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RE: Lincoln's non pardon - L Verge - 02-04-2014 10:23 AM

You and I are friends, Herb, so I don't expect a backlash from you on this next statement; but I suspect I will get it from others. What makes Beall any different than Philip Sheridan in the Valley and Sherman in Georgia?

It's known as black flag warfare, and both sides were equally guilty of destroying homes, railroads, and enemy materiels. I believe I'm correct that Beall was not executed specifically for those actions. He was hanged as a spy because he chose not to wear a uniform while in action.

I also believe that it was mainly Seward who put the pressure on Lincoln to stand by the order for execution. Maybe that is another reason that he was targeted for assassination.

RE: Lincoln's non pardon - Gene C - 02-04-2014 11:01 AM

When Sherman and Sheridan burned a house, they usually allowed the occupants to take what they could and get out of the home.
Sherman and Sheridan's purpose was to destroy property that could be used to aid the enemy. Their purpose was not to kill civilians. Not so with some of these others. (Especially the New York greek fire bombings) Their purpose was to kill indiscriminately and cause terror, to hopefully cause troops to be withdrawn from the battlefield to protect the home front, and weaken morale.

RE: Lincoln's non pardon - L Verge - 02-04-2014 11:20 AM

In my previous Post #28, which quoted a 1911 article refuting the legend that Booth and Beall were friends and cousins, I referred to this article being on a Beall family genealogy. The article's author, Isaac Markens, did a superb job of describing the efforts made by many influential people to have Lincoln spare Beall's life. Here is a synopsis of the people involved in the pleadings:

Never before did Lincoln so turn a deaf ear to supplications from all quarters without regard to the party, rank, or station.

"For days before the execution," it was said, "the President closed the doors of the executive palace against all supplicants, male or female, and his ears against all appeals, whether with the tongue of men or angels in behalf of the unfortunate prisoner. From the first Mr. Lincoln had responded to all applications for his interposition -- 'Gen. Dix may dispose of the case as he pleases -- I will not interfere.' Gen. Dix on his part replied, 'All now rests with the President -- as far as my action rests there is not a gleam of hope.' Thus they stood as the pillars of the gallows, on which Beall's fate was suspended and between them he died."

The man who thus wrought a change in the attitude of the chief magistrate, heretofore so susceptible, John Y. Beall, was one of seven children of a prominent family of Jefferson County, Va. He inherited wealth and social position, was of exemplary habits, well-read, active in Church work, and of philosophic mind. He had taken a three years course in the University of Virginia and while there studied law. A man of action, enamored of movement and change he joined a Virginia regiment early in the war, and was shortly thereafter wounded in the lungs. Thus incapacitated from regular service he embarked in a series of independent enterprises which culminated in his tragic death. He passed much of his time in Canada, the rendezvous of Confederate agents and sympathizers and it was there, presumably, that he conceived the idea of privateering on the Lakes, levying and burning some of the adjacent cities and releasing Confederate prisoners on Johnson's Island in Lake Erie. He flitted between Canada and Richmond, held conferences with the Confederate authorities, and was finally given a commission as acting master of the Confederate Navy. As such he soon attracted attention by numerous exploits in Chesapeake Bay and adjacent waters, such as the capture of little Yankee vessels with prisoners and stores, cutting submarine telegraph cables and partially destroying Cape Charles Light House. He was eventually caught, placed in irons in Fort McHenry, and when released joined an organization of Confederates armed with revolvers and hatchets who captured two regular freight and passenger steamers on Lake Erie, confiscated the cargoes and money, scuttled one of the steamers and put all on board under duress.

Thus far Beall's exploits while reprehensible were far less open to censure than his subsequent doings which comprised three attempts to derail passenger cars near Buffalo, NY, with a view of liberating a number of Confederate officers -- prisoners of war -- being transferred from Johnson's Island to Fort Warrens, Boston Harbor. By what psychological process this man of excellent antecedents could be brought to engage in operations of this character surpasses comprehension. The fact remains that after two unsuccessful attempts and escapes he was after the third operation on December 14th, 1864, caught while lingering at the railroad station at Suspension Bridge, NY, by a local policeman, all of his companions having escaped. He was sent to New York, confined in Police Headquarters, and then lodged in Fort Lafayette in the lower bay. There he occupied a room with Gen. Roger A. Pryor recently captured in Virginia. Beall wished Pryor to act as his counsel. Charles A. Dana, as assistant secretary of war objected on the ground that "Under no circumstances can a prisoner of war be allowed to act as counsel for a person accused of being a spy." Thereupon James T. Brady, a foremost member of the New York bar, was selected as Beall's counsel. Five witnesses testified for the prosecution. No witnesses were offered by the defense. Brady contended that Beall was no spy nor was he amenable to a military commission. The Judge Advocate, Major John Bolles took the ground that there was nothing of Christian Civilization and nothing of regular warfare in Beall's operations. Beall's conviction followed in quick order and he requested his friend to send to the President a copy of the record of the trial and attach to it this statement: "Some of the evidence is true, some false. I am not a spy or guerrilero. The execution of the sentence will be murder."

Beall's friends were aroused to action, either through Gen. Dix or President Lincoln. It was manifest from the first of Beall's life rests with the former there was no escape. Dix, the man of resolution and iron-will, author of the famous order promulgated on the eve of the war -- "If any one attempts to haul down the American flag shoot him on the spot!" was none of the yielding kind. Moreover in his approval of the death sentence he had said that "a want of flexibility in executing the sentence of death would be against the outraged civilization and humanity of the age" and let it be understood from the start that he would not recede.

At this point the tide turned in the direction of the White House with two close friends and schoolmates of Beall in the University of Virginia in the lead -- Albert Ritchie in later years Judge of the Baltimore Supreme Court and James A. L. McClure at a subsequent period prominent in Maryland politics. Andrew Steret Ridgely of Baltimore, son-in-law of Reverdy Johnson, was an early caller on the President in behalf of Beall, the result of which confirmed him that Dix was to have his way. Francis L. Wheatly, a leading Baltimorean, went to Washington and joined numerous New Yorkers in a conference with the President. Congressman R. Mallory, of Kentucky, and a party of ladies were received by Mr. Lincoln. There was in Washington at this time Orville. H. Browning of Illinois, a close personal friend of the President who had served in the United States Senate as successor of Stephen A. Douglas and his services were retained by Beall's friends. Browning prepared a statement to be laid before the President and called at the White House with Ritchie and others. At one of these interviews Browning was closeted for an hour with the President. On another visit he brought with him a petition bearing the signature of 85 members of the House and another signed by 6members of the Senate, many of which were obtained by the aid of Rev. Dr. John J. Bullock, of the Franklin Street Presbyterian Church of Baltimore. These petitions together with a letter of Browning, all hitherto unpublished read as follows:

Washington D. C., Feb 17, 1865

The President:

Capt. John Y. Beall has been tried by a court martial at 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 of Feb'y, and directed to be carried into execution tomorrow the 18th.

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 may 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 the circumstances. As short respite is all that is asked for now and as that can in no event harm, I forbear at present to make any other suggestion.

Most respectfully your friend,

O. H. Browning

Since writing the foregoing the Rev. Dr. Bullock and others have placed in my hands a petition signed by ninety-one members of Congress including Speaker Colfax, which I submit herewith.

To The President:

The undersigned members of the House of Representatives respectfully ask your Excellency to commute the sentence of Captain John Y. Beall, now under sentence to be hung on Governor's Island on the 18th (tomorrow).

(Names of signers here)

Among the foregoing names will be recognized many who attained higher honors in later years including that of James A. Garfield whose signature is preceded by a note reading: "I recommend a temporary reprieve at least."

Henry T. Blow wrote before signing: "I hope that time for preparation will be extended to this man," and J. K. Moorhead the following signer wrote: "So say I."

D. Morris (Daniel Morris of Yates County, N.Y.) took the precaution before appending his endorsement to insert the words: "If the public safety will admit I concur."

This petition Mr. Browning presented to the President, retaining a copy which he later endorsed as follows: "Feb. 17, 1865. Called on the President and read the original of this paper to him, and left it, together with petition signed by 91 members of Congress with him."

The appeal of the six Senators was in the following language:

Washington, February 17th, 1865,.

To His Excellency The President:

Your petitioners respectfully represent that John Yates Beall of Jefferson County, Virginia, was arrested on the 16th day of December last and taken to the City of New York and there tried by a military commission appointed by Maj. Gen'l Dix upon charges, 1st of violation of the laws of war, and 2nd "Acting as a spy," and after a hasty trial was found guilty and is sentened to be hung on Saturday the 18th inst. As it is admitted that the said Beall is a Captain regularly commissioned in the Rebel services and that Jefferson Davis, by a manifesto of the - -- day of -- -- assumed all responsibility for the acts of Captain Beall and Comrades in capturing the Steamer Philo Parsons and the Island Queen, and thus publicly asserted that the several acts specified in the charges against said Beall were done under his authority and direction, we therefore respectfully recommend your Excellency a commutation of the sentence of death pronounced against him.

Very respectfully,

L. W. Powerll (Ky.)
C. R. Buckalw (Pa.)
J. A. McDougall (Calif.)
Wm. Wright (N.J.)
Geo. Read Riddle (Del.)
Garrett Davis (Ky.)

As might be supposed Browning's influence with Lincoln in this instance, went for naught. As a result of his numerous interviews he brought to Beall's friends no more assurance than a possible commutation of sentence should the inexorable Dix be induced to approve. The President was uninfluenced by the visits of Richard S. Spofford, librarian of Congress, John W. Garrett, President of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and Mr. Risley, the law partner of Browning, Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania, Gov. John Andrew of Massachusetts, George W. Grafflin and Edward Stabler, both prominent citizens of Maryland. When James T. Brady, Beall's counsel, who had served without compensation, sought an interview he was told by the President's secretary that the case being closed he could not be seen. Mountgomery Blair was disposed of in like manner despite the fact that he had been Postmaster General in Lincoln's cabinet and the venerable Frances P. Blair of Maryland, who held confidential relations with Lincoln gained nothing by his visit. Accompanying Montgomery Blair was Mrs. John Gittings, wife of a well-known Baltimore banker and railroad President. The Gittings' were no strangers to the President, Mrs. Lincoln and her two younger sons having enjoyed the hospitality of their home on Mount Vernon place Baltimore when the President elect made the secret night journey to Washington four years before. This fruitless visit of Montgomery Blair with Mrs. Gittings was in the night preceding Beall's execution - February 23rd.

The same night witnessed a most remarkable gathering at the White House - a joint call of John W. Forney, Republican editor, Washington McLean, Democrat editor and Roger Pryor, Confederate Brigadier, the latter fresh from imprisonment in Fort Lafayette where he had met Beall. The purpose of this call was a double one -- to secure the parole or exchange of Pryor and discuss with the President the case of Beall. Lincoln paroled Pryor in the custody of Forney at whose house he remained as a guest for several weeks until he left for Virginia. Next the party took up the case of Beall at great length. Forney, McLean and Pryor urged a respite. Lincoln was much interested in all Pryor had to say of the young man's social standing and high reputation. Finally he showed a telegram from Dix stating that Beall's execution was necessary for the security of the community. Dix undoubtedly had in mind the recent attempt to burn the city of New York and the suspicion that Beall had a hand in it despite Beall's assurance to Pryor that such was not the case. Finding the President obdurate the party withdrew.

Pryor had with him Beall's diary which he gave to McLean. A copy of this he kept and another copy he gave to Gen. W. N. R. Beall. On his arrival in Richmond three weeks' later Pryor had an interview with President Davis to whom he fully explained his conference with Lincoln. He then went to Petersburg his old home which was shortly afterward occupied by Gen. Grant. The President at this time made a flying visit to that town. While there he expressed a wish to have Pryor call and see him. Pryor, fearing that his people at this peculiar juncture might misconstrue his motive and resent his intercourse with the "Yankee President" deemed it best to decline the invitation.

This visit of Forney, McLean and Pryor to the White House was probably the last in behalf of Beall and Dix had his way the execution of Beall taking place as ordered on February 24th. In striking contrast with Dix's firm stand against Beall was his complaisance in the distribution of passes to witness the execution. These were given out without question, promiscuously and for the mere asking, the writer of this article being one of the many thus favored.

Writing some four months after Beall's death a close friend and school-mate, Daniel B. Lucas, subsequently United States Senator from West Virginia, and judge of the United States Supreme Court of that State, said of President Lincoln's course in the Beall case: "There was one expedient which might have been successful had it been adopted, that was to have purchased the more influential of the Republican journals of New York over in favor of mercy. There was one influence to which President Lincoln never failed to yield when strongly directed against him, the voice of his party; this he did upon principle as the head of a popular government. Unfortunately, neither Beall nor his friends belonged to that party, hence the doors of mercy were closed against him."

RE: Lincoln's non pardon - Rogerm - 02-04-2014 11:52 AM

Hadn't Senator Browning and Lincoln had a kind of falling out by the second half of Lincoln's first term, and, therefore, perhaps his opinion might not have held as much sway over the president by the time of the Beall case?

RE: Lincoln's non pardon - L Verge - 02-04-2014 02:50 PM

(02-04-2014 11:52 AM)Rogerm Wrote:  Hadn't Senator Browning and Lincoln had a kind of falling out by the second half of Lincoln's first term, and, therefore, perhaps his opinion might not have held as much sway over the president by the time of the Beall case?

I am not well-schooled in general Lincoln history, Roger, so you may be correct. He obviously still held sway with some other influential people, however.

Gene - I would beg to differ with you regarding the actions of any forces (Union, Confederate, past, or present) that conduct black flag warfare. It is all about destroying the enemy's supplies, way of life, and livelihood in order to get them to beg for mercy so that they will surrender. There is no compassion in it at all. It is a way of war and a necessary evil - no matter which side uses it.

RE: Lincoln's non pardon - HerbS - 02-04-2014 03:29 PM

Laurie,I am only posting from what I read.Sherman's"hair pins"were terrible! While teaching about the Civil War,I would show[without name] pictures of Richmond and Hiroshima,and ask them to identify them,without fail, they were wrong 95% of the time.War is Hell!!!!!

RE: Lincoln's non pardon - JMadonna - 02-04-2014 06:58 PM

(02-04-2014 10:23 AM)L Verge Wrote:  I believe I'm correct that Beall was not executed specifically for those actions. He was hanged as a spy because he chose not to wear a uniform while in action.

Exactly right Laurie and that's the difference. Wearing a uniform makes it an act of war. Guerrilla warfare is outside the legal boundaries of warfare and thus an act of terror!

If Booth wore a uniform to the theater he could have surrendered and would have been considered a POW not an assassin.

Somehow Davis must have felt the Beall and Harney missions were legitimate acts of war because HE declared they were. It doesn't work that way, he was obviously delusional.

RE: Lincoln's non pardon - L Verge - 02-04-2014 07:42 PM

Well now, if my home ever gets attacked by an enemy soldier, I'll know to strip him of his uniform and put him in civilian clothes so that he can be declared a terrorist working outside the rules of war. Sort of goes with that old saying that, if you have to shoot someone, make sure you drag the body into your house...

RE: Lincoln's non pardon - Gene C - 02-04-2014 08:47 PM

I don't know about that, but you could try what they did to Clint Eastwood in the movie, "The Beguiled"

(SPOILER ALERT, It takes place during the Civil War, Clint is a wounded prisoner at an all girls school. He makes a mistake or two in his relationships with some of the ladies at the school and one of them pushes him down the stairs and he breaks his leg. They amputate it, give him poison mushrooms, and eventually bury him in the back yard.)

RE: Lincoln's non pardon - L Verge - 02-04-2014 10:11 PM

(02-04-2014 06:58 PM)JMadonna Wrote:  
(02-04-2014 10:23 AM)L Verge Wrote:  I believe I'm correct that Beall was not executed specifically for those actions. He was hanged as a spy because he chose not to wear a uniform while in action.

Exactly right Laurie and that's the difference. Wearing a uniform makes it an act of war. Guerrilla warfare is outside the legal boundaries of warfare and thus an act of terror!

If Booth wore a uniform to the theater he could have surrendered and would have been considered a POW not an assassin.

Somehow Davis must have felt the Beall and Harney missions were legitimate acts of war because HE declared they were. It doesn't work that way, he was obviously delusional.

Remember that Jefferson Davis was ready to continue the war via guerrilla tactics rather than surrender his armies. The ends justify the means, anyone?

RE: Lincoln's non pardon - JMadonna - 02-04-2014 10:38 PM

Davis was ready to continue the war via guerrilla tactics rather than surrender his power. His armies were surrendering without him.

RE: Lincoln's non pardon - Jim Woodall - 02-03-2015 05:24 AM

How would a strong Union man from Ohio rendering this story play into the interpretation of Booth's motive?

How would it be if that person was a member of the Union Light Guard?

How about if he was the de facto commander of the Union Light Guard?

Well, his name is James Jamison. In an article written about a trip he made up to Pennsylvania to see Philadelphia City Treasurer George D. McCreary, he related tales of his Lincoln days and the assassination which are reported in the Philadelphia Times of 29 August 1893 pg 4 cols. 4 & 5.

Some things of note regarding what he said:

Jamison was assigned to Ohio governor, David Todd, prior to being assigned by him to the unit which became the Union Light Guard. The captain and 1st lieutenant of the Union Light Guard were court-martialed and dismissed from service shortly after arriving in Washington. Jamison succeeded to command of the unit and maintained such without promotion until unit was disbanded.

He was ordered by Stanton to have the unit act as bodyguard to Lincoln. After back and forths between Stanton and Lincoln, Lincoln eventually excepted the unit as bodyguards.

He also discusses the night of the assassination, guarding the door of Petersen House and escorting the body back to the White House.

Then he tells an interesting tale about Booth and his reason for killing Lincoln:

"I have seen in print many stories of the plot against Lincoln's life, many of them blaming the South, but never the true one. The facts are that Booth had a very dear actor friend named Anderson, who wa condemned to be shot as a spy. Prior to that time Booth and Lincoln had been friends. A strong effort was made in Anderson's behalf, so strong that a Cabinet meeting was held, and in some way Booth managed to appear at the meeting and plead with tears in his eye for his friend's life.

"He left the meeting with the understanding that the sentence would be commuted to imprisonment. Anderson was shot the following morning at sunrise. Booth was frenzied with rage and it was as a result of this that the plot to kill not only Lincoln but the entire Cabinet was formed. There was more than one man prepared to shoot that night, and if the courage of the man to whom was intrusted the duty of turning out the theatre lights had not failed him there would have been a general slaughter.

"The South had nothing to do with President Lincoln's assassination, and, moreover, Mrs. Surratt, who was hanged for complicity in the crime, was an innocent woman. I know it to be a fact that Chief of Secret Service Baker on his deathbed confessed to Secretary Stanton that Mrs. Surratt was hanged on perjured evidence."

He goes on to discuss another occasion dealing with spies who were to be shot where he ignored standing orders. The standing orders were to "never permit anyone to see President Lincoln after nightfall without an order from the Secretary of War, and not to permit any letter to go to the President until it had passed through Secretary Stanton's hands." On this occasion regarding two brothers named Lampertines and a man named Ross, he let them see the President. As far as Jamison knew, they were successful and the sentences were "suspended until further notice."

It is to be noted that he says the issue was with Anderson and not John Yates Beall. Personally, I think he was mistaken. Beall was caught with a fellow rebel by the name of George Smith Anderson who turned evidence against Beall. Is it that perhaps he overheard some of the conversation that took place between Booth and Lincoln and heard the reference to Anderson and mistook him as the spy being talked about? Although, he does say that Anderson was an actor friend of Booth which John Yates Beall does not appear to be.

Of further notes, the article goes on to indicate that he collected Lincoln memorabilia including the following:

- dress coat worn by Lincoln at his first inauguration
- autographic letters addressed to himself from the Lincoln, Mrs. Lincoln, and Robert T. Lincoln
- a carved cane symbolizing the proclamation of emancipation, bearing the inscription: "Presented by Mrs. Lincoln to J. B. Jamison, commanding President's escort, April 25, 1865."

Unfortunately for Jamison, his life would take a turn for the worse a couple weeks after the publishing of this article. While still in Pennsylvania, his Florida house was robbed, his wife murdered, and the house burned down to cover the crime. The individual that did this was a neighbor who was originally from Kentucky. This is discussed in another article in the Philadelphia Times of 13 December 1893 pg. 3, cols. 1 & 2.

Looking at a site that traced the Jamison genealogy, a relative (perhaps an uncle or granduncle - the site is confusing) Horatio Gates Jameson Jr., was married to Sarah McCulloh Porter, a cousin of Mary Todd Lincoln. Jameson site

So, what are your thoughts on James Buchanan Jamison's stories? Furthermore, are the artifacts that he talks about accounted for?

RE: Lincoln's non pardon - RJNorton - 02-03-2015 06:19 AM

I just read this, Jim, and there is a lot of material there that I would question. I tried to find "Anderson" in Art Loux's book to see if Booth had a friend by that name. I think if Booth had a "very dear actor friend" named Anderson then Art would have included him. However, all I could find under "Anderson" was a Jean Anderson who was a friend of Asia's. The two ladies exchanged letters. There is an actor named David Anderson mentioned very briefly in My Thoughts Be Bloody, but he lived in San Francisco and would not be the Anderson cited in the article.

RE: Lincoln's non pardon - LincolnToddFan - 02-05-2015 10:21 PM

[If Booth wore a uniform to the theater he could have surrendered and would have been considered a POW not an assassin.]// quote

But how Jerry, when Booth and just about everyone else knew that Robert E. Lee had accepted an unconditional surrender almost a week previous? The war was over.

I don't agree that Booth could have achieved POW status if he'd worn a uniform and surrendered. He would still have been considered exactly what he is today-the actor who assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Not to mention that his chances of entering Ford's Theatre in a Confederate uniform would have been slim and none on April 14 1865.

RE: Lincoln's non pardon - STS Lincolnite - 02-06-2015 01:40 PM

(02-05-2015 10:21 PM)LincolnToddFan Wrote:  But how Jerry, when Booth and just about everyone else knew that Robert E. Lee had accepted an unconditional surrender almost a week previous? The war was over.

Lee only surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. Jefferson Davis for one would certainly have argued that the war continued. Also, there were other Confederate armies still in the field. Most notably Gen. Johnston's Army of Tennessee. Albeit more small scale, military action still continued (for example the engagement at Palmito Ranch, TX 13 May1865). General Stand Waite did not surrender Confederate forces under his command until 23 June 1865. Although politically all but over and militarily the end being a forgone conclusion with Lee's surrender, the American Civil War really did not end in April 1865.