Civil War Blog

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Crimes Committed on and by Returning Soldiers (Part 3 of 3)

Posted By on February 25, 2014

As soldiers were released from military service in 1865, they flooded into the three major discharge points in Pennsylvania:  Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh.  Frequently, these soldiers were the victims of local residents who sought to “relieve” them of their discharge money; sometimes the soldiers were themselves the perpetrators of crimes against the residents of these cities.  Today’s post is the final part of a three-part series.  Selections from the Philadelphia Inquirer are given from May through August of 1865, describing some of the incidents.


From the Philadelphia Inquirer, 19 July 1865:


ANOTHER SOLDIER IN TROUBLEJohn  Smith was again arrested on Monday evening and taken before Alderman Hay, on the charge of having robbed a returned soldier of $750, at the Montgomery Hotel, where he was stopping.  Smith was held in $1000 bail to answer for the alleged offense.


From the Philadelphia Inquirer, 25 July 1865:


ROBBING A LIEUTENANT — Before Alderman Beitler, yesterday morning, a man, named Jerry Donovan, was charged with the larceny of two hundred dollars, the property of James G. Cooper, a Lieutenant in the army, who resides in Pittsburgh.  The soldier was lying asleep, yesterday morning, on a step on Market Street, above Eighth.  It is alleged Donovan came along and woke him up; Cooper, on rising to his feet, immediately felt for his pocket book, when, to his surprise, he found it gone.  Donovan, at this time, started off and was followed by the soldier.  He was overtaken at Eighth and Jayne Streets, and was committed to answer.


From the Philadelphia Inquirer, 25 July 1865:


SOLDIERS ROBBED — Yesterday morning Joseph Kelley and Patrick Carroll were arrested upon the charge of attempting to rob a soldier at a home on Quarry Street.  The soldier gave information that he saw the prisoners rob another soldier yesterday.  One of the accused had a large sum of money on him, which was evidently stolen from the soldier who had been robbed.  Kelley and Carroll were held to answer at Court.


From the Philadelphia Inquirer, 1 August 1865:


ROBBING SOLDIERS — The practice, so prevalent during the past few weeks, of robbing soldiers, was carried out yesterday morning in the case of John McDermott, who was taken before Alderman Hibbard on the charge specified.  The accused obtained little, however, for his trouble, and will pay dearly for his dishonest.  He was committed to answered for the allege offense.


From the Philadelphia Inquirer, 1 August 1865:


A DISCHARGED SOLDIER ROBBED — On last Saturday a discharged soldier lost the sum of $230 in the yard of a tavern on Thirteenth Street near Vine.  He accused the daughter of the proprietor with taking the money, which was in his coat hanging on a clothes line in the yard.   The party accused of the theft was arrested and held by Alderman Toland for a further hearing.


News clippings are from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.


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