The Confederate Republic: A Revolution against Politics

By George C. Rable | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
Spring and Summer of Discontent

I n the spring of 1863, P. G. T. Beauregard's fancy turned to strategy. Still nursing wounds from his quarrels with Davis, he remained restless and unhappy in Charleston. Only by planning Confederate offensives in distant theaters could he still feel part of the real war. His fertile imagination overflowed with schemes for moving troops here, concentrating forces there, and especially for a massive counterattack in the western theater.

Beauregard must have looked longingly on the western command that Joe Johnston found so exasperating. Mutual distrust of the president and shared political connections now made these frustrated generals natural allies. Eager to share with Johnston some "general views on the coming summer campaign," Beauregard again proposed a concentration of forces. If twenty-five or thirty thousand men could be sent to Bragg, the Army of Tennessee could crush General William S. Rosecrans and then move toward Memphis to cut Grant's communication and supply lines along the Mississippi River. By the time he sent a copy of this plan to Wigfall, Beauregard had become even more expansive and less realistic. He talked of liberating Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas; even Kentucky and Missouri seemed within his grasp. Beauregard asked that Johnston and Wigfall present his views in Richmond because the War Department would never listen to him.1 Even the aggressive Wigfall must have shaken his head over the sheer impracticality of this scheme.

Whatever their military shortcomings, Beauregard's plans made a certain political sense. The Federal occupation of large parts of the west

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