Butler, Matthew C.
South Carolina cavalry soldier & politician, Major General in Civil War (CSA) and Spanish-American War, 3-term US Senator
Autograph ID: 6998
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1836-1909) South Carolina soldier and politician, served as a CSA Major General in the Civil War and a US Major General in the Spanish-American War. He was also a 3-term post-Reconstruction US Senator 1877-95. Born into a large prominent So. Carolina family, he attended South Carolina College graduating in 1856, studied law, admitted to the state bar in 1857, practiced law in Edgefield. Elected to the State legislature in 1860, he resigned in 1861 when the Civil War began. Butler served in the cavalry in the CSA Army of Northern Virginia in Hampton’s Legion, named captain then major in 1861. In 1862, the Legion’s cavalry battalion and the 4th So. Carolina Battalion became the 2nd So. Car. Cavalry Regt., Butler elected its colonel. He lost his right foot to rifle fire at Brandy Station and became a Brigadier General Feb. 1864. He led a brigade in Wade Hampton’s division of the Cavalry Corps and became division commander when Hampton took command of the Corps. Later, he transferred to the Carolinas with Lt. Gen. Hampton, leading a division at Bentonville, where he was again wounded. Financially ruined by the war, he resumed his law career in Edgefield, elected again to the state legislature in 1866. He lost a bid for Lieut. Governor in 1870 as a member of the pro-black Union Reform party. The Union Reform Party failed to gain many black votes because most blacks saw little difference between it and the Democratic Party. In 1877, after Federal troops were withdrawn, Reconstruction ended and the Democratic Party regained control of the state. The legislature elected Butler to the US Senate and 3 terms, 1877-95, losing re-election in the legislature to “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, a popular governor. In 1890, Senator Butler introduced a bill that would provide aid to African Americans who would emigrate to Africa to promote segregation, sparking a national debate. While in the Senate, Butler served on the Foreign Relations, Territories, Military Affairs, Naval Affairs, Interstate Commerce and Civil Service and Retrenchment committees. Butler practiced law in Washington until 1898, when he was appointed Major General, U. S. Volunteers during the Spanish–American War. He and fellow former Confederate officers Fitzhugh Lee, Thomas L. Rosser, and Joseph Wheeler served in the U.S. Army during that war. After the American victory, he supervised the evacuation of Spanish troops from Cuba and was honorably discharged April 15, 1899. In 1904 he relocated to Mexico as president of a mining company.
Signed 2 ½ x 5 ½ fragment of an autograph album page, likely while US Senator, adds “S.C.” (abbrev. For South Carolina) under his signature; no place (Washington), no date (ca. 1878).”