BUTLER, Benjamin Franklin (1818-1893), General, U. S. Army. Autograph letter signed ("Benj. F. Butler") to The Naval Officers Commanding Blockdg. Fleet off Mobile, New Orleans, 12 June 1862. 1 page, 8vo., stationery of Department of the Gulf. -- BUTLER. Autograph letter signed ("Benj. F. Butler") to Dorothea L. Dix, Washington D. C., 14 October 1864. 1 page, 8vo., on stationery of United States Military Telegraph.
SALT, GUNS, AND "HARMLESS OLD LADIES"...."A REBEL IS NEVER HARMLESS"
TWO DOCUMENTS FROM THE CONTROVERSIAL BEN BUTLER. Butler's 1862 letter discusses the importation of salt--which Rebels were using to smuggle in small arms (see also lot 308): "The necessary exchange of salt and provisions between this port & Mobile make it necessary that the boat shall take the Cargo I have permitted--to wit 500 sacks of salt. I have given Mr. Greenwood Comd. Farragut's letter in order there may be no difficulty." In the 1864 letter, Butler writes to Dorothea Dix: "Will Miss Dix give Gen. Butler any good reason why Mrs. Lottie Galt and other harmless old ladies of Williamsburg should not be loyal women and take the oath of allegiance in return for protection of the United States." Only half-joking, Butler closes with "A Rebel is never harmless."
As military governor of New Orleans, Butler "exhibited a genius for arousing adverse criticism" (Boatner, 109), especially after his infamous "Woman's Order," on 15 March 1862, in which he said that "any female" that "shall, by word, gesture, or movement, insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States" would "be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation." Butler was an influential Republican politican, but a poor general. Lincoln could not sack him until his failures at Petersburg forced the issue. Butler was a fervent abolitionist and continually prodded the Lincoln administration to do more to free the slaves. Leaving the military, he became a leader among the Radical Republicans in the Reconstruction era Congress. Together 2 items. (2)