P. G. T. Beauregard


P. G. T. Beauregard : biography

May 28, 1818 – February 20, 1893


In 1841, Beauregard married Marie Antoinette Laure Villeré (March 22, 1823 – March 21, 1850),Estelle Mina Fortier Cochran, The Fortier Family, and Allied Families (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1963), p. 144 the daughter of Jules Villeré, a sugar cane planter in Plaquemines Parish and a member of one of the most prominent French Creole families in southern Louisiana. Marie’s paternal grandfather was Jacques Villeré, the second governor of Louisiana. She was described as having blue eyes and fair skin.Basso, p. 29. The couple had three children: René (1843–1910), Henri (1845–1915), and Laure (1850–1884). Marie died in March 1850, while giving birth to Laure.Williams, p. 35.

Ten years later, the widower Beauregard married Caroline Deslonde, the daughter of André Deslonde, a sugar cane planter from St. James Parish. Caroline was a sister-in-law of John Slidell, a U.S. senator from Louisiana and later a Confederate diplomat. She died in New Orleans in March 1864, when it was under Union occupation. They had no children together.Williams, pp. 203–205.


Civil War


Beauregard traveled by steamship from New York to New Orleans and immediately began giving military advice to the local authorities, which included further strengthening Forts St. Philip and Jackson, which guarded the Mississippi approaches to New Orleans. He hoped to be named commander of the state army, but was disappointed that the state legislature appointed Braxton Bragg. Aware that Beauregard might resent him, Bragg offered the officer the rank of colonel. Instead Beauregard enrolled as a private in the "Orleans Guards", a battalion of French Creole aristocrats. At the same time, he communicated with Slidell and the newly chosen President Davis, angling for a senior position in the new Confederate States Army. Rumors that Beauregard would be placed in charge of the entire Army infuriated Bragg. Concerned about the political situation regarding the Federal presence at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, Davis selected Beauregard to take command of Charleston’s defenses. Beauregard seemed the perfect combination of military engineer and charismatic Southern leader needed at that time and place.Williams, pp. 47–50; Hattaway & Taylor, p. 21; Woodworth, p. 75.

Beauregard became the first Confederate general officer, appointed a brigadier general in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States on March 1, 1861. (He was promoted on July 21 to be one of the eventual seven full generals in the Confederate Army; his date of rank made him the fifth most senior general, behind Samuel Cooper, Albert Sidney Johnston, Robert E. Lee, and Joseph E. Johnston.)Gallagher, p. 85; Eicher, pp. 123, 807.

Arriving in Charleston on March 3, 1861, Beauregard met with Governor Pickens and inspected the defenses of the harbor, which he found to be in disarray. He was said to display "a great deal in the way of zeal and energy … but little professional knowledge and experience."Hattaway & Taylor, p. 21. Major Robert Anderson at Fort Sumter wrote to Washington, D.C., that Beauregard, who had been his student at West Point in 1837,Fort Sumter brochure, National Park Service, United States Department of Interior would guarantee that South Carolina’s actions be exercised with "skill and sound judgment." Beauregard wrote to the first Confederate capital of Montgomery, Alabama, that Anderson was a "most gallant officer". Beauregard did not relish firing on his old friend and former instructor. He sent several cases of fine brandy and whiskey and boxes of cigars to Anderson and his officers at Sumter, but Anderson ordered that the gifts be returned.Detzer, Allegiance, p. 208.

Political tensions mounted by early April and Beauregard demanded that Sumter surrender before a planned Union expedition to re-provision the fort could arrive. Early in the morning of April 12, negotiations with Anderson had failed and aides of Beauregard, sent to deal personally with Anderson, ordered the first shots of the American Civil War to be fired from nearby Fort Johnson. The bombardment of Fort Sumter lasted for 34 hours. Subjected to thousands of rounds fired from batteries ringing the harbor, Anderson surrendered Fort Sumter on April 14. Biographer T. Harry Williams described the extravagant praise from throughout the Confederacy that "The Hero of Fort Sumter" received for his victory: "He was the South’s first paladin."Detzer, Allegiance, pp. 272–301; Williams, pp. 57–61;