By Edward G. Longacre
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Extra info for Army of Amateurs: General Benjamin F. Butler and the Army of the James, 1863-1865
A February incursion toward South Mills, North Carolina, by infantry under General Heckman and horsemen under Colonel Spear ended in disaster. 31 The largest, most ambitious winter expedition was that aimed at Richmond. Early in February 1864 Butler gave Wistar the go-ahead on Colonel West's plan. M. the following day was on his way to Bottom's Bridge. His force of about 4,000, included three regiments of white infantry under West, three black outfits led by Colonel Samuel A. Duncan, 2,500 troopers under Spear, and two batteries of artillery.
Thanks to the firepower of a fleet under Flag Officer David G. Farragut, Butler's troops occupied New Orleans with minimal effort and he began his stint as conqueror, occupier, and chief administrator. Butler's seven months in command of the so-called Department of the Gulf was a study in confrontation, controversy, and scandal. S. flag made Butler a candidate for the Confederate gallows. Butler could be a terror to his superiors as well as to secessionists. His efforts to indict European consuls for aiding the Confederacy, in violation of neutrality laws, prompted President Abraham Lincoln to relieve him.
It was the only fighting force in our history to boast an army corps composed exclusively of black units. Their story on and off the battlefield is certainly worth telling. Page 1 Chapter One Ben Butler Takes Command Major General Benjamin Franklin Butler considered himself a reasonable man; he also understood power and when to use it. In the first week of May 1862, when the 12,500 Federal troops under his command occupied New Orleans, the Confederacy's largest city, Butler could test the two basic approaches to problem solving, persuasion and coercion.