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Cartoon from Harper's Weekly, 12 July 1862

Butler's General Order No. 28 was a decree made by Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler during the American Civil War.[1] Following the Battle of New Orleans, Butler established himself as military commander of that city on May 1, 1862. Many of the city's inhabitants were strongly hostile to the Federal government, and many women in particular expressed this contempt by insulting Union troops.

Accordingly, on May 15, Butler issued an order to the effect that any woman insulting or showing contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States should be treated as a woman of the town "plying her avocation" - meaning soliciting of prostitution. The order had no sexual connotation; rather, it permitted soldiers to not treat women performing such acts as ladies. If a woman punched a soldier, for example, he could punch her back.[2] Known as the "Woman's Order," it nonetheless was very controversial at home and abroad,[3] and was a cause of Butler's removal from command of New Orleans on December 16, 1862.

Butler General Order 28 Picayune

Order as printed in the Daily Picayune newspaper, New Orleans

Text of the OrderEdit


New Orleans, May 15, 1862.
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:
Assistant Adjutant-General and Chief of Staff.[4][5]


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