Special Newbern Correspondence to the Charleston Mercury, 1861

The eastern portion of North Carolina being made into a separate military department by the Lincoln Government, it looks as if there were a purpose to push the war vigorously into this part of the State, and the selection of General B.F. (Picayune) Butler for the command is indicative of the nature of the war to be carried on.

This man is not capable of commanding large forces anywhere, but he is specially adapted for plundering and devastating excursions among a harmless and defenseless people like those living around the Sounds of this State. He is the fit instrument of a cruel and unprincipled Government. He has been chosen by the Abolitionist chief of the North to execute their vengeance on the South, because, like all renegades, he is a pliant and willing tool.

There is a sort of sarcastic malice in this towards the agent, while there is a vindictiveness towards his victims. This man, who left the Baltimore convention with the Southern delegates because they could not obtain from that corrupt body of Squatter Sovereignty politicians the recognition of the States Rights principle they contend for, is selected as the scourge of the Southern people.

He was first sent to Maryland with almost pro-consular powers, afterwards to Virginia, and now, to North Carolina. We know how he insulted and oppressed the people of Maryland, how he ravaged the country around Fortress Monroe and in the vicinity of Norfolk, stealing negroes, destroying crops, and burning dwellings; and now he is sent on a similar mission to North Carolina. What an infamous role has been assigned him! And he is well fitted for it.

Note: An inept political general, Benjamin Butler is best remembered for his tenure as commander of Union troops in occupied New Orleans and for the colorful nicknames bestowed upon him by the citizens of that city.

The best known of these were “Beast” Butler, in honor of his proclamation that any Southern lady who did not treat Federal soldiers with respect could in turn be treated as a “lady of the night,” and “Spoons” Butler, since many Southerners believed that the general enriched himself by appropriating the silverware and other precious possessions of the citizenry as spoils of war.

The ladies of New Orleans retaliated (albeit behind closed doors) by having portraits of Butler painted on the bottoms of their chamber pots. (from

Collection: The Civil War
Date: September 9, 1861
Title: Our Special Newbern Correspondence .

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