Charleston’s Civil War defender gets his cargo 151 years late
Coming into Charleston early in the Civil War, in 1862, a Southern blockade runner was stopped by a Union ship, which took all its cargo.
Born Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard on May 28, 1818, in St. Bernard Parish, La.
Served as the superintendent of The United States Military Academy at West Point for a few days in 1861. It is assumed that he was dismissed for his allegiance to the South.
Ordered the first shots of the Civil War when taking Fort Sumter with the local Confederate forces.
Was one of eight Confederate officers to hold the rank of full general.
Led the Confederate army in the First Manassas; the Battle of Shiloh; the Siege of Corinth; the First Battle of Fort Wagner; the Second Battle of Fort Sumter; and the Second Battle of Petersburg.
Became supervisor of the Louisiana Lottery in 1877.
Died Feb. 20, 1893, in New Orleans.
Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard’s saddle was on that blockade runner, confiscated 151 years ago. Now it’s finally reached its original drop-off location.
Beauregard, who took Fort Sumter for the Confederacy at the war’s beginning and protected Charleston through the Civil War’s duration, is one of eight men to ever hold the rank of full general for the Confederacy.
The Charleston Museum, in an agreement with the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust, is displaying the saddle until July 18.
Curator Grahame Long marveled at the intricate work on the saddle, including silver-plated brass bosses with the Louisiana state seal for his birthplace.
“He must have paid through the nose for this thing,” Long said.
The saddle was brought from the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company by the preservation trust, who is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Second Battle of Fort Wagner on Morris Island. For movie buffs, this battle of July 18, 1863, is depicted in the final scenes of “Glory.”
In the meantime, SCBPT executive director Doug Bostick and Long agreed to keep the saddle at the museum.
“We were more than happy to find a place for it,” Long said.
After it was confiscated in 1862, it was sold up North as “confiscated goods” at auction. The buyer was Boston-native Lt. Col. Charles M. Wheldon, who used and kept it throughout his life. In 1910 after his death, his wife gave the saddle to AHAC.
Charles Fazio, artillery company curator, said the saddle looks as if Wheldon did not use it often.
“I would tend to think after he was done with his Civil War service, he probably stored it,” Fazio said.
The saddle was to be delivered in Charleston during Beauregard’s time as the commander of the local forces. Beauregard ordered the first shots of the Civil War at Fort Sumter, being promoted months afterward to full general.
“Throughout the entire war, Charleston was the prize,” Bostick said.
Union Gen. John G. Foster is quoted as saying, “To capture Richmond would be grand, but to capture Charleston would be glorious.”
Though the Union attempted several times to take the Holy City, the Union was unsuccessful through much of the war.
“They could never make it past Fort Sumter to make it into the inner harbor,” Bostick said.
It would be February 1865, after Beauregard evacuated the Confederate troops from Charleston, when the Union would take the city.
After the Fort Wagner anniversary, the saddle will be moved to the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and War Museum to stay until the beginning of August.
“(Beauregard) is largely credited with a greatly effective defense of Charleston,” Bostick said.
“We’re thrilled to be able to display his saddle.”
Reach Nick Watson at 937-4810.