SHAKO: Gen. Beauregard’s Retreat.

May 18, 2017 at 11:59 pm 1 comment

Statue Removed.

Beauregard's Statue New Orleans

(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle.)

When your 4GWAR editor took this photo of the imposing statue of Civil War general Pierre G.T. Beauregard in New Orleans in January, we did not think it would soon be a figure of controversy — and eventually removed from public view.

The heroic bronze stood outside New Orleans’ City Park and your editor had just gotten off one of the Big Easy’s lovely streetcars on our way to the New Orleans Museum of Art, which we had never visited in several previous trips to New Orleans.

The statue of the Confederate general, who ordered the first shots of the Civil War to be fired on Fort Sumter in April 1861, is one of many civic artworks around the city.

But it was one of four monuments to heroes of the Confederacy that the New Orleans City Council voted to remove last year. The city already has removed one statute of Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, as well as a memorial to a white rebellion against a biracial Reconstruction-era government in the city, according to the Miami Herald.  The last memorial to come down will be a landmark statue of General Robert E. Lee atop a pillar at a prominent downtown traffic circle.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called for removing the monuments in the aftermath of the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church. The killer, Dylann Roof, was an avowed racist who brandished Confederate battle flags in photos, recharging the debate over whether Confederate emblems represent racism or an honorable heritage, the Herald noted.

Beauregard, a French creole from Louisiana is credited with championing the design of that now-incendiary battle flag. A West Point graduate, Beauregard ran unsuccessfully for mayor of New Orleans in 1858 and was in command of the troops that fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor three years later, the New York Times noted.

Beauregard was second-in-command at the first Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) but his star faded during the war, partly because of his vanity and grandiosity — his detractors dubbed him “Little Napoleon” — and partly because of a long-running feud with Davis, the prickly Confederate  president, who was also a West Point grad and hero of the Mexican-American War.

According to the New Orelans Times-Picayune (and who would know better?) Beauregard was appointed superintendent of West Point in January 1861 but the appointment was rescinded one day later when Louisiana seceded from the Union. Although he came from a slave-owning family and fought for the Confederacy, Beauregard argued after the war for black voting rights and integrating schools, transportation and public places. He also had a hand in developing the city’s streetcar system after the war and headed the Louisiana Lottery, the biggest gambling operation in 19th Century America.

The Times-Picayune piece answered a question that had been bothering your editor since we first read the inscription at the statue’s base. The general’s full name was Pierre Gustav Toutant-Beauregard, yet the statute identified him simply as G.T. Beauregard. Why? It turns out Beauregard, who didn’t learn to speak English until he was sent away to school at age 12, nevertheless hated his first name, dropped it and the hyphenated last name when he enrolled at West Point.

By the way, not all of the statues in New Orleans are controversial For example, take this gilded statute of Joan of Arc near the French Market.

Joan of Arc

4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle

SHAKOSHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

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Entry filed under: Counter Insurgency, News Developments, Photos, SHAKO, Traditions. Tags: , , , , , , .

FRIDAY FOTO (May 12, 2017) FRIDAY FOTO (May 19, 2017)

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. GP Cox  |  May 19, 2017 at 6:25 am

    It should never have become a figure of controversy – it’s a figure out of our history and it’s a disgrace to try and erase it. I feel when people try to ignore history, they are slapping the faces of every one of our ancestors. And no matter how many statues they take down – the history will always be there – it already happened !!

    Reply

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