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The Rearguard Legacy

Colonel Beauregard Rearguard and his lovely wife Miz Terpsichore


Col. Beauregard Rearguard was the famous commander of the 67th Calhoun Infantry, known as the Runnin’ 67th.  His legendary strategy, the “Flying Retreat,” is justly revered for its ingenious tactic, rapid retreat at the very first shot of a battle and the subsequent exhaustion of the enemy’s troops in fruitless pursuit of the 67th as the company scattered to three of the four compass points. He is credited with saving more ammunition than any other troop commander during the entire War Between the States.

The Beauregard Rearguard plantation, Cider Wells in Cess, Georgia, was renown for its hospitality in ante bellum days. Many were the prominent statesmen and men of letters who feasted at its table and toasted the beauty and discretion of Miz Terpsichore.

Although the slave population of Cider Wells numbered 1,864 when Col. Beauregard inherited the place, that number mysteriously dwindled to 46 in the decade preceding the War, the same decade that saw a long courtship between Col. Beauregard’s handsome, spirited daughter, Miss Petit Fours, and a young Quaker minister from Ohio.  Col. Beauregard often commented that he missed hearing the songs drift up from the slave cabins as he sat on the veranda in the evening sipping his mint juleps and enjoying his hard-cider chasers.  “They used to sing about the simplest things,” he once remarked. “I recollect there was one called ‘Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd.’ Had to be a little tetched in the head to be singing about following a gourd.  The drinkin’ gourd warn’t nothin’ but a big dipper hangin’ out by the north well.”

Just six months before Sumter was fired upon, Miss Petit Fours married her Quaker and moved north with her husband, taking with her the remaining 46 slaves, a gift from her doting father. “They wasn’t much ‘count anyways,” the Colonel. “Them as wasn’t blind or lame or deaf was too old for much work, but Daughter would have them go with her. If her mama hadn’t gone with her, too, I would have worried a good deal.”

Terpsichore Rearguard returned to Georgia in the last year of the War and ran a hospital for the wounded.  It was the Colonel’s proud boast that his wife could minister to the wounded of other units, for he and his men always returned unscathed from battle.

After the War, the Colonel retired to Cider Wells, where he lived for another three years, enjoying its abundant stores, which had somehow miraculously escaped the Union army. Toward the end of his life, he declared to a visitor, “I reckon I’ll hold out as long as the cellar holds out.” He was as good as his word.  Several weeks later his mortal remains were found on his beloved veranda, the last jug of cider (empty) beside his rocking chair.

On the other hand, after the hospital closed, Miz Terpsichore removed to a family home outside of Atlanta, where, with the able assistance of some of her former nurses, she revived and expanded her tradition of discreet hospitality to statesmen and men of letters. One of the former slaves from the plantation, a blind man, returned shortly after the War and became a fixture as piano player in Miz Terpsichore’s parlor during her weekly fetes.


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