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Today In Charleston History: January 23

1800 – Deaths.

 Governor Edward Rutledge died “with perfect resignation, and with perfect calmness.” He was buried in the family plot in St. Philip’s graveyard. He was replaced as governor by John Drayton.

Edward Rutledge

Edward Rutledge

Born to an aristocratic family, Edward Rutledge spent most of his life in public service. He was educated in law at Oxford and was admitted to the English Bar. He and his older brother John both attended the Continental Congress and unabashedly supported each other. Edward attended Congress at the remarkable age of 26 and was the youngest man to sign the Declaration of Independence.

During the Revolution he served as a member of the Charleston Battalion of Artillery, and attained the rank of Captain. The colonial legislature sent him back to Congress in 1779 to fill a vacancy. During the defense of Charleston, Rutledge was captured and held prisoner until July of 1781.

In 1782 he served in the state legislature, intent on the prosecution of British Loyalists. In 1789 he was elected Governor.

1861 – Secession.

Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard was appointed superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. It was the shortest term in the post ever. Six days later his commission as superintendent was revoked, the day after his native Louisiana seceded from the Union. The Federal powers-that-be did not trust Beauregard’s Southern sympathies. One month later, Beauregard resigned his captaincy in the U.S. Army Engineers and offered his services to the Confederate government being formed in Montgomery, Alabama.

Pierre Gustave Toutant Beuaregard

Pierre Gustave Toutant Beuaregard

Beauregard was born into a prominent Creole family in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana and raised on a sugarcane plantation outside of New Orleans. He was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1834 at age sixteen and became a popular cadet, earning several nicknames including “Little Napoleon” and “Little Creole,” due to his slight statue – 5’7”, 150-pounds. His favorite teacher was his professor of artillery, Robert Anderson. He graduated second in his class in 1838 and remained at the school to serve as Anderson’s assistant artillery instructor.

During the Mexican War he serving under Gen. Winfield Scott and during the 1850s served as a military engineer clearing the Mississippi River of obstructions. He also spent time as an instructor at West Point before becoming the school’s superintendent for less than a week.

On February 27 in Montgomery, Alabama, Beauregard was appointed the first brigadier general of the Confederate Army and sent to Charleston. On April 12, he ordered the first shot of the Civil War fired at Fort Sumter, commanded by his former West Point instructor, Major Anderson.

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