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Chapter 12: administration of finances, politics, and justice.--recall.

  • Becomes his own “Secretary of the Treasury
  • -- debased condition of the currency -- Compelling the Banks to pay out specie -- curbstone dealers in Confederate money -- their course a reliable news barometer -- Street disturbances -- case of Mrs. Larue -- no money to pay the troops -- Farragut's appeal for influence -- Adams express company called on -- an Army self-supported -- Banks' subsequent troubles -- “General Butler didn't give reasons for his orders ” -- the confiscation acts enforced among the planters -- congressional election -- Count Mejan, the French consul -- Major Bell administers justice -- Intimations of recall -- Napoleon's demand and Seward's compliance -- General Banks arrives -- Butler in Washington, seeking reasons -- interviews with Lincoln, Stanton and Seward -- double-dealing of the latter shown -- farewell address -- Davis proclaims Butler a felon and an outlaw -- ,000 reward -- Lincoln desires Butler's services -- return to Lowell

One of the most important matters which pressed upon me immediately after my occupation of the city was the condition of the currency. It was absolutely necessary for the successful administration of my department in New Orleans that I should at once make an imperium in imperio, in which somebody must assume the role of “secretary of the treasury.” Who should it be but the general commanding?

Both before the war and after it began the banks of New Orleans had been conducted upon an exceedingly conservative basis. They were very strong. They had never, in any troublesome times, suspended specie payments, and after the outbreak of the war, when Confederate treasury notes became the money of the treasury, the banks of New Orleans refused to receive them or pay them out as money.

A contest followed between the Confederate treasury and the banks. It lasted until September, 1861, when the banks succumbed to the harsh measures of the Richmond government and began to deal in Confederate notes, receiving and paying them at the counter as money. The consequence of this was that they accumulated a large quantity of gold, and many of them, especially the Citizens' Bank, placed abroad large amounts of gold in exchange. Besides this, the banks had something rising thirteen millions of dollars in gold or silver in their vaults when the bombardment of the forts began.

After Farragut came before the city, the banks disposed of about six and one half millions of their specie by sending it up the river into the Confederacy. They called in all their bills possible, and paid out and received nothing but Confederate money. [505]

By my proclamation, as previously shown, I had promised protection inviolate to all private property except so far as it became necessary to take it for public use under the laws of the United States.

Nothing could be done in New Orleans before I got there without the aid of the negroes, and as soon as I came, the negroes came and told me everything they had done, and always truthfully. They told me where one banker had built up in the walls of his house a vault containing fifty thousand dollars. They told me whereto outside money had been sent; that the Dutch consul had eight hundred thousand Mexican dollars concealed in his consulate; that the French consul had some three or four millions in his; that some of

Richmond, Va., in 1861, from a sketch.

the banks had concealed large sums of money behind the altars of the churches and in the tombs.

This left the currency of the people in the most horrible condition. Omnibus tickets, car tickets, drinking-house shinplasters and Confederate notes,--the latter depreciated some seventy per cent. by the capture of New Orleans,--were the only mediums of exchange of products. Of course it was my duty to stop the circulation of Confederate notes and money, because that circulation gave credit to the Confederacy to whatever amount was circulated.

In my first interview with the city government I yielded to the entreaties of the people and the representations of Mr. Soule of the great distress I should bring upon poor people if I forbade the [506] use of Confederate currency, because without it they would have no means of transacting business or buying things. Such was the state of distress that a gentleman who bought a cup of coffee at the French market and paid down a dollar, received for change — all that he could get,--nineteen car tickets. I stated, however, that my order permitting the circulation of Confederate money would be only temporary.

The presidents of some of the banks called upon me to know if my proclamation holding free from confiscation the gold and silver of banks, would be carried out by myself and forces. I told them that gold and silver were private property, and were to be held inviolate like any other private property under my proclamation.

“But,” I said, “the private property must be in the hands of its owners and held in the usual course of business. If it is concealed, hid away so that it cannot be in public or private use, I shall hold that that is not within my proclamation. Therefore, you gentlemen who have got your gold concealed behind the altars, in the tombs, or elsewhere, better get it back into your vaults. There it will be safe. If I find it elsewhere I shall not recognize it as your property. But I now give you an opportunity to get it, and when you do get it, certify to me that you have it, and the amount of it.”

They did go and get it. The getting of it became known, and it was published that I was searching among the tombstones and altars for money.

I told them further that I should hold it to be their duty to use that property and go on with their business of banking, holding the specie as security for their bills so that there could be a currency for use in the city. I was then asked by the bankers if they could get back the specie they had sent off, and was requested to grant safe conduct of the same to the city. I told them that I certainly would give a safe conduct for bringing it back. But the rebels, however, had already seized all of it they could get.

The cashier of one bank asked a safe conduct to go up on one of the boats which went to the Red River for provisions. He did not give me to understand what he was going to do. What he did do was to go up and get three hundred and fifty thousand dollars of the gold of his bank and bring it down packed in barrels of beef. [507]

I ascertained that all but three banks had gold enough with which to redeem every bill that they had issued which was then in circulation in New Orleans. One of the banks, the one whose money was up Red River, was made good by bringing that back. Notwithstanding this, the banks endeavored to make money by redeeming their bills in Confederate money. I accordingly issued, on the 16th of May, the following General Order No. 29:--

New Orleans, May 16, 1862.
I. It is hereby ordered that neither the city of New Orleans, nor the banks thereof, exchange their notes, bills, or obligations for Confederate notes, bills, or bonds, nor issue any bill, note, or obligation payable in Confederate notes.

II. On the 27th day of May inst., all circulation of, or trade in, Confederate notes and bills will cease within this department; and all sales or transfers of property made on or after that day, in consideration of such notes or bills, directly or indirectly, will be void and the property confiscated to the United States, one fourth thereof to go to the informer.

Now, the banks had very large amounts of Confederate notes, which they had received as money on deposit at its gold value, and the question was: On whom is this great loss by the depreciation of Confederate notes to fall? The banks at once took measures that the loss should fall upon the people; they issued a series of notices, in various forms, by which people were notified that they must draw all balances of accounts they had in the banks, before the 27th of May, the date on which the Confederate notes would be no longer of any exchangeable value in the market. I thought it was my duty to interfere with such performances and make the banks bear the loss. Thereupon I issued the following General Order No. 30:--

New Orleans, May 19, 1862.
It is represented to the commanding general that great distress, privation, suffering, hunger, and even starvation has been brought upon the people of New Orleans and vicinage by the course taken by the banks and dealers in currency.

He has been urged to take measures to provide, as far as may be, for the relief of the citizens, so that the loss may fall, in part, at least, on those who have caused and ought to bear it. [508]

The general sees with regret that the banks and bankers causelessly suspended specie payments in September last, in contravention of the laws of the State and of the United States. Having done so, they introduced Confederate notes as currency, which they bought at a discount, in place of their own bills, receiving them on deposit, paying them out for their discounts, and collecting their customers' notes and drafts in them as money, sometimes even against their will, thus giving these notes credit and a wide general circulation, so that they were substituted in the hands of the middling men, the poor and unwary, as currency, in place of that provided by the Constitution and laws of the country, or of any valuable equivalent.

The banks and bankers now endeavor to take advantage of the re-establishment of the authority of the United States here, to throw the depreciation and loss from this worthless stuff of their creation and fostering upon their creditors, depositors, and bill-holders.

They refuse to receive these bills while they pay them over their counters.

They require their depositors to take them.

They change the obligation of contracts by stamping their bills, “redeemable in Confederate notes.”

They have invested the savings of labor and the pittance of the widow in this paper.

They sent away or hid their specie, so that the people could have nothing but these notes (which they now depreciate) with which to buy bread.

All other property has become nearly valueless from the calamities of this iniquitous and unjust war, begun by rebellious guns turned on the flag of our prosperous and happy country floating over Fort Sumter. Saved from the general ruin by the system of financiering, bank stocks alone are now selling at great premiums in the market, while the stockholders have received large dividends.

To equalize, as far as may be, this general loss; to have it fall, at least in part, where it ought to lie; to enable the people of this city and vicinage to have a currency which shall at least be a semblance to that which the wisdom of the Constitution provides for all citizens of the United States, it is therefore ordered :--

I. That the several incorporated banks pay out no more Confederate notes to their depositors or creditors, but that all deposits be paid in the bills of the bank, United States treasury notes, gold or silver.

II. That all private bankers, receiving deposits, pay out to their depositors only the current bills of city banks, or United States treasury notes, gold or silver. [509]

III. That the savings banks pay to their depositors or creditors only gold, silver, or United States treasury notes, current bills of city banks, or their own bills, to an amount not exceeding one third of their deposits, and of denomination not less than one dollar, which they are authorized to issue, and for the redemption of which their assets shall be held liable.

IV. The incorporated banks are authorized to issue bills of a less denomination than five dollars, but not less than one dollar, anything in their charters to the contrary notwithstanding, and are authorized to receive Confederate notes for any of their bills until the 27th of May inst.

V. That all persons and firms having used small notes or “shinplasters,” so called, are required to redeem them on presentation at their places of business, between the hours of 9 A. M. and 3 P. M., either in gold, silver, United States treasury notes, or current bills of city banks, under penalty of confiscation of their property and sale thereof, for the purpose of redemption of the notes so issued, or imprisonment for a term of hard labor.

VI. Private bankers may issue notes of denominations not less than one nor more than ten dollars, to two thirds of the amount of specie which they show to a commissioner appointed from these headquarters, in their vaults actually kept there for the purpose of redemption of such notes.

The effect of that order upon the people was marvellous. The whole commercial and trading community was at once relieved. The reaction was visible and an air of cheerfulness and hope was noticeable everywhere. Business resumed its channels and trade was generally reopened. One gentleman, a strong secessionist, said to a member of my staff that that order was equal to a reinforcement of twenty thousand men to the army of New Orleans.

The influence of that order and my action in regard to feeding the poor and cleaning the streets of the city and other just measures of the administration, Union people said, would have caused a general manifestation of Union sentiments in New Orleans during that summer, save that the continual bad news from the army of McClellan on the peninsula made them afraid that the Union control of New Orleans would be short; and that view of the war was fostered continually by telegrams from Richmond giving the most glorious accounts of the destruction of McClellan's army. The rebels had telegraphic communication from Richmond to a point within forty miles of the city on the opposite side of Lake Pontchartrain, and [510] thence by the use of fishing-boats, spies, and secret communications, generally known as the “grapevine telegraph,” the news came to the rebels. To me, no authentic information came from Washington or the North under fifteen days, and newspapers were eight and ten days old when I received them.

On the 25th of June a despatch came from Richmond “via grapevine,” which was believed by all the secessionists, that McClellan with forty thousand men had been captured and carried into Richmond. Shortly afterwards another despatch came, reporting that Washington had been taken and that an officer of the New Orleans Washington Artillery had raised the Confederate flag on the Capitol.

These sensational despatches were hardly worse than some which were authentic, as far as I could understand the campaign on the peninsula. Having commanded there, I knew the situation well. The fact that the Army of the Potomac, the great army on which the safety of the republic almost depended, was waiting around Yorktown in the swamp, attacking it with spades and shovels in schoolboy engineer fashion, while the Confederates were concentrating all their forces for the defence of Richmond, left me substantially without hope.

Although Confederate treasury notes under the order could not be paid out for any property, or pass from hand to hand as currency, yet they might be traded in by curbstone brokers. These were principally Jews, and as Benjamin, the Confederate Secretary of State, was a Jew, and his brother-in-law was a broker, I supposed there were some of the Jew brokers who would get true intelligence from Richmond. So, when these reports came, of which I could get no verification for weeks, I ascertained their truth by having a secret service man report whether the Jews were buying or selling Confederate notes. If they were buying when these reports of great successes came in, then something substantial had happened in favor of the Confederacy; if they were selling, then the reports were simply false and for the purpose of “bulling” Confederate notes in the market.

The speculators were very anxious to learn whether I believed the reports and they supposed that that would be shown by an exhibition of my fears, so that all sorts of tentative experiments were made on me. [511]

When the report came that McClellan had been captured, I happened to be at Baton Rouge. Upon its reception there was, as nearly as by any possibility there could be, an attempt to start a riot in New Orleans.

One man, a German bookseller, displayed in his windows a skeleton with a large label, “Chickahominy,” on it, and told my soldiers who inquired about it that it was a Yankee skeleton from Chickahominy.

Arrest of Mrs. Larue at New Orleans.

One Andrew, a cousin of my friend the Governor of Massachusetts, a high-toned gentleman (?), presented himself in the Louisiana Club with a breast-pin constructed of a thigh-bone of a Yankee killed on the Chickahominy, as he said.

A young woman, blonde and blue-eyed, wearing flowing silken curls and Confederate colors, white and red, was sent down St. Charles Street, at high noon, with a quantity of handbills containing the particulars of the capture of McClellan. She was followed by [512] a small crowd. A police officer attempted to arrest her for exciting a tumult in the streets. A man rushed out of a shoe store and shot the police officer. She called loudly and dramatically for rescue and protection. Some of my provost guard appeared on the scene, a sergeant laid about himself with his sword vigorously, and a hundred persons cried “Murder!” The woman was put into a cab and carried to the guardhouse.

Among the many things I found on my table the next morning were these cases to be dealt with. I knew at once the purpose of such performances, and I called the woman before me. A man appeared who claimed to be her husband, and I proceeded to a hearing. I asked her what she distributed those handbills for, wearing Confederate colors, and if she didn't put them on and go down street purposely. She said she did; “she felt very patriotic that day.”

“Well,” I said, “then I think your patriotism better be exhibited somewhere else, and I will send you to Ship Island to be confined there two years.”

Her husband then interposed and said she was his wife.

“Well,” I said, “why didn't you take care of her and prevent her from getting up a riot in the street?”

“I couldn't, General.”

“Well, you see I can.”

“It is a very tyrannical order.”

“Ah, who are you?”

John H. Larue.”

“And what is your occupation?”

“I am a sporting man, sir; I play cards for a living.”

“Ah, in my country such men are classed as vagrants, having no visible means of support, and we send such men to the House of Correction for six months as vagrants. I will send you to the Parish Prison for three.”

Next came Mr. Andrew.

“You are charged with having exhibited a breast-pin in the Louisiana Club, claiming that it was made of the thigh-bone of a Yankee killed on the Chickahominy. Did you exhibit such a breast-pin?”

“Yes, sir; I was wearing it.” [513]

“Did you say that it was made of the thigh-bone of a Yankee?”

“Yes; but that was not true, General.”

“ Then you added lying to your other accomplishments in trying to disgrace the army of your country. I will sentence you to hard labor on Ship Island for two years, and you will be removed in execution of this sentence.”

Then came Fidel Keller, who had exhibited what he called the skeleton of a “Chickahominy” Yankee and lied when he did so, and he was given the same term of hard labor, two years. All these sentences, as were all general and special orders of interest to the people of New Orleans, were published the next day in the Delta newspaper, which having been printed in the interest of secession, I had come to the conclusion should now be published in the interest of the United States.

By my proclamation I had made every owner of a building liable to have his building pulled down if any shot was fired at my soldiers from it. Therefore, I sent for the occupant of the shoe store from which, I was informed, the shot came, and for the owner of the building. I said to the owner:--

“Sir, a police officer was wounded by a shot fired from your building during an attempt to get up a riot a day or two ago. Show cause why the building should not come down.”

“General,” he said, “the shot was not fired from my building.”

“Show that fact,” I answered, “and your building is safe.”

“Here is my tenant, the owner of the shoe store from which the man rushed into the street and fired the shot.”

“Is this true?” I said, turning to the shop owner.

“Yes, General; the man rushed out and was on the sidewalk when he fired the shot; I saw him.”

“Do you know who he was?”

“Yes; I know the man.”

“Do you know his name?”

“Yes, General.”

“Who was he?”

“I sha'n't tell.”

“Very well, sir,” turning to the owner of the building, “your building is safe. But, Mr. Provost Marshal, put up a red flag and sell out the contents of this man's store at public auction to-morrow [514] morning at eleven o'clock, and advertise in the Delta; have the proceeds of the sale turned over to the Civil Fund.”

“But,” said the owner, “I will tell the name of the man.”

“But you have chosen not to tell, and he has probably run away. I am going to punish somebody that had a hand in this thing.”

The shop was seized, its contents sold, and the money turned over.

It is needless to say that the next morning New Orleans resumed its former quiet, feeling that the commanding general at least was not frightened by these reports and apparently intended to stay there long enough to have the two years sentences worked out.

Indeed, I was certain the reports were not true, because my curbstone cash barometer said so. In the face of this report, that the Rebellion had conquered, I found the tribe of Benjamin, the Jewish Secretary of State, were all selling, and not buying, Confederate notes.

I ordered weekly reports of the condition of the banks, and I was so certain of their solvency that I made the Citizens' Bank the place of deposit for all the funds that passed through my office, and used its bills in the payment of all transactions.

Meanwhile my troops had been left unpaid, some of them since the time they had left the North. That was not the worst of it: a paymaster had been sent down to pay, but he had not money enough to go around and he did not get his requisitions answered. Therefore the troops, a part being paid and the remainder not paid, were, as they might well be, almost in a state of insurrection. More than that, Farragut's fleet had not been paid at all, although if any men on earth deserved their pay it was his crew. Neither officers nor soldiers had had a dollar for the purchase of anything.

These new duties of the “secretary of the treasury” of my imperium must be performed. The admiral called upon me, explaining the destitution of the fleet. He said that he could get no answer from the Navy Department to his requisitions, and asked me, in his candid simplicity of character, to write to Washington, thinking that I might be more potent with the authorities there than he. [515]

“My letter upon such a subject would be simply referred to the Secretary of the Navy, so your matter wouldn't go along any faster on that account. How much money do you want, Admiral?”

He said he needed fifty thousand dollars in gold.

“Well, I have six or seven millions of gold subject to my order, it is hard if this necessity of yours cannot be relieved. Tell your purser to draw on me for fifty thousand dollars and you endorse the draft for the payment of your crew, and I will answer the requisition.”

“But,” said the admiral, “I can never pay this money, General.”

“Never you mind that, Admiral; I never expect you will; but it will be a voucher to me when I am called upon to settle my accounts with the Treasury Department that the money has gone for public service.”

The troops were being paid in greenbacks, and that made a difficulty because there were no greenbacks in New Orleans with which to pay them. The “secretary of the treasury” of my imperium was puzzled what to do, but at last he devised this financial expedient: The troops who were paid sent home to their families by Adams Express a very considerable part of the sums received, and the oldest troops were paid first, in greenbacks brought by the paymaster when he came. Now, if we could get those greenbacks which were to be sent back by express, we could get enough to pay the remaining troops. Therefore, I made an arrangement with the Adams Express Company that they should return to my paymaster all the greenbacks that the troops gave them to be sent home to New York and Boston, and that they were to answer for the amount as if the greenbacks had been carried there; and I gave them my personal draft for the amount. The arrangement was beneficial to the express company, because if the troops could not get their pay then, they could not send anything home, and the express company could not make its profit. So we kept using those greenbacks in paying, over and over, until all my troops were paid. The drafts were answered, and the express company was reimbursed.

No other such correspondence was ever had by a commanding general acting as his own secretary of the treasury, showing transactions by which crews of a fleet and soldiers could be paid where they had been left without pay. This condition of affairs was [516] owing in this case to the incompetency or carelessness of the Pay Department and perhaps in part to the inability of the national treasury to meet the demands. I take leave to insert the correspondence:--

headquarters Department of the Gulf, New Orleans, July 2, 1862.
Mr. Asa S. Blake, agent Adams express company:
Sir:--I hereby order you to furnish me with the sum of $25,000 at the earliest possible moment, for which amount I propose to give you a check on the Assistant Treasurer of the United States at New York; this in accordance with the terms proposed to you at our last interview, and I shall hold you for the above amount, as heretofore stated.

Respectfully yours,

Benj. F. Butler, Major-General Commanding.1

headquarters Department of the Gulf, New Orleans, July 3, 1862.
W. B. Dinsmore, Esq., President Adams express company:
Dear Sir :--I have this day compelled Mr. A. S. Blake, your agent, of this city, to furnish me with the sum of $25,000, for which amount I have handed him a check drawn upon the Assistant Treasurer of the United States at New York. He has strongly resisted me in the matter, not wishing to deviate from his instructions and the rules of your company.

Knowing, however, that the matter as proposed and insisted upon by me will not conflict in any way with your interest, and as “necessity knows no law,” I have taken such steps in this affair as the occasion arid the wants of my troops demand.


Benj. F. Butler, Major-General Commanding.2

headquarters Department of the Gulf, New Orleans, La., July 2, 1862.
Hon. Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury:
Sir:--Will be found inclosed herewith minutes of the doings of a commission to inquire into the seizure of the specie of Samuel Smith & Co. The finding is that the case should be sent to the department for [517] investigation. I should have sent the specie ($50,000) to you, but this remarkable state of things exists:--

Two paymasters came down here with $285,000, too little money to pay the troops of this department, some of whom have not been paid for six months, and they and their families are suffering for their just dues, which, for the inefficiency of the Pay Department in not making proper requisitions, has not been furnished them. I shall, therefore, appropriate this $50,000 toward the payment of the troops left unpaid, one of which is a Western regiment not paid since December, and one a Maine one not paid since October.

I shall borrow of one of the banks here $50,000 more in gold (I cannot get treasury notes) upon my own credit and pledging the faith of the government. This I have promised shall be returned in gold in sixty days, with interest, at the rate of six per cent. per annum, and trust that pledge will be made good, or I shall have to suffer the loss.

I shall also obtain from Adams & Co. here $50,000 in Treasury notes, or thereabout, and by leaving the allotments unpaid here, but to be paid in New York, I shall be able to have the payment completed; but this only pays the March and April payment, leaving two months still due. May I ask, therefore, that my draft of $25,000 in favor of Adams & Co. be honored, and a future draft, not exceeding in all $50,000, be honored at sight? So that Adams & Co. can send forward remittances to the soldiers' wives, which have been used here to pay others, and that $50,000 in gold be sent me to repay that which I have borrowed.

I would not let my soldiers go longer unpaid. It was injuring the credit of the government with our foes, and breeding sickness and discontent among my men.

Trusting that this action will meet approval in the emergency, I am,

Most truly yours,

Benj. F. Butler, Major-General Commanding.3

My “secretary of the treasury” so managed his financial affairs that the very large and extraordinary expenditure for feeding the city and cleaning it and employing the idle men so they might feed themselves and their families, cost the United States not a dollar; and the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, when he acknowledged my return of twenty-five thousand dollars in gold [518] which had been sent to my commissary as an advance, said: “You are the cheapest general we have employed.”

When I was relieved by General Banks, all this work was thrown upon him, and he complained bitterly about it as not belonging to the military department. He found himself immediately embarrassed by the action of the civil officers he brought with him, especially the officers of the courts. He also found, I have heard, very soon the necessity of a “secretary of the treasury,” because Mr. Denegre, president of the Citizens' Bank, called upon General Banks and asked him if there was any objection to the banks redeeming their circulation, as they had gold enough to do it. Banks asked him if he wanted to redeem his bills with specie, why he did not so do. Denegre answered: “Because General Butler ordered the suspension of specie payments.” “Why did he do that?” “I don't know,” said Denegre; “the General didn't give reasons for his orders.” Permission was given the banks to redeem, and they did; and soon there was no longer any money in circulation with which the commercial, trading, and even huckstering business in New Orleans could be done.

Another financial measure was called to my attention as my “secretary of the treasury.” I had ordered that all the property of the Confederate States and its officers should be turned over to my government. As we have seen, by an act of their congress, all the debts of citizens of the Confederacy to Northern men had been confiscated to carry on the war. Receivers had been appointed to collect them, and legal process was provided for that purpose. The Citizens' Bank of New Orleans was made the depository of these receivers as well as of the Confederate government.

When the bank returns came in, several questions arose which I can set forth no better than was done in my answer to the return of that bank, June 13, 1862:--

headquarters Department of the Gulf, New Orleans, June 13, 1862.
The return of the Citizens' Bank of New Orleans to General Order No. 40 has been carefully examined, and the various claims set up by the bank to the funds in its hands weighed.

The report finds that there is to the credit of the Confederate States $219,090.94. [519]

This of course is due in presenti from the bank. The bank claims that it holds an equal amount of Confederate treasury notes, and desires to set off these notes against the amount so due and payable.

This cannot be permitted. Many answers might be suggested to the claim. One or two are sufficient.

Confederate States treasury notes are not due till six months after the conclusion of a treaty of peace between the Confederate States and the United States. When that time comes it will be in season to set off such claims. Again, the United States being entitled to the credits due the Confederate States in the bank, that amount must be paid in money or valuable property.

I cannot recognize the Confederate notes as either money or property. The bank having done so by receiving them, issuing their banking upon them, loaning upon them, thus giving them credit to the injury of the United States, is estopped to deny their value.

The “tin box” belonging to an officer of the supposed Confederate States, being a special deposit, will be handed over (to me) in bulk, whether its contents are more or less valuable.

The bank is responsible only for safe custody. The several deposits of the officers of the supposed Confederate States were received in the usual course of business; were, doubtless, some of them, perhaps largely, received in Confederate notes; but, for the reason above stated, can only be paid to the United States in its own constitutional currency. These are in no sense of language “special deposits.”

They were held in general account, went into the funds of the bank were paid out in the discounts of the bank, and if called upon to-day for the identical notes put into the bank, which is the only idea of a special deposit, the bank would be utterly unable to produce them.

As well might my private banker, with whom I have deposited my neighbor's check or draft as money, which has been received as money, and paid out as money, months afterward, when my neighbor has become bankrupt, buy up other of his checks and drafts at discount, and pay them to me instead of money, upon the ground that I had made a special deposit.

The respectability of the source from which the claim of the bank proceeds alone saves it from ridicule.

The United States can in no form recognize any of the sequestrations or confiscations of the supposed Confederate States; therefore, the accounts with the Bank of Kentucky will be made up, and all its property will be paid over and delivered, as if such attempted confiscation had never been made. [520]

The result is, therefore, upon the showing of the bank by its return, that there is due and payable to the Confederate States, and therefore, now to be paid to the United States, the sums following:--

Confederate States treasurer's account$219,090.94
Confederate States special accounts12,465.00
Deposits by officers:
J. M. Huger, receiver106,812.60
G. M. Ward, receiver72,084.90
J. C. Manning receiver1,120.00
M. L. Smith, receiver16,026.52
S. Macklin, receiver6,814.57
Reichard, receiver497.30

This is the legal result to which the mind must arrive in this discussion.

But there are other considerations which may apply to the first item of the account.

Only the notes of the Confederate States were deposited by the treasurer in the bank, and by the order of the ruling authority then here, the bank was obliged to receive them.

In equity and good conscience, the Confederate States could call for nothing more than they had compelled the bank to take.

The United States succeed to the rights of the Confederate States, and should only take that which the Confederate States ought to take.

But the United States, not taking or recognizing Confederate notes, can only leave them with the bank, to be held by it hereafter in special deposit, as so much worthless paper.

Therefore, I must direct all the items but the first to be paid to my order for the United States, in gold, silver, or United States treasury notes at once. The first item of $219,090.94, I will refer to the home government for adjudication; and, in the meantime, the bank must hold, as a special deposit, the amount of Confederate treasury notes above mentioned, and a like amount of bullion to await the decision.

Benjamin F. Butler, Major-General Commanding.

Shortly after, I sent to Mr. Chase the sum of $245,760, being the amount of Confederate funds paid over in cash by the several banks. I specified the source from which the money came — Confederate [521] confiscation of Northern debt — and suggested that those at the North whose property had been thus taken might possibly have a claim. Whether they did or not had not been decided when I was relieved.

After the confiscation acts had been passed by Congress, I put them in force and appointed a commission consisting of Major Bell, Lieut.-Col. J. B. Kinsman, and Captain Fuller (Seventy-Fifth New York Volunteers), provost marshal, to take possession of all the sequestered property in the district of Lafourche. This commission was to put every loyal citizen in full possession of his property. All personal a property which belonged to disloyal owners (whether foreigners or citizens of the United States) who had remained on therr plantations and done no act against the government, was to be theirs, and they were to have the right to remain upon their lands and work them. All disloyal people

Maj. Joseph M. Bell, provost Judge at New Orleans.

who had fled or been in the service of the Confederacy, were to have their property gathered up and sold in open market in New Orleans, and, their disloyalty being established, the product was to be turned over to the United States or held for whoever had the right to it. Receipts were to be given for the property so taken possession of.

The larger part of the labor of this commission, which went into very successful operation, fell upon Colonel Kinsman. Every detail [522] he carried out with skill, energy, and unfaltering integrity. More than a million of dollars' worth of property was disposed of by him, for which his receipts were given. The property belonging to loyal men was returned to them; the personal property belonging to the disloyal was seized and taken to New Orleans; the work necessary to put the sugar and other products upon the market was cone upon the abandoned plantations; so that there was gathered more than a million of money from the enemies of the United States to its revenues, and all this without a single dollar of expense to the United States.

Of course no operations were more bitterly attacked than those under this order. Every possible charge was made by the foreign consuls against the commission. Its members were accused of embezzling the proceeds of the sales and of selling portions of the property otherwise than at auction. When General Banks came there, he abolished the commission, and in pursuance of the demand of the foreigners on Mr. Seward, a committee was appointed to investigate its doings. They reported that there was no evidence to sustain any charges. Three times over that investigation was renewed, under two major-generals after General Banks, but nothing was ever reported to the detriment of the integrity and ability of that commission. It turned over to General Banks nearly eight hundred thousand dollars in cash and unsold property corresponding with the receipts given for it. What was done with that money and property I have not found in any of the reports of General Banks.

I may as well say here as anywhere, perhaps, in closing the account of my financial transactions in New Orleans, that most of the property, amounting to some millions of dollars, that I had taken from the neutrals because I found them in arms against the United States, was given up by Mr. Seward on complaint of the foreign ministers, and was duly returned upon orders through the adjudications of a commissioner, Reverdy Johnson, the Baltimore secessionist who interfered in behalf of Ross Winans. He was appointed by Mr. Seward and instructed to decide, as he did in every case, in favor of the foreigner. Seward lived under a consuming and chronic fear that if we held any property of a foreigner, however guilty of treason, his government would declare for the independence of the Confederacy; and those governments and their officers did not scruple to take full advantage of Seward's timidity. [523]

After I had been relieved and had settled all my accounts with the government, so that not a dollar's difference stood between me and the government, suits were brought against me in New York, Baltimore, and elsewhere, to the amount of several hundred thousand dollars, for my acts during the war, or those done by my orders, even for the capture of General Twiggs' swords.

All such suits have now been tried which the plaintiff would prosecute. These suits, by the law of military affairs, were to be defended by the government, and were so done by its law officers.

I refused to have a single one settled. All were adjudicated in my favor; and not a dollar of a judgment has been rendered against the United States or myself in those suits.

As all of them were against me as well as the government, and as the government could not defend itself without my being present as a witness and aiding in the trial, I thought it but just that the government should pay my actual expenses, at least, as a witness while attending so many trials a great number of days. I asked the Attorney-General to be allowed witness fees, but he decided that as I was a party as well as a witness for the government, the United States could not pay me anything without a special act of Congress; so that so far I have received nothing for the trouble and annoyance of those suits and my services in preparing them, and just double that for my expenses actually paid out for attending them as a witness.

I had but one other civil duty to do and that was, under the direction of the President and in obedience to his proclamation, to hold an election in the two congressional districts in Louisiana under my control. Every means were accorded to have a fair election with as full a vote as could be cast. The army did not vote, but every citizen voted who could show that he had taken the oath of allegiance and was a loyal man. Messrs. Flanders and Hahn were chosen by an aggregate vote larger than the whole number of soldiers of the United States within the districts. The election was duly certified, and the members were admitted to Congress, where they served out their term.

Another piece of work had been put upon me by the War Department, the faithful performance of which, perhaps, was one of the causes of my removal from command. As soon as I landed in the city, I was [524] informed that Count Mejan, French consul, had in his consulate very large sums of money, among others, one of quite a half million dollars deposited there by a bank, in order that it might be protected by the French flag. Learning this, I sent for the consul and asked him to give me his word of honor that no property in any way belonging to Confederates should be sent out of his consulate without a prior report to me, else we should be obliged to put a guard in the consulate to take care of the property.

The count flared up and with great indignation denied solemnly upon his official word and honor that there was in his consulate any such property as I had suggested. He insisted that I had no jurisdiction to put a guard in his consulate; that the flag of France flew over his premises, and where that flag flew was France.

“But,” I said, “Count, there need not be any emotion about this. How much of the territory of Louisiana do you think the French flag flying on your consulate will protect from United States occupation?”

“My house and courtelige,” was the answer.

“You mean, then, as your house sets back from the street, that all the space within the fence around the French consulate is to be considered French territory?”

“Yes” he answered.

“ Well, then, Count, agreeing with you that the line of French territory is as you claim, I will set no foot on French territory, either by myself or by my soldiers, as I have a grateful regard for France. I will content myself with putting a guard on United States territory on the confines of the French territory, so that nothing shall come out of French territory onto American territory without my leave. All I want is that this money, bullion, and other things shall remain on French territory; and I will deal with anybody who undertakes to bring any of it onto United States territory.”

The count saw that he was captured, and that there would be no infraction of the law of which to complain. So he gave me his word of honor to the effect that no property should go off of the consul's premises without my knowledge and permission.4 [525]

Thus matters remained until Seward sent that secession spy and agent, Reverdy Johnson, to New Orleans; and then the French consul asked for a pass to go to Washington and came back with an order on me to release him from his promises. Of course I obeyed orders.

Shortly prior to Nov. 13, 1862, I was informed that our minister at Brussels had written to the State Department that the Confederate agents in Europe were embarrassed by the non-arrival of a large amount of coin from New Orleans, and that the purveyors of cloth could not be paid. One of these was the commissary-general of the French army, who sold the cloth from the army stores of the emperor to the rebels. “But,” the minister added, “assurances are now given that the money is in the hands of the French consul, and will be shortly received.”

This accusation the Secretary of War directed me to investigate, and I did so con amore. I caught the firm of Gautherin & Co., which did the business, and seized its books. I sent for the French consul and asked him if he knew anything of any such transaction, and he assured me on his word and honor that he never had any knowledge of it, and he knew no more than that there was a firm by that name in New Orleans.

I caught the chief book-keeper of Gautherin & Co., and he confessed all. He even produced for me the books, showing that the gold, rising eight hundred thousand dollars, had been in the hands of the French consul before I came. The consul had been paid by Gautherin & Co., certain sums in gold as part of the expenses of the undertaking; and a very considerable amount of gold had been paid the consul's wife in order “to make the affair go off well,” as appeared on the books. I also was enabled to get evidence of a receipt given by the consul for the money, and full evidence that the money had been lately sent away to pay for this clothing of the Confederate army; and that there was a large amount waiting in Havana, which could not be delivered until the first was paid for, and then it was immediately to be sent to Texas and be delivered to the Confederate quartermaster.

I reported all this to my government, and they demanded the exequatur of Mejan, and he was recalled by his government.

I learned afterwards that Napoleon required that I be recalled from New Orleans. It was done. Under the cowardly and unjust [526] administration of the State Department, the officer ordered to catch the thief, and who did catch him and convict him, was punished to a very much greater extent than the thief himself.

Again, and this I say with great pride and pleasure, I attended during my stay in New Orleans to the administration of justice, and decided all sorts of questions, civil and criminal. As of course I could not have time to do that without assistance, I appointed Maj. Joseph Bell, of Massachusetts, A. D. C., a son-in-law and partner. of the Hon. Rufus Choate, of Boston, to be my provost judge5 to aid me in these judicial duties. Very able, fair-minded, clear-headed and of great legal knowledge was he, and of so great merit that when I was relieved and he went home with me, the Bar of New Orleans presented to him a valuable gift in compliment and recognition of his services to them as a jurist. During his absence from New Orleans for some months, because of sickness, I appointed Lieut.-Col. J. B. Kinsman, A. D. C., to fill his place, from whose decisions no appeals were taken.

There was an appeal to me in case anybody was dissatisfied with Major Bell's decisions, and we decided cases of very large amounts and of every possible description in judicial administration.

After the declaration of peace and amnesty, our proceedings in various forms were brought before the Supreme Court of the United States, and argued with great earnestness and learning. In every case save one they were decided as Bell or my elf had decided them. That case was an appeal to the general; and his decision was sustained. This applies to every act of my administration which could be brought before the Supreme Court, and in no case were my actions set aside.

I had heard, from various sources about the streets of New Orleans, that I was to be removed and another general sent in my place. On the 1st of September, I wrote to General Halleck a communication from which I make the following extract:--

. . . I learn by the secession newspapers that I am to be relieved of this command. If that be so, might I ask that my successor be sent as early as possible, as my own health is not the strongest, and it would seem but fair that he should take some part in the yellow-fever season.


Capt. Martin. Lieut. Harrold. Capt. Clark. Capt. Davis. Col. Shoffer. Col. French. Capt. Haggerty. Lieut. Chark. Lieut.-Col. Kinsman. Major strong. General Butler. Major Bell. Gen. Benj. F. Butler and staff. Engraved from photograph in possession of Gen. Butler.

[528] [529]

To this letter I received the following reply:--

Washington, D. C., Sept. 14, 1862.
Maj.-Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, New Orleans:
General:--I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your report of the 1st instant.

The rumor in regard to your removal from the command is a mere newspaper story, without foundation. Probably someone who wished the changes proposed made the publication as a feeler of public sentiment. . . .

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief.

About the time I received this information, the secessionists at their clubs in New Orleans were betting, a hundred dollars to ten, that I should be very shortly relieved and Banks sent in my place. The French inhabitants declared they knew I was to be removed at the request of the French government.

Strengthened by the assurances of Halleck, the commander-in-chief, I went on with my business. I was then planning an expedition against Port Hudson, and arranging so that my troops should be in readiness for it as soon as I received the reinforcements which were promised me from Washington. Very much wanting them hurried up, I addressed a letter to Senator Wilson asking him to use his influence with the Secretary of War in that behalf. Wilson wrote me an answer which is in itself a curious commentary on governmental good faith.

“Your note,” says Wilson, “was placed in my hands to-day (December 2), and I have at once called upon the Secretary of War and pressed the importance of increasing your force. He agreed with me and promised to do what he could to aid you and expressed his confidence in you, and his approval of your vigor and ability. I will press the matter all I can.”

Such an answer to an application for reinforcements was made twenty-one days after the order had been given to Banks to succeed me, which was to be executed as soon as it could be done. Can lying, injustice, deceit, and tergiversation farther go? We may find out who possessed those qualities in the highest degree.

Before Senator Wilson's answer came, I had received word from Washington, through a source which was always reliable, that [530] General Banks had been sent down specially to relieve me, upon the demand of Napoleon, because I was not friendly to France. Although it could not be carried out until sometime in December, yet, the order of my recall was dated quite contemporaneously with the one relieving George B. McClellan from command, to wit: a day after the November election, so that it might appear as if the Republican administration had determined to put out of command all generals who had heretofore been Democrats, and to supply true Republican generals in their places.

Ah! Seward, that trick was too thin. It did not work, as we shall see.

I immediately made preparations to set my house in order. On December 12, I had such complete knowledge of Banks' movements that I telegraphed to Forts Jackson and St. Philip to salute Major-General Banks on his steamer with the number of guns appropriate to the commander of the department. When his steamer came to the wharf at the city, I had a battery of artillery to fire a proper salute, and my carriage was in readiness to take him to my house to be entertained. Here he served the following order upon me:--

War Department, Adjutant-General's office, Washington, Nov. 9, 1862.
General Order No. 184.

By direction of the President of the United States, Major-General Banks is assigned to the command of the Department of the Gulf, including the State of Texas.

By order of the Secretary of War:

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief. E. D. Townsend, Assistant Adjutant-General.

On December 14 and 15, I was engaged in finishing up the accumulated business of my command. On Tuesday, the 16th, General Banks was presented by me to the officers and soldiers of his new command. I commended him to their kindest regard, stating our friendship for many years. On the 16th, he took formal command of the army by an order published that day.

I then commenced turning over to him and his officers all the public property in the possession of myself and officers, taking care [531] to take duplicate receipts for everything, as was my business habit. The amount was comparatively large, in all amounting to nearly a million dollars. As I had received no order detailing me elsewhere, I spent some days in giving General Banks all the information I possessed concerning the military situation of the department and the details of my plan for an immediate attack on Port Hudson, representing to him the necessity for the promptest action. As the nine months regiments that had come down with General Banks were neither well armed nor well equipped,--as Banks' inspector-general afterwards reported that not one quarter of some of the rifles in their hands were serviceable,--I advised that these regiments should be sent down in large force to take the place of Weitzel's veteran troops with whom he had accomplished such victories; and that Weitzel be ordered at once, under the cover of the fleet, to ascend the river and take possession of the west shore opposite Port Hudson, in order to keep it from being furnished with further supplies. Now that there could be no possible danger of an attack upon New Orleans, I suggested that the rest of the army, including all old troops, should be sent at once in the rear of Port Hudson on the east bank, to prevent reinforcements and supplies being furnished to this fort by the enemy.

I also told Banks that I had intended, as soon as I could spare the regiment from Weitzel, to send the Twenty-First Indiana, which had won such glory at Baton Rouge under Colonel McMillan, down to occupy Galveston, Texas, which was then held by the fleet. I looked upon Colonel McMillan as fit to command the department, and Galveston was a place requiring high qualities in the commander as well as in the soldiers. I also suggested that McMillan's regiment be filled up with soldiers enlisted from other regiments.

What distressed me not a little was that Banks' regular officers did not seem to appreciate the necessity of prompt movement.

Elsewhere as well as in New Orleans, I had always held my army to be deemed in the field. Then, if they were to have quarters, it would cost the government nothing, for they could occupy the houses deserted by those who were serving in the Confederate army. But Banks' officers were inclined to consider themselves in garrison, for that would enable them to draw pay for quarters, according to regulation, [532] at a somewhat extravagant rate per month, according to their rank. Then they could hire as cheaply as possible what they desired to occupy, and pocket the difference.


office of the Chief Quartermaster, Department of the Gulf, New Orleans, Dec. 19, 1862.
Wanted, immediately, a small, respectable, partially furnished house, for personal occupation. Furniture protected and rent promptly paid. Address undersigned at St. Charles Hotel, or office.

S. B. Holabird, Colonel, Chief Quartermaster.

I may remark here that no movement was made upon Port Hudson for many months,--not until the enemy had time to fortify it fully, and to reinforce it. The only thing done at first was to send down to Galveston a militia regiment, under a militia colonel who never had heard a hostile shot fired in his life. He put himself on a wharf in Galveston, and then, when the rebels were ready, they scooped him up without his firing hardly a shot. But here and now is not my occasion to criticise the performances of the troops in the Department of the Gulf in the succeeding campaigns. The utter disasters of each and all have passed into history, but they were not such solely from the fault of Banks, by any means.

“Having received no further orders,” I wrote to the President, “either to report to the commander-in-chief, or otherwise, I have taken the liberty to suppose that I am permitted to return home, my services being no longer needed here. I have given Major-General Banks all the information in my power, and more than he has asked, in relation to the affairs of this department.”

On the 23d, I had a public leave-taking of my troops and friends. A very large number of both soldiers and citizens collected. For two hours and more there was a continuous throng passing by where I stood and shaking me by the hand. General Banks and officers paid their respects, and Admiral Farragut was there with nearly all of the principal officers of his fleet.

On the morning of the 24th, the levee at which my transport lay was covered with a large concourse of citizens. No troops were there, although General Banks was kind enough to offer me as an [533] escort my old regiment, the Twenty-Sixth Massachusetts. I thanked him for his courtesy but told him that I had walked through New Orleans for many months without any guard, and I was not going out of it under guard. I entered my carriage at my quarters with a single orderly on the box, as had been my custom, and drove down to the levee near the landing plank of my steamer. When I got out of the carriage, crowds gathered around me. I shook hands with the people longer than I could spare the time, listening to kindly expressions from every class of citizens, but hearing no unpleasant word. As I passed the admiral's flagship, the Hartford, she gave me the regulation salute, and I raised my hat to the admiral for the last time on ship-board. As I passed the Marine Barracks, two miles below the city, where the Twenty-Sixth Regiment was encamped, they turned out on the quay and gave me many cheers. My voyage was without incident except some quite rough weather off Hatteras.

I reached the Narrows on the 1st day of January, on my way to Lowell. My vessel was met by a revenue cutter, the commander of which brought to me a letter from President Lincoln, asking me to call on him at once.6

In obedience to his wish, I went to see him. He greeted me with every cordiality of expression and manner, but I am afraid mine was not as cordial as it ought to have been. After inquiring as to his health, I said: “Mr. President, will you please tell me for what acts of mine I am recalled from. New Orleans?” He said: “I am not at liberty to tell you, but you may ask Mr. Stanton. I should be very happy to see you to-morrow for a consultation.”

I then called upon Mr. Stanton. He also received me with great cordiality. As soon as the compliments of the day were passed, I said “Well, Mr. Secretary, will you tell me why I was relieved from command at New Orleans?” Mr. Stanton replied: “The reason was one which does not imply, on the part of the government, any want of confidence in your honor as a man, or in your ability as a commander.” “Well,” said I, “you have told me what I was not recalled for. I now ask you to tell me what I was recalled for.” “You and I,” replied Stanton, laughing, “are both lawyers, [534] and it is of no use your filing a bill of discovery upon me, for I sha'n't tell you.”

I knew the cause perfectly well, all the same.

I then went to see Mr. Seward. He received me politely,very, and invited me to dine with him that evening, which invitation I accepted. I then said: “Mr. Secretary, when I left here last February, nothing of consequence was being done without your being consulted and having knowledge of it. I have asked the President why I was relieved from command and he declines giving me the reasons, and I have come to you, believing that you can give them if you will.” “General,” said he, “things have changed somewhat since you went away. We were then somewhat new in administration, and we interfered sometimes with each other's departments; but now we confine ourselves more closely to our own business. I do not know what you were recalled for, I assure you, but Halleck knows all about it. He is the general-in-chief, and had everything to do with it.”

Thereupon I went to Halleck's office, and we met on apparently friendly relations. I said to him: “General Halleck, I have come to ask you, as my superior officer, the reasons for my being relieved from command in New Orleans and on what account it was done.” “I do not know, General; no reasons were ever given me. It was cone solely under the direction of the Secretary of State.” I knew that well enough, but could not then prove it without disclosing my witness; and after answering Halleck such questions as he chose to ask about Banks and his condition, I returned to my home, not in especial good humor.

However, I attended Mr. Seward's dinner and we had an exceedingly cordial time. After the dinner was over, Mr. Seward was kind enough to accompany me to the door. As I took leave of him by hand-shaking, I said: “What an infernal liar your man Halleck is He told me that he did not know anything about the reason why I was relieved; that it was done solely upon your advice. Good-night.”

As to who was the man who told the truth, I now have the evidence for the first time in the publication of “Seward at Washington,” 1891. His biographer says (p. 139):--

“Claims and complaints at New Orleans, based upon interruptions and losses in trade, were numerous. . . . Some were intricate and delicate, and even threatened to endanger friendly relations with European powers. [535] The Secretary found half his time engrossed with these questions. He determined that it would be wise to establish some tribunal at New Orleans to examine and decide upon them. . . . It had become necessary to constitute a Provisional Court. Charles A. Peabody of New York was appointed the Provisional Judge, and vested with full jurisdiction, ‘his judgment to be final and conclusive.’ ”. . .

While General Butler was the military commander, he had enforced order, maintained quiet, and adopted praiseworthy sanitary regulations, regardless of protests or resistance. He ruled with a firm hand, and in return encountered a storm of vituperation.

Seward's circular to Foreign Ministers, December 15 (pp. 149, 150), says:--

General Banks sailed from New York fifteen days ago, with reinforcements for New Orleans, and we suppose that he must before this time have reached and taken command of that city.

We are inaugurating a system of administration in New Orleans, under General Banks, which will relieve the condition there of much of the uneasiness which it is supposed affected the disposition of foreign powers. . . .

Thus it will be seen that on October 20, by executive order, not transmitted to me, Seward caused to be established a Provisional Court, which was done in defiance of the Constitution and laws of Congress, inasmuch as it was not for military purposes. He claimed that judgments by it were to be “final and conclusive,” not to be revised by any court. His biographer says that the validity of its acts were considered--how could that be done?--in the Supreme Court of the United States, and were fully sustained, when, in subsequent years, they came before it. It had full and conclusive jurisdiction in all cases of law, civil and criminal, equity and admiralty. The Supreme Court sustained his decisions because they had no power to reverse. Perhaps also that court found them to be right.

My acts and decisions in New Orleans were also brought before the Supreme Court, and were all sustained, as we have seen, not because the court could not adjudicate differently, but because they decided that I had judged rightly. [536]

The order for Peabody's Court did not come down to New Orleans until Banks came. Peabody was neither a military nor a civil officer known to the Constitutional Laws of the United States. He was a New York pet of Seward, but I must do him the justice to say from what I saw of him, he was an enormous improvement upon Reverdy Johnson, because he was a loyal, honest man.

Seward's appointment of Banks to supersede me was announced as soon as the November elections were over. The results of these elections, he says in a letter7 to his wife, were very deplorable:--

November came, and with it the election in the various States. The returns were ominous and disheartening enough. Everywhere there was reaction of feeling, adverse to the administration. In the strong Republican States majorities were reduced. In all others, the opposition was triumphant, and the administration party defeated. . . . Among the causes of the revulsion was opposition to the government's anti-slavery policy.

On the 15th of December he issued his circular to foreign ministers, stating “Banks would be in command at New Orleans, and would take measures that there should be no interference with foreigners,” however hostile and injurious to the government.

Such being Seward's condition of mind about the election, and knowing that he was looked upon with distrust by the Republican party as an opponent of the anti-slavery cause, he desired to do what he could to restore himself to public favor, and he thought he would score a point in his favor if the administration were to remove two Democratic generals, one of whom [McClellan] was supposed to be delaying the movement of the troops on account of the emancipation, and the other [myself] had been a very decided Democrat when he entered the war and had up to that time made no sign of any change in political opinion. But the trick did not avail, and there was a strenuous endeavor made to force him out of the Cabinet. I will tell his own story of how he succeeded in holding his place:--

(December 15.) The Republican senators had just been holding a caucus. All were not present, but those who were, acting under the spur of excitement and disappointment, had resolved that some change must be made, to appease the supposed popular “thirst for a victim.” Resolutions [537] had been hastily adopted advising the President to change the chief member of his Cabinet, and a committee was appointed to lay the resolutions before him.

“Seeing how things were going, I did not stay for the last vote,” said Mr. King, “but just slipped out of the chamber and came down to tell you, for I thought you ought to know. They were pledging each other to keep the proceedings secret, but I told them I wasn't going to be bound.” . . .

Without a moment's hesitation, he [Seward] called for a pen and paper and dictated this note to the President:--

Sir:--I hereby resign the office of Secretary of State, and beg that my resignation may be accepted immediately.

Five minutes later it was placed in the hands of the President, who, after reading it, looked up with a face full of pain and surprise, saying: “What does this mean?” 8

Preston King, who was there, explained to the President.

Thereupon such proceedings were had that Chase, who was supposed to be a leader of the radical party in the Cabinet, also was persuaded to resign. Then, both the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of State having resigned, one at the head of the anti-slavery portion of the Republican party, and the other at the head of those who thought the proclamation a mistake, Mr. Lincoln eluded taking any action upon the resolution of the caucus of Republican senators by persuading both to withdraw their resignations, saying in his own quaint language: “I can ride now, for I have got a pumpkin in each end of my bag.” And the administration wallowed on.

Examining these facts, mostly of record, can any man doubt who told the truth when Halleck said that Seward had all to do with my recall from command, and Seward said he hadn't anything to do with it? I have no doubt that Seward told Halleck what I had said about Halleck being the liar, because from that time, as I have learned since from his correspondence, Halleck was a deadly enemy of mine, although I gave him no reason for being. Seward knew whom I meant by what I said, and telling it to Halleck was another of his wily tricks. [538]

When about leaving New Orleans, although hurried with a thousand cares and anxieties which surround one under such circumstances, I thought it clue to myself and my administration to make a farewell address to the people of that city, and to state therein what I had done and what I had not done, so that if my statements were to be questioned or contradicted by anybody, they might be then and there when the proofs were all at hand and matters of fact could be readily determined.

May readers have now heard my history of all the important things I did; will they please compare it with what I said in the following address I had done, and see how the two stand together? None of all my enemies, so far as I know, have challenged or attempted to contradict a single statement of fact in it. There has been much harmless and foolish abuse, much stating of charges without authority or evidence. The things that these slanderers claim I had done were such as they would have done if they could have had the power I held there. But nobody has said I have claimed to have done that which I had not done. If one charges another, without evidence, of having done wicked and dishonest acts because he had the power to do them in a given case, it is because he knows in his own heart that under the same circumstances he would have done those same things which he charges another with doing. This remark vituperative newspaper writers (as Jack Bunsby would say) “will make a note of.”

farewell address.

Citizens of New Orleans:--It may not be inappropriate, as it is not inopportune in occasion, that there should be addressed to you a few words at parting, by one whose name is to be hereafter indissolubly connected with your city.

I shall speak in no bitterness, because I am not conscious of a single personal animosity. Commanding the Army of the Gulf, I found you captured, but not surrendered; conquered, but not orderly; relieved from the presence of an army, but incapable of taking care of yourselves. I restored order, punished crime, opened commerce, brought provisions to your starving people, reformed your currency, and gave you quiet protection, such as you had not enjoyed for many years.

While doing this, my soldiers were subjected to obloquy, reproach, and insult. [539]

And now, speaking to you, who know the truth, I here declare that whoever has quietly remained about his business, affording neither aid nor comfort to the enemies of the United States, has never been interfered with by the soldiers of the United States.

The men who had assumed to govern you and to defend your city in arms having fled, some of your women flouted at the presence of those who came to protect them. By a simple order (No. 28), I called upon every soldier of this army to treat the women of New Orleans as gentlemen should deal with the sex, with such effect that I now call upon the just-minded ladies of New Orleans to say whether they have ever enjoyed so complete protection and calm quiet for themselves and their families as since the advent of the United States troops.

The enemies of my country, unrepentant and implacable, I have treated with merited severity. I hold that rebellion is treason, and that treason persisted in is death, and any punishment short of that due a traitor gives so much clear gain to him from the clemency of the government. Upon this thesis have I administered the authority of the United States, because of which I am not unconscious of complaint. I do not feel that I have erred in too much harshness, for that harshness has ever been exhibited to disloyal enemies to my country, and not to loyal friends. To be sure, I might have regaled you with the amenities of British civilization, and yet been within the supposed rules of civilized warfare. You might have been smoked to death in caverns, as were the Covenanters of Scotland by the command of a general of the royal house of England; or roasted, like the inhabitants of Algiers during the French campaign; your wives and daughters might have been given over to the ravisher, as were the unfortunate dames of Spain in the Peninsular War; or you might have been scalped and tomahawked as our mothers were at Wyoming by the savage allies of Great Britain in our own Revolution; your property could have been turned over to indiscriminate “loot,” like the palace of the Emperor of China; works of art which adorned your buildings might have been sent away, like the paintings of the Vatican; your sons might have been blown from the mouths of cannon, like the Sepoys at Delhi; and yet all this would have been within the rules of civilized warfare as practised by the most polished and the most hypocritical nations of Europe. For such acts the records of the doings of some of the inhabitants of your city toward the friends of the Union, before my coming, were a sufficient provocative and justification.

But I have not so conducted. On the contrary, the worst punishment inflicted, except for criminal acts punishable by every law, has been banishment with labor to a barren island, where I encamped my own soldiers before marching here. [540]

It is true, I have levied upon the wealthy rebels, and paid out nearly half a million of dollars to feed forty thousand of the starving poor of all nations assembled here, made so by this war.

I saw that this Rebellion was a war of the aristocrats against the middling men, of the rich against the poor; a war of the land-owner against the laborer; that it was a struggle for the retention of power in the hands of the few against the many; and I found no conclusion to it, save in the subjugation of the few and the disenthrallment of the many. I therefore felt no hesitation in taking the substance of the wealthy, who had caused the war, to feed the innocent poor, who had suffered by the war. And I shall now leave you with the proud consciousness that I carry with me the blessings of the humble and loyal, under the roof of the cottage and in the cabin of the slave, and so am quite content to incur the sneers of the salon, or the curses of the rich.

I have found you trembling at the terrors of servile insurrection. All danger of this I have prevented by so treating the slave that he had no cause to rebel.

I found the dungeon, the chain, and the lash your only means of enforcing obedience in your servants. I leave them peaceful, laborious, controlled by the laws of kindness and justice.

I have demonstrated that the pestilence can be kept from your borders.

I have added a million of dollars

Medical-director MacCORMICKORMICKormickormick.

to your wealth in the form of new land from the batture of the Mississippi.

I have cleansed and improved your streets, canals, and public squares, and opened new avenues to unoccupied land.

I have given you freedom of elections greater than you have ever enjoyed before.

I have caused justice to be administered so impartially that your own advocates have unanimously complimented the judges of my appointment.9

You have seen, therefore, the benefit of the laws and justice of the government against which you have rebelled. [541]

Why, then, will you not all return to your allegiance to that government,--not with lip-service, but with the heart?

I conjure you, if you desire ever to see renewed prosperity, giving business to your streets and wharves — if you hope to see your city become again the mart of the western world, fed by its rivers for more than three thousand miles, draining the commerce of a country greater than the mind of man hath ever conceived — return to your allegiance.

If you desire to leave to your children the inheritance you received from your fathers — a stable constitutional government; if you desire that they should in the future be a portion of the greatest empire the sun ever shone upon — return to your allegiance.

There is but one thing that stands in the way.

There is but one thing that at this hour stands between you and the government — and that is slavery.

The institution, cursed of God, which has taken its last refuge here, in His providence will be rooted out as the tares from the wheat, although the wheat be torn up with it.

I have given much thought to this subject.

I came among you, by teachings, by habit of mind, by political position, by social affinity, inclined to sustain your domestic laws, if by possibility they might be with safety to the Union.

Months of experience and of observation have forced the conviction that the existence of slavery is incompatible with the safety either of yourselves or of the Union. As the system has gradually grown to its present huge dimensions, it were best if it could be gradually removed; but it is better, far better, that it should be taken out at once, than that it should longer vitiate the social, political, and family relations of your country. I am speaking with no philanthropic views as regards the slave, but simply of the effect of slavery on the master. See for yourselves.

Look around you and say whether this saddening, deadening influence has not all but destroyed the very framework of your society?

I am speaking the farewell words of one who has shown his devotion to his country at the peril of his life and fortune, who in these words can have neither hope nor interest, save the good of those whom he addresses; and let me here repeat, with all the solemnity of an appeal to heaven to bear me witness, that such are the views forced upon me by experience.

Come, then, to the unconditional support of the government. Take into your own hands your own institutions; remodel them according to the laws of nations and of God, and thus attain that great prosperity assured to you by geographical position, only a portion of which was heretofore yours.

Benj. F. Butler. New Orleans, Dec. 24, 1862.


There is a companion piece to this address, published at Richmond, on the same 24th day of December on which my address was published at New Orleans, neither writer having seen or known of the writing of the other:--

A proclamation
by the President of the Confederate States.

Whereas, A communication was addressed, on the 6th day of July last, 1862, by Gen. Robert E. Lee, acting under the instructions of the secretary of war of the Confederate States of America, to Gen. H. W. Halleck, commander-in-chief of the United States army, informing the latter that a report had reached this government that Wm. B. Mumford, a citizen of the Confederate States, had been executed by the United States authorities at New Orleans for having pulled down the United States flag in that city before its occupation by the United States forces, and calling for a statement of the facts, with a view of retaliation if such an outrage had really been committed under the sanction of the authorities of the United States;

And whereas (no answer having been received to said letter), another letter was, on the 2d of August last, 1862, addressed by General Lee, under my instructions, to General Halleck, renewing the inquiries in relation to the execution of the said Mumford, with the information that in the event of not receiving a reply within fifteen days, it would be assumed that the fact was true, and was sanctioned by the Government of the United States;

And whereas, an answer, dated on the 7th of August last, 1862, was addressed to General Lee by Gen. H. W. Halleck, the said general-in-chief of the armies of the United States, alleging sufficient cause for failure to make early reply to said letter of the 6th of July, asserting that “no authentic information had been received in relation to the execution of Mumford; but measures will be immediately taken to ascertain the facts of the alleged execution,” and promising that General Lee should be duly informed thereof;

And whereas, on the 26th of November last, 1862, another letter was addressed, under my instructions, by Robert Ould, Confederate agent for the exchange of prisoners, under the cartel between the two governments, to Lieut.-Col. W. H. Ludlow, agent of the United States under said cartel, informing him that the explanation promised in the said letter of General Halleck, of 7th of August last, had not yet been received, and that if no answer was sent to the government within fifteen days from the [543] delivery of this last communication, it would be considered that an answer is declined;

And whereas, by a letter dated on the 3d day of the present month of December, the said Lieutenant-Colonel Ludlow apprised the said Robert Ould that the above recited communication of the 19th of November had been received and forwarded to the Secretary of War of the United States;

And whereas, this last delay of fifteen days allowed for answer has elapsed, and no answer has been received;

And whereas, in addition to the tacit admission resulting from the above refusal to answer, I have received evidence fully establishing the truth of the fact that the said William B. Mumford, a citizen of the Confederacy, was actually and publicly executed in cold blood by hanging, after the occupation of the city of New Orleans by the forces under Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, when said Mumford was an unresisting and non-combatant captive, and for no offence even alleged to have been committed by him subsequent to the date of the capture of the said city;

And whereas, the silence of the Government of the United States, and its maintaining of said Butler in high office under its authority for many months after his commission of an act that can be viewed in no other light than as a deliberate murder, as well as of numerous other outrages and atrocities hereafter to be mentioned, afford evidence too conclusive that the said government sanctions the conduct of the said Butler, and is determined that he shall remain unpunished for these crimes:

Now, therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, and in their name, do pronounce and declare the said Benjamin F. Butler to be a felon, deserving of capital punishment. I do order that he shall no longer be considered or treated simply as a public enemy of the Confederate States of America, but as an outlaw and common enemy of mankind, and that, in the event of his capture, the officer in command of the capturing force do cause him to be immediately executed by hanging.

And I do farther order that no commissioned officer of the United States, taken captive, shall be released on parole, before exchanged, until the said Butler shall have met with due punishment for his crimes.

And whereas, the hostilities waged against this Confederacy by the forces of the United States, under the command of said Benjamin F. Butler, have borne no resemblance to such warfare as is alone permissible by the rules of international law or the usages of civilization, but have been characterized by repeated atrocities and outrages, among the large number of which the following may be cited as examples:-- [544]

Peaceful and aged citizens, unresisting captives and non-combatants, have been confined at hard labor, with hard chains attached to their limbs, and are still so held, in dungeons and fortresses.

Others have been submitted to a like degrading punishment for selling medicines to the sick soldiers of the Confederacy.

The soldiers of the United States have been invited and encouraged in general orders to insult and outrage the wives, the mothers, and the sisters of our citizens.

Helpless women have been torn from their homes, and subjected to solitary confinement, some in fortresses and prisons, and one especially on an island of barren sand, under a tropical sun ; have been fed with loathsome rations that have been condemned as unfit for soldiers, and have been exposed to the vilest insults.

Prisoners of war, who surrendered to the naval forces of the United States, on agreement that they should be released on parole, have been seized and kept in close confinement.

Repeated pretexts have been sought or invented for plundering the inhabitants of a captured city, by fines levied and collected under threats of imprisoning recusants at hard labor with ball and chain. The entire population of New Orleans have been forced to elect between starvation by the confiscation of all their property and taking an oath against conscience to bear allegiance to the invader of their country.

Egress from the city has been refused to those whose fortitude withstood the test, and even to lone and aged women, and to helpless children; and after being ejected from their homes and robbed of their property, they have been left to starve in the streets or subsist on charity.

The slaves have been driven from the plantations in the neighborhood of New Orleans until their owners would consent to share their crops with the commanding general, his brother, Andrew J. Butler, and other officers; and when such consent had been extorted, the slaves have been restored to the plantations, and there compelled to work under the bayonets of the guards of United States soldiers. Where that partnership was refused, armed expeditions have been sent to the plantations to rob them of everything that was susceptible of removal.

And even slaves, too aged or infirm for work, have, in spite of their entreaties, been forced from the homes provided by their owners, and driven to wander helpless on the highway.

By a recent General Order, No. 91, the entire property in that part of Louisiana, west of the Mississippi River, has been sequestered for confiscation, and officers have been assigned to duty, with orders to gather up and collect the personal property, and turn over to the proper officers, [545] upon their receipts, such of said property as may be required for the use of the United States army; to collect together all the other personal property and bring the same to New Orleans, and cause it to be sold at public auction to highest bidders — an order which, if executed, condemns to punishment, by starvation, at least a quarter of a million of human beings, of all ages, sexes, and conditions, and of which the execution, although forbidden to military officers by the orders of President Lincoln, is in accordance with the confiscation law of our enemies, which he has effected to be enforced through the agency of civil officials.

And, finally, the African slaves have not only been incited to insurrection by every license and encouragement, but numbers of them have actually been armed for a servile war — a war in its nature far exceeding the horrors and most merciless atrocities of savages.

And whereas, the officers under command of the said Butler have been, in many instances, active and zealous agents in the commission of these crimes, and no instance is known of the refusal of any one of them to participate in the outrages above narrated;

And whereas, the President of the United States has, by public and official declarations, signified not only his approval of the effort to excite servile war within the Confederacy, but his intention to give aid and encouragement thereto, if these independent States shall continue to refuse submission to a foreign power after the 1st day of. January next, and has thus made known that all appeal to the law of nations, the dictates of reason, and the instincts of humanity would be addressed in vain to our enemies, and that they can be deterred from the commission of these crimes only by the terrors of just retribution;

Now, therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, and acting by their authority, appealing to the Divine Judge in attestation that their conduct is not guided by the passion of revenge, but that they reluctantly yield to the solemn duty of redressing, by necessary severity, crimes of which their citizens are the victims, do issue this my proclamation, and, by virtue of my authority as commander-in-chief of the armies of the Confederate States, do order--

First--That all commissioned officers in the command of said Benjamin F. Butler be declared not entitled to be considered as soldiers engaged in honorable warfare, but as robbers and criminals, deserving death; and that they and each of them be, whenever captured, reserved for execution.

Second--That the private soldiers and non-commissioned officers in the army of said Butler be considered as only the instruments used for the commission of crimes perpetrated by his orders, and not as free agents; [546] that they, therefore, be treated, when captured as prisoners of war, with kindness and humanity, and be sent home on the usual parole that they will in no manner aid or serve the United States in any capacity during the continuance of this war, unless duly exchanged.

Third--That all negro slaves captured in arms be at once delivered over to the executive authorities of the respective States to which they belong, to be dealt with according to the law of said States.

Fourth--That the like orders be issued in all cases with respect to the commissioned officers of the United States when found serving in company with said slaves in insurrection against the authorities of the different States of this Confederacy.

In testimony whereof, I have signed these presents, and caused the seal of the Confederate States of America to be affixed thereto, at the city of Richmond, on the 23d day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two.

Jefferson Davis. By the President: J. P. Benjamin, Secretary of State.

That I was to be recalled was known to Jefferson Davis before it was to me, and the date of my recall, the 9th of November, was forty-five days gone by when that proclamation was published. It was not intended to be published until after I had gone, when it could not, as it did not, have any actual effect upon anybody. I first saw it in New York. It was written by Benjamin, who had an enormous grudge at me for doing a thing which he did not mention in the proclamation, i. e., so thoroughly preaching Unionism to his brother at Baton Rouge in July, that he took the oath of allegiance, declaring himself a Union man. While the paper is filled with simple lying abuse, yet the main ground upon which it rests is his declaration that I had armed the slaves. That applied to President Lincoln and his Cabinet more than to me, because they had adopted my acts in raising native guards of colored, free-born men, and proceeded further to arm the slaves. Its design was to frighten the officers who should command the negro troops. It did not do that, for before the end of the war we had one hundred and fifty thousand negroes under arms. It was written by a rebel secretary of state for a political purpose; and of course, as we have seen, was necessarily one of that class of documents and acts of State [547] departments so false and underhanded as to astonish their patron, the Devil.

The only fruits that it bore, so far as I have heard, were the following he and she publications:--

ten thousand dollars reward!--$10,000--President Davis having proclaimed Benjamin F. Butler, of Massachusetts, to be a felon deserving of capital punishment, for the deliberate murder of Wm. B. Mumford, a citizen of the Confederate States, at New Orleans; and having ordered that the said Benjamin F. Butler be considered or treated as an outlaw and common enemy of mankind, and that in the event of his capture, the officer in command of the capturing force do cause him to

Door-plate taken from Richard Yeadon's residence.

be immediately executed by hanging, the undersigned hereby offers a reward of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for the capture and delivery of the said Benjamin F. Butler, dead or alive, to any proper Confederate authority.

He did not get my head, but I did afterwards send for him, but got only his door-plate, the man himself having run away.

The she publication was from the Charleston Courier:--

A daughter of South Carolina writes to the Courier from Darlington District:--
I propose to spin the thread to make the cord to execute the order of our noble president, Davis, when old Butler is caught, and my daughter asks that she may be allowed to adjust it around his neck.

It is evident that she had not been in New Orleans and got tamed.

“There is no difference between a he adder and a she adder in their venom.”

The first recital of the proclamation, namely, that Mumford was executed for a crime committed before the city was captured, was simply a lie. It was for tearing down the flag put up by Farragut when the city surrendered to him. [548]

The proclamation was not published until after the date on which Davis knew I was to leave New Orleans. If it had been published while I was in command in New Orleans and before I got to sea, there would have been an answer made to it which might have astonished both Benjamin and Davis. Being “outlawed,” I should have given their rebel friends a taste of the law of the outlaw.

This proclamation was mere brutum fulmen. It was directed as much against the government as myself. Afterwards, when I consented to return to the service, I was put in charge of all the rebel prisoners as commissioner of exchange, and Davis and his government had to deal with me and me only; and he did so for months, and none of the outlawing of negro soldiers was attempted to be carried into effect.

The proclamation also threatened that no officer would be paroled until I was punished by hanging. Yet the parole went on in all the armies precisely as though the proclamation had never been published. And when in Virginia, in 1864, a portion of my colored troops raised in Virginia were captured and put by Lee into the trenches to work on the rebel fortifications, I wrote him a note stating that if they were not immediately taken out and treated as prisoners of war, I would put in Dutch Gap to work, under the fire of the rebels, the Virginia reserves whom I had captured, who were highly respectable gentlemen of Richmond, over sixty years of age. It is needless to say that afterwards the negroes were treated as prisoners of war.

Jefferson Davis did not believe one word of the proclamation himself.

That is evinced by the fact that while that document declared me to be utterly vile and a felon, yet he treats me quite differently in his “Rise and fall of the Confederate government.” In that work he discusses the exchange of prisoners, and, after quoting page after page of my report to my government showing the plans and conditions upon which the exchange of prisoners were carried on, he closes by saying:--

In regard to the policy of exchange of prisoners, Gen. B. F. Butler has irrefutably fixed the responsibility on the government at Washington and on General Grant.10


How so, Mr. Davis? Had you given any proof other than a recitation of the reports of General Butler? True, they were made upon his honor as an officer of the army of the United States to his government. But upon what principle did the mere word, not even the oath, of a felon and an outlaw “irrefutably fix” any fact?

I rose early in the morning of the day after my interviews with the President and Stanton, Halleck and Seward. I examined the situation with careful thought, and the result was this: I had been deliberately deprived of my command for no fault of mine, and in a manner which, to the outside world, would appear to demonstrate that it was because of some charges made against me by somebody upon some matter, or because of some unfitness for command. The administration now refused to state the ground of my recall. Now, if that had been stated or could be stated, it would relieve me in every way, and I should be justified to my own people and to other nations. If Seward had had the courage to say, or if Stanton would have said and published words amounting to this: “General Butler has been recalled at the request of the Emperor Napoleon,” as was the fact, I should have been in a condition to go again into the service, if desired, with honor, and might have done credit to myself.

I came to the conclusion that Lincoln would offer me some other important command; but I also came to another conclusion, which was, that I would take no command under any circumstances unless I was returned to New Orleans. Having determined after due thought upon a course of action, I am not easily turned from it.

Quite early after breakfast, I called on Mr. Lincoln, according to his appointment, and found him apparently awaiting my coming, for on his table were maps, charts, and some books of statistics, to which he soon made reference.

Mr. President,” I said, “thanking you for your kind and appreciative note, I have brought my commission for your acceptance, and wish to inform you that I cannot learn why I was recalled. The country does not know why I was recalled from New Orleans. That leaves me open to the suspicion that it had been done because of the truth of some infamous charges that the rebels and Copperheads have made against me.”

“ Put your commission back in your pocket,” said he. “I have seen no reason to change my opinion of you, which, from the beginning, [550] has been of the highest character, as you know. Now, I want to give you a command quite equal in extent and importance to the one which you won for yourself at New Orleans. In it you can do great good to the country. The question of abolition of slavery is now settled. I want you to go down on the Mississippi River, take command there, and enlist, arm, and organize as many negro troops as can be had.”

He produced some maps which showed the slave population by the territories and districts. The various sections were marked over with shaded lines, so drawn that where slavery was most prevalent, there the shading was darkest.

“I know of no one who can do this as well as yourself. From our correspondence, I see that you thoroughly believe in negro troops. You shall have the nomination of all the officers, and I will endorse them by appointments.”

“I am infinitely obliged to you for your good opinion,” I said, “but I could have enlisted several thousands if you had given me this full power when I was in New Orleans. Indeed, you see the Mississippi River country is black with them, and I had only to march up the Mississippi to get them. I would have so marched if I could have had any reinforcements; but now that march cannot be made without fighting. Sending Banks to command in my place and then sending me down on the Mississippi to enlist troops, would be simply saying that I was not fit to command troops, but only fit for a recruiting sergeant.”

“There is something in that,” said he, “but I will give you command. You may take Grant's command down there.”

Mr. President,” I replied, “I feel keenly enough my own recall and having another man put in my place without any reason given for it excepting incompetency. I have watched Grant's movements with care, and I see no reason why he should be recalled. He seems to have done well enough, and I do not want to be a party to such another injustice as I suffer. But, Mr. President, why not do this: Send me back to take my old command and I will go up the Mississippi rolling up troops like a snow-ball in the soft snow. Now, every soldier costs the country at least two thousand dollars in bounties, and in doing anything with him, getting him drilled and transported. Those negro soldiers will cost nothing but their pay, uniforms, and rations, and the last we can get as we go along. [551] To recall Banks will be no aspersion upon him; it will stand on the ground that his appointment was owing to the mistake of my removal; and I cannot believe it is just to myself, my family, or the country that I should take a different command.”

He walked backward and forward once or twice along the audience chamber and returned to me with an appealing look, saying: “But I cannot recall Banks.” I answered:--

“I ought not, Mr. President, by my action to confess that I ought to have been recalled, which, by taking a different command, especially one which involves recruiting duties only, I should do. I was once a major-general recruiting in New England; but that was to raise troops to command on an important expedition. Besides, Mr. President, there is another thing. You removed McClellan, a Democratic general, and sent him away in disgrace on the 5th of November, as soon as the results of the election were known, and he has sunk into a growling, fault-finding retirement. My recall is dated the 9th, although determined on sometime before. Seward thought if he should apparently remove us together, as Democrats, and send a Republican down in my place, the country would understand that it was to benefit the anti-slavery cause, as he supposed I should turn up a growling, unappreciative, Democratic sorehead. But that trick of his won't work. He has made a mistake, and he will not thus save himself before Congress. The position that I have taken in my farewell address at New Orleans, which I shall stand by, will cause me to be looked upon as at the head, next to yourself, of the anti-slavery cause. Since this war began, I have never failed in anything I have undertaken, and I shall not fail in this, Mr. President, and you will have no warmer supporter of your administration than I am so long as you hold your present course as regards slavery, and not let it be bedeviled by Seward. I think I must go to Lowell, Mr. President, but here, again, is my commission.”

“Oh,” he answered, “you shall go where you please, General, but keep your commission.”

We shook hands, and I went to Lowell.

If additional evidence can be needed of the opinion of the President and Mr. Stanton of my action in New Orleans, and of the reason of my recall, I beg leave to append the two following letters of the Hon. Charles Sumner:-- [552]

Senate chamber, 5th Dec., 1862.
Dear General:--The President says that you “shall not be forgotten,” --these were his words to me. General Halleck and Mr. Stanton say substantially the same thing, although the former adds “all generals call for more troops” ; but I shall follow it up. Do not fail to call on me.

I understand that the French government has forbidden the papers to mention your name.

The name of Marlboro was once used in France to frighten children,--more than a century ago. You have taken his place.

Believe me, my dear sir,

Faithfully yours,

Senate chamber, 8th Jan., 1863.
Dear General:--Mr. Stanton assured me last evening that had he known your real position with regard to the proclamation he would have cut off his right hand before he would have allowed anybody to take your place,--that his fixed purpose was that on the 1st of January a general should be in command at New Orleans to whom the proclamation would be a living letter; and that in this respect it was natural, after the recent elections in Pennsylvania and New York, that he should look to a Republican rather than to an old Democrat.

I mention these things frankly, that you may see the precise motive of the secret change.

I afterwards saw the President, who said that he hoped very soon to return you to New Orleans. He added that he was anxious to keep you in the public service and to gratify you, as you had deserved well of the country.

I do not know that you will care to hear these things, but trust that you will appreciate the sympathy and friendly interest which dictates this communication.

Believe me, dear General,

Very faithfully yours,

[553] [554] [555] [556] [557] [558] [559] [560]

1 War Records, Vol. XV., p. 514.

2 War Records, Vol. XV., p. 514.

3 War Records, Vol. XV., p. 513.

4 I ought to have a very kindly regard for Count Mejan, as he gave me a certificate of good manners. He wrote to his minister,--and it was filed in the State Department,--that “General Butler can be very polite when he chooses.”

5 The title, Provost Judge, describes an officer of a general's staff appointed by him to investigate and decide all complaints and other matters which the general would be called upon to investigate He gets his title from the old Norman French provostre, for yourself, i. e., instead of the general.

6 A fac-smile of this letter appears on page 389.

7 Seward at Washington, p. 142.

8 Seward at Washington, pp. 146, 147.

9 Upon the retirement of Major Bell from the bench of the provost court, the lawyers and others who had attended it presented to the major a valuable cane, accompanying the gift with expressions of esteem and gratitude, far more precious than any gift could be.

10 Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Vol. II., p. 607.

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Delhi, N. Y. (New York, United States) (1)
China (China) (1)
Chickahominy (Virginia, United States) (1)
Buras (Louisiana, United States) (1)
Brussels (Belgium) (1)
Baltimore, Md. (Maryland, United States) (1)
Algiers (Algeria) (1)

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