Friday, September 11, 2009

Laughing At A Union Funeral

Eugenia Levy Phillips was released from Ship Island Mississippi on September 11th 1862, where she was held for laughing during a Union soldier’s funeral in New Orleans.

Eugenia Levy Phillips was born to a prominent Jewish family in 1819 in Charleston South Carolina. After marring Philip Phillips they moved to Mobile Alabama, where her husband an attorney became a US Congressman in 1853. After his first term was up the family stayed in Washington DC where he practiced law. Unbeknownst to her husband who was against secession, Eugenia’s loyalty lie with the south and she was suspected to be working for Rose O'Neal Greenhow’s spy ring. In August 1861 the whole Phillips house hold was placed under arrest for spying. With help from friends the family including Edwin M Stanton the family were released and moved south, first to Richmond and then onto New Orleans Louisiana.

New Orleans at this time was occupied by General Benjamin Butler and his Union troops. It was here that she ran into trouble by laughing out loud at a Union funeral procession, which was in violation of Butler’s Women’s Order which read, “As the officers and soldiers of the United States have been subjected 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 had her arrested and placed on Ship Island in the Gulf of Mexico on June 30th 1862, where she was held until September 11th 1862. By the time her husband was able to gain her release Eugenia was quite ill with fever.

Eugenia Levy Philips died at the age of 82 in 1902 while living in Georgia.

Another place for more information
Journal of Mrs. Eugenia Levy Phillips, 1861-1862

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