This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 The next attempt to guarantee ‘a republican form of government’ to a state was commenced in Louisiana by the military occupation of New Orleans on May 1, 1862. The United States forces were under the command of Major General Benjamin F. Butler. Martial law was declared, and Brigadier General George F. Shepley was appointed military governor of the state. It is unnecessary to relate in detail the hostile actions which were committed, as they had no resemblance to such warfare as is alone permissible by the rules of international law or the usages of civilization. Some examples taken from contemporaneous publications of temperate tone will suffice. Peaceful and aged citizens, unresisting captives, and noncombatants were confined at hard labor with chains attached to their limbs, and held in dungeons and fortresses; others were subjected to a like degrading punishment for selling medicine to the sick soldiers of the Confederacy. The soldiers of the invading force were incited and encouraged by general orders to insult and outrage the wives and mothers and sisters of the citizens; helpless women were torn from their homes and subjected to solitary confinement, some in fortresses and prisons—one, especially, on an island of barren sand, under a tropical sun—and were fed with loathsome rations and exposed to vile insults. Prisoners of war who surrendered to the naval forces of the United States on the agreement that they should be released on parole were seized and kept in close confinement. Repeated pretexts were sought or invented for plundering the inhabitants of the captured city, by fines levied and collected under threat of imprisonment at hard labor with ball and chain. The entire population was forced to elect between starvation by the confiscation of all their property and taking an oath against their conscience to bear allegiance to the invader. Egress from the city was refused to those whose fortitude stood the test, and even to lone and aged women and to helpless children; after being ejected from their houses and robbed of their property, they were left to starve in the streets or subsist on charity. The slaves were driven from the plantations in the neighborhood of New Orleans, until their owners consented to share their crops with the commanding general, his brother, and other officers. When such consent had been extorted, the slaves were restored to the plantations and compelled to work under the bayonets of a guard of United States soldiers. Where that partnership was refused, armed expeditions were sent to the plantations to rob them of everything that could be removed; even slaves too aged and infirm for work were, in spite of their entreaties, forced from the homes provided by their owners, and driven to wander helpless on the
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.