View single post by Hellcat
 Posted: Sun Jun 2nd, 2013 09:30 pm
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Root Beer Lover

Joined: Tue Nov 15th, 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 981

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I didn't know Matthew Calbraith Buttle was a politician. Hmmm, well looking on Kerry Webb's US Civil War
( it says that his post war career included a stint as a US Senator. And he held TWO Major General ranks, one in the Confederate army during the war and one as a US Major General of Volunteers during the Spanish American war. Looking him up in The Encylopedia of the American Civil War it does say he was eleceted to the SC state legislature in 1860. So I guess he was a politician before the war too.

Seriously, I know you meant Benjamin Butler, but as I was flipping through the aforementioned encyclopedia to get to him I came across Major General Matthew C. Butler and had to run with it a little. One of those cases of a known name but a little or unknown one at the same time.

I think you have to consider Butler's successes in the field and his term as military governor of New Orleans when you consider a consensus regarding him. I don't think Beast or Spoons, although fitting nicknames, actually say it all as if you stop to consider both you have to consider what military position he was in when they were assigned. Both may be said to originate from his time as the military governor of New Orleans (although Spoons may have been awarded after he left New Orleans it does stem from that period in his military career). He also seems to have earned another nickname during this period. "Picayune" Butler which Douglas Lee Gibboney in his Scandals of the Civil War claims the people of New Orleans called him after a black barber whom they suggested was really his father.

When you consider Butler I have to think he is better known as the military governor of New Orleans than he is as a field commander. Particularly because of his General Orders, No. 28. That controversial order sparked protests both in the North and South for what it implied, and rightly so. As British papers implied, this order could easily be interpreted as giving Federal troops carte blanche to rape any woman who showed contempt for Federal officers and troops. It's not written as such, it's written to say that if the women of New Orleans continued to show contempt for Federal soldiers and officers then they would be treated "as a woman of the town plying her avocation." In other words thy would be treated as if they were prostitutes.

Even after leaving New Orleans he couldn't fully escape scandal, though he could apparently escape getting caught. Gibboney mentions in his book how Stanton tried to plant a spies in Butler's command to gather evidence against him following rumors of his supposed profiteering. Instead Butler found the spy and had them arrested and that appears to have been the end of Stanton's attempt to gain evidence. Was he really profiteering as the rumors suggest or was this a feud between him and Stanton and Stanton tried something on the sly? Don't know, either way this is a scandal for Butler.

As a field commander Butler could only claim a few victories, if even that. His failures seem to more outweigh his victories. And what victories he did have you have to ask if they were his victories or if they were someone else's as they seem to have been joint Army/Navy operations.

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