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Sentence to death of a Confederate officer.

Captain J. Y. Beall, an officer in the Confederate States navy, was to have been hung on Governor's island, New York, on Saturday last, in accordance with a sentence of a military commission. It was charged that the prisoner, "a citizen of the insurgent State of Virginia," had acted as a spy, at various times, in New York and Ohio, and also as a guerrilla, in which latter capacity he had, "without lawful authority," captured the steamers Philip Parsons and Island Queen and thrown a train of cars off the track of a New York railroad. Captain Beall was a native of Jefferson county, Virginia, and a graduate of the University. He entered the war as a captain in the Second Virginia infantry, and served for some time with Stonewall Jackson. He was well-known in Richmond, and has never been known to maltreat a prisoner, though he has captured many in the waters of Virginia.--We give below the review of the proceedings of the commission by General Dix:

‘ In reviewing the proceedings of the court, the circumstances on which the charges are founded, and the question of law raised on the trial, the Major-General commanding has given the most earnest and careful consideration to them all.

’ The testimony shows that the accused, while holding a commission from the authorities at Richmond as acting master in the navy of the insurgent States, embarked at Sandwich, Canada, on board the Philo Parsons, an unarmed steamer, while on one of her regular trips, carrying passengers and freight from Detroit, in the State of Michigan, to Sandusky, in the State of Ohio. The captain had been induced by Burley, one of the confederates of the accused, to land at Sandwich, which, which was not one of the regular stopping places of the steamer, for the purpose of receiving them. Here the accused and two others took passage.

At Maiden, another Canadian port, and one of the regular stopping places, about twenty-five more came on board. The accused was in citizen's dress, showing no insignia of his rank or profession, embarking as an ordinary passenger, and representing himself to be on a pleasure trip to Kelley's island, in Lake Erie, within the jurisdiction of the State of Ohio.

After eight hours he and his associates, amusing themselves with revolvers and hand-axes, brought surreptitiously on board, rose on the crew, took possession of the steamer, threw overboard part of the freight, and robbed the clerk of the money in his charge, putting all on board under duress. Later in the evening he and his party took possession of another unarmed steamer,--the Island Queen,--scuttled her, set her adrift on the lake. These transactions occurred within the jurisdiction of the State of Ohio on the 19th days of September, 1864.

On the 16th day of December, 1864, the accused was arrested near the suspension bridge, over the Niagara river, within the State of New York. The testimony shows that he and two officers of the insurgent States, Colonel Martin and Lieutenant Headley, with two other Confederates, had made an unsuccessful attempt, under the direction of the first named officer, to throw the passenger train coming from the West to Buffalo off the railroad track for the purpose of robbing the express company. It is further shown that this was the third at tempt in which the accused was concerned to accomplish the same object; that between two of these attempts the party including the accused, went to Canada and returned, and that they were on their way back to Canada when he was arrested. In these transactions, as in that on Lake Erie, the accused, though holding a commission from the insurgent authorities at Richmond, was in disguise, procuring information with the intention of using it, as he subsequently did, to inflict injury upon unarmed citizens of the United States and their private property.

The substance of the charges against the accused is, that he was acting as a spy, and carrying on irregular or guerrilla warfare against the United States in other words, that he was acting in the two-fold character of a spy and a guerilla. He was found guilty on both charges, and sentenced to death on the Major General commanding for concurs in the judgment of the court. In all the transactions with which he was implicated — in one as a chief, and in another as a subordinate agent — he was not only acting the part of a spy, in procuring information to be used for hostile purposes, but he was also committing acts condemned by the command judgement and the common conscience of all civilized States, except when done in open warfare by avowed enemies — Throughout these transactions, he was not only in disguise, but personating a false character.

It is not at all essential to the purpose of sustaining the finding of the court and yet it is not inappropriate to state as an indication of the animus of the accused and his confederates, that the attempts to throw the railroad train of the track were made at night, when the obstruction would be less likely than is the day time to be noticed by the engineer or conductor, thus putting a peril the lives of hundreds of me women and children. In those attempt three officers holding commissions in the military service of the insurgent States were concerned. The accused is short by the testimony to be a man of education and refinement, and it is difficult to account for his agency in transactions to abhorrent to the moral sense, and so it consistent with all the rules of honorable warfare.

The accused, in justification of the transaction on Lake Erie, produced the manifesto of Jefferson Davis assuming the responsibility of the act, and declaring that it was done by his authority It is hardly necessary to say that no subsumption can sanction an act not warranted by the laws of civilized warfare. If Mr. Davis were at the head of an independent government, recognized as such by other nations, he would have no power to sanction what the usages of civilized States has condemned. The Government of the United States, from a desire to mitigate the asperities of war, has given to the insurgents of the South the benefit of the rules which govern sovereign States in the conduct of hostilities with each other; and any violation of those rules should, for the sake of good order her and the cause of humanity throughout the world, be visited with the severest personality. War, under its mildest aspects the heaviest calamity that can befall of race; and he who, in a spirit of revenge with lawless violence, transcends the to which it is restricted by the common best of all Christian communities, show receive the punishment which the sermon voice has declared to be due to accrime. The Major-General commanding feels that a want of firmness and inflexibility on his part, in executing the sentence of death in such a case, would be an offence against the outraged civilization and humanity of the age.

It is hereby ordered that James Y. Beall be hanged by the neck until he is dead, on Governor's Island, on Saturday, the 18th day of February instant, between the hours of twelve and two in the afternoon.

The commanding officer at Fort Columbus is charged with the execution of this order.

By command of
Major-General Dix,

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