In April of 1862, Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler and his Union army occupied New Orleans. The abuse of his soldiers endured from patriotic Confederate women was a major. Bitterly resenting the Union occupation, whenever any of Butler’s men were present they would contemptuously gather in their skirts, cross streets, flee rooms, cast hateful glances, or make derisive comments. Some sang spirited renditions of “The Bonnie Blue Flag” and other Confederate songs, or spat on soldiers’ uniforms. One woman emptied a chamber pot on Capt. David C. Farragut from her window. On May 15, to resolve the problem before someone was injured Butler issued General Orders No. 28:
“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.”
Except for a few isolated incidents, the insults stopped abruptly when the women learned they would be treated as common women of the streets for demeaning a man wearing a U.S. army uniform.
Tomorrow: A Toddy for the Body. Rita Bay