From Manuscripts Department, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, John Y. Beall Papers Inventory (#2533-z):
John Yates Beall (1835-1865), Confederate soldier and acting master in the Confederate Navy. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Beall joined Company G of the 2nd Virginia Volunteers. After accepting a naval appointment in 1863, Beall led a failed attempt to free Confederate prisoners on Johnson's Island in Sandusky Bay, Ohio. He was captured soon after, tried before a Union military commission for espionage and violating the laws of war, and hanged at Governor's Island, N.Y., on 24 February 1865. The papers comprise two volumes, ca. 1865-1899 and ca. 1935-1942, documenting Beall's trial, his time in prison, efforts to free him, and his execution. The volumes contain transcripts of letters by and about Beall, and transcripts of miscellaneous items, including a biographical sketch of Beall; the warrant appointing Beall acting master in the Confederate Navy; his will; notes he made on his final wishes; and a clipping, 1935, regarding the legend of Beall's ghost. One letter from Beall's lawyer describes attempts to free Beall and Beall's last days. Letters written by Beall, who was imprisoned at Fort Lafayette in New York Harbor and at Fort Columbus on Governor's Island during February 1865, proclaim his innocence, communicate his last wishes, and request that his name be cleared. The biographical sketch mentions only briefly Beall's life as a student, a farmer, and a Confederate soldier prior to his trial.