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CHAP. XVI. To avert this danger was the general's first urgent
effort, and he made it successful over all difficulties. His second care was to quell and to control the dangerous disloyalty of the population. An order to his own soldiers forbade, under the severest penalties, the stealing of public or private property; a proclamation to the citizens established martial law and made minute regulations for the preservation of order. He gave to neutral aliens and to loyalists assurance of full protection to persons and property; and to non-combatant Confederates also, so far as the exigencies of the public service would permit. In their most favorable phases, war and martial law are full of necessary sacrifice and harshness, and it may be said that General Butler's military government, firm and vigilant throughout, was tolerant and even liberal to the well-disposed and orderly, but severe against transgressors and the malicious plottings of certain individuals, corporations, and classes in aid of rebellion.
These pages do not afford room for an extended review of General Butler's administration. In all the war no man was so severely criticized by his enemies or more warmly defended by his friends. Confederate newspapers, orators, and writers have exhausted the vocabulary of abuse for epithets to heap upon his name, from “Yankee” to “Beast” and “Butcher.” Secession sympathizers in England approvingly echoed this defamation; Palmerston in the House of Commons went out of his way to swell the unthinking British clamor by repeating the unjust censure. The whole subject might profitably be buried as part of the “animosities and passions of
the war,” were it not that Jefferson Davis sought to CHAP. XVI. turn the circumstance to the advantage of the rebellion by a sensational official proclamation declaring Butler“ an outlaw and common enemy of mankind, ... to be immediately executed by hanging" in case of capture, also adding 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 Profilaniacriminals deserving death; and that they and each 1862. W. R. of them be, wherever captured, reserved for execu- pp. 906, 907. tion.”
Since the rebel chief thus prominently inscribed Butler and his officers on the historical record, the recitals of his proclamation deserve a passing notice.
In the list of reasons assigned to support his declaration of outlawry the allegations of imprisonment or expulsion from the city may be at once dismissed as the ordinary incidents of war, which the Confederates themselves were daily practising in different parts of the country. So also of the complaint of military fines and assessments; manifestly they are a harsh and arbitrary mode of reprisal for treason and hostility, but international law recognizes them and all civilized nations practise them. The charge that Butler armed African slaves for a servile war first disappears technically under Butler's showing that he armed no slaves, but only free citizens of color, many of whom the rebels themselves had enlisted and drilled before his coming; while the whole charge disappears generally under President Lincoln's proclamation and policy of emancipation, begun before Davis's edict of outlawry was issued.
CHAP. XVI. There remain therefore but two further points to
be examined, the execution of Mumford and the
Mumford, it will be remembered, tore down the
he had him arrested and tried by a military commission which, on June 5, con
victed him “of treason and an overt act thereof"; 1862. w. R. and Butler ordered the sentence to be executed on
June 7, on which day Mumford was hanged. Jef-
murder," “when said Mumford was an unresisting Proslama- and non-combatant captive, and for no offense 1862. W. r. even alleged to have been committed by him sub
sequent to the date of the capture of the said city.”
Benjamin to Wood, Nov. 25,
Deo. 13, 1861. W. R. Vol. VII.,
Mumford was executed for pulling down the flag CHAP. XVI. at New Orleans before its occupation by the United States forces is willfully to ignore history, law, and evidence. There is no flaw in the chain of legal and technical justice. But if on merely humane considerations we question the severity of the punishment, Jefferson Davis's extravagant fulmination is rebuked by the acts of his own Government and his distinct approval of them. Six months before the hanging of Mumford, the rebel Secre- 1860. W.R. tary of War instructed his officer at Knoxville in regard to the “traitors” in East Tennessee: “ All to Carroll, such as can be identified as having been engaged 1861. W.R. in bridge-burning are to be tried summarily by B, 254, and drumhead court martial, and if found guilty ex- to Centenecuted on the spot by hanging. It would be well to leave their bodies hanging in the vicinity of the burned bridges.”
The consideration of the “woman order” requires a preliminary word. Nobody at the North could properly find fault with the women of the South for reflecting the political bias of Southern communities, or because the natural instincts of their sex led them to sympathize with, and warmly espouse, the secession and rebellion in which their fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons embarked. It was to be expected that their prayers would go with them to the battlefield, and their labors, charities, and sacrifices forward them cheer and comfort to camp and hospital. But the records and traditions of the war make it painfully evident that in every rebel State the expression of hatred for “Yankees” was intentionally practised and cultivated among portions of the female popu
CHAP. XVI. lation of towns and cities; and in this members
of the upper classes were frequently the most conspicuous transgressors. Not content with merely entertaining feelings hostile to Union officers and soldiers, they indulged in obtrusive manifestations of them, relying on the respect and privilege accorded their sex for immunity from retort or retaliation. They turned their backs to avoid looking at them. They stepped from sidewalks into the streets to avoid meeting them. They held aside their skirts to indicate a dread of contamination. They turned up their noses as if they smelt foul odors. They feigned nausea as if their presence were insupportable. They retired from street cars or church pews when they entered. They flaunted miniature secession flags and sang secession songs in their presence or thumped secession melodies when they passed their open windows. They uttered uncomplimentary remarks in their hearing, and in some extreme cases deliberately spat on the Federal uniform. Behavior of this nature was not isolated and local, but prevailed widely throughout the South in multiplied forms during the war. Probably only a minority of the women of the South indulged in these antics; but it was a minority so considerable and so diffused that such exhibitions uniformly attended the presence and progress of Federal armies in rebel communities.
As a rule such behavior was only a rankling annoyance which soldiers and officers endured in silence. But in New Orleans, where a mere handful of troops had to govern a great population and prevent violence, it became a serious danger to discipline and authority. Such open and hourly