Benjamin Butler Should Have Learned Quick - Never Ever Mess with Southern Chicks

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My Grand Parents (Dads side) lived in Ocean Springs at Royal Gulf Hills CC & Yacht Club and as a kid my Grandfather would take the big boat on Sunday and depending on the tide we might have to leave before daylight. We would cruise to Ship Island and my brother and I would run all over that fort. Then up thru the pass to Sugar Mill for dinner. Oh those were the good ole days. I can't imagine have to stay on that island in the summer time or really anytime.
We may have ran into each other.

I spent many weeks each summer at my Aunt & Uncle's home in Ocean Springs. (Off Holcomb Blvd two blocks from the beach). And while I loved the fort on Ship Island . . . in Ocean Springs . . . Horn Island was was the thing.

Ship Island was accessible, but easier to get to from Biloxi or Gulfport.

And then . . . the second half of Summer vacation was spent with my other Uncle and his family on Mobile Bay.

(Back when Daphne and Fairhope were only blips on a map)

Fun memories indeed !
 
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ucvrelics

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We may have ran into each other.

I spent many weeks each summer at my Aunt & Uncle's home in Ocean Springs. (Off Holcomb Blvd two blocks from the beach). And while I loved the fort on Ship Island . . . in Ocean Springs . . . Horn Island was was the thing.

Ship Island was accessible, but easier to get to from Biloxi or Gulfport.

And then . . . the second half of Summer vacation was spent with my other Uncle and his family on Mobile Bay.

(Back when Daphne and Fairhope were only blips on a map)

Fun memories indeed !
Don't forget about Deer and Cat Islands. When he would move the boat the Broadwater for the summer we cruise over to Alabama Point and dock at the Grand Hotel. Seeing the murals of the battle of Mobile Bay at the hotel were awesome.
 
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Don't forget about Deer and Cat Islands. When he would move the boat the Broadwater for the summer we cruise over to Alabama Point and dock at the Grand Hotel. Seeing the murals of the battle of Mobile Bay at the hotel were awesome.
I can never forget any of that.

Cat Island is actually my favorite.
We used to go out to Cat all of the time when I was older.

Just mentioning the Broadwater the Grand Hotel brings back even more memories.

But we're taking away from @DBF 's thread.

Sorry @DBF !
 

John Hartwell

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It seems Butler had a penchant for ruling the city with an iron fist which the execution of Mumford likely proves. It didn't take much for him to issue his orders against what you attest to was far from even minimal force. I'd say that was one very scared General. He could not brook even the slightest opposition. Perhaps when people are subdued enough they will do whatever it takes to improve their lives though I am unsure if that was the outcome.
There are 2 sides to this story. Butler had an imporant job to do. If he failed it would impact the progress of the war ... it might mean months more of blood and destruction, at the cost of thousands of lives. He did his duty swiftly and efficiently, and with a bare minimum of force or disruption to the citizens of NO. I doubt anyone could have done it better.

There was a war going on. Somebody had to lose. A sad but unavoidable fact.
 
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There was a war going on. Somebody had to lose. A sad but unavoidable fact.
Very true.
I haven't read any post that disputes that fact.

However, this seems to be about a US Army General (Officer and a Gentleman) who was anything but . . .

His greatest threat was from the 3rd/9th Louisiana Cavalry along with a multitude of irregular units that dominated the countryside around New Orleans.

Seems Butler wasn't worried about them, but scared to death over a few mad Women.
 
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Pete Longstreet

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Pete: Incompetent, poltrons, liars, thieves and amoral individuals seldom are admired let alone tolerated. Butler, Pillow, Ledle and Floyd leap to mind. These men and others lost all respect and ability to command and unfortunately it took awhile to remove them at the cost of lives.
Regards
David
That is true. Lincoln was hesitant to get rid of Butler because he was politically connected.
 
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There are 2 sides to this story. Butler had an imporant job to do. If he failed it would impact the progress of the war ... it might mean months more of blood and destruction, at the cost of thousands of lives. He did his duty swiftly and efficiently, and with a bare minimum of force or disruption to the citizens of NO. I doubt anyone could have done it better.

There was a war going on. Somebody had to lose. A sad but unavoidable fact.
I agree there are two sides and I don't envy either of them. I can also understand the position of both after you so adequately described Butler's position and the lack of support to the citizens themselves from the Confederacy. War is a terrible thing. Decisions are made which would not ordinarily be made by both sides (including ladies spitting in an officer's face or emptying a chamber pot on his head). While the facts are unavoidable, a level of magnanimity can always be applied in terms of understanding one another's position and as a means of avoiding such future calamity. If we don't learn anything from war then we haven't learned anything. Period.
 
I agree there are two sides and I don't envy either of them. I can also understand the position of both after you so adequately described Butler's position and the lack of support to the citizens themselves from the Confederacy. War is a terrible thing. Decisions are made which would not ordinarily be made by both sides (including ladies spitting in an officer's face or emptying a chamber pot on his head). While the facts are unavoidable, a level of magnanimity can always be applied in terms of understanding one another's position and as a means of avoiding such future calamity. If we don't learn anything from war then we haven't learned anything. Period.
Here is another side of Butler and his dealing with the opposite sex that you may not be familiar with.
William Mumford was the Louisianan hanged under Butler's order for desecrating the U.S. flag at the federal Mint in New Orleans. Butler disregarded pleas of clemency from Mumford's wife Mary and her children, as well as an old local doctor who had offered to be executed in Mumford's place.
Following the execution, Mrs. Mumford and her children were declared a "sacred trust" and "wards" of the Confederacy where sums of money were raised to support them "thereafter in comfort." The money was used in part to buy two acres of land and build a house on it in Wytheville, Virginia. The "trustee" who handled the purchase of the property and the building of the house had absconded with some of the money leaving monies still owed on the house. The War ended and liens were put on her house and property which the unemployed Mrs. Mumford could not pay. When notice came that her house and property were being sold to satisfy the liens, she contacted Butler and asked to meet with him. She relayed the story of her misfortune and as a result of the meeting Butler payed off the liens, purchased the property titles putting them in Mrs. Mumford's name, payed for her sons to attend school in Washington D.C., and arranged her employment in the Internal Revenue Department in D.C. When she lost her job during the incoming Hayes administration, Butler found her employment as a clerk in the Postmaster-General's office. Mrs. Mumford and her sons continued to visit and correspond with Butler up until his death.
 
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I appreciate you providing a post script to that story. Sometimes what has been done cannot be undone. It sounds like Butler tried to make recompense for the actions he took during the war, regardless of whether he thought he was right. He understood his actions had an enormous impact on that family's lives and their fortunes. With the war over he could afford to be more magnanimous and perhaps the widow felt this was her due by contacting him. It's impossible to know what either of them were thinking without more details, but it is yet another side to the story of war. As human beings we are complex creatures. This story is proof of how complex we can be. And that is why studying the CW is such a worthwhile and also necessary process.
 

DBF

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I think you underestimate the wrath of women
Dare I say - most men do {at least once in their lives}?

But we're taking away from @DBF 's thread.

Sorry @DBF !

No problem - Having never been to your “neck of the woods” I can only imagine through your descriptions how miserable it must have been. It’s interesting to note that Butler allowed Eugenia to take her servant Phebe with her to prison.

I find Benjamin Butler an interesting character study. If you take away his military/political career, he is a man that was surrounded with powerful and strong women in his life. His father died when he was 5 months old while pursing a life of (what some claim) a pirate. It left the Butler family in poverty. He enjoyed his mother’s company and she was a great mentor to him. They read together and on starry nights she taught him the constellations. He wrote of his mother:

“I remember once she stood in a very terrific thunder storm by the window fearlessly, - I now suppose that I might be like fearless, — and explained to me all that she knew — or was then known — of the lightning. She told me never to be afraid of it, because it was in. God's hands; that if He willed my destruction by it, it was not to be evaded or shunned, and, therefore, was not to be dreaded.”

His wife Sarah Hildreth was an accomplished stage actress and a beautiful woman. When they met Butler was just beginning to practice law. She told him she would not be interested in any relationship until she was assured that he could support a family. At 27 years of age he was among the youngest attorneys to argue a case before the Supreme Court. She was also with him for some time while he was in New Orleans. (I wonder what they discussed?)

His daughter Blanche, married to Union General Adelbert Ames was a sculptor and keeper of the family history. She once wrote:

“Men always seem to have the advantage, in dress, in law, in politics - everything. Will the time ever come when it will be equally easy for women to exist?”

It was her daughter and Butler’s granddaughter also named Blanche that worked in the women’s movement - promoting the right to vote and the controversial subject of birth control.​

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/in-the-end-benjamin-butler-really-was-a-ladies-man.159862/
 
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Dare I say - most men do {at least once in their lives}?
Haha, DBF, for sure! And it is hard not to come to the defense of women in respect of this thread. Ship Island sounds like a hell hole of a place and not fit as a prison for men, let alone women. I'm sure the maid was thrilled about her trip to Ship Island as well ...

And it would be interesting to know what Butler and his wife discussed while in New Orleans. Maybe his order was her idea?!
 

TnFed

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Dare I say - most men do {at least once in their lives}?



No problem - Having never been to your “neck of the woods” I can only imagine through your descriptions how miserable it must have been. It’s interesting to note that Butler allowed Eugenia to take her servant Phebe with her to prison.

I find Benjamin Butler an interesting character study. If you take away his military/political career, he is a man that was surrounded with powerful and strong women in his life. His father died when he was 5 months old while pursing a life of (what some claim) a pirate. It left the Butler family in poverty. He enjoyed his mother’s company and she was a great mentor to him. They read together and on starry nights she taught him the constellations. He wrote of his mother:

“I remember once she stood in a very terrific thunder storm by the window fearlessly, - I now suppose that I might be like fearless, — and explained to me all that she knew — or was then known — of the lightning. She told me never to be afraid of it, because it was in. God's hands; that if He willed my destruction by it, it was not to be evaded or shunned, and, therefore, was not to be dreaded.”

His wife Sarah Hildreth was an accomplished stage actress and a beautiful woman. When they met Butler was just beginning to practice law. She told him she would not be interested in any relationship until she was assured that he could support a family. At 27 years of age he was among the youngest attorneys to argue a case before the Supreme Court. She was also with him for some time while he was in New Orleans. (I wonder what they discussed?)

His daughter Blanche, married to Union General Adelbert Ames was a sculptor and keeper of the family history. She once wrote:

“Men always seem to have the advantage, in dress, in law, in politics - everything. Will the time ever come when it will be equally easy for women to exist?”

It was her daughter and Butler’s granddaughter also named Blanche that worked in the women’s movement - promoting the right to vote and the controversial subject of birth control.​

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/in-the-end-benjamin-butler-really-was-a-ladies-man.159862/
Whatever one thinks of Butler you have to give him credit for his memory...he memorized the Constitution... which made him a very adept lawyer . Also his fight for a ten hour work day for mill workers. Might not have got the law passed in his State but his own employees enjoyed the benefit.
 
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Great thread @DBF !

One fact that I've always found interesting about Butler, was his private purchase of 12 Gatling Guns at $1,000.00 per gun.
While impressed with the Army's performance tests of the Gatling Gun, the US Government didn't place any official order for these guns until after the War.

Butler understood the tactical advantages of this new technology and bought more than a few, using a couple of his Gatlings when he had left New Orleans and was assigned to Virginia.

"The army purchased none of the guns, but Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, after a field test, purchased 12 for $1,000 each and two were used on the Petersburg front in 1864 and apparently were considered successful."

Butler spent quite a sum for his new "machine guns".

According to the CPI Inflation Calculator site, $12,000 US dollars in 1864 would equal about $377,000 today.

Butler did have a very large bank account.
 
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DBF

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Butler did have a very large bank account.
Fun Trivia Fact:

In 1873 Benjamin Butler paid $5,000 to the Navy and bought a yacht named “America”. He took her to a couple of races. What makes this so special was the race “America” won in 1851 - the “Royal Yacht Squadron’s” - this race was known in America as the "One Hundred Guinea Cup,”. Later the race was renamed and is known today as the “America’s Cup”. And according to this source: “Today, the “America’s Cup” is the world’s oldest continually contested sporting trophy and represents the pinnacle of international sailing yacht competition.”

His yacht as photographed in 1887:

Schooner_America-1.jpg

(Photo - Public Domain)

Do you think he cashed in his New Orleans spoons?
 
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I'd say the 'ladies' of New Orleans learned not to mess with Ben Butler. He found a simple, effective, and harmless (though melodramatically angst-ridden for some) solution to an intolerable problem. He threatened them with public embarrasment.

For all the weeping and wailing and outraged hand-wringing, the women of the Crescent City learned to behave themselves, and were none the worse off for it.

I do believe that, in the scope of how women in resistance efforts are typically treated by occupying armies in contemporary warfare both before and after the Civil War, General Butler's infamous orders and ways of dealing with the ladies of New Orleans are more a matter of comedy than serious wrong. None were imprisoned on pure suspicion and tortured to reveal nearby troop strength, or beaten nearly to death to give up lists of names. None to my knowledge were shot or hung in public as an example to other resistance fighters.
Were the actions of General Butler in line with the tenets of chivalry? Uh-no. For that matter, though, one could argue against the "un-ladylike" actions of the ladies of New Orleans who dumped chamber pots on Union Soldier's heads. (and frankly, I don't care about "lady-likeness").
I do believe that General Butler did have good reason to do what he did with his orders in New Orleans. The local elite population was in open disregard for respecting his soldier's presence, and as an occupying General, he had many different tools for maintaining control. Torches, guns, breaking down doors at 3:30 a.m., and as he was in the gray area of first Occupier of an American City in Open Rebellion, he could've done much worse, but he came up with a non-fatal way to deal with a large scale social issue that did not break down doors, get people killed, or--and I find this interesting--incite a local uprising of armed civilians thereafter.

This order actually secured long-term victory for Butler and the Union in New Orleans. All retaliation from civilians in New Orleans against their Union occupiers afterwards was in cartoons and nick-names; but no further large-scale resistance (torching warehouses, killing sentries, ect.) was raised on their part. Confederate guerrillas in future years would never shout "remember New Orleans, and the massacre of our civilians!!!!" because that's not how Butler responded. Lincoln would not have to send re-enforcements to occupied New Orleans to deal with riots or shootings; thanks to Butler, the situation was under control--FOR GOOD.
 
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Here's another interesting take from a women's history blog:

Women of Civil War New Orleans
Butler demanded that all citizens must take an oath of allegiance to the Union, and the ladies of New Orleans immediately showed their distaste for the occupation forces. The women crossed the street to avoid greeting the Union men or passing under a Union flag, but their worst offense was spitting on the soldiers as they encountered them on the street. After two weeks of such treatment, Butler issued his infamous General Order No. 28:

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 [a prostitute].
This order provoked protests throughout the country and abroad, particularly in England and France. The locals nicknamed Butler The Beast; across the pond the London Review called him an uncivilized dictator:

If he had possessed any of the honourable feeling which is usually associated with a soldier’s profession, he would not have made war on women. If he had even been endowed with the ordinary magnanimity of a Red Indian, his revenge would have been satiated before now. It required not only the nature of a … pitiful kind of savage … to inflict an imprisonment so degrading in its character … accompanied by privations so cruel. … It is only a pity that so unadulterated a barbarian should have got hold of an Anglo-Saxon name.
Southern women were highly offended by the order. Catherine Devereux Edmondston referred to it in her diary as “cold-blooded barbarity.” Clara Solomon, a 17-year-old Jewish girl, expressed similar feelings, asking, “what anyway could a woman’s taunts do to [the Union soldiers].” New Orleans Mayor John Monroe refused to enact the order, and Butler quickly imprisoned him.

General Butler defended his actions in a letter, claiming “the devil had entered the hearts of the women of [New Orleans].” He argued that it restored order and prevented the violence that may have erupted if the insults had continued:

After that order, every man of my command was bound in honor not to notice any of the acts of these women. … What has been the result? Since that order, no man or woman has insulted a soldier of mine in New Orleans, and from the first hour of our landing no woman has complained of the conduct of my soldiers toward her, nor has there been a single cause of complaint.
Women Banished to Ship Island
In 1862 Eugenia Levy Phillips and her lawyer husband moved from Washington DC to New Orleans. Beast Butler accused Eugenia of laughing during a Union officer’s funeral procession. He arrested her and banished her to mosquito-infested Ship Island in the Gulf of Mexico, more than sixty miles from New Orleans. Eugenia responded that the island, “has one advantage over the city, sir; you [Butler] will not be there.” She served more than three months before returning to New Orleans, where cheering crowds welcomed her home.

In July 1862, Anne Larue wore Confederate colors and a secession badge, setting off a near-riot. Union troops arrested Larue. When Butler asked her why she had behaved in such a treasonous manner, she replied that “she felt very patriotic that day.” Butler sentenced Larue to two years at Ship Island, but she was released after only three weeks.

Butler Banished from New Orleans
Butler’s tactics worked to some extent, but not for long. Although very few New Orleans women continued to be politically active after Phillips and Larue were arrested, opposition to Butler’s methods mounted. In November 1862 President Lincoln appointed General Nathaniel Banks to command the Army of the Gulf. In December Banks sailed from New York to replace Butler. Despite his disappointment, Butler welcomed Banks to New Orleans on December 17, 1862 and briefed him on civil and military affairs.

The people of New Orleans were overjoyed at Butler’s departure. One woman stated, “You may reach Yankeedom in safety – but remember, vile old coward, that day will come when you will be hunted down like a fox in your den, and retribution will surely fall upon you.” Confederate President Jefferson Davis, declared Butler “a felon, deserving of capital punishment” and issued an order stating that any officer who caught Butler should hang him immediately.

On December 24, Butler delivered farewell address to the people of New Orleans:

The enemies of my country, unrepentant and implacable, I have treated with merited severity. I hold that rebellion is treason, and treason persisted in is death, and any punishment short of that due a traitor gives so much clear gain to him from clemency from the Government.
General Banks softened some of Butler’s more controversial policies in an attempt to win Confederate support. Suppressed churches were reopened and the confiscation and sale of Confederate property was stopped.


I found it interesting to read that reverberations of Butler's order were felt around the world. It was not just the women of NOLA who found his actions offensive. And his suppression of the churches is new to me as well. It seems General Banks had a different idea of how to deal with the citizens and gain their support with Butler's policies considered to be more controversial. He does seem to have been moved on rather quickly, though I'm unsure of Lincoln's motivations in doing that.
 

John Hartwell

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I'd like to ask opinions as to: "What should Butler have done?"

This offensive behavior had been going on for weeks, apparently was escalating. So far his men had restrained themselves, despite growing provocation ... remembering their civilized upbringing. But, they were only human. Eventually someone (it would take only one man, one incident) was going to reach his breaking-point, snap, and tip one of these "ladies" into a mud puddle.

What a propaganda victory that would have given the Confederacy! Across the south and around the world, all Yankees would have been revealed as "proven" monsters, who brutally make war on women [and children, of course --- they go together]. Resistance within N.O. would doubtless have increased, and the enemy might well have taken reprisal on any Federals they captured outside the city. Butler, of course, would have had to punish the soldier involved, creating a huge morale problem within his own command, and all the difficulties relative to that.

Something had to be done. But what?

I argue that his response was the best and mildest available to him. He gave the rebels a small propaganda victory -- he, alone was 'The Beast' [which didn't seem to bother him much ... he joked about it]. No ladies [or soldiers] were harmed, and life in the occupied city settled down quitely.
 
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General Butler

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I so love these threads about my buddy Ben Butler. Being born in Lowell Mass and going on a buying spree when the Butler estate came up for sale decades ago, using my snow shovel and lawn mower money, I have been collecting Butler....ahhh...hoarding Butler for years.
1. Spoons, there are no facts to back the claim but it seemed to stem from the Butler family "borrowing" church silverware and especially a coffee/tea service. When Butler left NO the service was part of the inventory signed over to Banks, when Banks left NO the service was no where to be found .
2. Davis, formerly Butlers friend in DC and Butler voted for Favis to be president at the Demo. Convention nearly 50 times. But as a result of Order 28 Davis raised the black flag on him. When Davis was arrested it was going to fall to Butler to defend him...it never came to that but some say that is why Davis was at Ft. Monroe, Butlers old stomping grounds.
3. Kill Cavalry movie...crummy. But I have Butlers handwritten letter to Judson written after Big Bethel saying the Butler knows what a strong and reliable officer Col. Judson is and that Judson should take the letter to Lincoln with Butlers endorsement and seek to be made a General. It worked.
4. Speaking of movies. A skinny Butler is portrayed in clark gable, sidney poitier movie...pretty funny to see the brief portrayal.
5. He had a huge appreciation for women and felt right at home with strong women and womens rights. Far too many examples for anything other to be suggested.
6. Be it women or men, when you broke the law you broke the law and punishment was coming. There was no looking the other way just cuz the felon was a woman. The south gave women huge leeway, Butler did not.
7. Mumford, General Dix standing orders where to hang anyone pulling down the flag. Mumford did, it could have gotten out of hand in a hurry and Mumford died for it
8. Butler paid off the bank debt of the Mumford home, got Mrs Mimford a job and paid the schooling for the typing Mumford boy
9. Butler had to be one of the leading Americans to promote civil rights, equal rights and anti Klan. Butler civil rights act was used as the basis the LBJ civil rights act of the early 1960s. He and his female relations where strong strong equal rights for woman movement leaders.
10. When Butler left NO the money from planters crops and perhaps other deals was so extensive that his time in NO was a net gain for the federal govt.
11. Yes, Butler had goods shipped north to be sold at auction and typically only his son in law Gisher Hildreth knew the port.
12. Yes, brother Andrew played fast and loose to Ben's detriment. Ben would get the deep estate of Andrew's when he dies.
13. Butlers wealth. Well thats complex
He owned the Cape Ann quarry and a vast amount of his granite went into state and federal buildings. He owned the Bunting company in Lowell when he learned that US had to import bunting and the US govt gave him big contracts. He was an outstanding lawyer, Adm. Farragut hired him to push his "prize" money claim. He owned the Union Cartridge Co. and they sold more ammo to the Feds until AFTER WW1. There is more but you get the idea.
14. Butler was recalled when he violated the embassy in NO where firms like Piper Hiedsick (champaign) had taken gold hidden there from the south to be smuggled out for arms and munitions.
I could go on but my fingers are tired.LOL
 

General Butler

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So true. He saw how tired and battered they were when the women returned home each night to his moms boarding house.
It was ironic that he would fight the mill owners tooth and nail only to become one
 
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