I cannot express…the indignation this thing awakened…. The cowardly wretches! to notice the insults of ladies! But the news will get abroad & then we shall be praised for our actions.
—Clara Solomon, New Orleans, May 17, 1862 (Solomon 1995, 369-370)
On April 25, 1862, U. S. Navy Captain David G. Farragut’s West Gulf Blockading Squadron succeeded in capturing the city of New Orleans. Believing the city was well fortified, the nearly 170,000 inhabitants of the South’s largest city were shocked by the suddenness of the fall of New Orleans.
Citizen resistance began immediately. The occupying forces of Union Major General Benjamin Franklin Butler faced hostile, unruly crowds. As military governor of Louisiana, Butler recognized that he must quell all civil unrest if he were to execute the tightly organized administration he had in mind. Butler ordered that rounds of artillery be used to repel mobs of men and women who refused to disband. He demanded that a man who destroyed a U. S. flag be hanged for treason. He also refused to tolerate other, more passive modes of resistance. Storeowners who refused to sell goods to Unionists had their shops impounded and their goods confiscated. Clergymen who were unwilling to lead prayers for President Abraham Lincoln were arrested and deported to the North (D. Faust 1997, 208-209).
Despite the resistance of a number of men in New Orleans, contemporary accounts emphasize the hostile reactions of the city’s white women. Upper-class, middle-class, and working-class women publicly expressed disdain for the occupying Union troops. Surviving