May 24, 1862: “a panderer to lust and a desecrator of virtue”

Thomas O. Moore
Thomas O. Moore


Ben Butler’s infamous orders no. 28 was decried throughout the south. The confederate governor of Louisiana, Thomas Overton Moore, made good use of Butler’s orders for propaganda purposes.

Opelousas, La., May 24, 1862.

To the People of Louisiana:

The general commanding the troops of the United States now holding possession of New Orleans issued the following order on the 15th instant:

As the officers and soldiers of the United States have been subject to repeated insults from the women (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.

The annals of warfare between civilized nations afford no similar in stance of infamy to this order. It is thus proclaimed to the world what the exhibition of any disgust or repulsiveness by the women of New Orleans to the hated invaders of their home and the slayers of their fathers, brothers, and husbands shall constitute a justification to a brutal soldiery for the indulgence of their lust. The commanding general, from his headquarters, announces to his insolent followers that they are at liberty to treat as women of the town the wives, the mothers, the daughters of our citizens, if by word, gesture, or movement any contempt is indicated for their persons or insult offered to their presence. Of the nature of the movement and the meaning of the look these vagabond refuse of the Northern States are to be the judges.

What else than contempt and abhorrence can the women of New Orleans feel or exhibit for these officers and soldiers of the United States? The spontenances and thus constitute the crime for which the general of those soldiers adjudges the punishment of rape and brutalized passion.

History records instances of cities sacked and inhuman atrocities committed upon the women of a conquered town, but in no instance in modern times, at least without the brutal ravishers suffering condign punishment from the hands of their own commanders. It was reserved for a Federal general to invite his soldiers to the perpetration of outrages at the mention of which the blood recoils in horror-to quicken the impulses of their sensual instincts by the suggestion of transparent excuses for their gratification, and to add to an infamy already well merited these crowning titles of a panderer to lust and a desecrator of virtue.

Maddened by the noble loyalty of our people to the Government of their affections, and at their disgust and execration of their invaders; stung into obliviousness of the world’s censure by the grand offering made of our property upon the altar of our liberties; his passions inflamed by the sight of burning cotton illumining the river upon whose waters floats the powerful flee that effected the downfall of our chief city; disappointed, chafed, and chagrined that our people, unlike his own, do not measure liberty, truth, or honor by a pecuniary standard, he sees the fruits of a victory he did not help to win eluding his grasp, and nothing left upon which to gloat his vengeance but unarmed men and helpless women.

Louisianians! will you suffer such foul conduct of your oppressors to pass unpunished? Will you permit such indignities to remain unavenged? A mind so debased as to be capable of conceiving the alternative presented in this order must be fruitful of inventions wherewith to pollute humanity. Shameless enough to allow their publication in the city, by the countenance of such atrocities they will be multiplied in the country. It inhabitants must arm and strike, or the insolent victors will offer this outrage to yours wives, your sisters, and your daughters. Possessed of New Orleans by means of his superior naval force, he cannot penetrate the interior if you resolve to prevent it. It does not require a force of imposing magnitude to impede his progress. Companies of experienced woodsmen in every exposed locality, with their trusty rifles and shot-guns, will harass his invading columns, deprive him of his pilots, and assure him he is in the country of an enemy. At proper points larger forces will be collected, but every man can be a soldier to guard the approaches to his home. Organize, then, quickly and efficiently. If your enemy attempt to proceed into the interior let his parkway be marked by his blood. It is your homes that you have to defend. It is the jewel of your hearths-the chastity of your women-you have to guard. Let that thought animate your breasts, nerve your arms, quicken your energies, and inspire your resolution. Strike home to the heart of your foe the blow that rids your country of his presence. If need by let his blood moisten your own grave. It will rise up before your children as a perpetual memento of a race whom it will teach to have now and evermore.


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