A soldier murdered by a citizen

Niagara1864

Private
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Aug 2, 2019
Location
Niagara County NY
In my research I have come across a record for a Private Samuel Owens, of the 23rd NY Battery. In his muster roll record it states he was “shot by a citizen” at Newbern North Carolina. He died from the wound on June 12, 1864(muster roll incorrectly lists January 12).
The name of the man who murdered Pvt Owens was one Stephen Ball. I would like to know the circumstances regarding this incident and what the outcome was for the murderer. However I have been unable to find further information. Also does anyone know of another circumstance where a solider was killed by a citizen?
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MWood1841

Cadet
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Nov 26, 2019
Location
Virginia
New Bern late 63 into 64 was the controversial Butler military operations and Pickett hanging of 22 union soldiers. A mixture of high tension amongst both union and confederate loyalist citizens. I’ll post my personal notes from Pickett’s biography I just finished. May provide some incite on New Bern during that time. It was nasty and ultimately led Pickett to flee to Canada fearing war crime prosecution after the war.
 
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Story

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Location
SE PA
However I have been unable to find further information.

Your best bet for further information will be a newspaper article on or shortly after the date of death.
Here's a link to where you can find copies of the

North Carolina Times (New Berne, N.C.) 1864-1865​

Note that other NC papers are listed at the bottom of the page
https://www.loc.gov/item/sn84026564/
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Also does anyone know of another circumstance where a solider was killed by a citizen?
In April of 1861, regiments from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania were attacked by copperheads and southern sympathizers in Baltimore. 4 soldiers and 12 civilians died in the ensuing blood shed.

Also, white officers of USCT troops were targeted after the EP. Many disappeared entirely (including one of the soldiers I researched)--whether they were killed by Confederate troops, Confederate militia, southern civilians or a combination is unknown.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Also, white officers of USCT troops were targeted after the EP. Many disappeared entirely (including one of the soldiers I researched)--whether they were killed by Confederate troops, Confederate militia, southern civilians or a combination is unknown.
KNOWN (died other than in combat)
2nd Lt. Ellis Bentley (killed by guerillas)
2nd Lt. George L. Conn ("murdered by rebels")
2nd Lt. David G. (killed)
Asst. Surgeon Eli M. Hewitt (killed by guerillas)
2nd Lt. John A. Moulton (killed within 12 hrs. of capture)
Capt. Charles G. Penfield ("murdered by Forrest's command")
2nd Lt. Anson L. Sanborn (killed while recruiting by D. Wright)
2nd Lt. Jacob Schwartz (killed while recruiting by John H. Southoron & son)
2nd Lt. Eben White (murdered)
 

Story

2nd Lieutenant
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Aug 5, 2011
Location
SE PA
Curious, as admittedly cemeteries aren't really my thing. But is the lack of rank and unit unusual?

Yup.
Gotta remember, those stones might have been replaced/updated since the actual burial.
The Veterans Administration is NOTORIOUS for bare-bones work and shoddy record keeping in this arena.
Sometimes the new(er) stones where not placed above the proper soldier.
ETA - in their defense, in many cases all they had to work with was a roster with what you see - name, state (maybe), unit (maybe), grave number.
 
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mo
Could it indicate a death in dishonorable circumstances, the lack of rank and unit? Wasn't sure if could be done as an intentional slight.
 

lelliott19

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The Stephen Ball family was enumerated on the 1850 US Census for Craven County NC. AT the time, Stephen Ball was a 30 yo married farmer, with real estate valued at $50, a wife, and 5 young children.
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According to the archival paper Ball Family of Eastern North Carolina 1734-1993, edited by Jesse Griffin Ball, III et. al. and published in 1994, Stephen Ball was b. 1820 in Craven County, NC, the son of Stephen Ball (b. 1780) and Mary Carey. The younger Stephen Ball is the one in question here. By 1864, he had seven children. William the oldest male child would have been 14 years old, so probably not serving the Confederate army. Stephen Ball died in 1890.

According to a passage from page 7 of the same genealogy:

During the Civil War Stephen Ball (ca 1820-1890) was living in New Bern, N.C.. One morning he looked out to his garden and saw a Yankee soldier destroying the crop. He told the soldier to take what he needed, but not to destroy the rest. The soldier told him what he could do with his garden; so Stephen shot him. General Burnsides [sic] had him arrested and put in jail. A short time later Stephen was out of jail and his savings of gold was missing. The story goes that Stephen took his family down the Neuse River and up the head of "Turnagan Bay". A short time later the Patrol Boat "Postboy" came and picked Stephen up to take him back to New Bern. Stephen said that if he had enough gold to build a bridge from the head of "Turnagan Bay" to New Bern, Burnsides would not get another cent. Soon after the war was over, and Stephen was released. I believe Stephen went to the head of "Adams Creek" instead of "Turnagan Bay". On 15 June 1871 Stephen Ball's homestead was appraised by the sheriff at $282.00.​

[Source: Ball Family of Eastern North Carolina 1734-1993, edited by Jesse Griffin Ball, III et. al., published 1994, page 7.]
 

Niagara1864

Private
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Aug 2, 2019
Location
Niagara County NY
@lelliott19 Ever since I first found the record of this soldier I wondered the story behind his death. I am amazed you were able to find an account of the incident! I can’t really say even from Mr. Ball’s point of view that the shooting would have been justified. But also as this story is one sided some details could be missing. It was certainly an unfortunate incident for both parties and I believe that Pvt. Owens still deserves a place on the honor list for the county.
 

Story

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Location
SE PA
@lelliott19 I am amazed you were able to find an account of the incident! I can’t really say even from Mr. Ball’s point of view that the shooting would have been justified. But also as this story is one sided some details could be missing.

So when people were relying on what they could raise to literally survive or starve, you have a problem with someone protecting their crop from willful destruction?

Interesting.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
@lelliott19 Ever since I first found the record of this soldier I wondered the story behind his death. I am amazed you were able to find an account of the incident! I can’t really say even from Mr. Ball’s point of view that the shooting would have been justified. But also as this story is one sided some details could be missing. It was certainly an unfortunate incident for both parties and I believe that Pvt. Owens still deserves a place on the honor list for the county.
New Bern was occupied by Union troops, under Union Martial Law....the Union authorities were in position essentially to be judge, jury, and executioner. For him to be released, would assume it wasn't a very questionable case.
 
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