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Collection Number: 02533-z

Collection Title: John Y. Beall Papers (#2533-z) ca. 1865-1899 and ca. 1935-1942

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Size 2 items.
Abstract John Yates Beall (1835-1865), Confederate soldier and acting master in the Confederate Navy. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Beall joined Company G of the 2nd Virginia Volunteers. After accepting a naval appointment in 1863, Beall led a failed attempt to free Confederate prisoners on Johnson's Island in Sandusky Bay, Ohio. He was captured soon after, tried before a Union military commission for espionage and violating the laws of war, and hanged at Governor's Island, N.Y., on 24 February 1865. The papers comprise two volumes, ca. 1865-1899 and ca. 1935-1942, documenting Beall's trial, his time in prison, efforts to free him, and his execution. The volumes contain transcripts of letters by and about Beall, and transcripts of miscellaneous items, including a biographical sketch of Beall; the warrant appointing Beall acting master in the Confederate Navy; his will; notes he made on his final wishes; and a clipping, 1935, regarding the legend of Beall's ghost. One letter from Beall's lawyer describes attempts to free Beall and Beall's last days. Letters written by Beall, who was imprisoned at Fort Lafayette in New York Harbor and at Fort Columbus on Governor's Island during February 1865, proclaim his innocence, communicate his last wishes, and request that his name be cleared. The biographical sketch mentions only briefly Beall's life as a student, a farmer, and a Confederate soldier prior to his trial.
Creator Beall, John Y. (John Yates), 1835-1865.
Language English.
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy (filmed June 2004) available.
  • Reel 1: Entire collection
Provenance
Volume 2 received from George Hamilton Sullivan in June 1942; volume 1 purchased from McGowan Book Company of Chapel Hill, N.C., in January 1999 (Acc. 98296).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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John Yates Beall (1835-1865) was the son of George and Janet Yates Beall of Jefferson County, Va. He attended the University of Virginia to study law, then returned to Jefferson County to farm.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Beall enlisted in Company G of the 2nd Virginia Volunteers and served until wounded at Harper's Ferry, W.Va., in October 1861. In 1863, he accepted an appointment as acting master in the Confederate Navy. After leading a failed attempt to free Confederate prisoners held on Johnson's Island in Sandusky Bay, Ohio, Beall escaped, only to be captured later in Niagara, N.Y. Union officials imprisoned Beall at Fort Lafayette in New York Harbor and later at Fort Columbus on Governor's Island, N.Y. Tried and convicted by a military commission for acting as a spy and violating the laws of war, Beall was hanged at Governor's Island on 24 February 1865.

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Two volumes, dated ca. 1865-1899 and ca. 1935-1942, documenting the trial and execution of John Yates Beall, acting master in the Confederate Navy, for espionage and breaking the laws of war. The volumes contain transcripts of correspondence by and about Beall concerning his 1865 trial and subsequent execution, and miscellaneous related items, including a biographical sketch of Beall by his friend Daniel B. Lucas; the warrant appointing Beall acting master in the Confederate Navy; his will; notes he made on his final wishes; and a 1935 clipping regarding the legend of his ghost. One letter (45 p.), from Beall's lawyer, Albert Ritchie, in Baltimore, to Beall's mother, Janet Yates Beall, describes attempts to free Beall and Beall's last days. There is also a similar shorter letter from the Reverend S. H. Weston. Letters from Beall, who was imprisoned at Fort Lafayette in New York Harbor and Fort Columbus on Governor's Island, N.Y., were written in February 1865 to his brother William Beall, to his friends James A. L. McClure in Baltimore and Mary Mildred Sullivan (Mrs. Algernon Sydney Sullivan), and to Confederate officers Colonel Jacob Thompson in Toronto and Colonel Robert Ould in Richmond. The materials in the volumes mention only briefly Beall's life as a student, a farmer, and a Confederate soldier prior to his trial.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Volumes, ca. 1865-1899 and ca. 1935-1942.

2 items.

Two volumes, ca. 1865-1899 and ca. 1935-1942, containing transcripts (handwritten and typed) of correspondence by and about Beall during and after his 1865 trial for espionage, and transcripts of miscellaneous other items related to his Navy career, his trial and execution, and to his last wishes.

Volume 1, entitled "John Yates Beall-In Memoriam" (78 p., handwritten transcriptions), compiled sometime between 1865 and 1899 by an unknown individual, consists primarily of a 45-page letter, dated 1 March 1865, from Beall's lawyer Albert Ritchie in Baltimore, Md., to Beall's mother, Janet Yates Beall, giving details of her son's trial, his final thoughts and actions, and Ritchie's and others' attempts to have his sentence commuted. There is also a similar, though shorter, letter to Janet Yates Beall from Reverend S. H. Weston that communicates her son's last wishes. Other letters in the volume include some from Beall proclaiming his innocence, saying goodbye, and requesting that his commanders attempt to clear his name. Included are one letter to his friend James A. L. McClure in Baltimore and one to his brother William Beall, both dated 14 February 1865 from Fort Lafayette, as well as one to Colonel Jacob Thompson in Toronto and one to Cololnel Robert Ould in Richmond, dated 21 February 1865 from Fort Columbus. Additional items are a biographical sketch of Beall by his college classmate Daniel B. Lucas; the warrant appointing Beall acting master in the Confederate Navy, 6 March 1863; Beall's will, 16 Februray 1865; and notes Beall made concerning his burial and last wishes.

Volume 2, entitled "In Re the Execution of John Yates Beall-1865 " (16 p., typed transcriptions), was compiled sometime between 1935 and 1942, possibly by George Hamilton Sullivan. This volume, which has been removed from its original binding, comprises three letters Beall wrote to Mary Mildred Sullivan (Mrs. Algernon Sydney Sullivan) concerning her visiting him in prison; an account of Sullivan's successful efforts to obtain permission for the visit; and a 1935 newspaper article, 3 January 1935, concerning the legend of Beall's ghost on Governor's Island. Beall's letters to Sullivan are dated 14 February 1865 from Fort Lafayette and 17 and 21 February 1865 from Fort Columbus.

Folder 1

Volume 1 #02533-z, Series: "Volumes, ca. 1865-1899 and ca. 1935-1942. " Folder 1

Folder 2

Volume 2 #02533-z, Series: "Volumes, ca. 1865-1899 and ca. 1935-1942. " Folder 2

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Processing Information

This collection was processed with support, in part, from the Randleigh Foundation Trust.

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