Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
This article displays in one automatically-generated column. View the full page to see article in its original form.


John Y. Beall, the rebel pirate and spy, was hanged yesterday afternoon at Governor's Island for the crimes against his country and the laws of nations of which he stood convicted. About 10 o'clock, two friends of the prisoner, from Baltimore, who had just arrived, obtained permission to visit him, and entered his cell in company with the Rev. Mr. Wcston. After their withdrawal, Mr. Weston again administered the sacrament to the prisoner, and passed an hour with him in prayer and religious conversation. About 12 o'clock his last dinner was sent into his cell, but came out again almost untouched. The drum now beat to assemble the battalion of regulars who were to do guard duty on the occasion. All the rebel prisoners confined in the fort were secured in their quarters, and the trim, neatlydressed United States soldiers turned out fully equipped for duty. The guard lor the gallows was marched off to the ground, and the detail to take charge of the prisoner formed in open order in front of his cell. At half-past 12 Captain Tallman, Provost-Marshal of the Island, United States Marshal Robert Murray, and the executioner, entered Beall's ctll and found him resting quietly in his chair, looking on the ground, and apparently in deep thought. He addressed them with a smile, sajing, "I am ready, gentlemen.'' Turning to the executioner, he said " Let this thing be as brief as possible. It is to me a mere muscular effort. Make ir as short as | you can when you get there." His arms were j thjo tied behind him, above the eltiow> and the deadly loop was hung loosely around j his neck like some ghastly insignia of in-

famy. This noose was the same one used t > hnnjf Ili-.-kf, the pirate Gordon, the biavc- trader, and the negro Hawkins, who w;is executed for murder on the hiub seas. The black cap was then placed on the prisoner's herul, a military cloak thrown over b's «h mhlers, and ho was led out of his cell by Marshal Murray and Captain Tallman, to tsike his place under the ar:!i of the sallyport, between a line of soldiers. The prisoner's face was pale and careworn fr )in his confinement, but he looked firm and undismayed by the terrors of his situation. Minutes now separated him from the brink of that waiting grave into which be must fall, yet he smiled at the eager curiosity evinced by the spectators. Beall was evidently a man of intellect and refinement, and while all acknowledged the justice of his sentence, many felt a deep uity that the utter perversion of a cultured min'l from an honourable course should have led to such a fate. The prisoner was a well-formed man, about five feet ei^ht inches in height, hazel e3'es, brown hair and beard, and a firm determined mouth His demeanour indicated either perfect indifference or the possession of some sustaining influence enabling him to triumph over the fear of death. He said nothing as he passed out, but silently took his place Reside the clergyman. The prisoner and his escort, headed by the Provost Vfarshal,then marched out of the sallyport and went on in the direction of the gallows. On reaching the brow of the hill overlooking the bay the southerly slope of the islund and the black gibbet were visi* K>. Here the Provost Marshal received a signal that all was not ready, and the procession halted. Now if ever was the hour of trial to that man. Immured for weeks in a close prison, brought out into the bright sunlight when he might count all the draughts of the clear sea air that he will draw before his breath stops for ever; with all the world busy, moving, happy, a vital reality around him, and the instrument of an ignominious death facing him, fascinating him with its snake-like coils, cutting off his view of this world, but giving him transitory glimpses of anothi-r. The rough pine coffin at the gibbet's foot lie knows weil will be his last resting place, and its heavy lid will shut him out of the light of that dazzling sun to which he now casts up his eyes and says, " Tins is the last time I shall see the sun." The prisoner looked at no one ; perhaps the fulness of lil'e in those around him made him despair ; but at the sky, the waves, the hills of Staten Island, the heights of New Jersey, and the sod on which he stood, he gazed intently, while his eyes evor reverted to the deadly rope that waited to embrace him. After five minutes 1 delay the march was resumed, and the prisoner pas3<?d into the hollow square which enclosed the gibbet. A chair hat been placed directly under the rope, and the prisoner at first sat down, the liov. Mr. Weston standing beside hi.n ; liut after sitting a moment lie rose and pushed the cliai'r asMe « ith his foot. The Post Adjutant raid the record of the chaigtS upon which he had been tried, the finding and sentence of the Court, m l the order of General Lix approving the sentence and .l.reeiu,/ tho execution. Finding 'his to be rather a lengthy proceeding, the prisoner drew up the chair a^iiin with his foot, and sat down. During thu recital ot the order he smilud derisively at sucli passages as were condemnatory of its crimes At its conclusion he jumped up of his own accord, and stood erect immediately under the rope. it was noticed that when Beall sat down, he studiously turned his back upon the Adjutant ani faced directly south, in which direction he gazed continuously, always appearing to avoid looking at any one around him. The ceremonious fo''ms of military law had now all b.-en complied with; the remotest hope of a reprieve, of respite or delay, had passed. Beall stood fa3e to face with eternity, and turning from earth and earthly things, he looked to the attendant of God for comfort and support. .Now he takes his last look upon the scenes around him, and bows his head, while thu clergyman reads the prayer for the dying, he responding reverently. Concluding his prayer, Mr. Weston pronounced the benediction and withdrew. Before the prisoner could raise his eyes, the executioner, prompt, ready, and disgustingly eager, stood in the place of the divine. Marshal Murny and Provost Marshal Tallman came np to Beall and asked him if he had anything to say. In reply he snid — "I protest agiinst this execution. It is absolute murder— brutal murder. I die iv the service and defeuce of my country." The Provost Marshal stepptd back and took up a position directly in the rear of Beall. The executioner threw back the prisoner's cloak and proceeded to adjust the knot and a'tach tlie noose to the rope. Before putting the blauk oap over his face, the prisoner addressed a few words to his executioner, in relation to the disposal of the body after death. The black c.ip was drawn over his face, shutting him oub from the world for ever. The executioner retirel,and at a flourish from the Provost Marshall's sword, Beall was snatched up from the earth out of the sunshine into the darkness of death, ignominiI ously ending his traitorous career. He was (perfectly m itionless for one minute, then a slight muscular coutraction of the legs was | visible, followed by a convulsive shrugging of the shoulders, after which not the slightest

movement of the body was perceived, exoept a vibratory motion caused by the wind. A'teF*^ hanging exicly twenty minutes theb»4yV was loweied, and the pist-surgeou exirtliii»4 it. Life was declared to be extinut, the**" remains were turned over to a hospital st« - * ward for delivery to the prisoner's friends, and the battalion of guards marched off the gronud playi \g a lively air. So far as we recall, this U the first execution of a spy in this department si nee the hanging of Mnjor Andre, of the British Army, by order of Georne Washington.

This article text was automatically generated and may include errors. View the full page to see article in its original form.
Permanent link to this item

Bibliographic details


Word Count


  1. New formats

    Papers Past now contains more than just newspapers. Use these links to navigate to other kinds of materials.

  2. Hierarchy

    These links will always show you how deep you are in the collection. Click them to get a broader view of the items you're currently viewing.

  3. Search

    Enter names, places, or other keywords that you're curious about here. We'll look for them in the fulltext of millions of articles.

  4. Search

    Browsed to an interesting page? Click here to search within the item you're currently viewing, or start a new search.

  5. Search facets

    Use these buttons to limit your searches to particular dates, titles, and more.

  6. View selection

    Switch between images of the original document and text transcriptions and outlines you can cut and paste.

  7. Tools

    Print, save, zoom in and more.

  8. Explore

    If you'd rather just browse through documents, click here to find titles and issues from particular dates and geographic regions.

  9. Need more help?

    The "Help" link will show you different tips for each page on the site, so click here often as you explore the site.