Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BEALL, John Young, guerilla, born in Virginia. 1 January 1835; died on Governor's island, New York harbor, 24 February 1865. He was of good family and received a classical education. Joining the navy of the confederate states, he was appointed acting master, 3 March 1863. On 16 December 1864, he was arrested in the railroad station at Suspension Bridge, New York Charges and specifications were drawn up, reciting in substance that he was acting in the twofold capacity of a spy and guerilla. carrying on irregular warfare against the United States. A military commission, with Brig.-General Fitz Henry Warren as president and Major John A. Bolles as judge-advocate, was convened at Fort Lafayette for his trial. James T. Brady acted as counsel for the accused. It appeared from the testimony that Beall, in company with other men in the dress of civilians, boarded the Lake Erie steamer "Philo Parsons" on 19 September 1864, in the character of passengers; that at a signal they produced arms, and, acting under the orders of the accused and others, they seized the boat, driving all hands below as prisoners. They then captured and subsequently sank another boat, the "Island Queen." It also appeared that Beall was engaged with others in an attempt to wreck a railway train near Buffalo on the night of his arrest. The defense was based on the declaration of the accused that he was engaged in legitimate warfare under specific instructions from the confederate government, and he was permitted to correspond with the authorities at Richmond to procure evidence to this effect. A proclamation was issued by Jefferson Davis under date of 24 December 1864, certifying that the confederate .government assumed "the responsibility of answering for the acts and conduct of any of its officers engaged in said expedition," namely, that in which Beall was concerned. It was proved that he had perpetrated acts of war within the jurisdiction of the United States, wearing at the time no visible badge of military service. Among civilized nations the penalty for such acts is death, and Beall was hanged in accordance with the finding of the court.
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