P. G. T. Beauregard: Napoleon in Gray

By T. Harry Williams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIXTEEN
Reconstruction

A BOUT A WEEK after he reached home, Beauregard went to see his mother. As he rode through the streets of Algiers, a settlement across the river from New Orleans, a man stopped him and asked, "Are you Beauregard?" In his grave manner Beauregard replied that he was. The man, who was probably drunk, screamed, "I believe you are a damn nigger. I always did believe you were a nigger. Tell me if you are a nigger or not." Followed by a stream of abuse, the hero of Manassas proceeded hurriedly on his way.1

In the first days of Reconstruction Confederate generals were not safe from insult and ridicule, even in their own communities. They were liable to other and more severe penalties as well. Generals, like Beauregard, were excluded from the amnesty proclamations of Presidents Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. They could not vote or hold office and had no clearly defined political or civil status. Furthermore, they could not be certain that the paroles they had signed on surrendering would protect them from prosecution as rebels. Beauregard's family worried that he would be arrested, charged with deserting his post at West Point to join the Confederacy, and exiled or executed.2

Beauregard himself had little fear that he would be brought to trial. He was chiefly concerned with whether he should take an oath of loyalty and apply for a pardon. He thought that he should not, until Lee and Johnston, who ranked him, had been cleared, He wrote those generals asking their advice. To Lee he observed: "It is hard to ask pardon of an adversary you despise.3

Both Lee and Johnston replied that patriotism and duty required

____________________
1
Report by Lieutenant William Dougherty to Lieutenant. Lucius Croker, in Confederate Records of Military Service of Adjutant General's Office (National Archives).
2
RenéBeauregard , Magnolia.
3
Beauregard to Lee, September 1, 1865, in Robert E. Lee Papers ( Confederate Memorial Institute, Richmond).

-257-

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