Sunday, August 28, 2011

148 years ago: Macheca and the black market

One hundred and forty eight years ago on this date, young Joseph P. Macheca of New Orleans was tried and convicted before a Union military court of selling stolen army rations.

Macheca, by then a veteran of Confederate service in Louisiana, was found selling U.S. Army-labeled barrels of pork and beef through his stepfather's produce store. He and some conspirators were tried before a military tribunal on Aug. 28, 1863. While Macheca's conspirators - members of the Union occupying force in New Orleans - were sentenced to prison time, Macheca was subjected only to a $50 fine.

Soon after, Macheca left New Orleans for Texas, where he gathered a small fortune as a smuggler.