Send the Creole to Charleston, Flag Treachery and Cameron vs. Chase

Friday, March 1, 1861

Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard had arrived in Montgomery a few days ago, heeding the call of Jefferson Davis. Recently, he had been superintendent of West Point. More recently, when his home state, Louisiana, left the Union, he resigned his commission. His services were offered to his state and to the Confederacy. On this date he would receive his orders.

Governor Pickens of South Carolina had written to Jefferson Davis wondering who would be taking charge of the Fort Sumter crisis since there was a new confederation to consider. On this date, he would receive his answer.

LeRoy Pope Walker was the Secretary of War for the (Provisional) Confederate government. He had never been in the army and, having made the infamous “all of the blood shed in the Civil War could be wiped up with a pocket handkerchief” statement, he probably didn’t have a tight grip on fighting a war. Nevertheless, on this date, Walker would write two letters.

The first went to Governor Pickens. “This government assumes control of military operations at Charleston, and will make demand of the fort when fully advised. An officer goes to-night to take charge.”

The second letter was to that officer. P.G.T. Beauregard was “ordered to proceed without delay to Charleston.” He was given the rank of Brigadier-General and ordered to raise forces, but not more than 5,000 men (remember, “pocket handkerchief”).1

Beauregard would arrive in two days to face off against Major Anderson, his former artillery instructor at West Point.

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In a final bit of housecleaning over the General David Twiggs and Department of Texas affair, Secretary of War Holt, along with President Buchanan, officially dismissed the old general.

By the direction of the President of the United States, it is ordered that Brig. Gen. David E. Twiggs, major-general by brevet, be, and is hereby, dismissed from the army of the United States, for his treachery to the flag of his country, in having surrendered, on the 18th of February, 1861, on the demand of the authorities of Texas, the military posts and other property of the United States in his department and under his charge

Twiggs would not be amused, especially by the “treachery to the flag” bit. The seventy-one year old would offer his services to the Confederacy.2

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Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet was getting into shape. William Seward of New York seemed a pretty likely choice, as did Gideon Wells of Connecticut. Edward Bates of Missouri would be the Attorney General. Indiana’s Caleb Blood Smith was a good one to head up the Interior.

Salmon P. Chase of Ohio and Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania were both vying for a spot. Cameron had met with Lincoln last evening and on this day. Lincoln spent much of the day after the meeting in thought about what to do.

Cameron had a dishonest past in financial dealings and wanted the post of Treasury Secretary. Lincoln wanted to include both Cameron and Chase3, but wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it.

Finally, after Pennsylvania withdrew their objections to Cameron, Lincoln let him in. He wouldn’t be trusted with the Treasury, but was given Secretary of War.4



  1. The Military Operations of General Beauregard in the War Between the States, 1861 to 1865 by Alfred Roman, Harper & brothers, 1884. []
  2. Official Records, Vol. 1, p 597. []
  3. This is sounding like an episode of House, no? []
  4. Lincoln President-Elect by Harold Holzer. []
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Send the Creole to Charleston, Flag Treachery and Cameron vs. Chase by CW DG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International

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