The beautiful statue of the mounted General P.T. Beauregard
stood for more than 130 years at the entrance to
New Orleans' City Park.  Now it is gone.  

Civil War
Field Trip

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 Landrieu's Folly - A Commentary
Why The former Mayor Of New Orleans Will Lose His Battle Against History


     Since the launch of CivilWarFieldTrip in 2012, I have been careful to avoid any political slant or stance.  Being true to the CWFT "Mission Statement" (Home Page) the stories and articles here are focused on our shared American History.  My goal has always been to give an honest account of the events that transpired at the various places my research has taken me.  I am Southern by birth and heritage but the historian in me, demands a sense of fairness to the Civil War soldiers of both the North and South.  I consider the places I have visited in the past 20 years... places where brave men of the Union and the Confederacy shed their blood, to be scared ground.  Agree or disagree with their cause, they have left us a rich legacy of history, that we need to acknowledge, understand and from which we can perhaps even learn important lessons.
   In 2017 Mayor Mitch Landrieu waged a successful effort to tear down three historic monuments which had stood as a part of the Cresent City landscape for more than 130 years.  Under the cover of night (and without approval of the majority of New Orleans citizens) the mayor misused members of the city's Police and Fire Departments to remove beautiful statues of Robert E. Lee,  P.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis.       All three of these monuments were not only historically significant but were also treasured public art, each being listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
   Despite public outrage, Landrieu along with a handful of city council members conducted a smear campaign against not only Lee, Beauregard and Davis but also against the 19th century citizens of New Orleans who had originally raised the funds to construct and dedicate the monuments.  His slander of the character of Robert E. Lee and P.T. Beauregard is especially unfounded.

   When Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to General Grant in April of 1865, he sent his soldiers home urging them to be good citizens and to help mend the Nation back together.  If not for his judgement and desire to see the end of the bloodshed, things could have gone very differently.  Jefferson Davis and some other Confederate leaders were willing to disburse their shattered armies into the Southern mountains, dense forests and swamps to carry on a Guerrilla type war.  If this policy had been followed the fighting and killing could have gone on for years or even decades.  It was Lee's leadership that became the example for the thousands of Confederates who were still under arms.  Lee's message was simple... You've been brave and fought well, but it's over.
   
New Orleans native born P.T. Beauregard was in command of Confederate Forces  at Charleston, SC in 1861 when the "First Shot of the Civil War" was fired against Ft. Sumter (actually the real first shots had been fired along the Kansas/Missouri border years before). Beauregard later headed the Confederate Army at its victory at the 1st Battle of Manassas and assumed command at the Battle of Shiloh.  In short, he was a Southern Hero to the people of Louisiana when he returned home in 1865.
   Nobody did more for the City of New Orleans during the post-Civil War years.  As Railroad Comimisioner he envisioned and saw to the construction of an extensive transportation system. That system is still in service today and is famous worldwide as The New Orleans Streetcar Lines.  It was both logical and deserving that the citizens of New Orleans would wish to pay tribute to their beloved P.T. Beauregard.
   Mitch Landrieu had no moral/legal right to destroy these Historic Monuments for what appears to be his own political agenda. Like Stalin's purging of Russian history books of the images of his political enemies or ISIS terrorists destroying ancient religious structures, Landrieu's attention was focused on removing historic monuments while his city's streets were filled with potholes and critical flood pumps needed repair and New Orleans' murder rate soared... thus the former mayor's legacy will be judged by history.
   During the Civil War, General Ben Butler was the tyrannical military leader of New Orleans.  People became so disgusted with his corruption and heavy handed rule that they used chamber pots adorned with Butler's image.  Ben Butler became famous as the "Beast of New Orleans."  Mitch Landrieu has now challenged Butler for that title.


Travis L. Ayres
August, 2018

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