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General Beauregard


General Beauregard, often called Beauregard, was selected in January 1862 by Capt. J. E. Montgomery, former river steamboat master, for his River Defense Fleet. [See Annex II]. At New Orleans, 25 January, Captain Montgomery began her conversion to a cotton-clad ram, installing 4-inch oak and 1-inch iron sheathing over her bow, with cotton bales sandwiched between double pine bulkheads to protect her boilers.

Conversion completed 5 April, General Beauregard steamed to Fort Pillow, Tenn., to defend the approaches to Memphis. On 10 May 1862, General Beauregard, Capt. J. H. Hart, and seven more of Montgomery's fleet, attacked the Federal Mississippi ironclad flotilla. This Plum Point Bend action witnessed effective ramming tactics by the Confederates, although General Beauregard succeeded only in keeping her four 8-inch guns bravely firing in the face of a withering hail of Union shells. Montgomery's force held off the Federal rams until Fort Pillow was safely evacuated, 4 June, then fell back on Memphis to coal, the fifth.

After Fort Pillow fell, Flag Officer C. H. Davis, USN, commanding the Mississippi Flotilla, lost no time in appearing off Memphis, 6 June 1862. Montgomery, with a smaller squadron short of fuel, was unable to retreat to Vicksburg; unwilling to destroy his boats, he fought against heavy odds. In the ensuing Battle of Memphis, "witnessed by thousands on the bluff," Beauregard unluckily missed ramming USS Monarch and "cut away entirely the port wheel and wheel-house" of her partner, General Sterling Price, also engaging Monarch. General Beauregard, backing out, gave Union flagship Benton a close broadside with a 42-pounder, and Benton replied with a shot into the Confederate's boiler, killing or scalding many of her crew, 14 of whom, in agony, were rescued by Benton. General Beauregard exploded and was sinking fast as Monarch captured the rest of her complement and took her in tow towards the Arkansas shore, where the wreck remained for a short time partially visible in shoal water.



On 16 December 1863, Admiral Porter noted, "From a refugee who escaped from Mobile, Ala., I learned the following particulars in relation to the rebel gunboats* * * in that vicinity. * * * A wooden gunboat called General Beauregard carries four guns, and is commanded by Lieutenant Milligan. * * *" No further evidence to corroborate the existence of this warship has yet been discovered, but even this modicum of information does not suggest identification with any of the other Beauregards better known to history.