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disrespect was a constant incitement to disorder CHAP. XVI. and mobs. “We were 2500 men,” wrote Butler, “in a city seven miles long by two to four wide, of 150,000 inhabitants, all hostile, bitter, defiant, explo- General sive; standing literally on a magazine, a spark only needed for destruction." But how abate the evil ? The ordinary punishments of arrest, fine, and imprisonment were inapplicable. The offenses were too vague, the cases too numerous; he could not bring even a fraction of these female malignants into a police court. The only remedy was to stamp their public rudeness with the seal of public disgrace. In his own language: “No order could be made save one which would execute itself.” He remembered an old ordinance of the City of London, which he had read in some law-book, and copying its phraseology he, on May 15, published his “Order No. 28," which announced that “As the officers and soldiers of the United States have been subject to repeated insults from the women (calling themselves ladies) of New Orleans in return for the most scrupulous non-interference and courtesy on our part, it is ordered that hereafter when any female shall, by word, gesture, or movement, insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States, she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation."
General Butler's simple and plain intention was to abate a nuisance in public demeanor which could be reached in no other way, and he so explained it to the Mayor on the following day. “There can be, there has been,” he wrote, “no room for the misunderstanding of General Order
Butler to Monroe, May 16,
CHAP. XVI. No. 28. No lady will take any notice of a strange
gentleman, and a fortiori of a stranger, in such
form as to attract attention. . . If obeyed, it will Parton, protect the true and modest woman from all posButler in sible insult.” We have the published testimony of
a member of General Butler's staff as to the result. “Can I say anything stronger," he wrote, “in vindication of the propriety of this order, or of the general's sagacity in issuing it, than that the first twenty-four hours after its promulgation witnessed a complete, and it seemed to us who were there almost miraculous, change in the deportment of
the ladies of the Crescent City? If success is the Atlantio, test of merit, then was it one of the most meritoriJuly, 1863,
ous acts of the war."
One tremendous outcry, however, of denunciation and misconstruction of its language and intent arose from every rebel in the South and every rebel sympathizer in Europe. British blockade-runners were just beginning to reap their enormous profits from contraband trade with the rebellion; and Lord Palmerston, prime minister of England, grew eloquent, and the London “Times” and “Punch" indignant, over the “infamous” doings of the Yankee Haynau and Nana Sahib. General Butler's nature is combative, and he had a ready retort to such high criticism, which, in due time, he embodied in his farewell address. With a single additional
tary Debates, June 13,
1“To be sure I might have of the royal house of England; or regaled you with the amenities of roasted, like the inhabitants of British civilization, and yet been Algiers during the French camwithin the supposed rules of civil- paign ; your wives and daughters ized warfare. You might have might have been given over to the been smoked to death in caverns, ravisher, as were the unfortunate as were the Covenanters of Scot- dames of Spain in the Peninsular land by the command of a general war; or you might have been
tion, Dec. 23,
comment the "woman order” may be dismissed CHAP. XVI. from consideration. In his proclamation of outlawry against Butler, Jefferson Davis says of it: “The soldiers of the United States have been in
Davis, vited and encouraged by general orders to insult and outrage the wives, the mothers, and the sisters 1862. W. 'R.
Vol. XV., of our citizens.” Unconsciously, the rebel President's language proved more than he intended. Like the testimony of many another prejudiced witness, his accusation answered itself. He wrote this assertion more than six full months after Butler's order was issued, and during the whole of which period it had remained in force. In the same proclamation Davis recited, in as pathetic and harrowing language as he could command, the wrongs and sufferings which he alleged Butler's administration had heaped upon the people of New Orleans — fine, imprisonment, exile, chains, labor, confiscation, starvation, murder— but not one single instance of insult, much less outrage, under the “woman order," is mentioned in the long sensational catalogue. The simple truth is, Order No. 28 sprang from no evil design of the commander, and was neither misunderstood by, nor provoked the least evil act from, his officers or soldiers. But for the prominence given it by Confederates to “fire the Southern heart” and stimulate the intervenscalped and tomahawked, as our paintings of the Vatican; your mothers were at Wyoming by the sons might have been blown from savage allies of Great Britain the mouths of cannon, like the in our own Revolution; your Sepoys at Delhi; and yet all this property could have been turned would have been within the rules over to indiscriminate 'loot,' like of civilized warfare as practised the palace of the Emperor of by the most polished and the China; works of art which most hypocritical nations of Euadorned your buildings might rope." - Parton, “General Butler have been sent away, like the in New Orleans,” pp. 603, 604.
CHAP. XVL tion of France and England, it would have merited
no discussion except as a question of taste. In that respect it can no more be defended than can the unseemly parade of it as a Southern grievance; at the same time its salutary influence in checking the public misbehavior at which it was aimed will scarcely be denied.
However loud was the outcry against Butler's methods, there is a cheerful and universal admission of his energy and efficiency. Never in its long history was New Orleans so quiet, orderly, clean, and healthy. Though he rigorously exacted obedience to his police orders, and abstinence from public and private hostility to the flag and laws of his Government, he repaid the people a thousand-fold by keeping the wolf of starvation from their doors and the dreadful scourge of yellow fever out of their homes. The city was without provisions and without occupation; with trade stagnant, with supplies cut off, with industry paralyzed, with a worthless currency, with credit destroyed, with confidence gone, with poverty wide-spread and irremediable, with demoralization in every part of the social structure. These combined evils he grappled with intelligent resolution and the confidence born of an indomitable will. He distributed among the poor the captured Confederate rations. He allowed provisions already purchased by the city to be freely brought from Mobile and Red River; he organized relief associations. Finding certain lists of wealthy citizens who had subscribed a million and a quarter to the rebel war fund, he assessed them one-fourth their subscription and applied it to feeding the poor. This relief fund was augmented by contributions levied
on another list of merchants who had published a CHAP.XVL newspaper card advising planters not to send their produce to New Orleans. But he also made this relief fund serve a wider purpose than mere charity. He used it to employ from one to two thousand laborers every day “in cleaning the streets and building up the levees, and putting the city to rights, generally. All the drainage of the city is done by means of canals, and we cleaned out between ten and eleven miles of canal, some of which had not been cleaned for twelve or fifteen years. The consequence was that we had comparatively no sickness in the city of New Orleans. I had a regiment, a thousand strong, in the city during the months of July and August, and it buried but one man.” This was one essential step, maintaining public health ; but he did not neglect the other. “I established a very striet quarantine,” continues his testimony. “I would not allow any vessel that came from an infected port to come up to the city under thirty days. If she had anything like a perishable cargo it was taken out and thoroughly overhauled and fumigated. . . I did allow a small steamer from New York to come up, the captain stating that he touched at Nassau merely to take in coal, and was there but a short time. It turned out, however, that he did take passengers on board, one of whom had the yellow fever after he arrived at New Orleans. I immediately had the square shut up completely, allowed no one to enter or leave it, whitewashed everything, cleaned the square up, fumigated it, and when the man died buried him and pretty much everything he had ever looked at. This ended the matter ; we did not