Beauregard was born at the “Contreras” plantation in St. Bernard next to New Orleans, to a white Creole family. He attended New Orleans schools and then went to a “French school” in New York City. He received his training at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He was nicknamed the “Little Creole,” the “Little Frenchman,” and “Little Napoleon” by his Army friends.
In 1841, Beauregard married Marie Laure Villeré, the daughter of Jules Villeré, a sugar planter and also granddaughter of a former governor of Louisiana, Jacques Villeré. Ten years later, the widowed Beauregard married Caroline Deslonde, the daughter of André Deslonde, a farmer from St. James Parish. Caroline was also a sister-in-law of John Slidell, a U.S. senator from Louisiana and later a Confederate diplomat, so Beauregard obviously had many political connections.
Beauregard, who became a prominent Confederate general, commanded the defenses of Charleston, S.C., for the Battle of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. After much time had elapsed and many demands had been made by the Confederacy to President Lincoln to remove the Union troops from Southern soil, Beauregard directed his troops to open fire on the Union-held fort and as a result the Civil War began.
No Union soldier was killed in the battle at Fort Sumter but a Confederate soldier bled to death due to an accident. Nearly three quarter of a million soldiers died in combat or diseases as a result of the Civil War. In the state of Louisiana, the home of Pierre Toutant Beauregard, more than 3,000 soldiers perished.
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