Friday, April 25, 2008

NOLA History

On this day in 1862, New Orleans fell to Union forces under Captain David Farragut. General Benjamin Butler, a politically connected incompetent, was placed in charge of the occupation army. He quickly proceeded to endear himself with the population.
His General Order No. 26 allowed Union soldiers to treat women as prostitutes if they showed contempt for their occupiers.
He had the phrase "The Union Must and Shall be Preserved" carved into the base of Andrew Jackson's statue in Jackson Square.
He hung William Mumford for treason. The treasonous act was removing a newly installed US flag from City Hall. This was done before the official surrender of the city.
He caused an international incident when he imprisoned champagne entrepreneur Charles Heidsieck for spying. (Charlie's story is an interesting one: He came to the US to try to get payment for a shipment of champagne. The agent claimed that he did not have to pay due to new laws enacted by the Lincoln government. With no money available, he took a shipment if cotton as payment but it was subsequently lost as he tried to smuggle it out of Mobile on blockade runners. Charles went to New Orleans to try to return home to France but New Orleans had fallen to the Union. He was carrying papers from the French Consolate in Mobile and was therefore thought to be a spy. He was imprisoned at Fort Jackson and later returned to France broke. In 1863, the brother of the agent had guilt pangs and deeded some land over to Charles as payment of the old debt It was land of the little settlement of Denver, Colorado.)
The fact that chamber pots were made with the image of Ben Butler inside may give you some idea of the esteem in which he was held by the population of New Orleans.

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