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Chapter 15:

  • The military situation of the lower Mississippi.
  • -- the fall of New Orleans. -- a long train of secret history of the Confederate Administration. -- sense of security in New Orleans. -- strange error of the Richmond authorities. -- Gen. Lovell's correspondence with the war Department. -- startling disclosures. -- naval structures for the defence of New Orleans. -- Secretary Mallory's statement to the Confederate Congress. -- testimony of Gov. Moore, of Louisiana. -- his interposition with the shipbuilders. -- the ironclads Mississippi and Louisiana. -- condition of the defences of New Orleans in April, 1862. -- the river obstructed by a raft. -- Farragut's fleet at the mouth of the Mississippi. -- Festivity in New Orleans. -- bombardment of Forts Jackson and St. Philip. -- passage of the Forts by the enemy's vessels. -- the Confederate gunboats all destroyed. -- confusion and panic in New Orleans. -- great conflagration in the city. -- a scene of terrible grandeur. -- Lovell's evacuation of New Orleans. -- disorder in New Orleans. -- Farragut's correspondence with Mayor Monroe. -- why the Mayor protracted the correspondence. -- a New hope of defence. -- surrender of Forts Jackson and St. Philip. -- Gen. Duncan's speech on the Levee. -- Farragut's ultimatum. -- Hoisting of the Stars and Stripes over New Orleans. -- what the fall of New Orleans involved. -- note : -- Gen. Lovell's reasons for evacuating New Orleans. -- rule of Butler in the conquered city. -- character and person of “the tyrant of New Orleans.” -- “the woman-order.” -- arrest of Mayor Monroe and of various citizens. -- Butler on female secessionists. -- his opinion of “she-adders.” -- Confiscation, fines, and plunder. -- Butler's decoy for assassins. -- the hanging of Mumford. -- his speech on the gallows. -- General experience in the Confederacy of the enemy's atrocity. -- New codes and methods of war. -- progress of Federal cruelty

The Confederate public had been disposed to find some consolation for the disaster at Island No.10 in the brilliant, though unfruitful story of Shiloh. It was considered, too, that the river below Fort Pillow was safe; and that while the army at Corinth covered Memphis, and held the enemy in check on land, the rich and productive valley of the Lower Mississippi was yet secure to the Confederacy.

But in the midst of these pleasing calculations and comparative reassurance, a great disaster was to occur where it was least expected, which was [246] to astound the people of the South, to involve the practical loss of another mass of rich territory, and to alarm the hopes of men in all parts of the world for the success of the Confederates. This unexpected event was the fall of New Orleans.

With respect to this disaster, we have to develop a long train of the secret history of the Confederate Administration — a history replete with evidences of mismanagement and shiftlessness that will be almost incredible to the world accustomed to read of the administration of governments in time of war, and to expect, at least, an average of intelligence in the conduct of public affairs.

The fall of New Orleans.

New Orleans had been so long threatened with attack, that popular opinion in the Confederacy was disposed to take it as impregnable. For months the Federal fleet cruised about the Gulf with evident indecision, until people in New Orleans began to smile, and say: “They would think twice before attempting a rehearsal of the scenes of 1812.” It was declared, on the authority of newspapers, that the city was inpregnable; the forts, Jackson and St. Philip, sixty or seventy miles below the city, were considered but as the outer line of defences; the shores of the river were lined with batteries; and in the harbour were reported to be twelve gunboats, and certain iron-clad naval structures which, it was asserted, were superiour to the famous “Virginia,” and would deal with a Federal fleet as hawks might with a flock of pigeons.

But penetrating this popular conceit and confidence, and going to official records for proofs, we shall discover that the facts were that New Orleans was in a shamefully defenceless condition; that the Richmond authorities had persisted in the strange errour that the attack on the city was to come from above; that they had consequently stripped it almost entirely of troops, and neglected the armament of its interiour line of defence; and that the naval structures, which the authorities had declared would be fully able to protect the city under any circumstances, were, by the most wretched and culpable mismanagement, neglected, delayed, and finally found in a condition in which they were not of the slightest avail.

Gen. Mansfield Lovell assumed command of the defences of New Orleans late in October, 1861. The city at that time had been “drained of arms, ammunition, medical stores, clothing and supplies, which had been sent to other points,” and the defences were in a thoroughly incomplete condition. The troops raised in Louisiana had been principally sent to Virginia and Pensacola, and those that remained were necessarily inadequate to the end desired, and required organization. [247]

Several vessels were in course of construction by the Navy Department, but according to the express orders of President Davis “the fleet maintained at the port of New Orleans and vicinity formed no part of the command of Gen. Lovell.” The first step taken by that officer was to secure ammunition, of which there was less than twenty pounds per gun; the second was to complete the “raft between Forts Jackson and St. Philip, so as to make a complete obstruction under the fire of those works.” On the 8th November, Gen. Lovell wrote to the Department that he had increased the armament of Forts Pike and Macomb, and thought he would be able to make a complete obstruction of the raft, so that if the enemy's ships should be stopped, they would be hammered to pieces. This obstruction was calculated to delay a “fleet under the close fire of more than one hundred heavy guns.” Measures were also taken to obstruct the passage at Forts Pike and Macomb, and the river above the city, the commanding General “feeling satisfied that ships under steam can pass forts in an open channel.”

On the 5th December, 1861, a statement was made to the War Department of the existing condition of affairs, in which it was shown that the city was defended by two lines of works, for which Gen. Lovell had 8,000 men, besides the militia of the city. Two powder mills were in running order, and the announcement was made that with a “sufficiency of this material, he should consider himself in a position to hold New Orleans for an indefinite length of time.” The city was then strong enough to withstand any attack likely to be made, and Gen. Lovell stated that the enemy, who were at that time landing troops at Ship Island in large numbers, “could not take New Orleans by a land attack with any force they could bring to bear.”

In the beginning of January the attention of the Department was directed to the necessity of giving to the commanding General the control of at least so much of the Navy Department as would enable him, by means of light-draught armed vessels, to protect the navigable streams along the coast; Gen. Lovell adding, that “the blame of want of protection will rest upon me in any event, and I should, therefore, have some power to say what should be done.” No answer to this request was made.

The Secretary of War, about this time, furnished Gen. Lovell with the plan and details of the river defence fleet, under Montgomery, for “service in the upper Mississippi,” which was to be prepared at New Orleans, by Capts. Montgomery and Townsend, and the General was directed “merely to exercise such general supervision as to check any profligate expenditure.”

On the 13th January, Gen. Lovell wrote, that “considering New Orleans to be in condition to resist an attack, I am turning my attention [248] to the coast of Mississippi.” The obstructions in the river at this time were complete, and the forts well manned.

On the 8th of February, the Secretary of War wrote as follows: “The President desires that, as soon as possible, on receipt of this letter, you despatch 5,000 men to Columbus to reinforce that point, sorely threatened by largely superiour forces. New Orleans is to be defended from above, by defeating the enemy at Columbus.” Gen. Lovell replied: “I regret the necessity of sending away my only force at this particular juncture, and feel sure that it will create a great panic here, but will do my best to restore confidence by a show of strength.”

On the 27th February, Gen. Lovell notified the Secretary of War that he had sent “eight regiments and two batteries from his department, besides five hundred shot guns,” and added: “People are beginning to complain that I have stripped the department so completely; but I have called upon Gov. Moore for 10,000 volunteers and militia for State service. Raw troops with double-barrelled shot guns are amply sufficient to hold our entrenchments against such troops as the enemy can send to attack them.”

In the same letter he adverted to the fact that he had “furnished Gens. Johnston and Polk large supplies.” In his letter of March 6th he stated:

This Department is being completely drained of everything. We have filled requisitions for arms, men and munitions, until New Orleans is about defenceless. In return we get nothing; Mobile and Pensacola, even Galveston, are defended by ten-inch columbiads, while this city has nothing above an eight-inch, and but few of them. The fortified line about the city is complete, but I have taken ten of the guns for the navy, and sixteen for the vessels that we are fitting up for the river expedition. My reliance to defend these lines will be with militia with double-barrelled guns and 32-pound carronades. If now you take the powder from me, we shall be in no condition to resist. The only thing to provide is a sufficiency of powder, to enable us to resist a prolonged attack of ships and mortar boats upon two points, Forts Pike and Macomb, and Forts Jackson and St. Philip. If the first are passed, we still have a land defence to make; if the last, a fleet can proceed at once to the city.

On the 9th, Gen. Lovell again wrote, after enumerating the troops sent away:

You will thus perceive that this Department has been completely stripped of every organized body of troops. Persons are found here who assert that I am sending away all troops so that the city may fall an easy prey to the enemy. All requisitions for ammunition have been filled, until I have none left, except what is in the hands of troops. Neither have I funds placed at my disposal to create supplies in place of those sent off. If the enemy intends an attack here, he will make it soon, and I [249] hope no further calls will be made until we are placed in a defensible condition.

While this correspondence was going on between Gen. Lovell and the War Department, we shall see what had become of the naval structures in the harbour, that were calculated, as the Richmond authorities claimed, to allay all the fears of Gen. Lovell, and to assure, in any circumstances, the safety of New Orleans. Mr. Benjamin, the Secretary of War, had written to Gen. Lovell: “From the recent experiment of the Virginia, and what I hear of the steamers of New Orleans, I feel confident that if even one of them can be got ready before you are attacked, she will disperse and destroy any fleet the enemy can gather in the river, above or below. The naval officers say that Tift's steamer is far superiour to the Virginia.”

In the report of Mr. Mallory, Secretary of the Navy, made to the Confederate Congress on the 27th of February, 1862, he had made the following statement: “There are now being constructed at New Orleans two large and formidable iron-plated steamships, of about fourteen hundred tons each, designed for the carrying of twenty of the heaviest guns. One of these, the Louisiana, has been launched, and is nearly completed, and the other, it is believed, will be completed in six weeks.”

With reference to the construction of these vessels we may place here the testimony of Gov. Moore of Louisiana, taken before a secret committee of the Confederate Congress, not only for its interest to the immediate subject, but for its curious explanation of the way the affairs of the Confederacy were managed. The following are extracts from his testimony:

My first active interposition, of which any record is kept, was on the 26th of February, 1862. Several weeks prior to that date I had been aware that the work on the ram Mississippi was not being prosecuted with the vigour and energy that our danger seemed to me to require. Many merchants and business men of New Orleans, and particularly the Committee of Public Safety, had spoken to me of the slow progress of the work, but I had refrained from any interference, except verbal expressions. of my dissatisfaction to the Commanding General, (Lovell) who in turn assured me he had nothing to do with the work. At length the excuse was given for this torturing want of vigour, that the work could not proceed faster for want of funds. The Navy Department had not paid its obligations, and, in consequence, had lost credit. I therefore telegraphed the Treasury Department as follows:

The Navy Department here owes nearly a million. Its credit is stopped. If you wish, I will place two millions of dollars on account of the war tax, to the credit of the Government, so that the debts can be paid, and the works continued.

[Signed] Thomas 0. Moore, Governor.

One of the causes of the delay in completing the Mississippi was the insufficient [250] number of hands employed. I had long been sensible of this, but there was no officer of the Government who seemed to feel authorized to interpose. I learned in April the excuse given was, that they could not be obtained, and I instantly addressed a letter to the ship-builders, of which the following is an extract. Its date is April 15th. “ The great importance of having at once completed the steam-ram Mississippi, induces me to call on you to render Mr. Tift, the builder, all the assistance that can be advantageously employed for that purpose. It may be that the ship, completed and fitted in fifteen days, as we hope will be done, may be worth to us as much, and perhaps more, than fifty thousand soldiers, as it is believed that she could clear the river of the whole United States navy.” A large addition of workmen was instantly made, the ship-builders furnishing as many men as the Tifts were willing to receive.

Another cause of the delay was a failure of the Tifts to comprehend the fact that the city was in danger. I did not know, until after the city had fallen, that even if the wood-work had been completed, the means were not at hand to put her in fighting condition. I was subsequently informed that at the time the city fell, the plates for the ram were being manufactured in Atlanta, and her guns were scattered along the railroad from Weldon to Jackson, which latter place they did not reach until weeks afterward.

In the month of April, 1862, the condition of the defences of New Orleans was as follows: As against a land attack by any force the enemy could probably bring, the interiour line of fortifications, as adopted and completed by Major-Gen. Lovell, was a sufficient defence of the city, but his ability to hold that line against such an attack was greatly impaired by the withdrawal from him, by superiour authority, of nearly all his effective troops. The exteriour line was well devised, and rendered as strong as the means of his command allowed. But the iron-clad gunboats, Louisiana and Mississippi, were not ready for service. In this extremity it was indispensably necessary to obstruct the navigation of the Mississippi River between Forts Jackson and St. Philip; and to do this, a raft was completed under Gen. Lovell's direction. It consisted of a line of eleven dismasted schooners, extending from bank to bank, strongly moored, and connected by six heavy chains.

The Federal fleet which threatened New Orleans, consisted of forty-six sail, carrying two hundred and eighty-six guns and twenty-one mortars; the whole under the command of Flag-officer Farragut. The raft constructed by Gen. Lovell was placed about a mile below Forts Jackson and St. Philip. Unfortunately, a chasm was rent in it by a severe storm; and on the 16th of April, the enemy slowly steamed up the stream in strong force, and prepared to attack the forts.

Still there was no alarm in New Orleans, as it was popularly supposed that the enemy only intended a bombardment of the forts, and would accomplish but little in such an enterprise. Festivity prevailed in the city. Balls, parties, theatres, operas, and the like were the incidents of every twenty-four hours. Thousands flocked down the river, and on the levees viewed the bombardment with evident pleasure, for it was soon ascertained [251] that the enemy's fire was inaccurate, and that few, if any, of their eleven-inch shell ever touched the forts. At night, the greatest vigilance was maintained, to inform commanders of the enemy's movements. On the 23d of April, the terrific bombardment had continued a whole week; the enemy had thrown over twenty-five thousand shells; and Gen. Duncan reported that two of his guns in Fort Jackson were dismounted; half a dozen killed and wounded was the total loss, and the works were as sound as ever.

The evening of the 23d of April closed without unusual incident. Our defences were thought to be impassable, and strong hopes were entertained that Farragut would soon give up the conflict as fruitless and abortive. Towards three o'clock on the morning of the 24th, the enemy's vessels were descried creeping up the river in full force, and as they steamed abreast of the forts were received with deafening roars from our artillery. The conflict became furious. Through a storm of fire the ships passed on, Farragut leading in the Hartford. They had not proceeded far when they encountered the Confederate fleet, consisting of seventeen vessels in all, only about eight of which were armed. The Confederate gunboats carried, some of them, two guns, and others only one. Nevertheless, they fought with desperation against the enemy's overwhelming force, until they were all driven on shore and scuttled or burned by their commanders. The Louisiana was unmanageable, and could only use two of her nine guns; so when it was perceived that nothing could prevent the enemy from breaking our line, she was run ashore, and blown up, although the enemy's broadsides had not injured her in the least. The Governor Moore, another of our boats, commanded by the brave Capt. Kennon, acted nobly among the enemy's twelve heavy sloops-of-war and gunboats, and fired its last cartridge at point-blank range, but was also run ashore and blown up, to prevent capture.

The scene of confusion that ensued in New Orleans, when the people, on the morning of the 24th of April, awoke to the news that the enemy's fleet had passed the forts, and were actually approaching the city, defies all description. People were amazed, and could scarcely realize the awful fact, and ran hither and thither in speechless astonishment. Very soon the flames seen issuing from shipyards in Algiers and other places, convinced them that the news was authentic, and that Government officers were then busily engaged destroying everything that was likely to be of value to the enemy. The unfinished Mississippi and other vessels were scuttled or fired, ammunition destroyed, and shot sunk in the river. The people, on their part, proceeded to the various cotton-presses, rolled out thousands of bales, and applied the torch; countless cotton ships were also sunk or fired, and steamboats by the dozen similarly destroyed. The roar of cannon sounded in the distance; the heat of the sun, and conflagrations in [252] every direction, made the atmosphere oppressively hot, while dense columns of smoke darkened the air. It was a scene of terrible grandeur. The baleful glare of the conflagration struggled in rivalry with the sunlight; masses of smoke ascended grandly to the sky; great ships and steamers, wrapped in fire, floated down the river, threatening the Federal vessels with destruction by their fiery contact. And in this scene of dire and sublime destruction, there were perpetually tolled the alarm-bells of the city.

Having narrowly escaped capture in the naval engagement, Gen. Lovell rode rapidly by the Levee road, and arrived in town about two o'clock in the afternoon. Crowds gathered round him while he related the events of the engagement below, bearing testimony to the heroism of our little navy of indifferent vessels, and seeming bewildered at the unexpected calamity which had befallen him. He considered it advisable for his small force to retire without the limits of the city to avert a bombardment, and this idea was fully endorsed by the City Council. Accordingly, late in the day, his whole force, of not more than twenty-eight hundred effective men, departed by rail some fifteen miles above the city, with orders to keep within easy call in case of emergency.

The evacuation of the city by Gen. Lovell's troops was the signal for a new consternation, and another era of disorder in the city. Uproar and confusion continued throughout the day and all night, while now and then heavy guns could be heard down the river, as if the enemy was cautiously approaching, and firing at suspicious objects. Crowds of the poor were enjoying a rich harvest by the wholesale destruction of property, and scores of them could be seen with baskets, and bags, and drays, carrying off whatever plunder fell in their way. A low, murmuring voice filled the air — it was the conversation of assembled thousands. Some were for burning the city, rather than permit it to fall into the hands of the enemy; but the opinion prevailed that such foolish excesses should be at once put in check, and that the city, being entirely at the mercy of the foe, nothing should be done to provoke a bombardment.

On the morning of the 25th of April, Farragut's advance was observed steaming up towards the city. When abreast of the Chalmette batteries on both sides of the city, he was saluted with volleys from the earthworks, but, being uninjured, ran past and cast anchor at intervals before the city, with ports open, and every preparation made for a bombardment. Farragut then opened communication with the Mayor, and demanded the surrender of the city, together with Lovell's forces; but the latter were away, the city had been left under the exclusive jurisdiction of Mayor Monroe, and he avoided a formal surrender, declaring that if the enemy desired the removal of objectionable flags floating over the public buildings of New Orleans, he must do it by his own force. [253]

The correspondence touching the surrender of the city was protracted until the 28th of April. There was a purpose in this. The confidence of the people had, in a measure, rallied; there were yet glimpses of hope. As long as Forts St. Philip, Jackson, and the Chalmette batteries remained intact, it was thought that something might be done to save the city. The enemy's fleet had no forces with which to occupy it; his transports were unable to get up the river, as long as the forts held out. The enemy's land forces, under Gen. Butler, were at Ship Island and Mississippi City. Had he attempted to march overland upon New Orleans, the levees would have been cut, and his men drowned in the swamps.

But the last hope was to be extinguished. While Farragut and Mayor Monroe were exchanging angry letters of great length, the overwhelming news reached New Orleans, that Forts St. Philip and Jackson had surrendered to the enemy. The surrender was made in consequence of a mutiny of the garrisons. On examining his guns in Fort Jackson, Gen. Duncan found many spiked, several dismounted, and not less than three hundred men clamoring around him for a surrender. Remonstrances, threats, and entreaties were alike useless. In vain Gen. Duncan declared to the men that it would be an eternal shame to give up the works, provisioned as they were, and scarcely touched by the enemy. In vain he vowed that the forts were impregnable. In vain he promised that he would blow up all Butler's transports in a trice, if his men would only stand by him. The soulless creatures who disgraced the Confederate uniform had no reply to these arguments and appeals. Nothing would satisfy them but surrender. Ragged, dusty, powder-blackened, and exhausted, Duncan reached New Orleans, to tell the story of the great misfortune; and as he narrated it on the levee he wept, and the hundreds who listened to him were silent with amazement and shame.

Farragut, being informed of the surrender of the forts, was now anxious to expedite the full and formal surrender of the city, before the arrival of Butler with his transports. The correspondence with the Mayor had continued through several days. On the 28th of April, Farragut addressed his ultimatum to that officer, complaining of the continued display of the State flag of Louisiana on the City Hall, and concluding with a threat of the bombardment of the city, by notifying him to remove the women and children from its limits within forty-eight hours. The flag was not removed, and the threat was not fulfilled. On the 1st of May, Farragut reluctantly consented to send his own forces to take down the flag.

About noon, he sent on shore a party of two hundred marines with two brass howitzers, who marched through the streets and formed before the City Hall. The officer in command ascended to the dome of the building, and took down the objectionable State banner — the sign of all State rights. The act was done in profound silence; there were no idle utterances of [254] curiosity; indignation was impotent, and men with compressed lips and darkened brows witnessed the first ceremony of their humiliation, and saw erected above them the emblem of tyrannical oppression. A speechless crowd of many thousands thronged the streets; a line of bayonets glistened within the square; the marines stood statue-like; the very air was oppressive with stillness; and so, in dead silence, the Stars and Stripes were hoisted over New Orleans, and the city passed forever from the rule and power of the Confederates.

Thus, after an engagement the casualties of which might be counted by hundreds, fell New Orleans, with its population of one hundred and seventy thousand souls — the commercial capital of the South, and the largest exporting city in the world. It was a terrible disaster to the Confederacy. The fall of Donelson broke our centre in the West. The fall of New Orleans yet more sorely punished the vanity of the Confederates; annihilated their power in Louisiana; broke up their routes to Texas and the Gulf; closed their access to the richest grain and cattle country in the South; gave to the enemy a new base of operations; and, more than anything else, staggered the confidence of Europe in the fortunes of the Confederacy. 1 And yet these disasters were very far from deciding the war. [255] A train of Confederate victories was to follow them, and the attention of the world was now to be fixed upon the campaign in Virginia. [256]

But before passing to those memorable fields, we may glance at a sequel of the surrender of New Orleans, which, indeed, is among the most [257] remarkable records of the war. Any story of New Orleans is incomplete without the hero, Benjamin F. Butler. This man, who was to reap the fruits of the victory of the Federal fleet, and enact the part of military ruler in New Orleans, was an example of that reputation so easily made, in the North by brazen assertions, sensational dispatches, and coarse abuse of rebels. Gen. Butler had been a small lawyer in Massachusetts; his first experiment in politics was that of a Northern man with Southern principles; he was a delegate to the Charleston Convention of 1860, and he was accustomed to relate with singular satisfaction the circumstance that he had voted in that body, more than forty times, for Jefferson Davis as the nominee for President of the United States! When the war broke out, he was a ready convert to the popular doctrine in his State, and went in advance of it in his expressions of ferocity towards the people of the South. He had already made himself infamous in Baltimore by his war upon non-combatants; by browbeating quiet citizens; by examining courts in which the severity of the military judge was curiously mingled with the peculiar skill and disreputable adroitness of the pettifogger; and by his quick and apt invention of various instruments of moral torture. The appearance of the man was extraordinary and revolting. He had small, muddy, cruel eyes; one of them was curtained by a drooping lid; and there was a smothered glower in them indicative of ill-contained and violent passion. The other of his features were almost covered up in enormous chops, with little webs of red veins in them; and the whole expression of his face was that of a lecherous coarseness and a cunning ferocity.

Such was the tyrant of New Orleans. He inaugurated his rule in the subdued city by the following order, directed against the women of New Orleans, which at once made his name infamous in all the Christian and civilized countries of the world, and obtained for him in the South the popular and persistent title of the “Beast:”

Headquarters, Department of Gulf, New Orleans, May 15.
As officers and soldiers of the United States have been subject to repeated insults from women calling themselves ladies, of New Orleans, in return for the most scrupulous non-interference and courtesy on our part, it is ordered hereafter, when any female shall by mere gesture or movement insult, or show contempt for any officers or soldiers of the United States, she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman about town plying her avocation.

By command of Maj.-Gen. Butler. Geo. C. Strong, A. A. G.

The infamous “woman-order” was the prelude to a rule in New Orleans that excited the horror and disgust of the civilized world. The [258] newspapers which declined to publish an edict so disreputable were threatened with suppression ; 2 and Mayor Monroe and some of the city authorities who ventured to protest against it, were arrested, shipped down to Fort Jackson, and for many months kept in confinement there. Then followed a series of acts of cruelty, despotism and indecency. Citizens accused of contumacious disloyalty, were confined at hard labour, with balls and chains attached to their limbs. Men, whose only offence was selling medicines to sick Confederate soldiers, were arrested and imprisoned. A physician who, as a joke, exhibited a skeleton in his window-as that of a Yankee soldier, was sentenced to be confined at Ship Island for two years, at hard labour. A lady, the wife of a former member of Congress of the United States, who happened to laugh as the funeral train of a Yankee officer passed her door, received this sentence: “It is, therefore, ordered that she be not ‘ regarded and treated as a common woman,’ of whom no officer or soldier is bound to take notice, but as an uncommon, bad, and dangerous woman, stirring up strife, and inciting to riot, and that, therefore, she be confined at Ship Island, in the State of Mississippi, within proper limits there, till further orders.” The distinction of sex seems only to [259] have been recognized by Butler as a cowardly opportunity for advantage. In his office, in the St. Charles Hotel, the inscription was placed in plain sight: “There is no difference between a he and a she adder in their venom.” His officers were allowed to indulge their rapacity and Just at will; they seized houses of respectable citizens, and made them the shops of infamous female characters; they appropriated the contents of wine-rooms; they plundered the wardrobes of ladies and gentlemen; they sent away from the city the clothing of whole families; they “confiscated” pianos, libraries, and whatever articles of luxury and ornament pleased their fancy, and sent them as presents and souvenirs to their friends at home. It was the era of plunder and ill-gotten gains. Fines were collected at pleasure. Recusants were threatened with ball and chain. A trade was opened in provisions for cotton, and Butler's own brother was made banker and broker of the corrupt operations, buying confiscated property, trading provisions and even military stores for cotton, and amassing out of the distress of an almost starving people fortunes of princely amount and villainous history. No wonder that the principal of these outrages lived in perpetual alarm for the safety of his life. It was said that he wore secret armour. He certainly was never for a moment without an armed guard. Sentinels walked in five paces of him ; and when he sat in his office, several pistols lay beside him, and a chair allotted to the visitor was chained to the wall while a pistol capped but unloaded was placed, as if carelessly, within reach, as a cunning decoy to the supposed assassin. 3

A shocking incident of Butler's despotism in New Orleans was the execution of William B. Mumford, a citizen of the Confederate States, charged with the singular crime of having taken the Federal flag from the United States Mint, which was done before the city had surrendered, and was, in any circumstances, but an act of war. He was condemned to death for an insult to the enemy's ensign. It was scarcely to be believed that on such a charge a human life would be taken, deliberately and in cold blood. Butler was inexorable. The wife and children of the condemned man piteously plead for his life. Butler's answer was cruel and taunting. A number of citizens joined in a petition for mercy. Butler answered that [260] some vicious men in New Orleans had sent him defiant letters about Mumford's fate; that an issue had been raised, that it was “to be decided whether he was to govern in New Orleans or not” --and he decided it by keeping the word he had first pronounced, and sending Mumford to the gallows.

The condemned man was one of humble station in life, and was said to have been of dissipated habits. But he was faultlessly brave. On the gallows the suggestion was made to him that he might yet save his life by a humiliating and piteous confession. He replied to the officer who thus tempted him: “Go away.” He turned to the crowd, and said, with a distinct and steady voice: “I consider that the manner of my death will be no disgrace to my wife and children; my country will honour them.” More than a thousand spectators stood around the gallows; they could not believe that the last act of the tragedy was really to be performed; they looked on in astonished and profound silence.

Before the era of Butler in New Orleans, the Confederates had had a large and instructive experience of the ferocity of their enemies, and their disregard of all the rules of war and customs of civilization. At Manassas and Pensacola the Federals had repeatedly and deliberately fired upon hospitals. In the naval battle in Hampton Roads, they had hung out a white flag, and then opened a perfidious fire upon our seamen. At Newbern they had attempted to shell a town containing several thousand women and children, before either demanding a surrender, or giving the citizens notice of their intentions. They had broken faith on every occasion of expediency; they had disregarded flags of truces; they had stolen private property; they had burned houses, and desecrated churches; they had stripped widows and orphans of death's legacies by a barbarous law of confiscation; they had overthrown municipalities and State Governments; they had imprisoned citizens, without warrant and regardless of age or sex; and they had set at defiance the plainest laws of civilized warfare.

Butler's government in New Orleans, and his “ingenious” war upon the helplessness of men and virtue of women was another step in atrocity. The Louisiana soldiers in Virginia went into battle, shouting: “Remember Butler!” It was declared that the display of Federal authority in the conquered city of New Orleans was sufficient to make the soldiers of the South devote anew whatever they had of life and labour and blood to the cause of the safety and honour of their country. And yet it was but the opening chapter of cruelty and horrours, exaggerated at each step of the war, until Humanity was to stand aghast at the black volume of misery and ruin.

1 The following document, put in our possession, discusses the evacuation of New Orleans in a military point of view, in a very intelligible style that will interest the general reader, and completes in all respects the story of the disaster:

Major-General Lovell's reasons for evacuating New Orleans.

I determined to evacuate the city, when the enemy succeeded in passing the forts, for the following reasons: The principal and almost entire concentration of strength in guns, men, and ships, had been made at that point. It had been selected as the spot where the battle for the defence of New Orleans, against a fleet coming up the river, should be fought, and everything available for the defence below, both ashore and afloat, had been collected there, except the twelve guns on the river at the lower interior line, which had been put there to flank that line. The obstructions had been placed there, and, until swept away, had been a complete bar to the passage of a hostile fleet, and the Naval and River Defence officers had brought to bear at that point all their available strength; and although New Orleans was still in condition to resist any attack by land, yet when, after six days and nights of incessant conflict, the forts were passed, and all our defences afloat were either burnt or sunk, I knew that there was no material obstacle to prevent the fleet from proceeding at once to the city, and that all the guns, forts, and men on the other ten or twelve water approaches would go for nought.

The twelve guns in the open earthworks at the lower line had but twenty rounds of powder each (the remainder having been given to the Louisiana), and could offer no serious resistance to a fleet which had already passed more than one hundred guns in masonry works, better manned, and amply supplied with powder.

The city was surrounded by swamps, and there was but one outlet by land, viz., through the narrow neck between the river and Lake Pontchartrain. At Kenner, on the Mississippi, ten miles above the city, the firm ground between the river and swamp which borders the lake is narrowed to about three quarters of a mile, through which passes the Jackson Railroad. The river at this time was full to the tops of the levees, and a single one of their large ships of war, by anchoring at this point, would have commanded with her broadsides (at point-blank range) the only land exit from New Orleans, sweeping with her guns (which would have been higher than the surface of the country) every foot of ground between the river and the lake.

The obstructions placed across the Rigolets at Fort Pike had been swept away in a storm shortly before by some vessels which had broken adrift, and there was an open channel fully as wide as the Mississippi River into Lake Pontchartrain, which could easily be passed by the enemy at night. Such a movement, in connection with the placing of one or more ships at Kenner, would have completely surrounded New Orleans, cutting off all communications by land or water with the interiour. My efforts to accumulate provisions enough in the city to feed the population had proved abortive, and an examination made a few days previous to the evacuation, had satisfied me that there were not in the city provisions enough to sustain the population for more than eighteen days. Taking it for granted that the enemy would occupy Kenner, as, indeed, he did in a few days, we should have been starved into a surrender in less than three weeks, for when the hostile fleet anchored in front of the city, we were entirely cut off from Texas and Red River-our main sources of supply.

I had more than three months rations available for my troops (less than three thousand men), but this would have answered but a few days for more than one hundred and fifty thousand persons. Some of the steamers at the levee had been destroyed, and a number had fled up the river, so that the Jackson Railroad was the only means of transportation for removing the women, children, and non-combatants from the city, which removal it would have required months to accomplish. In the vicinity of New Orleans, and for many miles above, there was nothing but swamps filled with water, in which the families could take refuge, and, moreover, a great portion of the male protectors of these families were absent with our armies in Tennessee and Virginia, and, of course, could not superintend their removal. The plan, therefore, of removing the non-combatants, and remaining with the troops, was entirely impracticable. Thirteen of the enemy's ships were anchored abreast of the city with their guns looking down the streets, which they could have swept to the swamps in rear of the houses, or set on fire at a number of points, and had I continued to occupy it with troops, they would have been justified by the laws of war in opening fire after due notice to the women and children to withdraw from danger. I knew that they had not, and could not have for several days, any land forces to take possession, and having determined, for the reasons above stated, to evacuate the city, I thought it best to remove the troops at once and speedily, and thus convert New Orleans from a military position into that of an ungarrisoned city. By so doing, I should deprive the enemy of all pretext for a wanton and useless sacrifice of life and property, and as they were unable to occupy it, I would have a number of days for the undisturbed removal of the vast amount of public property which was on hand at that time. My troops, however, were placed at Camp Moore, only four hours run from the city by rail, and I could have reoccupied it at any time for several days after the evacuation, if it had been deemed advisable. Had I regarded the outside popular clamor that would ensue, I should have subjected the people of New Orleans to a bombardment; but I did not think myself justified for such a purpose in spilling the blood of women and children, when I knew that in two or three weeks at farthest, want of food for the inhabitants would compel me to evacuate the city, or, if that had been then impossible, to surrender.

I spoke to the Mayor, several members of the City Council, and many prominent citizens, on the subject, and while none seemed unwilling to undergo any danger, if by so doing they could arrive at favourable results, yet all, without exception, under the circumstances, approved of and advised the withdrawal of the troops.

In determining upon the evacuation, I necessarily, as soon as the enemy's fleet had passed the forts, regarded the position the same as if both their army and navy were present before the city, making due allowance simply for the time it would take them to transport their army up; inasmuch as their ships, having passed Forts Jackson and St. Philip, they could at once place themselves in open and uninterrupted communication with their army at points from six to twenty miles above the forts, through various small water communications from the Gulf, made more available by the extraordinary height of the river, and which, while we were in possession of the latter, I had easily and without risk defended with launches and a part of the River Defence fleet. I had also stationed Skymnanski's Regiment at Quarantine for the same object. These, however, were all destroyed or captured by the enemy's fleet, after they got possession of the river between the forts and the city.

There was a further and very important reason for the course which I pursued. I knew that if I remained in New Orleans, we should in all probability lose in a short time troops, guns, and supplies of all kinds, and the enemy would then be in full possession of the river as far as Memphis, which eventually fell also into their hands. By withdrawing my command, however, I would be enabled to fortify, arm, and garrison Vicksburg, a strong and defensible position. On the 17th of April I had written to Gen. Beauregard, recommending the fortification of Vicksburg, and asking him for an engineer officer; and two days after the evacuation I advised the adjutant-general at Richmond, Gen. Cooper, that I should occupy that place and Jackson. I sent thither a number of heavy guns and quantities of ammunition, with the artillerists from the various forts near New Orleans, and sent Gen. Smith, with a brigade of infantry, to take command of the whole. The officers, troops, and guns which held Vicksburg last summer, were almost entirely the same which I withdrew from New Orleans, rather than remain and submit to an inevitable surrender.

Results have fully proved the wisdom of the military policy pursued by me in collecting all the means in Department No. One and taking a new and stronger position on the Mississippi River.

The evacuation of New Orleans and its occupation by the enemy, would necessarily be followed sooner or later by the abandonment of the several forts and small works on the exterior line, which were erected principally to defend the approaches to that city, and after its evacuation could no longer serve any useful purpose, as the position of the enemy (in the river abreast the city) gave him control of the Opelousas Railroad, thus enabling him to get in rear of the works at Barrataria Bay, Grand Caillou, Bayou Lafourche, and Berwick Bay, by which he could cut off and capture all the garrison, with small arms, ammunition, and stores, all of which were greatly needed at that time. I directed them to be abandoned at once. The officers in command were ordered to report with the troops and all transportable supplies at Camp Moore or Vicksburg. Some of them complied with the order, but a portion of the garrison, after marching part of the way, refused to go further, and, in spite of their officer, disbanded, and went to New Orleans.

Forts Jackson and St. Philip surrendered in consequence of a mutiny among the men on the 28th of April. Forts Pike and Macomb were abandoned without my orders. When I returned to the city from the lower forts on the 24th, I directed Col. Fuller, who was in command of the works on the lakes, which comprised Forts Pike and Macomb, to have everything ready to abandon those forts, in case I should so order it. Supposing that the enemy would occupy Kenner, and thus deprive me of the use of the Jackson Railroad, it was my intention to remove the troops, supplies, etc., across Lake Pontchartrain to Pass Manchac and Madisonville, holding the entrance to that lake by the fort as long as possible. The enemy, however, did not interfere with the railroad at Kenner, and the greater part of the men and public property were removed by rail. I went to Camp Moore on the night of the 25th to arrange matters there, and on the morning of the 27th I received information that Col. Fuller had arrived at Covington, La., with the garrison of Forts Pike and Macomb. This was the first knowledge I had of the abandonment of those works. I immediately directed them to be reoccupied, and sent a letter to Capt. Poindexter of the navy, in command of the ships on the lake, requesting his cooperation in this movement. Col. Fuller replied on the 28th that the forts had been dismantled, the guns spiked, and the carriages destroyed, and that it was impossible to reoccupy them. I was officially informed of the surrender of Forts Jackson and St. Philip on the morning of the 29th, and deemed it, therefore, useless to make any further attempt to reoccupy Forts Pike and Macomb. The cisterns in the two last-named works only held water enough to serve the garrison a short time, and had to be supplied by steamers from a distance. They could not have held out for any great length of time for this reason, and I deemed it best to save their garrisons (composed of well-drilled artillerists) for the works at Vicksburg, where they have ever since rendered such good service. But it was not intended to abandon them so soon, nor, indeed, till I had transferred all the public property from New Orleans.

2 The following appeared in a Southern newspaper during the days of Butler's rule in New Orleans:

Considering the character of the infamous order issued, with reference to the ladies of New Orleans, the following will be thought a well-designed act of retributive justice. Preparations were making for a dress-parade, and a number of officers had congregated in front of the St. Charles, Butler's headquarters. A handsome carriage was driven in front of the hotel, accompanied by servants in livery, with every sign of wealth and taste in the owner of the equipage. The occupant, dressed in the latest fashion and sparkling with jewelry, drew from her pocket her gold card-case, and taking therefrom her card, sent it up to Butler's rooms. The next day himself and lady called at the residence indicated on the card — a fine mansion in a fashionable part of the city — where a couple of hours were agreeably spent in conversation, followed by the introduction of wine and cake, when the highly-delighted visitors took their departure. Butler did not appreciate the fact that he had been made the victim of a successful “sell,” until he learned shortly afterwards that he had been paying his respects to the proprietress of one of the most celebrated bagnios in the State, who is at this time “ considered a woman of the town, plying her vocation as such.”

As a matter of justice-or as a specimen of ingenious quibbling, as the reader may decide-we should not omit Gen. Butler's explanation and attempted justification of his “woman-order.” The author of these pages, in the painful character of a prisoner of war, had, once, occasion to meet Gen. Butler, and to have some conversation with him, in the course of which Gen. B. volunteered a long defence of his rule in New Orleans. He declared that as to the “woman-order,” when Lord Palmerston denounced it in the British Parliament, he might, if he had turned to the Ordinances of London, have found that it had been borrowed from that ancient and respectable authority. The “Ladies” of New Orleans, he said, did not interfere with his troops; it was the demi-monde that troubled him. One of this class had spat in an officer's face. Another had placed herself vis-a-vis to an officer in the street, exclaiming, “La, here is a Yankee; don't he look like a monkey!” It became necessary to adopt an order that “would execute itself,” and have these women treated as street-walkers. “How do you treat a street-walker?” said Gen. Butler; “you don't hug and kiss her in the street!,” The General explained that he meant only that these women were to be treated with those signs of con tempt and contumely usually bestowed upon street-walkers, so as to make them ashamed of themselves; and it was thus the order “executed itself.”

3 We are indebted to James Parton, a Northern biographer of Butler, for mention of this ingenious device. Parton thus describes the arrangements of his hero's office, while transacting

The office was a large room, furnished with little more than a long table and a few chairs. In one corner, behind the table, sat, unobserved, a short-hand reporter, who, at a signal from the General, would take down the examination of an applicant or an informer. The General began business by placing his pistol upon the table, within easy reach. After the detection of two or three plots to assassinate him, one of the aides caused a little shelf to be made under the table for the pistol, while another pistol, unloaded, lay upon the table, which any gentleman, disposed to attempt the game of assassination, was at liberty to snatch.

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