BUTLER, BENJAMIN F., Major General. Letter signed ("Benj. F Butler") to G. C. Gardner, New Orleans, 10 June 1862. 3 pages, 4to, small repairs to folds, "Head-Quarters Department of the Gulf" stationery.
"BEAST" BUTLER DEFENDS HIS INFAMOUS "WOMAN ORDER"
In his General Order No.28, 15 May 1862, Butler, Union military Governor of occupied New Orleans, had directed that any woman of New Orleans, who "by gesture words and looks insult my soldiers was to be regarded and treated as a Common Woman plying her vocation." Here, a slightly hysterical Butler defends this order: "See where we were! We had come into a city where the dirk and pistol had ruled...there were more of those who had served as soldiers of the Confederate ranks...in the city than the Union had troops...The women more bitter in their seccession than the men, were everywhere insulting my soldiers, deliberatley spitting on their faces...tending to provoke retort recrimination and return of insult, which would have ended in disgraceful and murderous riot...What was there to be done?...Is a She-adder to be preferred to a he-adder, when they void their venom in your face?...What would have been said, had I shut up Mrs Judge this and Mrs Col. that...radiant with rouge and ringlets...How many riots do you think I should have had, dragging, screeching women through the streets to the guard house?...How do you 'regard and treat' a lewd woman and her remarks?...Pass her by do you not?...After that order every man of my command was bound in honor not to notice any of these acts of these Women. They were no longer insults; they became the blandishments of which Solomon speaks in the Proverbs." The result is that no soldier has been insulted since, and "a woman can walk alone...through New Orleans at any hour...free from molestation or insult...Can you say as much O most virtuous editors for New York?" He concludes: "If any of your Squeamish editors will get over their fear of Yellow fever and come here, they will find a city...peaceful, quiet, calm."
Butler's harsh stance as military governor and general unpopularity in both the North and South forced his recall in December 1862.