Confederate Reaction to “Beast” Butler

Author:   General Pierre G.T. Beauregard


The Civil War witnessed a will to destroy and a spirit of intolerance that conflicted with Americans’ self-image as a tolerant people committed to compromise. Not only did the conflict see the use of shrapnel and booby traps, it reportedly saw a few southern women wear necklasses made of Union soldiers’ teeth. In a notorious 1862 order, Union General Ulysses S. Grant expelled all Jews from his military department on the grounds that they were speculating in cotton.

While Grant was driving toward the Mississippi from the north, northern naval forces under Captain David G. Farragut (1801-1870) attacked from the south. In April 1862, Farragut steamed past weak Confederate defenses and captured New Orleans. In New Orleans, Union forces met repeated insults from the city’s women. Major General Benjamin F. Butler ordered that any woman who behaved disrespectfully should be treated as a prostitute. Reaction in the North was mixed. Southern reaction to “Beast” Butler was predictably harsh.


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 Untied States, she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation. By command of Major General Butler

General Pierre G.T. Beauregard referred to this order in an attempt to bolster Confederate forces’ morale.

General Pierre G. Beauregard, General orders no. 44, May 19, 1862, GLC 666


Men of the South! shall our mothers, our wives, our daughters and our sisters, be thus outraged by the ruffianly soldiers of the North, to whom is given the right to treat, at their pleasure, the ladies of the South as common harlots? Arouse friends, and drive back from our soil, those infamous invaders of our homes and disturbers of our family ties.



Additional information: General Orders No. 14