May 15, 1862: “…plying her avocation.”

Southern Belle

As we have seen earlier, Ben Butler was not well-loved in the confederacy to begin with. He and his troops reported continual insults and abuse from the women of New Orleans (although the Richmond Dispatch denies they could be so coarse). The last straw came when a woman dumped a chamber pot on Admiral Farragut as he walked by on the street below her window. General Butler issued his infamous general orders no. 28 in retaliation.

From the Official Record:



New Orleans, May 15, 1862.

As the officers and soldiers of the United States have been subject to repeated insults from the woman (calling themselves ladies) of New Orleans in return for the most scrupulous non-interference 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.

By command of Major-General Butler:


Assistant Adjutant-General and Chief of Staff.

Among other reactions, southerners apparently later manufactured chamber pots with Butler’s image in the bottom.

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