Confederates from Canada

John Yates Beall and the Rebel Raids on the Great Lakes


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SKU: 9781476692784 Categories: ,

About the Book

Unable to achieve sustained military success in the Civil War, the Confederacy tried a daring strategy in 1864—commando-style raids into northern states from Canada. Taking advantage of the undefended border, rebels hit targets along the Great Lakes, where growing antiwar sentiment was an election-year problem for the Lincoln administration.
Revisiting one of the forgotten chapters of the war, this is a deeply-researched history of the South’s operations in Canada. One of the most significant raids is covered in detail for the first time: Virginia planter turned Confederate agent John Yates Beall’s attempt to liberate 2,700 Confederate officers from a prison camp on Lake Erie.

About the Author(s)

Ralph Lindeman is a former trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice and later worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., where he covered the White House and Congress.

Bibliographic Details

Ralph Lindeman
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 20 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9278-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5113-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
1. The Prisoner 5
2. The Island 10
3. The Prison 18
4. First Arrivals 24
5. Rebels on the Island 28
6. A Plan Emerges in Canada 34
7. A Meeting in Richmond 40
8. “Fire in the Rear” 44
9. Pirates on Chesapeake Bay 52
10. Life on the Island 62
11. The Northwest Conspiracy Takes Shape 69
12. Confederate Commissioners Head to Canada 77
13. Battle Plans and Diplomacy 85
14. A Gathering in Chicago 95
15. Hard Times on the Island 102
16. “I Seize This Boat and Take You as Prisoner” 109
17. A Confederate Flag Flies on Lake Erie 117
18. A Telegram from Detroit 122
19. Chase and Escape 128
20. Aftermath 134
21. A Visitor to Montreal 141
22. The ­­Ill-Fated Voyage of the CSS Georgian 151
23. A Train from Sandusky 159
24. Behind Bars on Mulberry Street 166
25. The Trial 169
26. Cries for Mercy 179
27. The Execution 184
Epilogue 187
Chapter Notes 203
Bibliography 221
Index 227

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “[Lindeman] tells the intriguing story of Beall, who led Confederate operations in modern-day Ontario. … Confederates from Canada offers readers a modern study of Beall’s fascinating career in Confederate service, detailing how he attempted to lead covert operations in Ontario. Despite his brief and largely unproductive ventures, this study provides keen insight into Confederate operations in Canada at the time. Lindeman succeeds marvelously in separating fact from fiction while covering Beall’s life and military career. Relying heavily on primary sources, it is well-researched and provides sound analysis. However, Lindeman’s book is also easy to read. This is not a dry, stuffy academic study. With its rich details and close examination of the many turns in Beall’s life, it reads almost like a spy novel.”—Emerging Civil War
  • “The story of the American Civil War has been plowed and replowed thousands of times. Missing from this story is the important role played by the Confederate Secret Service operating out of Canada. John Yates Beall, a Confederate hero due to his daring exploits against Union shipping, moved to Canada joining the Confederate Secret Service where he attempted several raids against Union entities. Though unsuccessful, Beall spread fear throughout the Union. Ralph Lindeman has written a masterful work on Beall’s exploits filling the gap left by others. This thoroughly researched work belongs on every Civil War bookshelf.”—Edward Steers, Jr., author, Blood on the Moon and Getting Right With Lincoln
  • “Lindeman has resurrected for us one of the truly extraordinary characters of the Civil War. [He] has done so with scrupulous scholarship and a sharp pen. His story carries the reader from chapter to chapter, following the adventures of this extraordinary young man across the entire war up until his sad end…just weeks before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. This has the hallmarks of a classic Greek tragedy but more importantly, it has all the makings of an American tragedy.”—Barry Sheehy, author, Civil War Savannah: Immortal City