The Hanging of Mumford

On June 8, Clara and the city were fired with indignation at the hanging of William Mumford. As Gen. Butler promised, Mumford was hanged for pulling down the U.S. flag the first day of Yankee occupation. Mr. Mumford was not an insignificant person. At the age of 42, he was a gambler. He owned real property and was looked up to by the working class. Mr. Mumford did more than just pull the flag down. He dragged it through the streets. He tore the flag into smaller pieces and sold them. He wore one piece on his lapel. Mr. Mumford continued to wear that piece of the U.S. flag on his lapel for many days. He appeared at various civil disturbances. He was said to be bold, reckless and defiant. He was also described as a liar and a hard drinker – and as attractive. He also accepted his sentence with courage.

Calling on Mrs. Mumford

Mumford’s wife asked to meet with Beast Butler. The general complied. He visited Mrs. Mumford and her children, but would not agree to delay or change the sentence.

Most New Orleanians assumed the general would commute the sentence. But, he never even considered commutation. In reality, Gen. Butler detested those he believed started the war. Prior to the war, Butler was one of the few prominent Democrat politicians in the North. He attended the Democrat conventions. He believed he knew the Southern secessionists. He enjoyed tweaking their noses, even if that meant hanging the occasional reckless gambler.

Confederate Victories

Clara takes delight in reliable reports of Confederate victories in Tennessee and Virginia. The news came from a Mr. Ogden, who came from Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard under a flag of truce. Ogden delivered a message to Gen. Butler. If the general molests Confederate prisoners, then the Union prisoners would be even more abused. The school where Clara taught erupted in joy at the news of Confederate victories. “Cheer upon cheer rent the air for Beauregard.” There was also news that the long absent Mr. Solomon was safe. Clara fretted constantly about her father. Receiving no news made the worry worse.

Again, Clara and her mother did not attend Synagogue because they did not have new bonnets. The Solomons sewed virtually everyday. So, if they lacked new bonnets, that meant they lacked the material with which to make a new bonnet. Such was life in a Yankee occupied city.

Source:

Chester G. Hearn, When the Devil Came Down to Dixie (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 1997), pp. 132-130-134.

Elliott Ashkenazi , ed., The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon (Baton Rouge: LSU Press 1995), p. 398-400.

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