were felt for the safety of the city—‘that cradle of the rebellion,’ as it was called by the Northern press. And all the more was General Beauregard welcomed to Charleston because General Pemberton, whom he was to relieve, did not enjoy the confidence and esteem of the Carolinians. General Pemberton was a brave and zealous officer, but was wanting in polish, and was too positive and domineering in manner to suit the sensitive and polite people among whom he had been thrown. He commenced his administration of affairs there by removing the guns from Cole's Island, and opening the Stono River to the invasion of the Federal fleet and, army; after which there was no quiet for Charleston. Two unfortunate circumstances had further contributed to the distrust of General Pemberton. Shortly before General Beauregard's arrival he had proclaimed martial law in the city of Charleston without authority, it was alleged, from the President. and contrary to the wishes of the Governor of the State. This added to his unpopularity. He had also officially advised the  abandonment of the whole coast-line of defences, and commenced preparations therefore.3 This was done in apprehension of the attack of the new monitors and ironclads, highly extolled at that time by all the Northern newspapers. This act had so exasperated the State and city authorities that Governor Pickens had written to the War Department, demanding the immediate removal of General Pemberton. He had also telegraphed to General Beauregard, requesting him to come again ‘to fight our batteries.’ His despatch ended thus: ‘We must now defend Charleston. Please come, as the President is willing—at least for the present. Answer.’ And, as has been already shown, General Beauregard, believing that such a transfer would take him permanently from Department No. 2 and his army at Tupelo, declined to accept Governor Pickens's proposal.4 In writing upon this phase of the war we are met by two serious obstacles: first, the necessity of condensing into a few chapters a narrative of events which of itself would furnish material for a separate work; second, the loss of most of General Beauregard's official papers, from September, 1862, to April, 1864; in other words, all those that referred to the period during which he remained in command of the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. It may be of interest to tell how that loss occurred. When, in the spring of 1864, General Beauregard was ordered to Virginia, to assist General Lee in the defence of Richmond, he sent to General Howell Cobb, at Macon, for safe-keeping, all his official books and papers collected since his departure from the West. After the surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston's army at Greensboroa, North Carolina, in April, 1865, he telegraphed General Cobb to forward these important documents to Atlanta, through which city he knew he would have to pass on his way to Louisiana. They never reached that point. General Wilson, commanding the Federal cavalry in Georgia, took possession of them while in transitu to Atlanta, with a portion of General Beauregard's personal baggage. Immediate efforts were made to secure their restoration, but in vain: baggage and papers  were sent to Washington by order, it was said, of Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War. At a later date General Beauregard succeeded in recovering his baggage; but, despite his endeavors and the promise of high Federal officials, he could not get his papers. These were finally placed in the War Records office, and through the attention of the gentlemanly officers in charge he has been able to procure such copies of them as were indispensable for the purposes of this work. We are credibly informed that military papers and documents belonging to General A. S. Johnston, and embracing only six or seven months of the beginning of the war, were bought, a few years ago, from his heirs for the sum of ten thousand dollars; while General Beauregard's papers, relating to upwards of twenty months of a most interesting part of our struggle, are kept and used by the Government with no lawful claim to them and in violation, as we hold, of the articles of surrender agreed upon by Generals Johnston and Sherman. We may add that General Beauregard is not only deprived of his property, but is forced to pay for copies of his own papers whenever the necessity arises to make use of them. General Pemberton was anxious to turn over his command to General Beauregard, but the latter would not accept it until he had examined, in company with that officer, all the important points and defences of the Department as it then stood. Accordingly, on the 16th of September, they began a regular tour of inspection which lasted until the 21st. They were, at that date, in Savannah. On the 24th, having returned to Charleston, General Beauregard went through the usual formality of assuming command. The result of his inspection is given in his official notes, to be found in the Appendix to the present chapter. He made his report as favorable as possible, and was not over-critical, especially in matters of engineering, as he well knew his predecessor had but a limited knowledge of that branch of the service, and had, besides, no experienced military engineer to assist him. Many changes, it was apparent to General Beauregard, were necessary, and he determined to effect them as soon as circumstances should permit. It may not be out of place to mention here some of the defensive works constructed under General Pemberton's orders. He had adopted a line from Secessionville, on the east,  guarding the water approaches of Light-House Inlet, to Fort Pemberton, up the Stono River—a distance of fully five miles—thus giving up to the enemy, for his offensive operations, a large extent of James Island. General Beauregard subsequently reduced that long and defective line to two and a quarter miles, from Secessionville to Fort Pringle, on the Stono, four miles below Fort Pemberton. This was not only a much shorter line, but a stronger and more advantageous one, as it greatly reduced the space the enemy could occupy in any hostile movement from the Stono. In the defensive line originally constructed by General Pemberton the infantry cover had been put in front of his redoubts and redans, and the redans were before the redoubts; so that, when the lines were held by the infantry, the guns of the redoubts and redans could not be used, as the country there was perfectly level on all sides. Again, the redans, being in front of the redoubts, masked the fire of the latter-thus completely reversing Rogniart's system of field-works, which requires that redans should be in rear of and between redoubts, and the infantry cover in rear of both-thus leaving the artillery fire free, and the infantry in supporting distance, unexposed, and ready, if required, to repel any assault made upon the works. On Morris Island, south of Sumter, an important position, a small open battery was commenced, distant about three-quarters of a mile south of Cummings's Point, and a mile and a half from Fort Sumter. It ran from the sea to Vincent Creek, on a very narrow part of the island, but had no guns bearing on the outer harbor, or ship-channel, as it was called. General Beauregard had that work considerably enlarged, gave it a bastioned front, closed its gorge or rear, added enormous bomb-proofs and traverses to it, and mounted several heavy guns pointing to the sea, or outer harbor. Indeed, he made it so strong that it successfully withstood, during some fifty-eight days, the heaviest land and naval attacks known in history. On Sullivan's Island, north of Sumter, was old Fort Moultrie, and half a mile east of it Battery Beauregard, planned by General Beauregard and by him ordered to be built, as early as April, 1861. There were also three or four other batteries, west of Moultrie, some of which had taken a part in the attack on Fort Sumter at the opening of the war. A small work had likewise  been commenced by General Pemberton on the extreme east of the island, which General Beauregard afterwards increased considerably, building besides four detached batteries between it and Battery Beauregard, to prevent a landing of the enemy's force in that quarter, though the danger of such an occurrence was much less than on Morris Island, in front of which was a good roadstead, where the Federal fleet lay till the end of the war.5 In his first conference with General Pemberton, General Beauregard learned, with surprise and regret, that the system of coast defences he had devised in April, 1861, had been entirely abandoned, because of the anticipated attack of Federal monitors and ironclads, not yet completed; and that an interior system of defences, requiring much additional labor, armament, and expense, had been adopted, which opened many vulnerable points to an energetic and enterprising enemy. And yet, incredible as it may appear, this is the system which an over-zealous admirer of General Lee, and a former member of his staff, General A. L. Long,6 has been injudicious enough to attribute—no less than the other defences of South Carolina—to that distinguished Confederate general and engineer. If it were not that the utter insignificance of General Long's unsubstantiated statements shuts them out from serious notice, we could easily point out many unpardonable errors into which he has fallen; but the mere recital of what General Beauregard accomplished after his arrival in that Department, and the production of evidence, not drawn from imagination but from facts in its support, will satisfy the reader's mind and amply meet the requirements of history. General Thomas Jordan, the able chief of staff, who so faithfully served in that capacity under General Beauregard from the first battle of Manassas to the latter part of April, 1864, has forcibly exposed what he very aptly terms ‘the wholly erroneous and wrongful conclusions’ of General Long in regard to the sea-coast and other defences of South Carolina and Georgia. We quote the following passage from his reply to General Long: 
‘Pemberton, as I have always understood, had materially departed from General Lee's plan of defensive works for the Department. Be that so or not, the system which Beauregard found established upon the approaches to Charleston and Savannah he radically changed with all possible energy. * * * And so comprehensive were these changes that, had General Long chanced to visit those two places and the intermediate lines about the first day of July, 1863, he would have been sorely puzzled to point out, in all the results of engineering skill which must have met and pleased his eyes in the Department, any trace of what he had left there something more than one year before.’7But General Long clung to his error. Instead of acknowledging the injustice he had committed, he wrote and forwarded to the ‘Southern Historical Society Papers’ a second article, wherein, after declaring his intention not to recede from his former statement, he ventures upon the following extraordinary assertion:
‘It is well known that after being battered down during a protracted siege, Fort Sumter was remodelled, and rendered vastly stronger than it had previously been, by the skilful hand of General Gilmer, Chief of the Confederate Engineer Corps, and that various points were powerfully strengthened to resist the formidable forces that threatened them.’8This stress laid upon Fort Sumter shows General Long's narrow appreciation of the subject. But as to Fort Sumter itself, General Gilmer had nothing to do with the remodelling of its battered walls, nor with the preparation and strengthening of the defences in and around Charleston and its harbor; nor has he ever made any such claim. The fact is, that he only reported for duty in that Department about the middle of August, 1863, shortly before the evacuation of Morris Island, which occurred on the 7th of September. At that time the works in South Carolina and Georgia were already planned, and in process of construction, almost all of them being entirely completed. General Gilmer was an educated Engineer, doubtless worthy of the rank he held in the Confederate service; and no one denies that, had General Lee been sent to Charleston, in the fall of 1862, instead of General Beauregard, he would have been equal to the task laid out  before him. What is alleged is—and the proof in support is derived from the unvarying testimony of facts — that it was General Beauregard, and not General Lee, who conceived and built the ‘impenetrable barrier,’ which, as General Long truthfully says, defeated the plans of ‘the combined Federal forces operating on the coast’ of South Carolina and Georgia. General Long had forgotten that General Beauregard was the first Confederate general sent to Charleston, and that he was, in fact, at that time, the only Confederate general in existence; that after he had taken Fort Sumter, and while it was being rehabilitated, he made, as early as 1861, by request of Governor Pickens, a thorough reconnoissance of the South Carolina coast, from Charleston to Port Royal; that he recommended, in a memoir written to that effect, the erection of important works at the mouths of the Stono, the two Edistos, and Georgetown Harbor.9 But General Long further fails to remember that the different points he mentions as having particularly fixed General Lee's attention—the ‘most threatened points’—when he (December, 1861) assumed command of the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida (namely, the Stono, the Edisto, the Combahee, Coosawhatchie, the sites opposite Hilton Head, on the Broad, on the Salkahatchie, etc.) were not, after all, the points actually attacked by the united land and naval forces of the enemy—were not the sites of the ‘impenetrable barrier’ against which the combined efforts of Admiral Dahlgren and General Gillmore were fruitlessly made. The real barrier that stopped them, and through which they could never break, consisted in the magnificent works on James, Sullivan's, and Morris Islands, and in different parts of the Charleston Harbor, and in the city proper—all due to the engineering capacity of General Beauregard, who conceived and executed them. Unreflecting friends are worse at times than avowed enemies. They often belittle instead of elevating the object of their predilection. Groundless and fanciful praise of this kind could only lead to doubt of their subject's claim to merit in other matters, even where it is a just one. General Lee's reputation rests upon a more solid foundation than such formal eulogies, and he needs no borrowed laurels. The attempt of General Long to deprive  General Beauregard10 of his due in this instance is certainly not justifiable, Before relieving General Pemberton, General Beauregard called on him for an estimate of the minimum forces, of all arms, in his opinion essential for a successful defence of Charleston and its dependencies, of the District of South Carolina, of Savannah and its dependencies, and of the District of Georgia. This was the estimate furnished. It bore date September 24th, 1862:
|STATIONS||Infantry.||Heavy Artillery||Light Art'y or Field-w'ks.||Cavalry.||Total.|
|Grand total of all arms||43,650|
General Pemberton was regularly relieved on the same day, and, in obedience to orders, repaired to Richmond, where, shortly afterwards, he was made a lieutenant-general, and, to the astonishment of all men, even the President's own partisans, sent to take command of the Department of the Mississippi, with headquarters at Vicksburg, one of the most important posts in the South. General Pemberton, as was well known, had not been engaged in any of the battles or actions of the war. He had not been under fire, and was looked upon not only as a new man but as an officer of little merit. He had accompanied General Lee to the Department of South Carolina and Georgia, with the rank of brigadier-general, and had succeeded him some time in December, 1861, receiving additional promotion soon afterwards, for he was made a major-general in January of the following year. Thus, in scarcely more than a year, and merely because he enjoyed the support of the Administration, General Pemberton, who was only a colonel when he joined the Confederate service, became first a brigadier-general, then a major-general, and then again a lieutenant-general, over the heads of many Confederate officers who had already distinguished themselves, and given unquestioned evidence of capacity, efficiency, and other soldierly qualities. As soon as he had sufficiently familiarized himself with the condition of his Department, which was divided into four districts— South Carolina having three, and Georgia one—General Beauregard determined to bring the question of the defence of Charleston and its harbor before a council, composed of the principal military and naval officers who had long been stationed there. His object was, not only to gain enlightenment, but to create  self-confidence in those officers, and increase their importance in the eyes of their subordinates. He prepared a series of questions, which were officially submitted to them, and thoroughly discussed at his headquarters. The conclusions arrived at were as follows:
That sketch of the situation, together with General Beauregard's ‘Notes of Inspection,’ dated September 24th, and General Pemberton's minimum estimate of men and guns required for a proper defence of the Department, give so complete and correct a statement of its condition and needs, at that time, that we deem it unnecessary to add anything further. On the day following this conference of officers General Beauregard began to carry out its conclusions, as to the armament of the different forts and the completion of the modified boom and rope obstructions in the main pass, between Forts Sumter and Moultrie. He determined also to make an extensive use of floating torpedoes for the defence of the harbors of his Department, particularly that of Charleston, which he placed in charge of  Captain F. D. Lee, an efficient and energetic young officer, whose former profession had been that of civil engineer. The construction of the boom above alluded to was already under the superintendence of Doctor J. R. Cheves. General Beauregard soon found that he would have to be his own chief-engineer, as the officers of that branch of the service he then had under him, although intelligent and prompt in the discharge of their duties, did not possess sufficient experience. He hastened, therefore, to apply for Captain D. B. Harris, who had been so useful to him in the construction of the works at Centreville, Va., and on the Mississippi River, from Island No.10 to Vicksburg, and who, he was sure, would greatly relieve him of the close supervision required for the new works to be erected, and the many essential alterations to be made in the old ones. His chiefs of artillery and of ordnance were also wanting in experience, but they soon came up to the requirements of their responsible positions, and eventually proved of great assistance to him. Not so with the officers in charge of the Commissary Department. These, in many instances, were not directly under General Beauregard's orders, but under those of Colonel Northrop, who, despite requests and remonstrances, continued to follow his own bent, which was to mismanage the affairs of his Department and set at naught the authority of generals commanding in the field or elsewhere. The worst feature of the case was that, in doing so, he invariably counted upon—and almost always obtained—the full support of the Administration. The scarcity of iron just then was very great—so much so, that it became all but impossible to procure what was needed, not only for the construction of the boom across the main channel, but also for the anchors required to maintain it in position. At the suggestion of Governor Pickens, large granite blocks, collected at Columbia for the erection of the State House, were brought to Charleston, and used as substitutes for the anchors.12 The expedient proved quite a success, for a time, but the stone anchors could not long withstand the force of the tide. General Beauregard now caused the following instructions to be given to his chief of ordnance: 
Thus it appears that, immediately after his arrival in Charleston, General Beauregard began to concentrate as many heavy guns as were available in the first line of works, including Fort Sumter, so that they might be used with greater advantage against any naval attack. And the War Department was called upon to allow the transfer to Charleston of other heavy pieces from Ovenbluff, on the Tombigbee River, and Choctaw Bluff, on the Alabama River, where they could be of no use and might be easily dispensed with. The application was granted, provided no objection should be made by the commander of the Department of Alabama and Western Florida. No objection was made. But General Beauregard's efforts did not stop there. He asked the War Department for additional guns, which he considered indispensable for the safety of Charleston, as he placed no great reliance upon the strength and stability of the boom then being constructed. His letter to Colonel Miles, M. C., Chairman of the Military Committee of the House (extracts from which are given in the Appendix to this chapter), fully explains his views on the subject. So do his communications, dated September 30th and October 2d, to General Cooper.13 The Northern newspapers were filled with indications of an approaching attack upon Charleston. The preparatory measures for such an expedition were represented as very formidable.  Without entirely believing those rumors, General Beauregard used every endeavor to put himself in a state of readiness. He advised Governor Pickens, if it were the intention of the people and State to defend the city to the last extremity—as he was disposed to do—to prepare, out of its limits, a place of refuge for non-combatants. He ordered his chief-engineer to obstruct and defend the mouths of the Cooper and Ashley rivers. That officer was also instructed closely to examine both banks of the Stono, from Church Flats to the Wappoo Cut, and place there such obstructions as might impede the progress of the enemy, and prevent him from turning our works in that vicinity. But the enemy, not being sufficiently prepared to make his projected attack on Charleston or Savannah, determined to strike a blow farther south, on the St. John's River, in the Department of Florida, commanded by Brigadier-General Joseph Finegan. General Finegan had only a small force under him, and, when he realized the extent of his danger, immediately telegraphed the War Department for reinforcements. The Secretary of War ordered General Beauregard to send two regiments of infantry to his assistance. They were to be withdrawn from Georgia, General Mercer's command. Although fears were still entertained of an offensive movement against South Carolina and Georgia, General Beauregard, whose forces were also very limited, complied promptly with the order, but took occasion to call the attention of the War Department to his numerical weakness, and to the fact that the enemy's lodgment in Florida, even if really intended—which was doubtful—would be of less gravity than an assault, at this juncture, upon either Charleston or Savannah. General Beauregard was accordingly authorized to recall his regiments, which he did without delay. They would have arrived too late to be of any assistance to General Finegan, as, upon that officer reaching St. John's Bluff, on the 3d, he found it already abandoned, though, in his opinion, there was a sufficient force to hold it, had Lieutenant-Colonel C. F. Hopkins, commanding the post, shown more spirit and determination.14 Six days later General Finegan informed the War Department that the enemy had embarked on their transports and gunboats, and were moving down the river.  Being much concerned about the security and efficiency of the boom which was being built in the Charleston Harbor,15 General Beauregard ordered his chief-engineer to alter its construction so as to increase its floating capacity, and reduce the resistance it offered to the strong flood and ebb tides. He also instructed him to protect the pile foundations of Fort Ripley, which were exposed to view at low-water. At that time he forwarded to the Adjutant-General's office at Richmond the official report of his inspection of the Department. It is entirely similar to the notes of inspection inserted by us in the Appendix to this chapter, and need not, therefore, be transcribed here. It had been somewhat hurriedly made, however, and did not include all the defensive points of the Department, nor was General Beauregard's criticism of the works visited so comprehensive then as at a later period, when based upon more thorough knowledge. The many and great alterations effected by him show how defective most of the works were, and how wellfounded were the concluding remarks of his report to General Cooper: ‘Adaptation “of means to an end” has not always been consulted in the works around this city and Savannah. Much unnecessary work has been bestowed upon many of them.’ The Third Military District of South Carolina, with headquarters at McPhersonville, under Colonel (afterwards General) W. S. Walker, was not then in a very promising condition. Reports, considered trustworthy, indicated the enemy's early intention of taking the offensive in that quarter. The lines of defence and the detached works constructed in that district were calculated for the occupation of fully ten thousand men—the number assembled there during the preceding winter, with a proportionate artillery force. General Beauregard had had nothing to do in the establishment of these lines, nor had he either planned or recommended the erection of the works spoken of. The abandonment by the Government of the plan of defending the coast with heavy artillery, and the consequent reduction of the force thus employed to a corps of observation, chiefly of cavalry, rendered the greater part of these works useless. Colonel Walker was alive to the danger of such a state of affairs, and had addressed a  communication to General Beauregard asking that reinforcements should be sent him to remedy the evil, and, as far as possible, secure that region of country.16 General Beauregard's answer was as follows:
The forthcoming chapter will show what occurred in Colonel Walker's district a fortnight after this letter was written. In the mean time it is proper here to remark that on General Beauregard's arrival in Charleston he found no regular system by which news of the movements of the enemy along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia could be ascertained with any degree of certainty, and he determined to correct so great a deficiency in the service, rendered all the more necessary by the fact that his Department, as will soon be seen, had just been enlarged. The system inaugurated may be thus explained: He established signal (flag) stations at the most important points along the coast of South Carolina (from Georgetown), Georgia, and Florida, where the enemy's ships or fleets could be observed. An exact register was kept in his office of all Federal vessels plying along the coast and their precise whereabouts. Whenever any change took place among them it was reported at once to Department Headquarters, and a minute account kept of it. And when an accumulation of the enemy's ships occurred at any point, indicating an attack, the small reserves General Beauregard had at Charleston or Savannah  were prepared to move by rail in that direction, with the usual amount of provisions and ammunition, one or more trains being always held in readiness to receive the detachment. Thus was inferiority of number, to a certain extent, remedied by unremitting vigilance. The flag-stations above described communicated with the nearest railroad stations by sub-flag-stations, or by couriers, as circumstances required. The result was that clear and trustworthy information of the enemy's ships, or of his landforces, was given to General Beauregard, once in every twentyfour hours, from all the various quarters of his extensive Department. It is satisfactory to state that, during the twenty months he remained in command there, he was never, on any occasion, taken by surprise. His reinforcements always arrived at the threatened point as soon as our limited means of transportation would permit.