Butler seeks to make some money

General Butler

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
You may have already seen a post from me showing the letter out of NO by a Union soldier saying Butler plays fast and loose and that he saw a ship full of supplies travel across Lake Ponchatrain at night and then come back the next day empty...cha-ching.
Now here is a letter from Ben dated May of 65...yes the war was barely over in VA and technically Ben was still a General. Here Butler with a $5 million capitalization is president of the firm that is supposed to have invented a way to separate precious metals from their ore. With additional investors and company trustees from both the Lincoln and Grant administration, the invention would save miners $5k a day...supposedly.
Furthermore Butler states that he has invested in the NYC subway, or underground railway.
Quote the eye for cash.
Next is an 1866 letter concerning his deep investment in the Penn oil fields and how tracking the streams is so important .of course Penn oil would be Huge.
Finally you see the investment stock certificate for the Georgia Alabama Investment Development Co from 1891 where Butler seeks to invest in the literal rebuilding of the war torn south.
This of course doesnt address Butler owning the Union Cartridge Co, the Bunting Mill, the Cape Ann granite firm that supplied tons of granite to DC bldgs and monuments.
So dont scratch your head about his millions and slough it off to corruption during the war.
He was also a highly sought after and high fee lawyer.
Just sayin

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Belfoured

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
You may have already seen a post from me showing the letter out of NO by a Union soldier saying Butler plays fast and loose and that he saw a ship full of supplies travel across Lake Ponchatrain at night and then come back the next day empty...cha-ching.
Now here is a letter from Ben dated May of 65...yes the war was barely over in VA and technically Ben was still a General. Here Butler with a $5 million capitalization is president of the firm that is supposed to have invented a way to separate precious metals from their ore. With additional investors and company trustees from both the Lincoln and Grant administration, the invention would save miners $5k a day...supposedly.
Furthermore Butler states that he has invested in the NYC subway, or underground railway.
Quote the eye for cash.
Next is an 1866 letter concerning his deep investment in the Penn oil fields and how tracking the streams is so important .of course Penn oil would be Huge.
Finally you see the investment stock certificate for the Georgia Alabama Investment Development Co from 1891 where Butler seeks to invest in the literal rebuilding of the war torn south.
This of course doesnt address Butler owning the Union Cartridge Co, the Bunting Mill, the Cape Ann granite firm that supplied tons of granite to DC bldgs and monuments.
So dont scratch your head about his millions and slough it off to corruption during the war.
He was also a highly sought after and high fee lawyer.
Just sayin

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Well, he wasn't handling too many cases during the 1861-1865 period. He did, however, manage to involve himself in some questionable - and apparently lucrative - business enterprises tied to his commands in New Orleans and then SE Virginia. Ben also pre-war had some conflicting interests as an attorney that would get you nailed today.
 

General Butler

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
Well, he wasn't handling too many cases during the 1861-1865 period. He did, however, manage to involve himself in some questionable - and apparently lucrative - business enterprises tied to his commands in New Orleans and then SE Virginia. Ben also pre-war had some conflicting interests as an attorney that would get you nailed today.
Well of course he didnt practice during g that period although his legal skills surely came to the aid of the Union both with the Contraband doctrine and the NO gold hidden in embassies there so the Rebs could buy guns.
Of course trading with the wayward Americans was not an issue for several years and that is important to note. Plus when Butler leaves NO he had been able to send more cash to the Treasury then the treasury shelled out to the troops...shrewd dealings for which his brother Andrew got a nice piece as well as his son in law Fisher Fisher Hildreth.
I would be careful with the antique idea of Butler being a Beast or an illegal trader...trader yes.
The old comfy troupes simply dont hold up.
 

General Butler

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
Any idea what his total net worth was at the wealthiest point in his life?
well that is played pretty close to the vest and i cant convert the 1880 cash to 2020 cash. The Union Cartridge Co was HUGE as was the granite mining out of Cape Ann. BUT to answer your question, aside from stock values which I dont have, it would have been around $8-$12 million.
 

Pete Longstreet

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Location
Hartford, CT
well that is played pretty close to the vest and i cant convert the 1880 cash to 2020 cash. The Union Cartridge Co was HUGE as was the granite mining out of Cape Ann. BUT to answer your question, aside from stock values which I dont have, it would have been around $8-$12 million.
Wow. That's higher than I would have guessed. Impressive.
 

General Butler

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
Wow. That's higher than I would have guessed. Impressive.
Remember too that his brother Andrew, a volunteer Col, was playing fast and loose in NO. He would seize cotton, send it.north, his in law Fisher Hildreth would buy it at auction, Andrew and the crew would get prize money, Fisher would sell the cotton to the Mills
Lots of money, was it illegal no, did Ben do it no, did Ben know of it...he had.to and didnt stop.it.
Andrew is murdered in New York.during the war and Ben is the only heir.
Sweet!
 

General Butler

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
Any good recommendations on a Butler biography?
No. There isnt one there are parts of many be it Butler in NO, Butler in Bermuda 100, Butler hated by the Rebs, Bitlers own voluminous words, Butler at Big Bethel...all.good parts buy not one.
Now I do understand the 2 books are being written right now and one by a history prof from Colby but I think her slant is Butler supporting women's rights.
Stay tuned.
Does any part.of the Butler I just mentioned pique your interest?
 

Pete Longstreet

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Location
Hartford, CT
No. There isnt one there are parts of many be it Butler in NO, Butler in Bermuda 100, Butler hated by the Rebs, Bitlers own voluminous words, Butler at Big Bethel...all.good parts buy not one.
Now I do understand the 2 books are being written right now and one by a history prof from Colby but I think her slant is Butler supporting women's rights.
Stay tuned.
Does any part.of the Butler I just mentioned pique your interest?
I think from what you've posted about him... his life seems interesting, from childhood to his business/political life after the war.
 

Pete Longstreet

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Location
Hartford, CT
No. There isnt one there are parts of many be it Butler in NO, Butler in Bermuda 100, Butler hated by the Rebs, Bitlers own voluminous words, Butler at Big Bethel...all.good parts buy not one.
Now I do understand the 2 books are being written right now and one by a history prof from Colby but I think her slant is Butler supporting women's rights.
Stay tuned.
Does any part.of the Butler I just mentioned pique your interest?
I'm surprised there isn't a Butler biography. You should write one!
 

General Butler

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
I'm surprised there isn't a Butler biography. You should write one!
Here's my take on this...he did so much and cut such a wide path that doing 1 book would be a big read and who reads a big read except for "us". This may be why Butler is broken into pieces...small bites are easier than a big gulp. Who knows...maybe I am wrong. My archives are open though to authors
 

General Butler

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
I think from what you've posted about him... his life seems interesting, from childhood to his business/political life after the war.
I do believe that a "shrink" would have a field day with him: poor kid, hard-working mom, daily heard stories from the women mill workers on how bad life was, portly, bad eye... rejected by the big boys and kept out of west point and out of the highest circle of influencers so he was driven (maybe bitter). His life worked out fine...his kids life worked out fine so in the end, he won.
I recall reading once that when veterans knocked on the door of Gen'l Sherman he would give them a buck and before sending them on their way, being that they were down and out, Sherman would send them to Butler as he was the keeper of government patronage. Or if no jobs at Butler's fingertips he would send them to one of the veteran's homes for which Butler was the President...and travel there for free
 

Belfoured

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Well of course he didnt practice during g that period although his legal skills surely came to the aid of the Union both with the Contraband doctrine and the NO gold hidden in embassies there so the Rebs could buy guns.
Of course trading with the wayward Americans was not an issue for several years and that is important to note. Plus when Butler leaves NO he had been able to send more cash to the Treasury then the treasury shelled out to the troops...shrewd dealings for which his brother Andrew got a nice piece as well as his son in law Fisher Fisher Hildreth.
I would be careful with the antique idea of Butler being a Beast or an illegal trader...trader yes.
The old comfy troupes simply dont hold up.
Your faith in Ben's ethics is commendable - but in my humble opinion misplaced. Even as an attorney before the War he had some conflicting entanglements that would have caused a lawyer with less affinity for the $$$ opportunity to resist. And the notion that his brother, et al. were pulling highly questionable stunts without Butler's awareness and even approval and involvement is at odds with the extremely sharp and world-wise lawyer that was Ben. Your admiration of "shrewd dealings" strikes me as a way of putting a postiive spin on the misuse of position. The odor that clung to Butler was not simply a concoction of his enemies. I'll leave Ben's networking the June 1864 Republican convention in Baltimore while on active duty below Petersburg for another day.
 

General Butler

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
Your faith in Ben's ethics is commendable - but in my humble opinion misplaced. Even as an attorney before the War he had some conflicting entanglements that would have caused a lawyer with less affinity for the $$$ opportunity to resist. And the notion that his brother, et al. were pulling highly questionable stunts without Butler's awareness and even approval and involvement is at odds with the extremely sharp and world-wise lawyer that was Ben. Your admiration of "shrewd dealings" strikes me as a way of putting a postiive spin on the misuse of position. The odor that clung to Butler was not simply a concoction of his enemies. I'll leave Ben's networking the June 1864 Republican convention in Baltimore while on active duty below Petersburg for another day.
There is no doubt that Butler sought a higher position in life as did many or most people and thinking it was just Ben that did so while in uniform is a historical approach by the ostrich of tired historians. Suggesting that just Ben traded with the Rebs is simply a southern myth that trips up civil war history over and over again and fails to understand that Lincoln, for much of war encouraged it.
If Ben was able to be more shrewd then other heroes of authors here that is something I cannot address...but shrewd he was. And I would encourage that we don't place our current laws and morays onto 1863 ways of doing business or being an atty. But this is what makes this forum so interesting different people with different takes and I am glad that I have 1st hand information to back me up...get me wrong, Butler was no saint, but he never put himself in that position...he did, like winning the auction for the yacht and blockade runner "America" for which the Americas Cup is named for, did he give himself an edge, a legit edge, yes and why not.
 

General Butler

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
There are a number of Butler biographies; but no really good ones. For my money the best available is Richard S. West's Lincoln's Scapegoat General, (1965). It' shows it's age, however, and there's a need for a more modern treatment.
So true. I have 15 different books on Butler and wont swear I have them all.
The Reb ones are the most fun...The America Cyclops and Beauty and Booty
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
So true. I have 15 different books on Butler and wont swear I have them all.
The Reb ones are the most fun...The America Cyclops and Beauty and Booty
Well, those are the ones that gleefully parrot out all the outrageous propaganda that Butler was such a magnet for. They can, indeed, be a "fun" read, though only the most willfully gullible take them for truth. Which is a shame, because Ben's life provides quite enough "entertainment" just sticking to the bare facts.
 

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