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Lees Lieutenants Volume 1 a Study in Commanby Douglas Sou Freeman
"Old Bory's Coming"
He would go at once. The request from the President that he come to Richmond offered an opportunity as surely as it conveyed an order. Federal troops had crossed the Potomac. A battle that would assure the triumph of the new Confederacy would be fought ere long in Virginia. Command there was much to be preferred to the post at Pensacola, from which Mr. Davis had excused him. Virginia was more inviting, even, than New Orleans, whither his fellow Lousianians had asked the Chief Executive to send him. At the same time, departure from South Carolina would be regrettable. From the hour of his arrival there, March 6, 1861, the patriots of Charleston had welcomed him. After he had forced the surrender of Fort Sumter on April 14, without the loss of a man, they had acclaimed and adopted him Some of them seemed to find a certain Huguenot kinship in his name — Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard — and all of them united to do him honor. Before he left those friendly and gallant South Carolinians, to win the battle in Virginia, he would write a farewell address.
It was done with dispatch and was, in its final form, a message not to South Carolinians only but to the entire Confederacy also. Beauregard wrote: "...it seems my services are required elsewhere, and thither I shall go, not with joy but with firm determination to do more than my duty, if I can, and to leave as strong a mark as possible on the enemies of our beloved country, should they pollute its soil with their dastardly feet. But rest assured...that whatever happens at first, we are certain to triumph at last, even if we had for arms only pitchforks and flint-lock muskets, for every bush and haystack will become an ambush and every barn a fortress. The history of nations proves that a gallant and free people, fighting for their independence and firesides, are invincible against even disciplined mercenaries, at a few dollars per month. What, then, must be the result when its enemies are little more than an armed rabble, gathered together hastily on a false pretence, and for an unholy purpose, with an octogenarian at its head? None but the demented can doubt the issue."
Before it was possible to ascertain what impression was made by this address, the General and his staff left on May 29, 1861, for Richmond, the newly selected capital of the Confederate States. The staff itself included many Carolinians of distinguished name and of the highest political station. At the moment, it was fortunately so. Along the railroad, advance word had been spread that General Beauregard was aboard the northbound train. Multitudes gathered at every station to have a look at the "Hero of Sumter." Their demand, voiced in every key, was, "Speech, speech, speech!" He bowed his acknowledgments, but he did not reply. Where the crowd was insistent, Beauregard would glance at one of his volunteer aides, Col. John L. Manning, who then would step forward and would deliver a brief oration. Often, also, on the journey, Judah P Benjamin, former Senator from Louisiana, and Attorney General of the Confederacy, who chanced to be aboard, would appear on the train platform and would stir the throng with his eloquence.
The journey confirmed everything the General had been told of the incredible popularity he had won by his success in Charleston Harbor. How quickly fame had come to him! When he had resigned from the United States Army, Feb. 20, 1861, he had been fifth ranking Captain in the Corps of Engineers and had a brevet as Major for gallant conduct in the Mexican War. Late in 1860, he had been named Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, but because of known Southern sympathy had held the post five days only — Jan. 23-28, 1861. In his profession he was esteemed; outside of it he was little known till hostilities had been opened at Charleston. Now, seven weeks after the fall of Sumter, and less than three months from the time he had arrived at Charleston, he had received the thanks of Congress and the laudation of the Southern press as one of the greatest soldiers in the world. Napoleonic myths had grown up about him. He was said to have warned President Lincoln to remove all noncombatants from Washington by a given date, as if he were determined forthwith to take the city. Southern people even were told that a frightened North hoped and believed that he was dead and that his body had been shipped to France. Not one doubt of his military genius was admitted.
At the fullest of this valuation, Richmond was prepared to welcome him. On May 31, ere his train puffed importantly into the station, hundreds of townfolk had gathered there. A carriage and four were waiting to carry the General to the Spotswood Hotel, where a suite had been reserved for him. All the honors that had been paid President Davis upon arrival two days previously were to be repeated for General Beauregard. He was most grateful when he stepped from the car and shook hands; but, if the committee would permit, he would take a simpler carriage and, in the company of one or two of his staff officers, would go quietly to the hotel. With even more of admiration for his modesty than of regret that he might not be seen by all who had come to welcome him, the committeemen acquiesced. Quickly he was wheeled up the hill to the Spotswood. The band and the crowd followed. Music and cheers and appeals for a speech were in vain. His mission was war. He must waste no time in needless words.
The next day, he conferred with the President and with General R. E. Lee who, in an ill-defined manner, was responsible for military operations in Virginia. Old friends these were, old and admiring. Davis as United States Secretary of War had known Beauregard well and, in March, 1861, had commended the General to Governor Pickens of South Carolina as "full of talent and of much military experience." This favorable judgment had been strengthened by Beauregard's direction of affairs in South Carolina. In planning immediate steps to combat the fast-developing Federal threat against Virginia, Jefferson Davis felt that he could rely on Beauregard.
No less did the President have self-reliance. He had hurried to Richmond in answer to earnest representations that he and he only could direct aright the defense of the frontier. Montgomery newspapers had reported not long previously that Mr. Davis was having his old Mexican sword sharpened at a gunsmith's in Market Street and that numbers of visitors had called to see that famous weapon. A man who was having his blade made ready of course intended using it. Little doubt was expressed that the President would take the field in person. Rumor had it he had written Governor Letcher of Virginia that he would do this and, with Lee and Beauregard to execute his orders, would himself plan operations. Such a course, the Richmond Examiner asserted, would inspire confidence, order and energy. With others, the paper explained, the soldiers would fight and perhaps would win, but "with him, the victory would be certain, and chance become certainty." He was acclaimed "a tower of strength, with the iron will, the nerve, the energy and decision of Andrew Jackson and more than Jackson's knowledge and general education." Davis, it was asserted, was a statesman in every way qualified for his task; he had foresight, judgment, fertility of resources and wonderful composure of spirit. As for comment in the Northern press, the South was flattered when the Cleveland Plain Dealer styled the President a "genuine son of Mars," and when the Bangor Democrat pronounced him "one of the very, very few gigantic minds which adorn the pages of history."
If there were error of judgment in these estimates, the new President did not deprecate it. He was not flattered by praise, but neither was he frightened by responsibility. Without vainglory or belief t
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