Wednesday, October 31, 2018

John Beall's Hangman's Noose-- Part 3: Nathaniel Gordon

From Wikipedia.


One of the four people hanged using the noose that ended John Yates Beall's life.

February 6, 1826 to February 21, 1862

Was the only slave trader in the United States to be tried, convicted and executed "for being engaged in the Slave Trade," under the Piracy Law of 1820.

Gordon was born in Portland, Maine, and went into shipping and eventually owned his own ship, the Erie.

On August 7, 1860, he loaded 897 slaves aboard his ship, the Erie,  at Shark's Point, Congo River, West Africa.

--Old Secesh

Monday, October 29, 2018

John Beall's Hanging Noose-- Part 2: The Others

The other three men hanged with the same noose as used for John Yates Beall's execution:'

Nathaniel Gordon  referred to as a pirate and slave trader.

Albert W. Hicks referred to as the last person executed for piracy in the United States.

William Henry Hawkins for the murder on the high seas as Captain Adams.

I found articles in Wikipedia for the first two men.

--Old Secesh

Friday, October 26, 2018

About Beall's Noose-- Part 1: It Was Used to Hang Three Others

On October 22 I wrote about the noose used in John Yates Beall's hanging was the same one used to hang the slave trader GORDON, HICKS and the Negro HAWKINS for murder on the high seas.

Who were these people?

I had to look into it further.

See What I Found.  --Old Secesh

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Beall Was First Spy Execution in Area Since Major Andre in the Revolution

From the February 25, 1865, New York Times.

On the execution of John Yates Beall.

"As far as we recall, this is the first execution of a spy in this department since the hanging of Maj. ANDRE, of the British Army, by order of GEORGE WASHINGTON."

Major Andre of the British Army was involved with the Benedict Arnold traitor situation.

John Andre was not hanged at Fort Columbus, though, but in Tappan, New York.

--Old Secesh

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Charges Against Beall

From the February 25, 1865, New York Times.


Specification 1:  Seizure of steamboat Philo Parsons near Kelley's Island, Lake Erie. September 19, 1854.

Spec. 2--  Seized and sank  steamboat Ocean Queen near Middle Bass Island, Sep. 19, 1864.

Spec. 3--  Found acting as a spy near Kelley's Island, Sep. 19, 1863.

Spec. 4--  Found acting as a spy near Middle Bass Island, Sep. 19, 1863.

Spec. 5--  Found acting as a spy near the Suspension Bridge, New York, Dec. 10, 1864.

Spec. 6--  Undertook "to carry on irregular and unlawful warfare, as a guerrilla, and in the execution of said undertaking, attempted to destroy the lives and property of peaceable  and unoffending inhabitants of said State and of persons therein traveling, by throwing a train of cars and passengers in said cars from the railroad track, on the railroad between Dunkirk and Buffalo, by placing obstructions across said track" on December 15, 1864.

--Old Secesh

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Bodies of John Yates Beall and W.H.C. Whiting

John Yates Beall's body was taken from Fort Columbus and originally interred in New York's Green-Wood Cemetery.

On March 22, 1870, the body was reinterred at Zion Episcopal Cemetery in Charles Town, West Virginia.

After the death of Confederate General W,H.C. Whiting, also at Fort Columbus, his body was also buried at New York's Green-Wood Cemetery.  His widow Kate Whiting had his body exhumed in 1900 and moved to Wilmington, North Carolina's Oakdale Cemetery.

Whiting is the highest ranking Confederate prisoner to die while in northern prison.  Of course, he was also a big player at Fort Fisher.

--Old Secesh

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Gallows At Fort Columbus Where Beall Was Hanged

From the February 25, 1865, New York Times.

"The gallows, the same used at the execution of GORDON, the slave trader, is not built with a drop, but furnished with weights and pulleys, by means of which the condemned man is jerked into the air with a sudden motion which instantly dislocates the vertebrae of the neck.

"Around one of the uprights, an inclosure of rough boards is erected, and the weights and pulleys, as well as the executioner, are thus concealed from view.  The noose is separate from the main end, and is provided with an iron ring, which hooks on to the gallow's rope.

"This horrible instrument of death was erected on the southerly slope of the island, facing southeast."

"The noose is the same one used to hang HICKS, the pirate GORDON, the slave trader, and the negro HAWKINS, who was executed for murder on the high seas."

Confederate Major General W.H.C. Whiting of Fort Fisher was at this fort at this time. I have to wonder what he thought of all this.

A More Humane Gallows?  --Old Secesh

Friday, October 19, 2018

The N.Y. Times Reports Beall's Death-- Part 2: The Gallows


Beall's Personal Appearance.

The Death March.

 Under the Gallows.

The Executions.

His Last Words.


--Old Secesh

The New York Times Reports Beall's Execution-- Part 1

From the February 25, 1865, New York Times.

""MILITARY EXECUTION:  Execution of John Y. Beall, the Lake Erie  Pirate and Rebel Spy.

Details of the Crime, the Trial, and the Punishment of the Culprit.

His Conduct During His Last Hours.

The Antecedents of Beall.

His Arrest and Trial.  His Trial.  A Temporary Respite.


His Last Hours.    The Morning of the Execution.  The Gallows.

--Old Secesh

Thursday, October 18, 2018

John Beall's Last Letter to His Brother-- Part 2: "I Die For My Country"

Remember me kindly to my friends.  Say to them I am not aware of committing any crime against society.  I die for my country.  No thirst for blood or lucre animated me in my course.  For I had refused when solicited to engage in enterprises which I deemed destructive but illegitimate, and but a few months ago I had but to have spoken, and I would have been red with blood, and rich with the plunder of the foe.

But my hands are clear of blood, unless it be spilt in conflict and not a cent enriches my pocket.

Should you be spared through this strife, stay with mother, and be a comfort in her old age.   Endure the hardships of the campaign as a man.  In my trunk and box you can get  plenty of clothes.

Give my love to mother, the girls, too.  May God bless you all now and evermore, is my prayer and wish for you.

John Y. Beall

--Old Secesh

John Y. Beall's Final Letter to Brother William: "But Only Crime Can Make Dishonor"

From "Lincoln, Beall & the Gallows" by Jim Surkamp.

Written from his cell while awaiting his execution.

Fort Lafayette, Fen. 14, 1865
 Dear Will:

Ere this reaches you, you will most likely have heard of my death through the newspapers, that I was tried by a military commission, and hung by the enemy, and hung,  I assert, unjustly.  It is both useless and wrong to repine over the past.

Hanging, it was asserted, was ignominious, but crime only can make dishonor.  'Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I shall repay,' therefore do not show unkindness to the prisoners -- they are helpless."

More.  --Old Secesh

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

John George Nicolay-- Part 2: After Lincoln's Death

Shortly before his death, Lincoln appointed Nicolay to to a diplomatic post in France.  After Lincoln's death, Nicolay became  became U.S. Consul in Paris (1865-1869).    After his return, he became editor of the Chicago Republican and later was Marshal of the United States Supreme Court (1872-1887).

In 1881, he wrote "Outbreak of the Rebellion."

Nicolay and John Hay, who was Lincoln's  assistant secretary collaborated on the official biography of Lincoln which appeared in the Century Magazine from 1886 to 1890 and then was issued in 10-volume book form.

Poor health forced him to resign from his job as marshal of the U.S. Supreme Court and he suffered from many ailments in his final years.  He lived with his daughter in Washington, D.C.,  until his death of unspecified cause on September 26, 1901, and was buried at  Oak Hill Cemetery in that city.

--Old Secesh

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

John George Nicolay-- Part 1: Good Friends With Lincoln

The last several posts I have written this man's thoughts on the John Yates Beall case.  What insight might he have on it?

From Wikipedia.

(February 26, 1832 to September 26, 1901)

German-born American who served as private secretary to President Abraham Lincoln and later co-authored a biography on the 16th president.Born Johann Georg Nicolai  in Bavaria.  In 1838 immigrated to the U.S. with his father and later moved to Illinois.  Edited a newspaper and later became assistant Illinois  secretary of state.  While in this position, he met Abraham Lincoln and they became friends.

In 1861, with his first act as president, Lincoln appointed Nicolay as his private secretary where he served until Lincoln's death on 1865.

--Old Secesh

Monday, October 15, 2018

John Nicolay's Thoughts on the Beall Case-- Part 3: Lincoln Would Not Yield

"Loath as Mr. Lincoln was at all times to approve a capital sentence, he felt in this case he would not permit himself to yield  to the promptings of his kindly heart.

"He sent a private message to General Dix, saying he would be glad if he would allow Beall  a respite of a few days to prepare himself for death, but positively declines to interfere with the sentence, and Beall was hung in the latter part of February."

Nicolay Diary.

--Old Secesh

John Nicolay's Thoughts on the Case of John Y. Beall-- Part 2: "Spy, Guerrillero, Outlaw and Would-Be Murderer"

"Mr. Jefferson Davis took the same view of the talismanic  character of the Confederate commission upon which Beall had relied, and issued a manifesto assuming responsibility of the act and declaring that it was done by his authority.  There was great clamor in regards to the case, and many people of all parties pleaded with Mr. Lincoln to commute the sentence of Beall.

"A petition in the cause was signed by most of the Democratic members of the House of Representatives and by many Republicans.

"But the Judge Advocate General reported that Beall, convicted upon indubitable  proof as a spy, guerrillero, outlaw and would-be murderer of hundreds of innocent persons traveling in supposed security upon one of our great thoroughfares, fully deserved to die the felon's death, and summary enforcement of  that  penalty was a duty the government owed society."

Summing It Up.  --Old Secesh

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Illinois' O.H. Browning-- Part 2: A Life-Long Friend of Lincoln

His political and military careers overlapped that of Lincoln and they became life-long friends.

He served the rest of Douglas' term until 1863 and did not run again.  After Lincoln's death, he became a supporter of Andrew Johnson and in 1866 was named Secretary of the Interior where he served until the end of Johnson's presidency in 1869.

After that he was a lobbyist and practiced law in Washington, D.C., and Illinois.

Browning died in Quincy, Illinois, on August 10, 1881 and was buried at Woodland Cemetery in Quincy.

--Ols Secesh

Friday, October 12, 2018

Illinois' Orville Hickman Browning-- Part 1: A Man of Strong Connections

Earlier this week I wrote about this man pleaing to Lincoln to commute the death sentence of John Yates Beall.  I'd never heard of him, but it seemed as if he was on a friendly relationship with the president so went to good ol. Wikipedia for a background on him.


An attorney in Illinois and a politician active in the Whig and Republican parties.  Also a U.S. senator during the Civil War and Secretary of the  Interior after the war.

Born in Kentucky and trained as a lawyer  Settled in Illinois, served in the militia during the Black Hawk War.  Successful attorney and active in politics as a Whig.  Served in the Illinois General Assembly.  Joined the Republican Party after the Whigs broke up and helped organize the new party in Illinois.

In 1861, he was appointed to  fill the Senate seat of Stephen A. Douglas after his death.

No Wonder He Had Access to Lincoln.  --Old Secesh

Thursday, October 11, 2018

John George Nicolay's Thoughts On the Beall Case-- Part 1

From the "Lincoln, Beall & the Gallows" By Jim Surkamp in Civil War Scholar site.

John Nicolay was one of Lincoln's two private secretaries.

John Y. Beall was captured: "in the state of New York near the Suspension Bridge in an attempt to throw a passenger train from the West off the track for the purpose of robbing the express company.  This was the third attempt which he had made to accomplish this purpose.

"He was in citizen's dress, engaged in an act of simple murder and robbery., yet he imagined that the fact that he had a Confederate commission in his pocket would secure him against punishment in case of capture.

He was tried by court martial and sentenced to death."

--Old Secesh

Pleaing for John Yates Beall's Clemency-- Part 2: Change Death Sentence To Imprisonment

"This is brief time for preparation for so solemn and appalling an event.  The friends of Capt. Beall desire to appeal to your clemency for a commutation of the sentence from death to imprisonment and that they might have the opportunity to prepare and present to your consideration the reasons which they hope may induce to a commutation.

"They now beseech you to grant the unhappy man such respite as you may deem reasonable  and just under circumstances.  As a short respite is all that is asked for now and as that can in no event harm, I forebear at present to make  any other suggestion.  Most respectfully your friend.

O.H. Browning"

--Old Secesh

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Pleaing for Clemency of John Yates Beall-- Part 1: O.H. Browning

From "Lincoln, Beall and the Gallows" by Jim Surkamp.

O.H. Browning, a powerful member of the Republican party and from Illinois appealed to Lincoln to save Beall.

"Washington, D.C., Feb. 17, 1865.
The President:

Captain  John Y. Beall has been tried by court martial in New York, found guilty and sentenced to be hung as a spy and guerrilla.

The sentence was approved by Major General Dix on the 14th Feb'y,  and directed to be carried  into execution tomorrow the 18th."

--Old Secesh

Monday, October 8, 2018

MCCWRT Meeting Tuesday Oct. 9: Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in the Civil War

This Tuesday, October 8, 2018, the McHenry County (Illinois) Civil War Round Table will hold its monthly meeting at the Woodstock, Illinois, Public Library located at 414 West Judd Street, just off the historic Woodstock Square.

This month's presentation will be by Charlie Banks and will be about the "Chesapeake and Ohio canal in the Civil War."

All are welcome to attend.

See You There.  --Old Secesh

Civil War Trust October 2018 Calendar: Port Hudson, Louisiana


256 acres saved

The Civil War Trust has partnered with The Conservation Fund to ave 256 acres of land at Port Hudson, Louisiana, the site of the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River after Vicksburg fell.

The acreage saved by the trust includes the site of the first black assault in the Civil War, made by the 1st and 3rd Louisiana Native Guard regiments on May 27, 1863.

Hallowed Ground.  --Old Secesh

Civil War Trust September 2018 Calendar: Waxhaws, South Carolina


51 Acres Saved

The Civil War Trust has expanded its vision of preservation to all battlefields in the United States, which now includes the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

In 1780, the infamous Banistre Tarleton and his British Legion massacred Continental troops at the Battle of Waxhaws.

In the subsequent battles of the American revolution's Southern Campaign, "Remember Waxhaws" became a rallying cry for Patriot forces.  In 2016, the Trust, in partnership with the South Carolina Battleground Trust, preserved the first property at Waxhaws Battlefield.

--Old Secesh

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Trial of John Yates Beall

Same source as last two posts.

**  Major Bolles, Judge Advocate of the Military Commission.

"There was nothing of Christian civilization and nothing of regular warfare in Beall's operations."

**  From General John A. Dix."The Proceedings, finding and sentence are approved and the accused John Y. Beall will be hanged by the neck till he is dead, on Governors Island, on Friday the 24th day of February, 1865.  --  General Orders No. 17, February 21, 1865.  Case of J.Y. Beall."

--Old Secesh

Pleas To Lincoln For John Yates Beall's Life

Same source as previous post.

I have already mentioned the large number of Members of Congress who appealed for Beall's life.

Here are some more:

Abraham Lincoln at the White House, February 23, 1865.

President Lincoln's log of visitors the day before Beall was hanged reflect the heavy volume of pleas  that Lincoln  spare Beall's life, leniency having been Lincoln's tendency with scheduled death sentences.

**  President receives J.W. Forney and W. McLean regarding pardon for J.Y. Beall.

**  Informs Montgomery Blair and friends, who call at the White House,  that if their visit concerns Beall they will not be granted an audience.

**  In evening, O.H. Browning sees Lincoln about Beall.

**  President undecided.    Looks badly and feels badly.

From the Browning Diary.

--Old Secesh

Thursday, October 4, 2018

John Yates Beall's Last Words: "I Die in the Service and Defense of My Country"

From Civil War  "Lincoln, Beall and the Gallows" by Jim Surkanp.

A reporter for the New York World witnessed the execution Feb. 24, 1865:

"As some author has said, we may be as near to God on the scaffold as elsewhere...  I protest against the execution of this sentence.  It is murder.

"I die in the service and defense of my country.

"I have nothing more to say."

--Old Service

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

William Beall-- Part 6: S.O. Means Special Order

From Civil War  2nd Virginia Infantry Regiment.

This was essentially what the Find-A-Grave had, but some other items which I will relate.


Student  Enlisted Camp Jackson at Bolivar Heights,

Detailed by Special Order 253 from the Secretary of War to report to his brother, John Y.Beall then became a prisoner 11/16/1863.  Exchanged 3/16/1864.  The Find-A-Grave article just said S,O. for the Special Order.  That clears up what S.O, means.

Surrendered at Appomattox.

William Beall-- Part 5: Served In the Stonewall Brigade

Baltimore Sun June 18, 1907, obituary.

WILLIAM BEALL [Special Dispatch to the Baltimore Sun].

Charlestown, West Virginia.

William Beall, 63 years old, a well-known retired farmer, residing near Flowing Springs, died yesterday after an illness of some months, aged 63 years.

He served in the Confederate Army and was in the Stonewall Brigade.

Mr. Beall had for some years one of the vestrymen in Zion Episcopal Church.

He is survived by three sisters.

--Old secesh

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

William Beall-- Part 4: His Obituary in the Confederate Veteran, 1907

William Beall's Obituary in the Confederate Veteran Vol. XVI, page 288

"After a protracted illness, William Beall  entered into rest June 16, 1907. aged sixty-three.

"He served n Company G, 2nd Virginia Regiment, Stonewall Brigade.  For awhile he was in the Confederate Navy with his brother, Captain John G. Beall, who was executed  on Governor's Island, N.Y..

"He was a prisoner at Fortress Monroe, both brothers being in irons.  He surrendered at Appomattox.

"He returned to his native county, (Jefferson) and was a successful farmer, a good soldier, an honored citizen.  He was also a useful member of the Episcopal Church.

"Many miss and mourn him."

--Old Secesh

William Beall-- Part 3: Sick A Lot, On Brother's Operation

Present on January and February rolls.

Hospitalized 4/18/63

Hospitalized for "Diarrhoea" 5/2-7/21 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Detailed 10/4/1863 by S.O. 253 to report to John Y. Beall;  POW 10/4/1863 Accomack Co. Virginia

Confined  11/16/1863 Fort McHenry, MD.

Confined Fort Monroe, Va.  Exchanged 3/16/1864.

Kind of interesting that he was detailed the same day he was captured and must have been operating on one of his brother's expeditions.

--Old Secesh

Monday, October 1, 2018

William Beall-- Part 2: Captured At 2nd Manassas

Co. G, 2nd Virginia Infantry, Stonewall Brigade, Johnson's Division, 2nd Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, CSA.

Enlisted 6/8/1861 at Bolivar Heights, Virginia.  On 9/8/1861 he mustered in as a private in Co. G., 2nd Virginia.

Absent sick 10/3/1861.

POW 8/27/1862 in 2nd Battle of Manassas, Va.;  Exchanged 11/20/1862; granted Medical Furlough.

--Old Secesh

William Beall, John's Brother-- Part 1: Also Buried at Zion Episcopal Cemetery

From Find-A Grave.


Born  26 March 1844,   Jefferson Co. W. Va.

Dies 16 June 1907, (Age 63)  Ranson, Jefferson Co.  W. Va.

Burial:  Zion Episcopal Cemetery, Charles Town, W. Va.

--Old Secesh

John Yates Beall-- Part 6: Did Beall's Execution Lead to the Lincoln Assassination?

There is a legend discussed by Lloyd Lewis that Lincoln was approached by John Wilkes Booth, who was a friend of Beall's, to save his life.

The president agreed to save Beall, but changed his mind when he was approached by Secretary of State William H. Seward who insisted that Beall's activities had been dangerous to citizens of the New York  (Seward's home state).

Supposedly, as the legend goes, an enraged John Wilkes Booth then determined to kill Lincoln and Seward for this betrayal after Beall was executed.

An Interesting Story, But Doubtful.  --Old Secesh