Matthew Butler (March 8, 1836 - April 14, 1909) was an American military commander and politician from South Carolina.
Butler was born near Greenville, South Carolina to a prominent family. His father William Butler was US Congressman in 1841; his uncle, Andrew Butler was US Senator from South Carolina. He was the nephew of Oliver H. Perry, and the son-in-law of South Carolina Governor Francis W. Pickens. Butler grew up in Edgefield, South Carolina, became a lawyer and practiced law in Edgefield. He was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1860, and resigned in 1861 when the United States Civil War began.
Butler enlisted in the army of the Confederate States of America as a cavalry captain in Hampton's Legion. Promoted to colonel of the 2nd South Carolina Cavalry in August 1862, he took part in 2nd Manassas, Sharpsburg, Monocacy Bridge, and the Chambersburg Raid. In June 1863, he lost a foot at the Battle of Brandy Station. He was promoted to brigadier-general in September 1863, succeeding Wade Hampton III to brigade command. He led cavalry at the Battle of the Wilderness, Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, and the Battle of Trevilian Station. In September, 1864, he was promoted to major general. In early 1865, he led the rear guard of Hardee's army in South Carolina, and ended the war as division commander under Hampton.
After the Confederate defeat in the war, Butler returned to state politics. He was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1866. He became a member of the United States Democratic Party and ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1870. In 1876, as Reconstruction was ending and the Democratic Party was regaining control of the state, he was elected by the South Carolina state legislature to a seat in the United States Senate. He served in the Senate for three terms, from 1877 to 1895. He lost the Democratic primary in 1894 to populist Ben Tillman.
Butler then practiced law in Washington, D.C. until 1898, when he was appointed major general of US volunteers in the Spanish-American War. After the American victory that year, he supervised the evacuation of Spanish troops from Cuba. He then returned to Edgefield, South Carolina, and practiced law. He died in Columbia, South Carolina and was buried in Willow Brook Cemetery in Edgefield.