Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/80

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76 Southern Historical Society Papers.

the Confederate cause was nearing dissolution, General Dix ap- pointed a drum-head court-martial to condemn Captain Beal to death. James T. Brady, of New York, counsel for defense, served his client faithfully; but drum-head court-martials sit to condemn, and not to do justice.

Judge Daniel B. Lucas, of Charlestown, West Virginia, the late James L. McClure and Albert Ritchie, of Baltimore, were all college mates of Captain Beall, and they were untiring in their efforts to secure a fair trial for Captain Beall; but it was of no avail. Secretary Se ward's edict had gone forth that "Beall must hang." Mrs. John I. Sittings and Mrs. Basil B. Gordon, of Baltimore, interceded in behalf of the heroic Beall. Numbers of Congressmen signed a petition for Beall' s pardon, but President Lincoln turned a deaf ear to all appeals for clemency.


So the fatal day, February 24th, i865, came, and as Captain Beall mounted the platform, General Dix's order was read, de- nouncing Beall' s heroic effort to release Confederate prisoners, which elicited a smile from Captain Beall; but when unjustly ac- cused of being a spy and guerrilla, he shook his head in denial. General Dix's homily on the proprieties of war also provoked a smile, because General Dix's military achievements were con- fined to burning William and Mary College in Virginia, and ad- ministering the oath of allegiance to the inmates of an insane asylum and treating them with cruelty. Beall well remembered the ashes and ruins of thousands of homes in Virginia, which marked the pathway of Federal invasion, and he also remembered the brutal treatment inflicted by Federal soldiers upon his mother and sisters. Captain Beall knew that General Dix's utterance was in default of the penalty which he himself attached to the viola- tions of the laws of civilized warfare.

Rev. Joshua Van Dyke, of New York, visited Captain Beall the day preceding his execution, and he said: "I found Captain Beall in a narrow, gloomy cell, with a lamp burning at midday, but he received me with a$ much ease as if he were in his own parlor. Captain Beall's conversation revealed at every turn, the scholar, the gentleman, and true Christian. There was no bravado, no strained heroism, no excitement in his words or manner, but a quiet trust in God and a composure in view of death, such as I have read of, but