Certainly most soldiers of the Civil War were respectable men who served honorably. But rogues unavoidably crept into the ranks and preyed on their fellow soldiers and innocent civilians, causing suffering and chaos through their misdeeds. Local officials sometimes offered cash payments to “volunteers” for enlisting in their districts as a way to fulfill their troop conscription quotas and these recruits had disproportionately high numbers of petty criminals looking for ways to make a fast buck, worsening to the problem. The transgressions of these scoundrels ranged from atrocious crimes to petty infractions.
The August 31, 1846 issue of the Hagerstown Herald and Torch Light reported:
“Among the many acts of cool impudence and petty atrocities committed by the rebel gentry while on a visit to this place, that of demanding the purse of our worthy Mayor (Mr. G. W. Nyman) was about the coolest display of “Southern Chivalry” that has yet come to our notice. The contents of the purse embraced $10 (besides some valuable papers) all of which were immediately transferred to the greasy pockets of the aforesaid Southern “chivs.” Who would have supposed that any member of the F. F. V.’s (First Families of Virginia) could be guilty of such a crime as that of robbing the Mayor of a town like Boonsboro? A day of reckoning is fast approaching for the benefit of those committing such heinous crimes.”
Mayor Nyman’s father, Henry Nyman, was an early resident of Boonsboro and was one of the founding members of the Salem Church. George W. Nyman served a second term as Boonsboro Mayor from 1882-1883, apparently without incident.
This photo shows a Herald of Freedom and Torch Light headline during the Civil War. Photo courtesy Western Maryland Room, Washington County Free Library.