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near Harper's Ferry in October, 1860, and went south. Returning the following spring, he made his way in 1860 to Cascade, near Dubuque, Iowa, where for a time he ran a mill. In September, coming under suspicion, he went to Upper Canada and lived at Dundas for some time. While there he conceived the bold scheme he afterwards attempted to carry out. On his return to Richmond his plan was approved; but the time was not thought favorable, and Beall for a time operated as a privateer upon the Chesapeake, etc. He was taken prisoner and for a time confined at Fort McHenry; but was afterwards released.
The Confederate Secretary of the Navy then determined to try Beall's suggested scheme on Lake Erie. In March, 1863, Beall was appointed an Acting Master in the Navy of the Confederate States, and what other rank he may have had in the enterprise in question, he gloried in the title of Captain. He made his way to Canada, where at that time there was an active Southern colony in Toronto, headed by Colonel Jacob Thompson. There the scheme was hatched which led to considerable international complication.
Burley (for thus is his name spelled throughout the legal proceedings, although he himself afterwards spelled it Burleigh) in the evening of Sunday, September 18, 1864, went on board the Philo Parsons, a steamship plying between Detroit and Sandusky, Ohio, touching at the Canadian ports, Amherstburgh (Malden) and (occasionally) Sandwich, a few miles below Detroit. She was lying at Detroit in charge of Mr. Ashley, clerk and part owner, whom Burley addressed and told he intended to go down as a passenger next day. He said he had three friends at Sandwich who were to go with him, and arranged that the boat should call at Sandwich for them.
Next morning the Philo Parsons swung from her dock at Detroit with freight and passengers, and called at Sandwich. There Beall and two others boarded the boat-all without baggage; all “very gentlemanly in appearance;
they said they were taking a little pleasure trip-might stop, perhaps, at Kelly's Island, but did not know exactly where they would go—and paid their fares to Sandusky."
The boat called at Malden, where about twenty-five other men got on board; all the baggage they had was a very old trunk tied up with a rope. Then the boat proceeded on its way to Sandusky; she called at Kelly's Island (in Ohio) and was about two miles away from that island when the eclaircissement took place.
The trunk was opened, disclosing revolvers and hatchets; the men who had boarded the boat at the Canadian ports armed themselves and took forcible possession of the steamer. They smashed open the baggage room with an axe, threw overboard the freight, wire, tobacco, household goods, etc., then headed the boat down the lake for a time, and then up the lake to Middle Bass Island (Ohio) which is about ten miles from shore. She was laid up there when, after a few minutes, the steamboat Island Queen came alongside and made fast. The armed party went aboard her and made prisoners of all on board (amongst them some twenty-five unarmed American soldiers going to Toledo to be mustered out of service), brought them to the Philo Parsons, and at length put all the prisoners from both boats ashore on the island. Then Beall and Burley forced Ashley to give them the money he had on board, some $100.00. The Island Queen was scuttled and set afloat; she drifted for two or three miles, struck a reef and sank.
During the time the Philo Parsons was sailing down and then up the lake, Beall said to more than one of the prisoners that he was an escaped Southern prisoner from Johnson's Island and that he intended to capture the U. S. S. Michigan, and then, liberating the prisoners on Johnson's Island, destroy the commerce on the lakes. This was not attempted; the Philo Parsons was abandoned and the Southerners scattered. It seems that the spies who had been assigned to enter the prison failed to give the pre
arranged signals and the Southerners under Beall's command mutinied. The adventure was given up, the adventurers returned to the Detroit River, where they abandoned the ship after stripping her of everything of value. Burley was arrested at Guelph in Canada and ordered to be extradited on a charge of robbing Ashley of a $20.00 treasury note; he escaped, became celebrated as a war correspondent and survived till June 17, 1914. That, however, is another story—the curious may read the proceedings in his case in the Upper Canadian Courts at Toronto in the Upper Canada Law Journal, Vol. 1, pp. 20, 34.
Beall also came to Upper Canada and remained for a time in Toronto, where he planned other privateering schemes. Then he took part in an enterprise which proved his undoing—we find him on December 15th on the railway track about four or five miles from Buffalo, on the way to Dunkirk, in company with Colonel Martin, C. S. A., Lieutenant Headley and Private Anderson, both formerly of Morgan's command. They tried to get a rail off the track, using a large sledge hammer and a cold chisel, but failed. Beall then went to Port Colborne, Upper Canada, for two nights and a day, and, joined by another Confederate soldier who said he had escaped from Rock Island, they came back to Buffalo. The five made another abortive attempt to wreck the railway, and at the third attempt, succeeded in lifting a rail and laying it across the track. This was on the Lake Shore road, and was ostensibly for the purpose of effecting the rescue of three or more Confederate generals who it was believed were being removed from Johnson's Island to Fort Warren, Massachusetts. The engine struck the rail, but no great harm was done.
Beall and Anderson were arrested the next day, December 16th, at the New York Central railroad station at Niagara Falls, N. Y., the junction with the Great Western Railroad of Canada, taken to New York and lodged in Mulberry Street Police Station. While there incarcerated
Beall made an unsuccessful attempt to effect his escape by bribery.
A Military Commission, or Court Martial, was convened by Major General Dix, the Major General in command of the department, under the provisions of the Act of Congress, July 2, 1864, chapter 215, and previous legislation. The Commission sat at Fort Lafayette, New York Harbor, and was composed of Gen. Warren and Gen. Norris, U. S. V., Col. Howe, Third U. S. Cav., Col. Day, U. S. Army, Lt. Col. O’Bierne, Fourteenth U. S. Inf., and Major Wallace, Sixth U. S. Inf. The Judge Advocate was Major Bolles, A. D. C., and the prisoner was defended by the celebrated James T. Brady, of the New York Bar. The proceedings were conducted with the utmost decorum and fairness, but the case of the accused was hopeless from the beginning. Anderson turned “State's Evidence.”
The charges were two in number, 1st, “Violation of the laws of war," with six “specifications,” and 2nd, “Acting as a spy," with three. In substance the charges were based on the Philo Parsons and Island Queen episode, and the attempt to destroy the train between Buffalo and Dunkirk.
There could be no doubt of the facts, and Mr. Brady relied upon the law. His contention that the court had no jurisdiction to try such offences was abandoned when the Judge Advocate showed him the Statute. Then he claimed that the acts complained of were cognizable by the courts of the states of Ohio and New York and that they were therefore not simply charges of “violating the rules of war;" he contended for etymological and other reasons that the accused was not a spy as the lines could not be considered to include New York and Ohio. Both Brady's address and Major Bolles' reply are admirable efforts, with all the advantage of law and fact in favor of the latter.
Beall was convicted on both counts and sentenced to be hanged-at such time and place as the General in Command of the Department should direct. General Dix approved
the verdict and appointed Governor's Island and February 18, 1865, as the place and time of execution. The order for execution was suspended to allow the Commission to be reconvened to amend a technical defect, but the unfortunate Beall was hanged by the neck until he was dead, at Governor's Island, on Friday, the 24th of February, 1865. OSGOODE HALL,
WILLIAM RENWICK RIDDELL. TORONTO, CANADA.