To Benjamin F. Butler

                                             Office U.S. Military Telegraph,
Major General Butler     War Department,
Fort-Monroe, Va             Washington, D.C., Dec. 28. 1864.

I think you will find that the Provost-Marshal on the Eastern Shore has, as by your authority, issued an order, not for a meeting, but for an election. The order printed in due form was shown to me, but as I did not retain it I can not give you a copy. If the people on their own motion wish to hold a peaceful meeting I suppose you need not to hinder them. A LINCOLN


To Benjamin F. Butler

Executive Mansion,        Washington,
Major General Butler:     August 9, 1864.

Your paper of the about Norfolk matters is received, as also was your other, on the same general subject dated, I believe some time in February last. This subject has caused considerable trouble, forcing me to give a good deal of time and reflection to it. I regret that crimination and recrimination are mingled in it. I surely need not to assure you that I have no doubt of your loyalty and devoted patriotism; and I must tell you that I have no less confidence in those of Gov. Pierpoint and the Attorney General. The former, at first, as the loyal governor of all Virginia, including that which is now West-Virginia; in organizing and furnishing troops, and in all other proper matters, was as earnest, honest, and efficient to the extent of his means, as any other loyal governor. The inauguration of West-Virginia as a new State left to him, as he assumed, the remainder of the old State; and the insignificance of the parts which are outside of the rebel lines, and consequently within his reach, certainly gives a somewhat farcical air to his dominion; and I suppose he, as well as I, has considered that it could be useful for little else than as a nucleous to add to. The Attorney General only needs to be known to be relieved from all question as to loyalty and thorough devotion to the national cause; constantly restraining as he does, my tendency to clemency for rebels and rebel sympathizers. But he is the Law-Officer of the government, and a believer in the virtue of adhering to law.

Coming to the question itself, the Military occupancy of Norfolk is a necessity with us. If you, as Department commander, find the cleansing of the City necessary to prevent pestilence in your army—street lights, and a fire department, necessary to prevent assassinations and incendiarism among your men and stores—wharfage necessary to land and ship men and supplies—a large pauperism, badly conducted, at a needlessly large expense to the government, and find also that these things, or any of them, are not reasonably well attended to by the civil government, you rightfully may, and must take them into your own hands. But you should do so on your own avowed judgment of a military necessity, and not seem to admit that there is no such necessity, by taking a vote of the people on the question. Nothing justifies the suspending of the civil by the military authority, but military necessity, and of the existence of that necessity the military commander, and not a popular vote, is to decide. And whatever is not within such necessity should be left undisturbed. In your paper of February you fairly notified me that you contemplated taking a popular vote; and, if fault there be, it was my fault that I did not object then, which I probably should have done, had I studied the subject as closely as I have since done. I now think you would better place whatever you feel is necessary to be done, on this distinct ground of military necessity, openly discarding all reliance for what you do, on any election. I also think you should so keep accounts as to show every item of money received and how expended.

The course here indicated does not touch the case when the military commander finding no friendly civil government existing, may, under the sanction or direction of the President, give assistance to the people to inaugerate one.

To Benjamin F. Butler

                                                   Executive Mansion, Washington,
Maj. Genl. Butler,                  Nov. 6th ’62.

My dear Sir: This morning the Secretary of the Treasury read to me a letter of yours to him. He read to me at the same time one from Mr. Denison (I think), at New Orleans. I was much interested by the information in one of them that some of the planters were making arrangements with their negroes to pay them wages. Please write to me to what extent, so far as you know, this is being done. Also what, if anything, is being done by Mr. Bouligny, or others, about electing members of Congress. I am anxious to hear on both these points. Yours truly, A. LINCOLN.

To Benjamin F. Butler, George F. Shepley and Others

Executive Mansion,
Washington, October 14, 1862

Major General Butler, Governor Shepley, & and [sic] all having military and naval authority under the United States within the S[t]ate of Louisiana.

The bearer of this, Hon. John E. Bouligny, a citizen of Louisiana, goes to that State seeking to have such of the people thereof as desire to avoid the unsatisfactory prospect before them, and to have peace again upon the old terms under the constitution of the United States, to manifest such desire by elections of members to the Congress of the United States particularly, and perhaps a legislature, State officers, and United States Senators friendly to their object. I shall be glad for you and each of you, to aid him and all others acting for this object, as much as possible. In all available ways give the people a chance to express their wishes at these elections. Follow forms of law as far as convenient, but at all events get the expression of the largest number of the people possible. All see how such action will connect with, and affect the proclamation of September 22nd. Of course the men elected should be gentlemen of character, willing to swear support to the constitution, as of old, and known to be above reasonable suspicion of duplicity. Yours very Respectfully A. LINCOLN


Similar letter to Gen. Grant, Gov. Johnson & others in Tenn. dated Oct. 21. 1862.

And to, Steele, Phelps & others in Arkansas.

To Richard Yates and William Butler

Hon. R. Yates, & Wm. Butler Washington,
Springfield, Ills. April 10. 1862

I fully appreciate Gen. Pope’s splendid achievements with their invaluable results; but you must know that Major Generalships in the Regular Army, are not as plenty as blackberries.


Governor Yates and State Treasurer William Butler telegraphed on April 9, 1862, “We appeal to you to transfer Maj Genl John Pope to the regular army with his present rank as a token of gratitude to Illinois. Give one of her sons a position in the U.S. army who has so gloriously achieved the just reward we ask for him.” On April 7-8 Pope’s command, together with six ironclads and ten mortar boats under command of Andrew H. Foote, had captured Island No. 10 in the Mississippi below Cairo, Illinois.