The Pungy Trifle One Of The Captures Colonel Mcphail Major Blumenburg And His Corrupted Office Boney Lee Bob Miller And Other Thugs
Office of Provost Marshal General
Baltimore, Jany. 19, 1865.
Asst. Provost Marshal.
Sir.--The pungy "Trifle" now stands in the name of Conrad
Prince. She changed owners on the 10th of June, last.
She had not cleared by permit since then, but may have done so
Colonel McPhail was the Civil Provost Marshal of Maryland, having
exclusively to do with enrollments and drafts; the office was entirely
separated from the military service. He was a very clean, upright,
honorable man. There was, however, a district under him, having at its
head a Major Blumenburg, that was very corrupt.
Soldiers were fleeced out of bounty money. Substitutes, quite
frequently colored men, were paid large sums as bounties, more money
than they had ever seen before. By collusion between officers and clerks
in Blumenburg's office, and the substitute brokers, the substitutes were
induced to invest in valueless gewgaws, sometimes paying for a
two-dollar Oride watch as much as one hundred dollars.
One of the largest substitute brokerage concerns tried to reach me with
an offer of five hundred dollars a week, for a period as long as I would
let them alone. The offer was not "dangerously near my price." I cleaned
up the whole business very soon.
Blumenburg appointed a lot of cut throats with authority to arrest
deserters, paying them ten dollars for each deserter brought in. Their
operations were conducted this way: One of these fellows would hail a
soldier who was out on pass take it away from him, pronouncing it
fraudulent, but would allow him to proceed on his way; shortly he would
be hailed again, by a "pal," and having, of course, no pass to exhibit,
he would be arrested charged with desertion.
I was over in Anne Arundel County one night with three or four of my
men, intending to look after some blockade-runners, when four or five of
Blumenburg's thugs picked us up, supposing we were deserters or else
persons come to invade their territory. They were going to do all sorts
of things to us and pulled out their revolvers. I made no parade of
mine though my hand was on it all the time. I quietly informed them of
their error, and promised them, each and every one of them, to give them
a chance to "play checkers with their noses," and I kept my word, for
within a short time I caught them in their nefarious treatment of honest
The party was composed of "Boney" Lee, Bob Miller, ---- Fletcher, and
two others, each one was known to have "done time," yet Blumenburg
licensed them. I broke it all up, and they became as meek as lambs.