General Butler


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, July 12, 1862

For students and researchers interested in a more in depth examination of the Civil War, we have posted all the original Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. Harper's Weekly was the most popular newspaper of the day, and this online collection can provide incredible details not available elsewhere.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to a specific page of interest)


Lew Wallace

Lew Wallace

Cotton Shortage

Cotton Shortage


Battle of Mechanicsville


Hampton, Virginia

Lewis Wallace

Lewis Wallace Biography

General Butler

General Butler

General Pope

General Pope

New Orleans Cartoon

New Orleans Cartoon


Civil War Surgeon


View of Richmond

Bayonet Charge

Winslow Homer "Bayonet Charge"






[JULY 12, 1862.




GENERAL BUTLER'S magnificent success at New Orleans justifies us in reproducing his Portrait, and we give it accordingly.

Mr. Butler was born at Deerfield, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, in 1818, and is consequently forty-three years old. One of his ancestors was a Cilley—one of the truest Revolutionary stock in New England—and the subject of this biography was related to the lamented Jonathan Cilley, who was killed in the duel with Graves of Kentucky. Mr. Butler received his collegiate education at Waterville, Maine, where the Baptist denomination have a flourishing literary institution. He studied law, and took up his residence at Lowell, Massachusetts, where he soon distinguished himself as an advocate in the courts of Middlesex County. His reputation was soon extended to Boston, and he has long held a prominent position in the Massachusetts bar, whether in the courts of the State or of the General Government. As an advocate he is distinguished by the energy with which he devotes himself to his client, and by the strong, playful, and sometimes vehement language hurled against opposing counsel.

He has always been a prominent politician of the extreme wing of the Democracy,. and has been in a number of political positions in his adopted State. He was a member of the Massachusetts house of Representatives for the first time in 1853, was a member of the Constitutional Convention the same year, and was Senator for Middlesex in 1859-'60. In May, 1860, he was senatorial delegate to the Democratic Convention in Charleston, and afterward at Baltimore. He sided with the Breckinridge faction, and upon his return home was nominated by that portion the Democratic party candidate for Governor. He was one of the first to respond to the

proclamation of President Lincoln calling for volunteers; and his subsequent services have made him, as a patriotic and as an energetic officer, dear to the loyal people of the United States. The correspondent of the Herald thus described the performance of General Butler at the outbreak of the war:

General Butler, with a single Massachusetts regiment, the Eighth, marched from his own State, through six other States, and into Maryland, embarked on board a steamr, and landed in what was then considered the enemy's country, and took possession of Annapolis and held it.

The War Department, appreciating this bold movement, immediately created the new Department of Annapolis, which extended to within seven miles of the Federal capital, and also on the east included Baltimore city, and made General Butler commander of the same. He proceeded to reconstruct locomotives, build bridges, and make railroads. He pushes on toward Baltimore, fortifies himself at the Relay House with the Sixth Massachusetts and Eighth New York regiments and Cook's Boston Battery, controlling the great channel of communication between

the rebels at Harper's Ferry and those in Baltimore. He sends out his scouts, seizes the famous steam-gun and turns it upon the enemy; and with the same Massachusetts regiment that the rebels of Baltimore stoned three weeks previous, accompanied by Cook's Boston Battery and the New York Eighth, he marches into Baltimore, fortifies himself upon the highest point of land overlooking the whole city, issues his proclamation giving protection to all loyalists, and announcing his ultimatum to all traitors, seizes arms, arrests traitors, and marches through the streets escorted by the single company of the gallant Massachusetts Sixth, which received the severest treatment from the mob three weeks before. He does all this before the Pennsylvania troops that were at Cockeyville, within fifteen miles of Baltimore, three weeks ago, reach the city or afford him any support. This is history; and truly General Butler has made a brilliant campaign.

General Butler was afterward appointed to the command at Fortress Monroe. It was while he was there that the unfortunate affair at Great Bethel

took place, and he was soon afterward superseded by General Wool. He then received the command of the expedition against New Orleans. The fighting was done by the time he got there; but his civil administration has been worthy of all praise.       We wish to place on record a charming illustration of his style of managing an impertinent consul:    The Acting British Consul had written to protest against his treatment of some British subjects. General Butler replies:

NEW ORLEANS, May 11, 1862.

SIR,—I have your communication of May 8. With its evasions of fact I have nothing to do. A plain statement of the matter is this: A number of residents of this city, who have enjoyed the protection and advantages of the United States Government in their large trade and property for many years (some of then more than a decade),

and now claiming to have been born subjects of her Majesty Queen Victoria, organized themselves into a military body, known as the "British Guard," and, armed, uniformed, and equipped, patrolled the streets till the fleet of the United States had the city under its guns. This body then, after a discussion in presence of its captain and at least one other officer, at eleven o'clock at night, deliberately voted in an organized meeting to send the arms and uniforms of the company to the army of the rebel General Beauregard, which vote was carried into effect by sending to the rebels substantially all the arms, uniforms, and equipments in their armory. This transaction was concealed from me for some days. I then sent for Captain Burrows, and he acknowledged the facts materially as above stated. In this flagrant breach of the laws of nations, of the United States, your Queen's proclamation, and the laws of God, I directed him to order his company to leave the city within twenty-four hours. To this he objected, saying, among other things, that this would be punishing the innocent with the guilty, as there were some members absent at the time of the vote; that each soldier of the Guard owned his arms and uniform as private property, and it would he hard to compel those to leave the city who still retained their arms and uniforms, and did not concur in the vote. I then modified the order, directing those to report to me who still retained their arms and uniforms—all others, having forfeited all rights of neutrality and hospitality, to leave the city within twenty-four hours, or I should have them arrested and sent to Fort Jackson as dangerous and inimical persons. These people thought it of consequence that Beauregard should have sixty more uniforms and rifles. I thought it of the same consequence that he should have sixty more of these faithless men, who may fill them if they choose. I intended this order to be strictly

enforced. I am content for the present to suffer open enemies to remain in the city of their nativity, but law - defying and treacherous alien enemies shall not.

Thus far you will do me the honor to observe that I have treated your communication as if it emanated from the duly authorized Consul of her Majesty's Government at this port. The respect I feel for that Goverment leads me to err, if at all, upon the side of recognition of all its claims, and those of its officers; but I take leave to call your attention to the fact that you subscribed yourself "Her Britannic Majesty's Acting Consul," and that I have received no official information of any right which you may have so to act, except your acts alone; and pardon me if I err in saying that your acts in that behalf which have come to my knowledge have not been of such character as to induce the belief on my part that you rightfully represent that noble Government. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major-General Commanding.

To GEO. C. COPPEL, acting as her Majesty's Consul at the port of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Apropos of the threats which have been so freely uttered in the Southern newspapers and elsewhere to assassinate the General, the Herald correspondent says, in a late letter:

He rides about among the people as freely as if he was their peculiar favorite. On Sunday afternoon he started with his staff, after five o'clock, and rode to Carrolton, a distance of eight miles. They did not leave there to return until after seven o'clock, arriving at the St. Charles a little before nine. A large part of the road is through a piece of woods, where a skulking foe might have fired upon the party from ambush. The General says, in reference to the possibility of assassination, with which he is constantly threatened though anonymous letters, "If they do it, it will only place General Phelps in command; and if they are satisfied with that arrangement I have nothing to say."


General Butler
Escaping Slaves




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