P. G. T. Beauregard: Napoleon in Gray

By T. Harry Williams | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER TWENTY
Death of a Hero

T HE OLD MAN was one of the sights of New Orleans. On the streets parents pointed him out to their children, and natives whispered to awed tourists that "le general" was passing. The erect, compact body, the handsome face crowned by luxuriant white hair, and the soldierly bearing would have attracted attention in any assemblage.1 New Orleans was always convinced that at least in looks Beauregard was the beau ideal of a soldier -- a Creole incarnation of Napoleon. Outside observers were not so easily impressed. When he visited England after the war, a Liverpool journalist professed disappointment in the appearance of the famous American general. He was small and not at all striking looking, said the Englishman. A Yankee who saw Beauregard on a train in New York and who was amazed to learn he was gazing on the hero of Manassas expressed a similar feeling in more pungent terms: "The little cuss looked worse whipped than a hen-pecked rooster."2

Almost until his death Beauregard was an alert and active individual and an important figure in the social life of his city. He was a member or a patron of the most exclusive clubs and organizations and played a prominent role in their social functions. When the Washington Artillery staged their dress ball in 1866, "the ball par excellence of the season," Beauregard headed the list of managers. He was a stockholder in the French Opera House and La Variété Association, a theatrical organization, and a frequent attendant at the programs of both 3 On the sporting side, he was a member of the Louisiana Jockey Club and an enthusiastic follower of the races at the Fair Grounds track.4

____________________
1
King, Creole Families, 459-60; letter by Jessica Hawthorne, in New Orleans States, April 1, 1888; New Orleans Times-Democrat, February 21, 1893.
2
Liverpool Daily Post, quoted in New Orleans Picayune, June 19, 1866; New Orleans Times, September 7, 1867.
3
New Orleans Picayune, April 10, 25, 1866, February 21, 1893.
4
St. Louis Republic, February 3, 1889, clipping in Beauregard Papers ( Louisiana State University); New Orleans Picayune, April 12, 1873.

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