Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/79

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John Yates Beall, Martyr. 75

Fort Lafayette until February, 1866, when a Brooklyn judge re- leased him on a writ of habeas corpus, and since then nothing has been heard about him.

War Department records show that the number of Federal pris- oners in Confederate hands were 270,000 during 1861-65, and the number of Confederates in northern prisons numbered 220,000, the same period, and yet 32,000 Confederates died in northern prisons, many of whom were shot for slight provocations. During the same time there were but 22,750 deaths of Federal prisoners in southern hands, that is to say, more than twelve per cent, of the Confederates died in northern prisons, and less than nine per cent, of Federal prisoners in Confederate hands died in southern prisons. The North had unlimited means for medical aid, but the South was badly in need of medicine and comforts. The Federal Govern- ment declared medicine a contraband of war, which is the only gov- ernment ever known to have resorted to such harsh means.

The Confederate Government urged an exchange of prisoners, which would have relieved much suffering, but the Federal gov- ernment declined. General Grant asserted in 1864, that an ex- change of prisoners would defeat his plan of attrition, depleting Confederate ranks; that when a Confederate was captured his place could not be replenished, whereas the North could easily furnish two men for every Federal soldier captured by Confed- erates. Clearly the responsibility rests with the North in regard to the long confinement of prisoners. Prison life is not pleasant under the best conditions. The South gave the prisoners what the Confederate soldiers received. It was impossible to do more.

Captain Wirz was hung in Washington, 1865, the charge being that he maltreated Federal prisoners at Andersonville, Ga. He was offered pardon if he would certify that Jefferson Davis prompted cruelty to prisoners; but he spurned the bribe to de- fame an innocent man to save his own life. A man possessed of such nobility of character, could never be guilty of inhuman treat- ment of prisoners.


Capt. John Y. Beall was captured in December, 1864, while on a raid to release Federal prisoners en route to Fort Warren. He was kept in close confinement for more than one year, and when