P. G. T. Beauregard

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P. G. T. Beauregard : biography

May 28, 1818 – February 20, 1893

Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard ( May 28, 1818 – February 20, 1893) was a Louisiana-born American military officer, politician, inventor, writer, civil servant, and the first prominent general of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. Today he is commonly referred to as P. G. T. Beauregard, but he rarely used his first name as an adult. He signed correspondence as G. T. Beauregard.

Trained as a civil engineer at the United States Military Academy, Beauregard served with distinction as an engineer in the Mexican-American War. Following a brief appointment at West Point in 1861, after the South seceded he resigned from the US Army and became the first Confederate brigadier general. He commanded the defenses of Charleston, South Carolina, at the start of the Civil War at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Three months later he won the First Battle of Bull Run near Manassas, Virginia.

Beauregard commanded armies in the Western Theater, including at the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee, and the Siege of Corinth in northern Mississippi. He returned to Charleston and defended it in 1863 from repeated naval and land attacks by Union forces. His greatest achievement was saving the important industrial city of Petersburg, Virginia in June 1864, and thus the nearby Confederate capital of Richmond, from assaults by overwhelmingly superior Union Army forces.

But, his influence over Confederate strategy was lessened by his poor professional relationships with President Jefferson Davis and other senior generals and officials. In April 1865, Beauregard and his commander, General Joseph E. Johnston, convinced Davis and the remaining cabinet members that the war needed to end. Johnston surrendered most of the remaining armies of the Confederacy, including Beauregard and his men, to Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman.

Following his military career, Beauregard returned to Louisiana, where he served as a railroad executive. He became wealthy because of his role in promoting the Louisiana Lottery.

Early life and education

Beauregard was born at the "Contreras" sugar-cane plantation in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, about outside New Orleans, to a French Creole family. Beauregard was the third child of Hélène Judith de Reggio, a descendant of an Italian noble family who had migrated to France and then to Louisiana, and her husband, Jacques Toutant-Beauregard, of French and Welsh ancestry.Williams, pp. 2–3. He had three brothers and three sisters. Beauregard attended New Orleans private schools and then went to a "French school" in New York City. During his four years in New York, beginning at age 12, he first learned to speak English, as French had been his first language in Louisiana.Williams, p. 5; Detzer, Allegiance, p. 207.

He was educated at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. One of his instructors was Robert Anderson, who later became the commander of Fort Sumter and surrendered to Beauregard at the start of the Civil War. Upon enrolling at West Point, Beauregard dropped the hyphen from his surname and treated Toutant as a middle name, to fit in with his classmates. From that point on, he rarely used his first name, preferring "G. T. Beauregard."Williams, p. 6; Woodworth, p. 72. He graduated second in his class in 1838 and excelled both as an artilleryman and military engineer. His Army friends gave him many nicknames: "Little Creole", "Bory", "Little Frenchman", "Felix", and "Little Napoleon".Eicher, pp. 123–24.

In memoriam

Beauregard Parish in western Louisiana is named for general Beauregard, as is Camp Beauregard, a former U.S. Army base, and now a National Guard camp near Pineville in central Louisiana.

The unincorporated community of Beauregard, Alabama is named for Beauregard.

An equestrian monument by Alexander Doyle depicts Beauregard at Beauregard Circle, the intersection where Esplanade Avenue enters City Park in New Orleans.