« PreviousContinue »
THE SECOND YEAR.
The New Orleans Disaster.-Its Consequences and Effects.-Dispatches of the European Commissioners.-Butler "the Beast."-Public Opinion in Europe.-The Atrocities of the Massachusetts Tyrant.-Execution of Mumford.-Lesson of New Orleans. Spirit of Resistance in the South.-Change in the Fortunes of the Confederacy. Two Leading Causes for it.-The Richmond "Examiner."-The Conscription Law.-Governor Brown of Georgia.-Reorganization of the Army.-Abandonment of our Frontier Defences.--The Policy of Concentration.-Governor Rector's Appeal.-First Movements of the Summer Campaign in Virginia.-The Retreat from Yorktown.-Evacuation of Norfolk.-Destruction of the "Virginia."-Commodore Tatnall's Report.-Secretary Mallory's Visit to Norfolk.-The Engagement of Williamsburg. The Affair of Barhamsville.-McClellan's Investment of the Lines of the Chickahominy.-Alarm in Richmond.-The Water Avenue of the James.-The Panic in Official Circles.-Consternation in the President's House.-Correspondence between President Davis and the Legislature of Virginia.-Noble Resolutions of the Legislature.-Response of the Citizens of Richmond. -The Bombardment of Drewry's Bluff. The Mass Meeting at the City Hall.-Renewal of Public Confidence.-The Occasions of this.-JACKSON'S CAMPAIGN IN THE VALLEY.-The Engagement o McDowell. The Surprise at Front Royal.-Banks' Retreat down the Valley.-The Engagements of Port Republic.-Results of the Campaign.-Death of Turner Ashby.-Sufferings of the People of the Valley of the Shenandoah.-MEMOIR OF TURNER ASHBY.
THE fall of New Orleans was one of the most extraordinary triumphs which the enemy had obtained. It was the crowning stroke of that extraordinary campaign of the winter and spring of the year 1862, in which, by the improvidence of the Southern authorities, and a false military policy which divided their armies and weakened them by undue dispersion, they had lost much of their territory, most of the prestige of their arms, and had fallen upon a train of disasters well calculated to affect the general public, both at home and abroad. The close of this campaign, so ill-starred to the Confederacy, found it with scarcely more than three entire States-Texas, Alabama, and Georgia. Large portions of the territories of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Florida were occupied by the enemy. he had broken our line of defences in Tennessee, and held im
portant positions on the Upper Mississippi ; and now, by the capture of New Orleans, he had secured the great Southern depot of the trade of the immense central valley of the conti nent, obtained command of an extent of territory accessible by his gunboats greater than the entire country before lost to the Confederacy, and had good reason to hope, by the junction of his fleets on the Mississippi, to open its navigation, and give to the West an outlet to the ocean.
The conquests of the Federal arms made in the winter and spring of 1862, were not without their effect in Europe, and presented to the nations in that part of the world a sombre picture of the Confederacy. The dispatches of our ministers at the courts of England and France declared that the prospect of recognition, of which they had formerly given such warm and sanguine assurances, had been overclouded by the disaster at New Orleans. Mr. Slidell wrote from Paris that the French government declared that “if New Orleans had not fallen, our recognition could not have been much longer delayed." He added, however, that he had been assured that “even after that disaster, if we obtained decided successes in Virginia and Tennessee, or could hold the enemy at bay a month or two, the same result would follow"-a promise, to the breach of which, and to the unhappy expectations which it excited, we shall hereafter bave occasion to refer. Mr. Mason, our minis ter at London, also referred to the opinion that at the time of the enemy's capture of New Orleans, our recognition was on the eve of accomplishment.
The immediate sufferers of the disaster at New Orleans were the people of that city. It was aptly rewarded for its easy submission by the scourge of a tyrant. The corrupt and merciless master of this great emporiuin, General Butler of Massachusetts, was a man who found no merit in submission, unless such as grovelled in the dust and paid personal court and pecuniary tribute to himself. The rule of this vulgar and drunken man excited the horror and disgust of the civilized world, and secured for hiin in the South the popular subriquet of “the Beast." His order which stigmatized as prostitutes the ladies of New Orleans, who betrayed in the streets or from the balconies their indignation against the invaders of their city, while it made him the hero of the hour in the North with a people who admired the coarse spirit of the bully, drew upon him the execrations of all humane and horor able people. In the British Parliament, Lord Palmerston de clared the proclamation to be “infamous," and the condemna tion of the indecent and dirty edict was echoed by the press 01 Europe.*
The acts of the tyrant of New Orleans surpassed all former atrocities and outrages of the war. In frequent instances, citizens, accused by Butler of contumacious disloyalty, were confined at hard labor, with balls and chains attached to their limbs; and sometimes this degrading punishment was inflicted apon men whose only offence was that of selling medicines to the sick soldiers of the Confederacy. Helpless women were torn from their homes and confined in prison. One of these& Mrs. Phillips-was accused of laughing as the funeral train of a Yankee officer passed her doors; she was seized, and with an ingenious and devilish cruelty, her sentence was pronounced by Butler-imprisonment on an island of barren sand under a tropical sun. Various pretexts were invented for plundering the inhabitants of the conquered city; men were forced to elect between starvation by the confiscation of all their property and taking an oath of allegiance to the invaders of their country ; fines were levied at pleasure, and recusants threatened with ball and chain.
* The “Order 28,” which has stigmatized its brutal author throughou Christendom, was at first refused publication by all the newspapers in New Orleans. It was then copied on sheets of paper and surreptitiously posted on many of the principal corners of the streets in the immediate neighbor. hood of the St. Charles Hotel. The next day all of the newspaper offices were ordered to be closed for disobedience of orders. On this becoming known, the True Delta paper published the order, and the other newspapers timidly submitted to the force of circumstances, and published it also. The natural excitement and indignation that followed throughout the community is indescribable. Several lady subscribers sent to the newspaper offices and indignantly and positively forbade that such papers should longer be left at their dwellings. Mayor Monroe, with a party of influential citizens, at once called on the Beast and endeavored to obtain some qualification of the order, but they could get no satisfaction and were rudely dismissed. Mayor Monroe then wrote an indignant and reproachful communication to Butler, and agala pressed him for a modification of the hateful order. Butler then sent for the Mayor. Mayor Monroe replied, “ Tell General Butler my office is at the City Hotel, where he can see me, if desirable.” Butler retorted, that unless the Mayor came at once to his headquarters, he would send an armed force to arrest and bring him there. Further opposition being useless, the Mayor chief of police, and several friends, then went to the St. Charles Hotel, where they found the Beast in a towering rage. Butler claimed to be much insulted at the conduct of the Mayor, and without ceremony or delay, sent Mr. Monroe and those who accompanied him to prison. In a few days they were all shipped down to Fort Jackson.
The conduct of the negroes in New Orleans became intoler able to their owners. They were fed, clothed, and quartered by the Yankees, who fraternized with them generally in a shameful way. The planters in the neighborhood of the city were required to share their crops with the commanding general, his brother, Andrew J. Butler, and other officers; and when this partnership was refused, the plantations were robbed of every thing susceptible of removal, and the slaves taken from their owners and compelled to work under the bayonets of Yankee guards.
It would occupy many pages to detail what the people of New Orleans suffered at the hands of the invaders whom they had so easily admitted into their city, in insult, wrongs, confiscation of property, seizure of private dwellings, and brazen robbery. The Yankee officers, from colonel to lieutenant, as the caprice of each might dictate, seized and took possession of gentlemen's houses, broke into their wine-rooms, forced open the wardrobes of ladies and gentlemen, and either used or sent away from the city the clothing of whole families. Some of the private residences of respectable citizens were appropriated to the vilest uses, the officials who had engaged them making them the private shops of the most infamous female characters.
But while Butler was thus apparently occupied with the oppression of “rebels,” he was too much of a Yankee to be lost to the opportunity of making his pecuniary fortune out of the exigencies which he had created. The banker and broker of the corrupt operations in which he was engaged was his own brother, who bought confiscated property, shipped large consignments from New Orleans, to be paid for in cotton, and speculated largely in powder, saltpetre, muskets, and other war material sold to the Confederacy, surreptitiously sent out from the city and covered by permits for pror.cions. Of the trade .n provisions for cotton, Butler received his share of the gains, while the robbery was covered up by the pretence of consumption in New Orleans “to prevent starvation," or by reported actual issue to troops. The Yankee general did not hesitate to deal in the very life-blood of his own soldiers.
The rule of Butler in New Orleans is especially memorable for the deliberate murder of William B. Mumford, a citizen of the Confederate States, against whom the tyrant had invented the extraordinary charge that he had insulted the flag of the United States. The fact was, that before the city had surrendered, Mumford had taken down from the mint the enemy's Aag. The ensign was wrongfully there; the city had not surrendered; and even in its worst aspects, the act of Mumford was simply one of war, not deserving death, still less the death of a felon. The horrible crime of murdering in cold blood an unresisting and non-combatant captive, was completed by Butler on the 7th of June. On that day, Mumford, the martyr, was publicly executed on the gallows. The Massachusetts coward and tyrant had no ear or heart for the pitiful pleadings made to save the life of his captive, especially by his unhappy wife, who in her supplications for mercy was rudely repulsed, and at times answered with drunken jokes and taunts. The execution took place in the sight of thousands of panic-stricken citizens. None spoke but the martyr himself. His voice was loud and clear. Looking up at the stars and stripes which floated high over the scene before him, he remarked that he had fought under that flag twice, but it had become hateful to him, and he had torn it and trailed it in the dust. “I consider," said the brave young man,
that the manner of my death will be no disgrace to my wife and child; my country will honor them.”
The experience of New Orleans gave a valuable lesson to the South. It exhibited the consequences of submission to the enemy in confiscation, brutality, military domination, insult, universal poverty, the beggary of thousands, the triumph of the vilest individuals in the community, the abasement of the honest and industrious, and the outlawry of the slaves. The spirit of resistance in the South was fortified by the enemy's exhibitions of triumph, and the resolution gained ground that t was much better to consign the cities of the Confederacy to the flames than to surrender them to the enemy. A time was approaching when Yankee gunboats were to lose their prestige