“Targeting” “Beast” Ben Butler in Vicksburg


During a recent visit to a home on the southern Mississippi River, I found a memorable artifact of the war.

General Ben Butler was the Union military commander who took New Orleans early in the war and then remained its military commander for some time.  During that period he implemented several improvements in the city’s operations, including efforts to reduce the threat of malaria and yellow fever.  However he is best known for implementing an order that any woman in that city who disparaged Union troops would be arrested as a “lady of the town” (i.e. a prostitute) and imprisoned.  This did not make him very popular!

One result is that almost from the day of his departure from the city, “Beast” (his local nickname) Butler has been the “target” of abuse from this city’s citizens.  Below is a photo of the device (found in this home) in which the object of the user’s’ “target practice” is Ben Butler’s picture at the bottom of a chamber pot.  No mistaking the opinion of the maker of that device!


butler chamber pot

Author: geneofva

Author of "Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era," and of seven more Civil War books -- with more to come!!

4 thoughts on ““Targeting” “Beast” Ben Butler in Vicksburg”

  1. Hi Gene, I met you on one of the Smithsonian tours ages ago and have always enjoyed your unique insights and maps about the Civil War. You may want to ask the owners of the home if it was original or not. The Museum of the Confederacy in New Orleans has been making authentic looking repros of the pots for a number of years. I have some of Gen. Butler’s descendants in my medical practice and 15 years ago presented them with repro chamber pot from the museum. They were quite pleased with the gift being mindful of their colorful ancestor’s actions as Military Governor of New Orleans.

    Anita L Henderson
    Woodbine, MD


    1. Dear Anita, Thanks for your thoughts — I appreciate knowing that someone is reading my blogs and enjoying them. Feel free to peruse the rest of my web-site, and hope to see you again, perhaps aboard an ACL cruise. I hope to be speaking on their cruises along the Southeast coast, from Charleston to Jacksonville, as well as on the Ohio and Cumberland rivers, as well as on the Mississippi next year. All the best, Gene


  2. Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?

    you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is fantastic, as
    well as the content!


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