Assignment 6

Beall’s charges


Charge I. – Violation of the Laws of War

  • force of arms, seize and capture the steamboat Philo Parsons
  • force of arms, seize, capture and sink the steamboat Ocean Queen
  • found acting as a spy at or near Kelley’s Island
  • found action as a spy at or near Middle Bass Island
  • found acting as a spy at or near Suspension Bridge in New York state
  • found trying to destroy a moving train on its way between Buffalo and Dunkirk with people on board


Charge II. – Acting as a Spy

  • acting as a spy in Ohio
  • acting as a spy in New York

He was said to be seen on multiple occasions at the areas where the charges took place. He was picked out of a lineup by witnesses.


–  The defendant’s case was that Beall was a Confederate naval officer acting under orders so he shouldn’t be convicted.

John Y. Beall was wrongfully convicted and murdered because he was simply following Confederate orders. The case of Beall can be a complicated one to follow. There were many stories and accounts early on that would lead someone to believe that Beall was indeed guilty of violating the laws of war and acting as a spy. When you look at the case, the facts of Beall seizing a ship as if he was a trained pirate and then following that up with trying to dismember a moving train with patrons inside makes you think that this was common behavior for someone like Beall. This would also warrant an arrest and possible death penalty charge at the time. But learning that Beall’s men left the mission once failure to capture the gunboat Michigan occurred, Beall was put in a position where it looked like he had went rogue. Beall was simply following orders to free imprisoned Confederates. Also, it’s unfortunate that suspects could be turned into criminals simply by a witnesses opinion or for what they supposedly saw. With no DNA testing or other resources available, convicting someone was an inconsistent process. I standby Beall’s words that he died in the service and defense of his country.

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