Assault on Fort Sumter

On January 26, 1861, Louisiana legislators voted to leave the United States and join the Confederacy. Beauregard resigned from the Federal Army a few weeks later and returned to Louisiana, where he hoped to command that state's forces. When that appointment went to General Braxton Bragg (1817-1876; see entry), Beauregard viewed the choice as a great "injustice." He remained angry until February 27, when Confederate president Jefferson Davis named him a brigadier general and gave him command of South Carolina rebel (Confederate) forces at Charleston Harbor.

By March 1861, Charleston Harbor had become one of the best known places in America. A Federal military outpost called Fort Sumter was located in the middle of the harbor. This fort continued to be controlled by U.S. troops, even though the Confederacy had taken control of most other Federal military outposts and offices in the South. By the time that Beauregard arrived in Charleston, the continued occupation of Fort Sumter by Federal troops had become a source of great anger to the people of South Carolina and the rest of the Confederacy. They viewed the garrison (troops) at Fort Sumter as a foreign military presence that should not be permitted to operate in their territory, especially since it was located right in the middle of one of the Confederacy's most important harbors.

Beauregard made several attempts to convince Major Robert Anderson (1805-1871), the commander of Fort Sumter, to give up control of the outpost. At the same time, Confederate officials warned President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865; see entry) to relinquish (give up) the fort. But Lincoln believed that if the Federal government surrendered Fort Sumter, Northern morale would suffer, and Southern confidence in the Confederacy's ability to break away from the Union permanently would increase. Lincoln thus ordered Anderson to stay put.

When it became clear that Anderson did not intend to withdraw his troops from the fort, Beauregard opened fire on the fortress with artillery guns that lined the harbor's shores. This attack, which was launched on the morning of April 12, is regarded as the beginning of the American Civil War. Anderson and his men resisted Beaure-gard's assault for thirty-four hours, but they finally surrendered on April 13. The capture of Fort Sumter transformed Beauregard into the first war hero of the Confederacy.

First Battle of Bull Run

In June 1861, Beauregard assumed command of Confederate forces around Manassas Junction, Virginia. This rebel encampment along the shores of the Bull Run River was an important one because it blocked the rebel capital of Richmond from Union attacks. In July, though, a Union army led by General Irvin McDowell marched into the region. The Union hoped that McDowell could smash Beauregard's force and seize control of Richmond, thus putting an end to the Confederate rebellion before it really got rolling.

McDowell attacked Beauregard's army on July 21, and at first it appeared that his offensive might succeed. But Beaure-

[¿0$^; Beauregard's Opinion HS of Lincoln

When Pierre G. T. Beauregard took command of the Confederate army guarding Manassas, Virginia, in mid-1861, he immediately took steps to rally local citizens to his side. One way in which he did this was to make false and insulting statements about the Union and its army. Such statements, while unfair and misleading, were often issued by both sides in the war in efforts to increase public support for their actions. In the following proclamation, released on June 1, 1861, Beauregard characterizes U.S. president Abraham Lincoln as a terrible dictator and Northern soldiers as a pack of murderers, thieves, and rapists:

A reckless and unprincipled tyrant has invaded your soil. Abraham Lincoln, regardless of all moral, legal, and constitutional restraints [controls], has thrown his Abolitionist hosts among you, who are murdering and imprisoning your citizens, confiscating [seizing] and destroying your property, and committing other acts of violence and outrage, too shocking and revolting to humanity to be enumerated [described].

All rules of civilized warfare are abandoned, and they proclaim by their acts, if not on their banners, that their war-cry is "BEAUTY AND BOUNTY." All that is dear to man—your honor and that of your wives and daughters—your fortunes and your lives, are involved in this momentous contest.

Union major general Irvin McDowell (above) met Confederate general Pierre G. T. Beauregard at the First Battle of Bull Run. They were former West Point classmates. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

gard received vital reinforcements from Confederate general Joseph E. Johnston (1807-1891; see entry) in the middle of the clash, known as the First Battle of Bull Run (First Battle of Manassas). Boosted by these additional troops, Beauregard defeated McDowell's army in one of the most sloppy and disorganized battles of the entire war.

Beauregard's victory at Manas-sas made him even more popular in cities and farmhouses all across the Confederacy. It also convinced Jefferson Davis to give him even more authority. Davis promoted him to full generalship, describing the Creole officer as "full of talent and of much military experience." But Beauregard's relationship with Davis turned sour when the general started complaining about the Confederate president's leadership to Southern legislators and newspaper editors.

Union major general Irvin McDowell (above) met Confederate general Pierre G. T. Beauregard at the First Battle of Bull Run. They were former West Point classmates. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

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