[Benjamin F. Butler]

Benjamin F. Butler's Proclamation to New Orleans, Recently Captured Confederate Stronghold

Benjamin F. Butler's Proclamation to New Orleans, Recently Captured Confederate Stronghold


Printed broadside issued by Major General Benjamin F. Butler (1818-1893), the Federal commander in charge of the recently captured Confederate city of New Orleans, from Department of the Gulf Headquarters on May 1, 1862. The broadside is comprised of several sheets and is professionally laid down on Japan paper. In very good to near fine condition, with a 2" x 3" section of loss found in the lower right corner, and some minor chipped edges. Measures 23" x 8.75".


On April 28, 1862, Union forces seized Forts Jackson and St. Philip, two Confederate fortifications located on the Mississippi River 80 miles south of the city of New Orleans. New Orleans fell within days without a battle. With the Jewel of the Mississippi now in Union hands, the Confederacy had lost one of its wealthiest, commercially important, and populous cities.


Major General Butler led 5,000 troops to occupy New Orleans on May 1, 1862, issuing this proclamation to the city's civilians. It was the intention of Union soldiers, the proclamation stated, "to restore order, maintain public tranquility, [and] enforce peace and quiet under the Laws and Constitution of the United States." The Union Army "came here [to New Orleans] not to destroy but to make good, to restore order out of chaos, and the government of laws in place of the passions of men…"


The policies of the federal commander spokesperson suggested other motives. With the Proclamation, Butler announced his plan to implement martial law. Enemies of the United States were to surrender their arms, and former rebels and foreign citizens swear oaths of allegiance to ensure their protection by federal troops. Public assembly was prohibited. Public buildings were to be surrendered for use as military headquarters. All Confederate paraphernalia, such as flags, printed propaganda, and currency, was to be confiscated or destroyed. Union soldiers were to be treated respectfully or punishment would be severe (this somewhat anticipating Butler's future controversial zero-tolerance policy towards civilians disrespecting his troops; see below).


Benjamin Butler's 7-month tenure as military governor of the 150,000-person city was disastrous. His unpopular and incendiary policies earned him the nickname "Beast."  His notorious Order No. 28, issued just two weeks after this Proclamation, stated that any woman publicly disrespecting a Union solider would be treated as a prostitute. This, along with Butler's decision to engrave "The Union Must and Shall be Preserved" on the base of the equestrian statue in Jackson Square, made it clear that he wanted to punish the rebels. In this respect, Butler anticipated the motivation that inspired General William T. Sherman's March to the Sea campaign 2 years later. Butler was replaced in mid-December 1862.


Prior to administrating New Orleans, Benjamin Butler served as a state politician and Massachusetts Congressman. His military promotion during the Civil War is viewed by most historians as political. He served as Governor of Massachusetts between 1883-1884.


This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


Item: 65000

Price: $1,500.00
[Benjamin F. Butler][Benjamin F. Butler][Benjamin F. Butler][Benjamin F. Butler]
[Benjamin F. Butler]
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