February 26, 2004

P.G.T. Beauregard and the Confederate flag

Fun facts of the day: did you know that the Confederate general P.G.T. Beauregard ended his career as the head of the Louisiana Lottery, several years after he turned down an offer to take over the Romanian army?

Beauregard was an interesting guy, as this Atlantic Monthly article by Josh Green shows. Beauregard became the South's first military hero of the Civil War at Fort Sumter, but he also had a more lasting mark on American life:

The confusion at Manassas led Beauregard to resume his search for a way to better distinguish his troops from the enemy. He had first submitted a rather theatrical request that his men be allowed to wear brightly colored scarves on the battlefield. This was declined. Next he pointed out how difficult it was to differentiate the official Confederate flag from the Stars and Stripes, after which it had been designed, and suggested that Congress be asked to adopt a new flag. This, too, was declined. So Beauregard resolved to design a battle flag—the flag that most Americans now think of as the Confederate flag, and the one to which Howard Dean was referring when he mentioned southerners in their pickup trucks. (The three official Confederate flags have been largely forgotten.) The Beauregard battle flag was formally presented to the troops on November 28, 1861.

Green's article is an entertaining look at Beauregard's career, full of fun details. ("He may have been best summed up by a reporter for The New York Times who interviewed him after the war and concluded that Beauregard was not a first-rate military man but a first-rate second-class man." It's often claimed that he "had a servant to wax his moustache daily, and summoned his own cow from New Orleans, claiming that his delicate stomach could abide no other milk.") The article even suggests that Beauregard wouldn't approve of efforts to keep his old battle symbol on Southern state flags today, given his involvement in a Reconstruction-era attempt to reshape Louisiana politics under a movement united around the U.S. flag.

Posted by Ed at February 26, 2004 07:14 PM


randomly --

the cultivated variety of sweetpotato that you buy most frequently in the stores is the Beauregard cultivar. The prof who developed it was a Civil War buff.

Posted by: Amanda Butler at February 28, 2004 01:51 PM
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