Posts Tagged ‘Louis Wigfall

The Strange Surrender Of Fort Sumter

- April 19th, 2011

The hero of this story — antihero, actually — is a belligerent, bellicose, besotted, bloody  bully and braggart.

And that´s just his finer qualities.

He was a stone-cold killer, probably a certifiable psychopath, certainly crazy as a coot.

wigfall louis trezevant1

Louis T. Wigfall: Fire-Eater, slave owner, killer, bankrupt, separatist … and a hero? … nah.

But he was also a  wildly popular politician, a senator of both the United States and Confederate States of America, heir to a great  family fortune (for a time), a Civil War hero (for a time), friend and confidante of presidents and generals (again, for a time) and very much a product of his place and era — the slavocracy of the Deep South in the middle of the 19th Century.

Before we turn our attention to Louis Trezevant Wigfall and his strange intervention in history, however, let´s take a quick look at  the lead-up to the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, the catalytic event which started the American Civil War 150 years ago.

If you want to cut to the chase and forget the backgrounder, just skip the part between the next two pictures.

GOOD

The formal start of the Civil War came at 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861, when shore batteries under the command of P.G.T. Beauregard, first brigadier-general of the Provisional Army of the Confederate States of America, opened fire on U.S. Army Fort Sumter in the middle of South Carolina´s Charleston Harbor.

But the civil war between South and North had actually started more than 80 years earlier when Britain´s 13 rebellious American colonies joined together as a nation called the United States of America.

At the end of the American Revolution in 1781, slavery had been abolished for almost a decade in England but was still practised in one form or another in every one of the 13 breakaway colonies. (The Republic of Vermont had banned slavery in its constitution of 1777, but Vermont was not one of the 13 colonies — it was a breakaway creation itself, its eventual territority being divided previously between the colonies of New York and New Hampshire when King George III still had the power to make that kind of decision.)

Slavery, while not mentioned by name (quaint phrases like “person held to service or labour” were used), was condoned in the U.S. Constitution of 1788, where it would fester and poison the American democratic process for decades.

By 1804, however, a line had been clearly drawn between Northern and Southern  states over the issue of slavery: The seven Northern states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey had moved to abolish slavery by then while the six Southern (and middle) states of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia were firmly committed to maintaining institutionalized slavery of millions of Americans (roughly 1 million at that time — 4 million by 1860).

I´m getting into too much detail here, but I think it´s really important to make the point that, of those seven abolitionist states, only one — Massachusetts — had banned ALL slavery by 1804. The other six supposedly enlightened states only freed newborn children of slaves immediately. If you were already a slave, you technically stayed a slave — in some cases for a designated period of time, in other cases until you died.  Those were pretty much the same rules that applied when Upper Canada “abolished” slavery in 1793. Un-freaking-believable, eh?)

Rather than getting bogged down, let´s just say that the fight between North and South over slavery became more intense, bitter and entrenched over the next half century.

North and South came close to blowing apart frequently throughout the 1850s and the stakes became higher as new states were admitted to the union, some as slave states and some as free states.

The overall process of expansion favoured the Northern view in the long run, however, with free states rapidly outpacing the slave states both economically and in population growth.

The division was clearcut in the national election of 1860 when abolitionist Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln won the presidency by sweeping 17 Northern states while three other candidates split 15 states in the South and middle (the 33rd state, New Jersey, was divided between Lincoln and Northern Democrat Stephen Douglas).

Lincoln was elected president on Nov. 6, 1860. By the time he took office four months later on March 4, 1861, seven Southern states had already voted to secede from the union. The exodus started on Dec. 20, 1860 with South Carolina — the state with the highest proportion of slaves (57% of the total population, although Virginia had more slaves in sheer numbers), followed in January 1861 by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana.

Representatives of the first six secessionist states met in Montgomery, Alabama, in February 1861 to form the Confederate States of America — defined in its new constitution as a slave nation. (Texas voted to secede on Feb. 1 but did not join the Confederacy until March 2, after its founding convention and just days before Lincoln´s inauguration.)

The other slave states that had voted against Lincoln (principally Virginia) waited and watched, torn between factions that wanted to be part of a new slave nation and others that wanted to remain in the old union, either as a continuing slave state  or as a free state.

And while all this was going on politically, the U.S. military was also choosing sides.

The U.S. at that time had a fulltime army of only 16,000 men, most of whom were deployed in the Western territories to push American sovereignty into native lands and to keep pro- and anti-slavery frontier militia gangs from killing too many of each other´s settlers.

Many U.S. military installations in the six breakaway states were either seized by or voluntarily turned over to Confederate forces, most of which were led by former U.S. Army officers who had resigned their federal commissions and returned to their home states in January.

By March 1861, only two forts in the entire South remained in the hands of the U.S. Army — the island redoubts of Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C., and Fort Pickens, in Pensacola, Fla. Both forts were woefully undermanned, with only about 100 combat soldiers each. (Pickens would remain in federal hands throughout the war, despite repeated Confederate attempts to capture it.)

Fort Sumter became a focus of intense political and military because it stood right in the heart of the Confederacy.

Sumter was still under construction at the time South Carolina formally seceded, but union commander Maj. Robert Anderson decided it was more defensible than Fort Moultrie, the federal army post on the mainland where his small contingent of 127 soldiers (13 of them musicians) was originally based.

So in the middle of the night on Dec. 26, 1860, Anderson did his best to disable the guns of Fort Moultrie and moved most of his small force (85 men) by rowboat over to Sumter.

Which caused all hell to break loose over the next few days — in Washington.

Because the lameduck government of President James Buchanan was still trying to make nice to the secessionist states in hopes that they would forget the whole crazy break-up-the-U.S.A. thing. Buchanan´s secretary of war, John Floyd, sent Anderson a stern telegram criticizing him for making an unauthorized move which South Carolina would see as provocation of the part of the federal government.

Anderson (a Southern with pro-slavery inclinations but nonetheless a loyal professional officer of the U.S. Army) replied that his small force would have been needlessly overrun at Fort Moultrie and he had no intention of giving up his command without a fight unless directly ordered to do so by the Secretary of War (who, fortunately, was turfed from office a couple of days later on accusations that he had approved corrupt military contracts and was secretly arming the secessionist South with heavy cannons. Floyd went on to become a Confederate general, not surprisingly).

Buchanan´s wishy-washy administration eventually came around to a less-conciliatory position a few weeks later. A ship, the merchantman Star of the West, was sent from New York to resupply and reinforce Anderson´s garrison with food, munitions and about 200 more troops but turned back at the mouth of Charleston Harbor when fired upon by cadets of The Citadel military academy on Jan. 9, 1861.

That schoolboy cannon fire should probably be considered the real first shots of the American Civil War, although lesser military confrontations between Union troops and Confederate militias elsewhere a few days and weeks earlier might also lay claim to the dubious title.

So that´s the way things remained — with Anderson´s poorly equipped troops surrounded and running out of food in Charleston Harbor while a delegation of Confederacy “ambassadors” tried to negotiate terms of separation (including the purchase of Forts Sumter and Pickens) in Washington  – until Abraham Lincoln´s inauguration as president on March 4, 1861.

The uneasy stalemate changed quickly when Lincoln took office.

The Lincoln cabinet cut off even backdoor consultations with the Confederate commissioners in Washington and C.S.A. President Jefferson Davis sent Brig.-Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard to take charge of the South Carolina militiamen surrounding Fort Sumter.

Fort Sumter was the focus of both North and South as the two sides edged closer to war, each looking for the other side to make the first move so propagandists could advance their partisan cases to the watching nations of Europe — especially Britain, which had strong commercial ties with both North and South —  that the other side had fired the first shot (although, as we´ve already noted, many “first shots” had already been fired at that point).

In early April 1861, Lincoln notified South Carolina Gov. Francis Pickens that a convoy of federal ships would resupply Fort Sumter within two weeks — with food, but not munitions of war or more troops.

In the propaganda war, Lincoln wanted it known that all he had done was “send bread to Anderson.” If the rebels fired on that food convoy, Lincoln reasoned that “they would not be able to convince the world that (he) had begun the civil war,” as one of Lincoln´s secretaries later wrote.

Pickens and the Confederate government essentially went for Lincoln´s bait, although the momentum toward war was so strong at that point that it didn´t take much of a nudge to start hostilities.

Under orders from the Confederate cabinet, Brig.-Gen. Beauregard on April 11 issued an ultimatum to Anderson to surrender Fort Sumter immediately or be fired upon.

Anderson stalled for time but did not offer the immediate surrender of the fort.

So at 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861 — just as the Union supply ships were nearing Charleston — Confederate batteries opened fire on Fort Sumter, starting the American Civil War.

beauregard

A COUPLE OF GOOD OL´ SOUTHERN BOYS: Brig.-Gen. Pierre Gustav Toutant Beauregard, above, was the scion of an aristocratic Creole slave-owning family in Louisiana, who commanded Confederate forces at Charleston, S.C., and ordered the bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Maj. Robert Anderson, below, commanded the small U.S. Army garrison at Fort Sumter and refused Beauregard´s ultimatum to surrender the fort or be fired upon. Anderson, like Beauregard, was pro-slavery and had at one time been a slave owner in his native Kentucky. Although both men had had accomplished careers in the U.S. Army before the Civil War, they chose very different paths after secession. Beauregard, who had just been appointed superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., resigned his federal commission and returned to the South, where he became the first brigadier-general of the provisional army of the Confederate States of America while Robert E. Lee was still wearing the blue uniform of the U.S. Army . Anderson, by contrast, remained loyal to the union and, a few  days after the end of fighting in 1865 , returned to Fort Sumter to re-raise the same Stars and Stripes flag he had been forced to lower when he surrendered the fort four years earlier. Beauregard, as a U.S. Military Academy cadet in the mid-1830s, was a student of the older Anderson, who was an artillery and engineering instructor at West Point at the time. The U.S. Army officer corps was a very small world in the mid-1800s and most of the senior officers on both sides knew each other quite well, sometimes as rivals and sometimes as friends. Beauregard and Anderson showed great courtesy (too much, really, given the circumstances) and mutual respect in their communications to each other during the Battle of Fort Sumter. Anderson´s second-in-command at Fort Sumter, by the way, was Capt. Abner Doubleday, purported inventor of baseball. After the fall of Fort Sumter, Anderson would go on an extended war-hero recruiting drive before becoming military governor of his home state of Kentucky. Beauregard would lead the victorious Confederate Army at the First Battle of Bull Run before being superceded by other Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee. After the war, Beauregard became immensely wealthy as one of the founders of the Louisiana Lottery.

robert-anderson

And here — in April 1861 on the eve of battle —  is where the stupendously self-serving and self-absorbed Louis T. Wigfall entered the picture to seize his moment of personal glory — and flabbergast those around him who had to pick up the pieces afterwards.

Wigfall was born on his family´s slave plantation in South Carolina in 1816, although his father was not of the landed Southern aristocracy, but rather a merchant in Charleston before buying the plantation shortly before the birth of Louis, second of the family´s three sons.

Wigfall´s father died when he was two and his mother died when he 13, after which he was raised by a guardian, although the principal raising in his teen years seemed to be raising hell.

In 1835 Louis Wigfall entered the University of Virgina, from which he was expelled within months for drunkeness, whoring, gambling and fighting. It was during this time that Wigfall issued the first of his many duelling challenges.

The following year, Wigfall was admitted to the University of South Carolina, which seems to have had lower standards than UV or at least a higher tolerance for the destructive behaviour of spoiled rich kids.

Although he spent most of his time in taverns and debating clubs — and took three months off to fight in the Third Seminole War in Florida — Wigfall graduated from USC in 1837 and began what passed for his adult life.

By 1839, Wigfall had drunk, gambled and generally squandered away his inheritance. To support his ongoing debauchery, he borrowed heavily from friends and family, including second cousin Charlotte Maria Cross, to whom he would be wed in 1841. (Just how blind was this woman?)

Fortunately for Wigfall, his elder brother decided to die in a duel about this time, so Louis inherited control of the family plantation and his brother´s law practice (you basically had to own a set of law books in order to be a lawyer in those days).

Like his late, unlamented brother, Louis Wigfall (as we have already noted) had a penchant for duelling.

When not carousing, Wigfall was busy issuing duel challenges — at least five that we know of in the years 1839-41. In the one duel where blood was spilled,  he took a bullet through both thighs and wounded his opponent in the hip. It was called a draw.

Around the same time, Wigfall killed a neighbour, Thomas Bird, but not in a duel. Wigfall gunned Bird down in cold blood for removing a poster Wigfall had put up calling Bird´s uncle a coward. Wigfall was charged with homicide but, justice always taking a strange and mysterious course in South Carolina, was never prosecuted.

Wigfall gave up duelling as a concession to the responsibilities of marriage and fatherhood after 1841, but that didn´t stop him from squandering the rest of his family fortune and that of his wife in coming years.

By 1848, Wigfall´s South Carolina law practice had failed and the family estate had been swallowed up by debt, so he headed off to Texas to start a new life and law career.

Wigfall did find a new life in Texas and became a roaring success — as a firebrand politician.

The bombastic Wigfall had tried — and failed — previously to enter the political forum in South Carolina, but Texas was more his style. At least Texas seemed to like Wigfall´s style as a hell-raising, drink-buying, honour-demanding, ranting, roaring champion of slavery and secession.

Wigfall was prominent in Texas politics throughout the 1850s as one of the radical secessionist Fire-Eaters and became a political enemy of the legendary Sam Houston, hero of Texas independence in the 1830s, whom Wigfall accused of being a traitor to the South and cozying up to Northern abolitionists in hopes of becoming president someday.

In 1859, Wigfall was elected to the U.S. Senate in a byelection just in time to build up a good head of steam against his abolitionist opponents before Texas seceded from the union on Feb. 1, 1861. Wigfall stuck around in Congress for a few more weeks to curse everyone born north of the Mason-Dixon Line before launching one final tirade and marching out of the Senate chamber March 23, 1861, at the head of a parade of other secessionist Congressman.

Wigfall went first to Richmond, Virginia, and then to Charleston, S.C., where all the action was brewing.

Along the way, he spied on the U.S. Army around Washington, tried (with some limited success) to procure arms for the South, and recruited soldiers for the Confederacy in Maryland.

And here´s the lay of the land Wigfall found when he finally reached Charleston in early April:

fort-sumter-april-1861

At this point you have to pity Confederate Brig.-Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard a little bit.

For starters, the Confederate States of America had been born out a revolt against a central government and a reclamation of power by the individual states that formed the new Confederacy. The Provisional Army of the Confederacy was brand new too and existed more on paper than in reality.

When Beauregard was assigned to take over command of Charleston, his “Confederate” forces amounted to three people – one staff officer, one artillery officer and himself. Everyone else was a member of the state militia — the South Carolina Army, as it was grandly known — or a freelance volunteer from another of the breakaway states.

As you can imagine, Beauregard had to walk a political tightrope as a result: He reported directly by telegraph to the Confederate cabinet in Montgomery, Alabama, but consulted daily — sometimes hourly – with demanding, war-minded South Carolina Governor Pickens, whose “Army” Beauregard had taken command of, while also dealing with Confederate politicians and influence-peddlers of every stripe who had homed in on Charleston like bees to honey.

Some of them, like Louis Wigfall, even had pretensions of military grandeur. Beauregard, a resourceful man, dealt with those pests by the expedient of making them his civilian “aides” (with honourary military titles). Some useful ones he kept close at hand and the useless ones (like Wigfall) he assigned to various “duties” that kept them as far away as possible from his headquarters and out from underfoot.

 wiki-LTWigfall

Louis T. Wigfall: Zealot, warrior, civilian aide, pest

So when the first shots of the American Civil War were fired at 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861, Louis Wigfall was with General James Simons of the South Carolina Army at the Cummins (sometimes Cummings) Point Batteries (see map above), far, far away from Beauregard´s headquarters.

And there Wigfall remained as Confederate cannons and mortars pounded Fort Sumter for the next 34 hours, while the Union supply fleet, fearing Confederate shore batteries and the treacherous, boobytrapped entrance to Charleston Harbor, stood a safe distance offshore and did nothing to help Anderson´s besieged garrison at Fort Sumter.

bombardment_of_fort_sumter_1861

An estimated 3,000 cannonballs, artillery shells, firebombs and fragment explosives were  fired on Fort Sumter during that 34-hour bombardment. The wooden buildings inside the fort were ablaze, thick smoke choked the Union soldiers, the gate and walls were breached, the garrison was down to final rations of rancid pork, many cannons were disabled and only a few pounds of gunpowder and a few cannonballs remained — and yet, unbelievably, not a single Union soldier had died in the inferno.

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Sumter-1861 Parapet

Then, just after 1 p.m. on April 13, a Confederate shot knocked down the pole from which the U.S. flag had flown over Fort Sumter throughout the siege.

As Union soldiers scrambled through the smoke and burning buildings  to find a replacement flagpole, Confederate cannonfire slowed  — but did not cease entirely — as everyone tried to figure out what the situation was.

When informed that the Stars and Stripes were no longer flying over Sumter, Beauregard dispatched three members of his staff by boat under a white flag to ask Anderson what was going on, was he surrendering, did he need help controlling the fire, etc.

And that´s when the real fireworks started because … drumroll, please … Louis Trezavant Wigfall could restrain himself no longer and dived headfirst into history.

Without the slightest degree of authorization or any communication with Beauregard´s headquarters, the crazy, puffed-up Wigfall commandeered a skiff used to convey messages at the Cummins Point Batteries and headed across the harbour mouth to Fort Sumter.

With the occasional cannonball still flying through the air, Wigfall sat in the bow of his skiff, waving a white handerchief tied to the end of his sword (of course Louis Trezavant Wigfall had a sword — a great, long, flashy thing. What did you expect?), while a poor, sadsack South Carolina Army private named Gordon (Gourdin, according to Beauregard´s final report, but Beau — whose first language was French, not English – was mixing him up with another guy, a spy, named Robert Gourdin) Young pulled away at the oars, not really understanding what he had gotten himself in for by letting the crazy Wigfall take command of the boat.

So there was now a (unintentional and unknown) race on between two boats, one carrying an authorized delegation from Brig.-Gen. Beauregard and another carrying the self-appointed Hero of the South Louis Wigfall.

Well,  of course Wigfall won the race, the Cummins Point Batteries being much closer to Fort Sumter than Beauregard´s headquarters.

By this time the new flagpole had been raised and the U.S. flag was flying over Fort Sumter again.

When Wigfall´s skiff reached the fort, Wigfall (still carrying his raised sword and white handerchief of truce) was escorted through the burning, smoking, battered wreckage to confer with Maj. Anderson.

According to David Detzer´s book Allegiance, here´s what Wigfall had to say to Anderson:

“You have defended your flag nobly, Sir. You have done all that it is possible to do, and General Beauregard wants to stop this fight. On what terms, Major Anderson, will you evacuate this fort?”

 Poor old Anderson, to be confronted with a self-appointed nutbar like Wigfall at a time like this.

Of course Anderson took Wigfall at his word that he was an emissary of Beauregard — although not one that Beauregard had ever used before in countless missions to deliver messages to Fort Sumter — and Anderson was relieved that Wigfall had used the word “evacuate” not “surrender.”

Anderson specified that his terms of “evacuation” included withdrawal under arms for his troops and  the right to honour the U.S. flag with a 100-gun salute. 

We´ll let the Wikipedia entry for Battle of Fort Sumter carry the story for a bit:

“Fort Sumter raised Wigfall’s white handkerchief on its flagpole as Wigfall departed in his small boat back to Morris Island (where the Cummins Point Batteries were located), where he was hailed as a hero. The handkerchief was spotted in Charleston and a delegation of officers representing Beauregard … sailed to Sumter, unaware of Wigfall’s visit.

“Anderson was outraged when these officers disavowed Wigfall’s authority, telling him that the former senator had not spoken with Beauregard for two days, and he threatened to resume firing. Meanwhile, General Beauregard himself had finally seen the handkerchief and sent a second set of officers, offering essentially the same terms that Wigfall had presented, so the agreement was reinstated.”

Actually, the first official delegation was already on its way to the fort before the white flag was raised, but you can imagine the confusion — and anger — that reigned as the two sides tried to sort out what the hell had happened.

Fortunately, Beauregard´s second delegation — with the power to offer generous terms of surrender — arrived before hostilities were resumed.

Wigfall, meanwhile, was back on shore telling his tale of having accepted the surrender of Fort Sumter.

He left his post at the Cummins Point Batteries and returned to the city of Charleston to spread his version of the surrender and to harvest the accolades and honours he felt were justly his.

Beauregard, a mere honest soldier, was probably left dumbfounded by the crazed audacity and blatant self-promotion with which Wigfall claimed the coup of having seized Sumter single-handedly (forgetting, of course, to mention the role played by Private Gordon Young in getting him there).

With Wigfall the toast of Charleston and the South, Beauregard made the best of a bad situation by conveying the following, much-massaged version of events in his official report on the engagement two weeks later: 

“About 1.30 p.m. (April 13), it being reported to me that the flag was down (it afterwards appeared that the flag-staff had been shot away), and the conflagration from the large volume of smoke being apparently on the increase, I sent three of my aides with a message to Major Anderson to the effect that seeing his flag no longer flying, his quarters in flames, and supposing him to be in distress, I desired to offer him any assistance he might stand in need of.

“Before my aides reached the fort the United States flag was displayed on the parapet, but remained there only a short time, when it was hauled down and a white flag substituted in its place. When the United States flag first disappeared the firing from our batteries almost entirely ceased, but reopened with increased vigor when it reappeared on the parapet, and was continued until the white flag was raised, when it ceased entirely. Upon the arrival of my aides at Fort Sumter they delivered their message to Major Anderson, who replied that he thanked me for my offer, but desired no assistance.
 

“Just previous to their arrival Colonel Wigfall, one of my aides, who had been detached for special duty on Morris Island, had, by order of Brigadier-General Simons (NOTE: Blatantly untrue), crossed over to Fort Sumter from Cummings Point in an open boat, with private Gourdin Young, amidst a heavy fire of shot and shell, for the purpose of ascertaining from Major Anderson whether his intention was to surrender, his flag being down and his quarters in flames.

“On reaching the fort the colonel had an interview with Major Anderson, the result of which was that Major Anderson understood him as offering the same conditions on the part of General Beauregard as had been tendered him on the 11th instant, while Colonel Wigfall’s impression was that Major Anderson unconditionally surrendered, trusting to the generosity of General Beauregard to offer such terms as would be honorable and acceptable to both parties.

“Meanwhile, before these circumstances were reported to me, and in fact soon after the aides whom I had dispatched with the offer of assistance had set out on their mission, hearing that a white flag was flying over the fort, I sent Major Jones, the chief of my staff, and some other aides, with substantially the same propositions I had submitted to Major Anderson on the 11th instant, with the exception of the privilege of saluting his flag.

The Major (Anderson) replied, “it would be exceedingly gratifying to him, as well as to his command, to be permitted to salute their flag, having so gallantly defended the fort under such trying circumstances, and hoped that General Beauregard would not refuse it, as such a privilege was not unusual.” He further said he “would not urge the point, but would prefer to refer the matter again to me.” The point was, therefore, left open until the matter was submitted to me.”

And so ended the Battle of Fort Sumter — almost.

Anderson got his wish to honour the flag under which his command had fought with a 100-gun salute (more powder being supplied by his Confederate enemies for the occasion), starting about 2:30 p.m. the next day, April 14.

Unfortunately, as the 43rd shot was being fired, the gun blew up, killing Private Daniel Hough instantly and injuring several other members of the gun crew. This was the first death of the Battle of Fort Sumter.

Two of the badly injured Union soldiers were taken to hospital in Charleston, where one more later died, and the 100-gun salute was curtailed at 50.

Then Anderson, carrying the same flag, boarded a Confederate steamer with his troops and was ferried out the next day to the federal flotilla still waiting offshore.

Wigfall

And Louis T. Wigfall?

His adopted state of Texas was mighty proud of the hero of Fort Sumter, so proud that Wigfall was made (for a short time — everyone got tired of Wigfall eventually) commanding general of the newly formed Texas Brigade in the Confederate Army.

Wigfall stayed drunk and obnoxious most of the time the Brigade was encamped in Virginia over the winter of 1861-62 and he soon tired of playing soldier. Much to the relief of the Texas Brigade and the professional officers who served under him, Wigfall gave up his command when he was elected to represent Texas in the Senate of the Confederacy in February 1862.

And what did Brig.-Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard really think of his aide, Louis T. Wigfall?

We can only go by his official report, but Beauregard gave Wigfall the rank of “captain” and “colonel” variously in the report, certainly not an unintentional oversight on Beauregard´s part: As far as Beauregard was concerned, both ranks were honourifics and Wigfall was equally undeserving of both.

At the end of his report, Beauregard thanked 84 individuals and units for their contributions to the Battle of Fort Sumter: Wigfall was mentioned as an also-ran in 79th position with only five other civilian “aides” mentioned after him, although Beauregard did end his report with the words “Captain Wigfall being the first in Sumter to receive the surrender.”

After the South lost the war, Wigfall returned to Texas, then went into exile in England for a while.

He returned to the United States in 1870 and, with borrowed money, bought a mine in Colorado. The mine was a dud, of course.

He returned to Texas and, on Feb. 18, 1874, was (appropriately enough) “seized by a fit of apoplexy” in Galveston, dying in the street where he fell at age 57.

Exit, Louis Trezavant Wigfall. And don´t come back.