Did General Pierre T. Beauregard Drink "Old Crow" Whiskey?

During the 1950s and 1960s, the Old Crow whiskey company ran magazine ads, showing famous historical persons who drank their product. I ran across such an add, featuring the famous Confederate general Beauregard. Gen. P.T. Beauregard was a famous Confederate general; he served with distinction in many campaigns. Only, how would you prove (in 1950) that :
-(a) he drank whiskey
-(b) he drank this brand of whiskey
Was bourbon the favorite whiskey in the Civil war-era South? I would have thought that rum would have been the drink. In any case, what would be the value of such an endorsement, almost 100 years later?

The value is obvious. A lot of southerners revered the Confederacy and its generals, especially in that time period, which was leading up to the centenary of the n war.

Rum was more a Caribbean drink. Bourbon and whiskey were much more common in the South.

As for it he actually drank the brand, it didn’t matter. No one has to prove it; the claim could just be considered fanciful. No one gave a damn.

These claims are often hard to prove or disprove, and the ones making the claim don’t necessarily have any solid backing – it’s just that the case is as hard to disprove as it is to prove, so they can stand on their assertion and say “Well, prove it ain’t so!”

I don’t know anything about the case of Beauregard and Old Crow, but a couple of years ago I read a piece by someone who took on the challenge of investigating whether Napoleon, in exile at St. Helena, had as his favorite game “tangrams” (as one manufacturer of the game claimed). The best they could do, pro or con, was to demonstrate that he did, indeed, own a set of tangram tiles. That shows that he could have played the game, but it’s a long way from saying that he did, or that it was his favorite.

The game manufacturer, of course, can make the assertion and add a little glamour to his product by associating it with Napoleon. It doesn’t cost him anything, it’s to his advantage, and anyone seeking to disprove it has an uphill battle, with no obvious “win” if he succeeds. I suspect it’s exactly the same situation with the Old Crow people saying that Beauregard drank their particular variety of ethanol-ester water.

Whether or not General Beauregard drank Old Crow, we can say for certain that he was in fact a giant chicken.

I can’t answer the question, but can say for certain that after overdosing on it as a teenager, even reading the name Old Crow makes me feel queasy and the smell of the stuff makes me ill.

Many military personnel will drink anything they can pour down their throats and find all kinds of ingenious way to brew it. Remember, alcohol consumption per capita was far higher in the 19th century than today.


Since Old Crow goes back to the 1830s and was a very popular brand by the 1860s, it certainly would have been plausible for Beauregard to have drunk it.

As an aside, James Beauregard Beam (b. 1864), namesake of Jim Beam Bourbon, was named after the general. (The whiskey goes back to 1795 but wasn’t named Jim Beam until 1933.)

Nothing to add regarding bourbon. I just want to point out that Beauregard had a fantastic name for his time and place. I try to use the entire name whenever I get the chance. Roll it off your tongue in a slow drawl: Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard.

To answer one of the questions in the OP: what a prominent person ate or drank is often knowable because of household records. Biographers sometimes go into tedious detail about the routine expenditures of historical figures.

Rum was the drink at the time of the Revolutionary War (along with tea). However, you are correct that both rum, and the sugarcane to make it, came out of the West Indies. In the 13 colonies, sugarcane was not really a major industry - certainly not enough to provide for the demand. And even today, there simply isn’t enough land that can be practically used for sugarcane agriculture. After the Revolutionary War, when British imports were not longer easy to acquire and the settlement of land west of the Appalachians, whiskey became a much more common drink of choice. The ingredients and finished products were available in bulk and easily moved around the country by river and eventually rail.

On the specific history involved, Old Crow might well have been Beauregard’s favorite drink: it certainly was for a number of other figures from the time. Grant supposedly liked it. And according to the wiki page, Henry Clay actually appeared in contemporary advertisements! Old Crow was probably the most popular brand of liquor in the United States at the time. The marketing team probably calculated and/or hoped he wouldn’t offend anyone while carrying strong romantic connotations.

It might also be mentioned in correspondence or diaries.

I’m not suggesting the advertisers actually did this kind of research, just that the answer is in principal knowable.

As opposed to the liquors that Grant didn’t like? :p:D

He was born to a French Creole family in Louisiana a mere 15 years after after the Louisiana Purchase. It was probably a fairly typical name for that time and place.

My understanding is G. T. Beauregard was very well known before the war but never lived up to his reputation, with a lot of defenders and detractors (“Encyclopedia of the Civil War”).

“Find out what Grant’s drinking and send a case to the other generals” – probably never said, but one likes to think it was.

That’s a complicated question, so I’m actually going to make a GD out of it. Suffice it to say that he was a remarkable man.

I tried to post this but it took too long to write:

The issue regarding Grant is that a great deal of complete nonsense, and even more that was extremely dubious, was written about his drinking. We really don’t know what he did or did not drink, when, and how much. It’s been established as likely that Grant was an addict, but that he stayed away from the bottle for very long periods. Many contemporaries who knew him acknowledged that his drinking wasn’t unusual for the pre-Civil War Army (heavy drinking was an occupational hazard of dull postings), but that Grant simply couldn’t tolerate it well. He had a reputation as a drunk, but that was more gossip that truth. Additionally, basically none of the wartime stories about his supposed drinking can be reliably established, and many of them are downright silly, more folk tale than reporting. If their is any truth to it, it can’t be clearly established that he ever actually hit the bottle during the war, or at least certainly not while in active campaigning. In fact, Grant seemed to have no trouble staying away from drinking while he had something to do. As to what exactly he drank, the stories claim any number of concoctions, from whiskey to wine.

Old Crow…half the taste of Jack at one third the price…