Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Beast And Ladies

Union Major General Benjamin Butler issued General Order Number 28 in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 15th 1862, calling for any woman insulting a Union soldier to be treated as a prostitute.

Following the Battle of New Orleans, Union Major General Benjamin Butler became the military commander of the city on May 1st 1862.  Many of people who lived in the city had strong Confederate sympathy, and the women expressed these feelings by insulting the Union soldiers stationed in the city.  With these actions in mind Butler issued General Order Number 28 also known as the “Woman’s Order” on May 15th 1862.  It stated that any woman insulting or showing contempt for a Union officer or soldier should treated as a woman “plying her avocation” or like a prostitute.  Some of the action the “Ladies” of New Orleans took, where to spit on passing soldiers, and one woman emptied her chamber pot on Union Captain David C Farragut.  It took away the ability of the women of New Orleans, to hide behind the treatment expected by a lady.

The Order 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 noninterference 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."

After Number 28 was posted, most women stopped their actions.  The few who continued were arrested and placed on Ship Island.  The most notable of these women was Eugenia Levy Philips who laughed at a passing Union officer’s funeral procession.  This order was quite controversial at home and overseas.  It would lead to Butler’s nickname of “Beast” Butler, and to his being removed from command of New Orleans on December 16th 1862.

If you’re interested reading more about this subject check out General Benjamin Franklin Butler

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