Dispatch – P.G.T. Beauregard, 12 March 1862

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2 Confederate HQ telegraph dispatches sent by General P. G. T. Beauregard to General Albert Sidney Johnston from Jackson, TN, to Decatur, AL prior to the Battle of Shiloh. In the first dispatch, General Beauregard requests surplus ammunition for guns and small arms to be sent to Corinth, MS. It also mentions that Union forces under General Charles F. Smith’s command are up the Tennessee River. The second dispatch states that General Chalmers in Iuka, Mississippi, has sighted Union boats. Beauregard mentions that pickets at East Port spotted Union ships at Savannah. He writes that the Union boats will likely go to Pittsburg Landing or East Port. He also warns Johnston not to collect too many trains at Tuscumbia, as they may be cut off from the west by Union forces.


-Dispatch 1-

                              Jackson, March 12th 1862

Genl. A. S. Johns[t]on

            Decatur

     Have you surplus ammunition for guns & small arms for this army – If so, send to Corinth forthwith. Enemies force up Tennessee supposed to be [Gen. C. F.] Smith’s command.

                               G. T. Beauregard

-Dispatch 2-

Jackson, March 12th 1862         

Genl. A. S. Johnston

            Decatur

     Genl. Chalmers at Iuka telegraphs some of Boats in sight – At East Port when my pickets left at six o’clock this morning enemy were at Savannah last night with thirty-three transports & gun boats did not disembark – wagons Horses & all on board at sunset they said they would start for Rail Road this morning early – There is not water enough for the Gun Boats to go to Florence – They will stop at Pittsburg or East Port – the enemy took in all pickets & guards last night.

     Later shelling East Port

Two Gun Boats in sight.

N. B. Be care not to collect too many trains at Tuscumbia for fear of being cut off from the west by the enemy

                          G.T. Beauregard


It appears this document was carried by a dispatch courier from the telegraph office in Decatur, AL to Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston’s HQ. It is believed this dispatch was the first time Gen. Johnston saw the fateful mention of “Pittsburg [Landing],” where he would die little more than three weeks later. As such, these messages prompted immediate action on the part of Johnston to aid Beauregard at Corinth, MI. Johnston sent Hindman’s brigade by rail to Corinth on March 15th, and despite adverse weather, hastened preparations to get his army there, 93 miles distant. Johnston’s troops began arriving about March 20th, and by March 23rd Johnston was present himself. Although the crisis declared by Beauregard did not result in immediate significant fighting, it was a precursor to the crisis that soon developed. Following the occupation of Pittsburg Landing by the main segment of the Union army on March 16th it was apparent that a major Union offensive against Corinth was imminent. Ironically, this ominous message of Beauregard’s four days earlier had pinpointed the exact location to carefully watch. Eastport, also mentioned as another likely site of enemy occupation, was protected by long range Confederate guns, thus Pittsburg Landing was the obvious enemy point of invasion. Despite Beauregard’s astute observations of this, little was done in scouting, mapping, or otherwise planning for the major offensive strike that soon resulted in the famous April 6th surprise attack at Shiloh.

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