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Old 03-11-2023, 10:23 AM
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Exclamation General Benjamin [The Beast] Butler


There has never been a war, within the brief history of mankind, where at least one individual has not been vilified or defiled – and such has always been the fate of any faction in war, and in this case, Union General Benjamin Butler is truly the goat!

Outside of his less that attractive appearance, “The Butcher of New Orleans” (as he was called) was little different than any other military man in time of conflict, having both his good side and his bad. Who, after all, has not been touched or altered by the ferocity and the utter carnage of warfare?

And as for General Benjamin Butler Himself maybe it was more his physical appearance than anything else, that garnered for him his ghastly reputation, and only history itself (which is not always factual) will relate the truth of the matter about Butler?

Or maybe, he even deserved the dastardly handle of “Beast Butler?” But whatever it was that generated such hatred and disgust for the man, the fact remains, that any war is a filthy and bloody business and one in which someone is and forever will be vilified and characterized (right or wrong) as ‘A Beast’ much as General Benjamin Butler was during (and after) “The American Civil War! No man, after all, ever gallops into war, astride a white charger and no man ever exits one - Unchanged and Totally Clean!! “And that is just the way that it is!!”

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Old 03-11-2023, 11:15 AM
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Full History & Background of Benjamin Butler

I believe they find a whipping General in every war. Nasty or not the job got done and
its past tense or old news. Whatever his reason's were or what grudge he may have
had - he got it done. I would suspect things were pretty gruesome during land wars
and hand to hand fighting. It's that way in most wars.
I will look up this General and see what I can find that may give him some enlightment
for services rendered.

Will come back and post once I find something of interest. War's become personal and
many can relate to that to a degree.
Benjamin Franklin Butler (November 5, 1818 – January 11, 1893) was an American major general of the Union Army, politician, lawyer, and businessman from Massachusetts. Born in New Hampshire and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, Butler is best known as a political major general of the Union Army during the American Civil War and for his leadership role in the impeachment of U.S. President Andrew Johnson. He was a colorful and often controversial figure on the national stage and on the Massachusetts political scene, serving five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and running several campaigns for governor before his election to that office in 1882.

Butler, a successful trial lawyer, served in the Massachusetts legislature as an antiwar Democrat and as an officer in the state militia. Early in the Civil War he joined the Union Army, where he was noted for his lack of military skill and his controversial command of New Orleans, which brought him wide dislike in the South and the "Beast" epithet. Although freeing an enemy's slaves in wartime was nothing new, Butler created the legal idea of doing so by designating them as contraband of war,[1] which led to ending slavery becoming an official war goal. His commands were marred by financial and logistical dealings across enemy lines, some of which may have taken place with his knowledge and to his financial benefit.

Butler was dismissed from the Union Army after his failures in the First Battle of Fort Fisher, but he soon won election to the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts. As a Radical Republican he considered President Johnson's Reconstruction agenda to be too weak, advocating harsher punishments of former Confederate leadership and stronger stances on civil rights reform. He was also an early proponent of the prospect of impeaching Johnson. After Johnson was impeached in early 1868, Butler served as the lead prosecutor among the House-appointed impeachment managers in the Johnson impeachment trial proceedings. Additionally, as Chairman of the House Committee on Reconstruction, Butler authored the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and coauthored the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1875.

In Massachusetts, Butler was often at odds with more conservative members of the political establishment over matters of both style and substance. Feuds with Republican politicians led to his being denied several nominations for the governorship between 1858 and 1880. Returning to the Democratic fold, he won the governorship in the 1882 election with Democratic and Greenback Party support. He ran for president on the Greenback Party and the Anti-Monopoly Party tickets in 1884.

Early years:

Benjamin Franklin Butler was born in Deerfield, New Hampshire, the sixth and youngest child of John Butler and Charlotte Ellison Butler. His father served under General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812 and later became a privateer, dying of yellow fever in the West Indies not long after Benjamin was born.[2] He was named after Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. His elder brother, Andrew Jackson Butler (1815–1864), served as a colonel in the Union Army during the Civil War and joined him in New Orleans.[3] Butler's mother was a devout Baptist who encouraged him to read the Bible and prepare for the ministry.[2] In 1827, at the age of nine, Butler was awarded a scholarship to Phillips Exeter Academy, where he spent one term. He was described by a schoolmate as "a reckless, impetuous, headstrong, boy", and regularly got into fights.[4]

Butler's mother moved the family in 1828 to Lowell, Massachusetts, where she operated a boarding house for workers at the textile mills. He attended the public schools there, from which he was almost expelled for fighting, the principal describing him as a boy who "might be led, but could not be driven."[5] He attended Waterville (now Colby) College in pursuit of his mother's wish that he prepare for the ministry, but eventually rebelled against the idea. In 1836, Butler sought permission to go instead to West Point for a military education, but he did not receive one of the few places available. He continued his studies at Waterville, where he sharpened his rhetorical skills in theological discussions and began to adopt Democratic Party political views. He graduated in August 1838.[6] Butler returned to Lowell, where he clerked and read law as an apprentice with a local lawyer. He was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1840 and opened a practice in Lowell.[7]

Pre-Civil War political career
During the debates over the ten-hour day a Whig-supporting Lowell newspaper published a verse suggesting that Butler's father had been hanged for piracy. Butler sued the paper's editor and publisher for that and other allegations that had been printed about himself. The editor was convicted and fined $50, but the publisher was acquitted on a technicality. Butler blamed the Whig judge, Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar, for the acquittal, inaugurating a feud between the two that would last for decades and significantly color Butler's reputation in the state.[16]

Butler, as a Democrat, supported the Compromise of 1850 and regularly spoke out against the abolition of slavery. At the state level, he supported the coalition of Democrats and Free Soilers that elected George S. Boutwell governor in 1851. This garnered him enough support to win election to the state legislature in 1852.[15] His support for Franklin Pierce as president, however, cost him the seat the next year. He was elected a delegate to the 1853 state constitutional convention with strong Catholic support, and was elected to the state senate in 1858, a year dominated by Republican victories in the state.[17] Butler was nominated for governor in 1859 and ran on a pro-slavery, pro-tariff platform. He lost to incumbent Republican Nathaniel Prentice Banks.[13][18]

In the 1860 Democratic National Convention at Charleston, South Carolina, Butler initially supported John C. Breckinridge for president but then shifted his support to Jefferson Davis, believing that only a moderate Southerner could keep the Democratic party from dividing. A conversation he had with Davis prior to the convention convinced him that Davis might be such a man, and he gave him his support before the convention split over slavery.[19] Butler ended up supporting Breckinridge over Douglas against state party instructions, ruining his standing with the state party apparatus. He was nominated for governor in the 1860 election by a Breckinridge splinter of the state party, but trailed far behind other candidates.[20

Civil War:

Although he sympathized with the South, Butler stated, "I was always a friend of southern rights but an enemy of southern wrongs" and sought to serve in the Union Army.[21] His military career before the Civil War began as a private in the Lowell militia in 1840.[22] Butler eventually rose to become colonel of a regiment of primarily Irish American men. In 1855, the nativist Know Nothing Governor Henry J. Gardner disbanded Butler's militia, but Butler was elected brigadier general after the militia was reorganized. In 1857 Secretary of War Jefferson Davis appointed him to the Board of Visitors of West Point.[23] These positions did not give him any significant military experience.[24]

After Abraham Lincoln was elected president in November 1860, Butler traveled to Washington, D.C. When a secessionist South Carolina delegation arrived there he recommended to lameduck President James Buchanan that they be arrested and charged with treason. Buchanan rejected the idea. Butler also met with Jefferson Davis and learned that he was not the Union man that Butler had previously thought he was. Butler then returned to Massachusetts,[25] where he warned Governor John A. Andrew that hostilities were likely and that the state militia should be readied. He took advantage of the mobilization to secure a contract with the state for his mill to supply heavy cloth to the militia. Military contracts would constitute a significant source of profits for Butler's mill throughout the war.[26]

Petitioning for military leadership appointment:

Butler also worked to secure a leadership position should the militia be deployed. He first offered his services to Governor Andrew in March 1861.[26] When the call for militia finally arrived in April, Massachusetts was asked for only three regiments, but Butler managed to have the request expanded to include a brigadier general. He telegraphed Secretary of War Simon Cameron, with whom he was acquainted, suggesting that Cameron issue a request for a brigadier and general staff from Massachusetts, which soon afterward appeared on Governor Andrew's desk. He then used banking contacts to ensure that loans that would be needed to fund the militia operations would be conditioned on his appointment. Despite Andrew's desire to assign the brigadier position to Ebenezer Peirce, the bank insisted on Butler, and he was sent south to ensure the security of transportation routes to Washington.[27][28] The nation's capital was threatened with isolation from free states because it was unclear whether Maryland, a slave state, would also secede.[2

Fort Monroe, Virginia

Map of Fort Monroe, 1862: (on site only)

When two Massachusetts regiments had been sent overland to Maryland, two more were dispatched by sea under Butler's command to secure Fort Monroe at the mouth of the James River.[29] After being dressed down by Scott for overstepping his authority, Butler was next assigned command of Fort Monroe and of the Department of Virginia.[39] On May 27, Butler sent a force 8 miles (13 km) north to occupy the lightly defended adjacent town of Newport News, Virginia at Newport News Point, an excellent anchorage for the Union Navy. The force established and significantly fortified Camp Butler and a battery at Newport News Point that could cover the entrance to the James River ship canal and the mouth of the Nansemond River. Butler also expanded Camp Hamilton, established in the adjacent town of Hampton, Virginia, just beyond the confines of the fort and within the range of its guns.[40]

The Union occupation of Fort Monroe was considered a threat to Richmond by Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and he began organizing the defense of the Virginia Peninsula in response.[41] Confederate General John B. Magruder, seeking to buy time while awaiting men and supplies, established well-defended forward outposts near Big and Little Bethel, only 8 miles (13 km) from Butler's camp at Newport News as a lure to draw his opponent into a premature action.[42] Butler took the bait, and suffered an embarrassing defeat at the Battle of Big Bethel on June 10. Butler devised a plan for a night march and operation against the positions but chose not to lead the force in person, for which he was criticized.[43] The plan proved too complex for his inadequately trained subordinates and troops to carry out, especially at night, and was further marred by the failure of staff to communicate passwords and precautions. A friendly fire incident during the night gave away the Union position, further harming the advance, which was attempted without knowledge of the layout or the strength of the Confederate positions.[44] Massachusetts militia general Ebenezer W. Peirce, who commanded in the field, received the most criticism for the failed operation.[45] With the withdrawal of many of his men for use elsewhere, Butler was unable to maintain the camp at Hampton, although his forces retained the camp at Newport News.[46] Butler's commission, which required approval from Congress, was vigorously debated after Big Bethel, with critical comment raised about his lack of military experience. But his commission was narrowly approved on July 21, the day of the First Battle of Bull Run, the war's first large-scale battle.[47] The battle's poor outcome for the Union was used as cover by General Scott to reduce Butler's force to one incapable of substantive offense, and it was implicit in Scott's orders that the troops were needed nearer to Washington.[48]

Army of the James
Butler's popularity with the Radicals meant that Lincoln could not readily deny him a new posting. Lincoln considered sending him to a position in the Mississippi River area in early 1863, and categorically refused to send him back to New Orleans.[74] In November 1863, he finally gave Butler command of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina based in Norfolk, Virginia. In January 1864, Butler played a pivotal role in the creation of six regiments of U.S. Volunteers recruited from among Confederate prisoners of war ("Galvanized Yankees") for duty on the western frontier.[75] In May, the forces under his command were designated the Army of the James. On November 4, 1864, Butler arrived in New York City with 3,500 troops of the Army of the James. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton had "requested that Grant send troops to New York City to help oversee the election there. Stanton's concern arose from the city's perennial political and racial divisions, which had erupted during the 1863 draft riots,"[76][77] and because of fear of Confederates coming from Canada to burn the city on Election Day. Grant selected Butler for the assignment. "Even though he knew nothing about the plot [to burn the city] and did nothing to prevent it, Butler's mere presence with his 3,500 troops" demoralized the leaders of the conspiracy, who postponed it until November 25, when it failed.[78]

The Army of the James also included several regiments of United States Colored Troops. These troops saw combat in the Bermuda Hundred campaign (see below). At the Battle of Chaffin's Farm (sometimes also called the Battle of New Market Heights), the USCT troops performed extremely well. The 38th USCT defeated a more powerful force despite intense fire, heavy casualties, and terrain obstacles. Butler awarded the Medal of Honor to several men of the 38th USCT. He also ordered a special medal designed and struck, which was awarded to 200 African-American soldiers who had served with distinction in the engagement. This was later called the Butler Medal.


General Butler claimed that Lincoln approached him in 1865, a few days before his assassination, to talk about reviving colonization in Panama.[84] Since the mid-twentieth century, historians have debated the validity of Butler's account, as Butler wrote it years after the fact and was prone to exaggerating his prowess as a general.[85] Recently discovered documents prove that Butler and Lincoln did indeed meet on April 11, 1865, though whether and to what extent they talked about colonization is not recorded except in Butler's account.[86

Civil Rights Act of 1871

Harper's Weekly illustration by Thomas Nast in 1874 with helpless baby "Boston"

Butler wrote the initial version of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 (also known as the Ku Klux Klan Act). After his bill was defeated, Representative Samuel Shellabarger of Ohio drafted another bill, only slightly less sweeping than Butler's, that successfully passed both houses and became law upon Grant's signature on April 20.[128][137] Along with Republican Senator Charles Sumner, Butler proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1875, a seminal and far-reaching law banning racial discrimination in public accommodations.[138] The Supreme Court of the United States declared the law unconstitutional in the 1883 Civil Rights Cases.[139]

Relationship with President Ulysses S. Grant

Butler managed to rehabilitate his relationship with Ulysses Grant after the latter became president, to the point where he was seen as generally speaking for the president in the House. He annoyed Massachusetts old-guard Republicans by convincing Grant to nominate one of his protégés to be collector of the Port of Boston, an important patronage position, and secured an exception for an ally, John B. Sanborn, in legislation regulating the use of contractors by the Internal Revenue Service for the collection of tax debts. In 1874, Sanborn would be involved in the Sanborn Contract scandal, in which he was paid over $200,000 for collecting debts that would likely have been paid without his intervention.[140]

Later years and death:

Butler's memorial at the Hildreth family cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts

In his later years Butler reduced his activity level, working on his memoir, Butler's Book, which was published in 1892.[157] Butler's Book has 1,037 pages plus a 94-page appendix consisting of letters. In it, "Butler focused by far the majority of his attention on the war years, vigorously defending his often-maligned record." He arranged "with his longtime friend and ally James Parton [author of General Butler in New Orleans] that Parton would finish the book if Butler died before it was done. (As it happens, Parton died first, in October 1891)."[158]

Butler died on January 11, 1893, of complications from a bronchial infection, two days after arguing a case before the Supreme Court.[159] He is buried in his wife's family cemetery, behind the main Hildreth Cemetery in Lowell.[160] The inscription on Butler's monument reads, "the true touchstone of civil liberty is not that all men are equal but that every man has the right to be the equal of every other man—if he can."[161]

His daughter Blanche married Adelbert Ames, a Mississippi governor and senator who had served as a general in the Union Army during the war. Butler's descendants include the famous scientist Adelbert Ames, Jr., suffragist and artist Blanche Ames Ames, Butler Ames, Hope Butler, and George Plimpton.

His Legacy: According to biographer Hans L. Trefousse:
Butler was one of the most controversial 19th-century American politicians. Demagogue, speculator, military bungler, and sharp legal practitioner--he was all of these; and he also was a fearless advocate of justice for the downtrodden, a resourceful military administrator, and an astonishing innovator. He was passionately hated and equally strongly admired, and if the South called him "Beast," his constituents in Massachusetts were fascinated by him.... As a leading advocate of radical Reconstruction, Butler played an important role in the conflict between president and Congress. His effectiveness was marred by the frequency with which engaged in personal altercations, and his conduct as one of the principal managers of the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson was dubious. Nevertheless he deserves recognition as a persistent critic of southern terrorism and is one of the chief authors of the Civil Rights Act of 1875.[162]
Black newspapers eulogized him "consistently as a 'friend of the colored race,' 'a staunch and enthusiastic advocate' of Black progress, and 'one of the few American statesmen who have stood as a wall of defense in favor of equal rights for all American citizens.' ... The New England Torchlight put it simply: 'The white South hated him. The black South loved him.'"[163]
Note: There is a hell of alot of data on this guy. To read it all go to:

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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