Who: Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard
What: First prominent Confederate general of the Civil War.
Where: Born St Bernard Parish, Louisiana; died New Orleans, Louisiana.
Why: First brigadier general in the Confederate States Army.
When: Born May 28, 1818; died February 20, 1893.
“He was the South’s first paladin” – T. Harry Williams
P.G.T Beauregard was born on a sugar-cane plantation in Louisiana to a French Creole family in 1818. Graduating second in his class from West Point, he served with distinction in the Mexican-American war, serving under Winfield Scott as an engineer. He sought office as mayor of New Orleans, narrowly losing, before being appointed superintendent of West Point. After just five days, however, Louisiana seceded from the Union and he was forced out. By April 1861 he was in Charleston, and after negotiations failed with the Union garrison at Fort Sumter, he ordered the first shots of the war fired in the bloodless Battle of Fort Sumter. He received a hero’s welcome in Richmond, and was given command of the defences at Manassas. After the stunning victory of First Manassas, he was promoted to full general, serving at the Battle of Shiloh and Siege of Corinth; withdrawing from the latter due to the Union’s vast numerical superiority and contaminated water supplies. His poor professional relationships with Jefferson Davis and other Confederate generals were detrimental to his career in the Confederate Army. After Corinth, he was relieved of command of the Army of Mississippi by Braxton Bragg, eventually taking command of the Richmond defences as Grant laid siege to Petersburg. In April, he and Joseph E. Johnston convinced Davis the war needed to end. Johnston and Beauregard surrendered to William T Sherman in Durham, North Carolina on April 26, 1865. After the war, he declined offers to command the Brazilian, Romanian and Egyptian armies, and became wealthy as a railroad executive. When John Bell Hood died in 1879, Beauregard had Hood’s memoirs published, with all proceeds going to Hood’s ten destitute orphans. Beauregard died in his sleep in 1893, aged 74.