BUTLER, BENJAMIN F.
As one of the few democrats supporting the Union, Butler was quickly appointed major-general of volunteers by Lincoln when the war broke out, and so began one of the most astounding careers of the war. Until Grant took control, Butler was as much in the news as anyone but Lincoln, and fully expected to receive the Unionist presidential nomination in 1864. From the record, it is very clear that he expected the war to advance his own political fortunes, and the financial fortunes of his family and friends. During the war, he moved in an atmosphere of constant controversy, which continually widened from local quarrels such as that with the governor of Massachusetts, to quarrels international in scope such as the reaction of foreign governments to his confiscation of money and property of European citizens while he was military governor of New Orleans. It has been said that the many of actions he performed were exceedingly clever, almost to the point of being brilliant; he was certainly the most innovative of the commanders on either side of the conflict. One of his first acts was to lead his command to the rescue of blockaded Washington in April of 1861 by occupying Baltimore, and securing the railroad line between Baltimore and Washington. Nicknamed "Beast" by the Confederates due to the harsh measures he took in administering New Orleans (May-December 1862) after it fell to the Union, he was the only military or political figure on either side of the conflict to be branded an "outlaw" by the enemy forces and have a price put on his head. While Butler had numerous military successes during the war, he also had several spectacular and well-publicized failures which led Lincoln to dismiss him in January 1865. After the war Butler entered politics, his most notable achievement in this arena being the floor manager and chief prosecutor during President Andrew Johnson's impeachment trial in the Senate.