A soldier murdered by a citizen

Niagara1864

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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
Not at all, but I am saying we only have one side of the story here. Do we know that this Stephen Ball’s version of the story is exactly what happened? Likely he knew what the penalty of shooting a soldier was and would not wish to incriminate himself and could possibly have painted the scenario to authorities in a light which would portray him as a defender of his property. With a lack of official evidence I have to give the benefit of the doubt to this soldier and include him on the honor roll for the town of Porter.
 
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Not at all, but I am saying we only have one side of the story here. Do we know that this Stephen Ball’s version of the story is exactly what happened? Likely he knew what the penalty of shooting a soldier was and would not wish to incriminate himself and could possibly have painted the scenario to authorities in a light which would portray him as a defender of his property. With a lack of official evidence I have to give the benefit of the doubt to this soldier and include him on the honor roll for the town of Porter.
I tend to look at these things this way......New Bern was under Union occupation...under Union Martial Law......the Union authorities were essentially judge/jury/executioner, so if the guy was let go, it was probably pretty obvious he wasn't in the wrong.

Don't see a reason to question or besmirch Ball, when it was Owens's superiors who concluded charges weren't warranted and released him.
 
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Story

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Another thought - If there is a Pension Record for him in FOLD3, the full file might have details on his death.

I made the suggestion above in post #9, which you didn't acknowledge.

Not at all, but I am saying we only have one side of the story here. Do we know that this Stephen Ball’s version of the story is exactly what happened? Likely he knew what the penalty of shooting a soldier was and would not wish to incriminate himself and could possibly have painted the scenario to authorities in a light which would portray him as a defender of his property. With a lack of official evidence I have to give the benefit of the doubt to this soldier and include him on the honor roll for the town of Porter.

You sure you did your due diligence? You're received research contradictory to your conclusion and haven't exhausted the sources - because there had to have been a Provost Marshal investigation and report.

I regret having only one LIKE to give Archieclement for this observation.
I tend to look at these things this way......New Bern was under Union occupation...under Union Martial Law......the Union authorities were essentially judge/jury/executioner, so if the guy was let go, it was probably pretty obvious he wasn't in the wrong.
 

Fairfield

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I made the suggestion above in post #9, which you didn't acknowledge.



You sure you did your due diligence? You're received research contradictory to your conclusion and haven't exhausted the sources - because there had to have been a Provost Marshal investigation and report.

I regret having only one LIKE to give Archieclement for this observation.
@Niagara1864 is in a difficult spot. The account given in the Ball genealogy states that it is only a story; it's been my experience that there usually is often germ of truth in family stories--but how inclusive that truth is in this story can only be guessed. There is a degree of official documentation: the US Register of Civil War Deaths for New York does state that Sam. Owen (of Porter, NY) was killed by a civilian on June 12th. So he has a fullish, but undocumented account vs. a scanty official account. There is also an even scantier 2nd official record:

NARA's Burial Registers of Military Posts and National Cemeteries also gives his death date as June 12, 1864 but says only that he was killed. Interestingly, there may have been another soldier (same regt., same date of death and buried in the same cemetery in an adjoining plot); this soldier isn't named--just called "unknown".

Given what the rolls of the Provost Marshall contain for the time period, it is possible--but unlikely--that there is a reference. Unless Mr. Ball submitted a claim for compensation after the war's end. But, to tie up that end, I agree that he might contact NARA. The full pension record probably isn't going to be useful--although this isn't definite: pension records are heavy on medical conditions, not social ones.

It appears to me that destroying someone's garden during a military occupation probably involved more than one individual soldier. If two soldiers died in this incident, it seems unlikely that a farmer could have dispatched two armed soldiers--unless he shot from hiding (therefore, there wouldn't have been any conversation). Was the soldier(s) absent without leave or acting under orders?

If Niagara's conclusion is shaky (based on 2 pieces of skimpy official documents), Archie Clement's is also (based on an undocumented summary family story).

My guess is that this is one of many incidents of that time that are unfathomable. There's something screwy about the Ball family story that bears investigation. If I were working on this for my local soldiers project, I'd follow up with @Story's suggestions to rule out Archie Clement's supposition.
 
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@Niagara1864 is in a difficult spot. The account given in the Ball genealogy states that it is only a story; it's been my experience that there usually is often germ of truth in family stories--but how inclusive that truth is in this story can only be guessed. There is a degree of official documentation: the US Register of Civil War Deaths for New York does state that Sam. Owen (of Porter, NY) was killed by a civilian on June 12th. So he has a fullish, but undocumented account vs. a scanty official account. There is also an even scantier 2nd official record:

NARA's Burial Registers of Military Posts and National Cemeteries also gives his death date as June 12, 1864 but says only that he was killed. Interestingly, there may have been another soldier (same regt., same date of death and buried in the same cemetery in an adjoining plot); this soldier isn't named--just called "unknown".

Given what the rolls of the Provost Marshall contain for the time period, it is possible--but unlikely--that there is a reference. Unless Mr. Ball submitted a claim for compensation after the war's end. But, to tie up that end, I agree that he might contact NARA. The full pension record probably isn't going to be useful--although this isn't definite: pension records are heavy on medical conditions, not social ones.

It appears to me that destroying someone's garden during a military occupation probably involved more than one individual soldier. If two soldiers died in this incident, it seems unlikely that a farmer could have dispatched two armed soldiers--unless he shot from hiding (therefore, there wouldn't have been any conversation). Was the soldier(s) absent without leave or acting under orders?

If Niagara's conclusion is shaky (based on 2 pieces of skimpy official documents), Archie Clement's is also (based on an undocumented summary family story).

My guess is that this is one of many incidents of that time that are unfathomable. There's something screwy about the Ball family story that bears investigation. If I were working on this for my local soldiers project, I'd follow up with @Story's suggestions to rule out Archie Clement's supposition.
That he was let go and not prosecuted or convicted of anything doesn't seem supposition at all, by the same Union authorities that held all the cards.

I would think to call it murder would seem the unfounded supposition. As there has been no evidence or record that it was criminal and not justified.
 

lelliott19

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Just my humble opinion, but including Private Owen on the county's Roll of Honor seems like a no-brainer to me. As @Fairfield alluded, lots of things happened during the war that wouldn't happen during normal times. Union soldiers occupying Newberrn NC in June 1864, likely felt empowered to commit depredations (if indeed that is what happened) the same as Confederate soldiers might have against Unionists in East TN. Private Owen was killed during the war and deserves to be mentioned on the county's roster. It is not up to us modern day historians to judge Pvt Owen's actions or those of Mr. Ball. We weren't there to know the situation. What we can and should do, is to exhaust all the sources that might mention any details and document them as a record of what was recorded about the incident.

Let me see if I can find anything in the North Carolina newspapers about Mr. Ball's release.
 

Niagara1864

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I’ve had no luck with any local New York newspapers for this incident. The 23rd NY Battery does not have a plethora of historical information written about it and it is hard to find details on the unit. I can find no information of interest in the local historical society. But I will note some facts.
  • PVT Owen was not a new solider; he had been in the military for almost two years.
  • He must have been familiar with the locality of New Bern, because the battery had been stationed there starting in 1862.
  • He was the only member of the battery to be killed by an enemy bullet during the entirety of the war.
  • There is no pension on record for him although his father may have been eligible to receive one.
I also will note that Pvt Owen was probably unarmed as he was an artillery soldier. There are still many details that are missing. An account from a fellow member of the unit would be helpful.
 

ErnieMac

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Attached clipping is from the Wednesday, 15 June 1864, edition of the New Berne Times.
clip_75625885.jpg
 

Niagara1864

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Attached clipping is from the Wednesday, 15 June 1864, edition of the New Berne Times.
View attachment 397475
Great find! Now of course the most interesting comment to me is that two shots were heard. Which would indicate one of two things. Either the soldier shot a round first, or Mr. Ball shot at the soldier twice. The latter would be more likely in my opinion due to the fact that the soldier was probably unarmed and that there is no mention of Ball being shot at by the soldier in the Ball family history provided by @lelliott19. And if the latter is the case it would indicate that this was no accident and Ball intended on killing the soldier for being in his garden.
 

Fairfield

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Great find! Now of course the most interesting comment to me is that two shots were heard. Which would indicate one of two things. Either the soldier shot a round first, or Mr. Ball shot at the soldier twice. The latter would be more likely in my opinion due to the fact that the soldier was probably unarmed and that there is no mention of Ball being shot at by the soldier in the Ball family history provided by @lelliott19. And if the latter is the case it would indicate that this was no accident and Ball intended on killing the soldier for being in his garden.
Or that Pvt. Owens was armed (which would make sense to me if he was out causing mayhem) and the two men fired at each other. People who shoot people usually intend to kill so I suspect that both men had grim intentions. Yet it is interesting that a local paper refers to the incident a "homicide" so there may be some truth to your guess.
 

lelliott19

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Great find! Now of course the most interesting comment to me is that two shots were heard. Which would indicate one of two things. Either the soldier shot a round first, or Mr. Ball shot at the soldier twice. The latter would be more likely in my opinion due to the fact that the soldier was probably unarmed and that there is no mention of Ball being shot at by the soldier in the Ball family history provided by @lelliott19. And if the latter is the case it would indicate that this was no accident and Ball intended on killing the soldier for being in his garden.
Not necessarily. Ball may not have intended on killing the soldier or even known it was a soldier. The newspaper account says "On Sunday night last..." if it was night, then it was dark and Ball may not have even been able to distinguish who (or what) was in the garden. He might have thought it was animal or if he knew it was a person, he may not have even known it was a Union soldier. He could have just intended to scare away whatever or whoever was in the garden and he just happened to hit the soldier.

I do think the newspaper account should be taken with about the same amount of weight as the family story. The Newbern newspapers at the time were under control of the Union army so any printed account would be from their official side --- and would likely not have mentioned if the soldier was in the act of committing depredations.

Regarding whether Pvt Owen was armed or not I think is of little consequence. Now that we know the incident happened at night, Ball would not have been able to tell if he was armed or not. Unless, as you mention, perhaps the soldier fired first. I think artillery soldiers would have had some kind of arms but someone who is more knowledgeable perhaps can weigh in on what that would have been.
 

Fairfield

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if it was night, then it was dark and Ball may not have even been able to distinguish who (or what) was in the garden. He might have thought it was animal or if he knew it was a person, he may not have even known it was a Union soldier. He could have just intended to scare away whatever or whoever was in the garden and he just happened to hit the soldier.
Yes, of course. An accidental shooting might explain his release--the army just didn't want to prosecute.
 

Niagara1864

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Not necessarily. Ball may not have intended on killing the soldier or even known it was a soldier. The newspaper account says "On Sunday night last..." if it was night, then it was dark and Ball may not have even been able to distinguish who (or what) was in the garden. He might have thought it was animal or if he knew it was a person, he may not have even known it was a Union soldier. He could have just intended to scare away whatever or whoever was in the garden and he just happened to hit the soldier.

I do think the newspaper account should be taken with about the same amount of weight as the family story. The Newbern newspapers at the time were under control of the Union army so any printed account would be from their official side --- and would likely not have mentioned if the soldier was in the act of committing depredations.

Regarding whether Pvt Owen was armed or not I think is of little consequence. Now that we know the incident happened at night, Ball would not have been able to tell if he was armed or not. Unless, as you mention, perhaps the soldier fired first. I think artillery soldiers would have had some kind of arms but someone who is more knowledgeable perhaps can weigh in on what that would have been.
I do appreciate your insight on this topic! If it was so dark as to obscure the identity of the parties, it must have been very late at night indeed, since this occured in mid- june, one of the longer days of the year. Why would a soldier be digging around in a citizen's garden at night I wonder, and was it common for these soldier’s to roam the streets of New Bern at night? Also was it common for artillery soldiers to carry small arms around with them? Very interesting...
 

Story

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I think artillery soldiers would have had some kind of arms but someone who is more knowledgeable perhaps can weigh in on what that would have been.
Somewhere buried in CWT are discussions about the particulars*, but IIRC short swords / sabres / revolvers & carbines were issued potpourri so someone would have to dig up the ordnance returns for the 23rd NY Artillery if they were really interested.

The New York records online sometimes include clippings, where the local newspapers helpfully let Confederate intelligence know exactly what armaments a specific unit rolled out of the state with - but not here.
https://museum.dmna.ny.gov/unit-history/artillery/23rd-independent-battery-light-artillery-veteran

My bad about the discovery attribution, thanks for the correction.

* Example -
The Williams’ German Light Artillery, a.k.a. the German Company (Lansing, Ingham County) formed in 1859; they ranked in Class III of the Michigan Uniformed Militia. They were named for Colonel A.S. Williams who later became the commander of the 4th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Captain Jacob Weber took twenty men to the 1860 Michigan Uniformed Militia encampment being held in Jackson. In 1860, they had 1 six-pound brass cannon with caisson. Their pre-war weapons were side arms and musquetoons. The Michigan Quartermaster’s Report of 1861 has them with 20 musketoons, 6 revolvers, 20 sabers and 1 six-pound brass cannon with carriage and limber complete.

The Coldwater Light Artillery a.k.a. The Coldwater Flying Artillery a.k.a. Loomis’ Battery, a.k.a. First Michigan Battery a.k.a. Battery A, 1st Michigan Light Artillery (Coldwater, Branch County) was the artillery company attached to the 1st Michigan Three Month Volunteer Infantry Regiment.In 1859, they were armed with musketoons and 1 six-pound brass cannon with carriage and limber, one caisson complete, and four harnesses with leads and wheel sets. In 1859 they ranked in Class I of the Michigan Uniformed Militia order of merit. In 1861, they had 20 musketoons, 8 revolvers, 20 cavalry sabers, 20 artillery swords and 1 six-pound brass cannon. The State military board minutes from 1859 indicate they wore blue uniforms and carried carbines, so perhaps their musketoons had been replaced with carbines by time of the State Military Board’s October meeting.

The Hudson Artillery a.k.a. Hudson Military Company (Hudson, Lenawee County) as infantry, became Company C of the 2nd Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment. In 1859, they carried rifled muskets, had 1 six-pound brass cannon with carriage, and limber complete, and 1 caisson complete. In 1861, they had 40 musketoons, 40 sabers, 8 noncommissioned officer’s swords and 1 six-pound brass cannon.

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/pre-war-carbines.124184/
 

Story

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Why would a soldier be digging around in a citizen's garden at night I wonder,
He was hungry.
and was it common for these soldier’s to roam the streets of New Bern at night?
Soldiers break the rules.
All.
The.
Time.
Particularly if they have an agenda, like looting something to eat.

Also was it common for artillery soldiers to carry small arms around with them? Very interesting...
If he was lurking about intent on theft and not carrying a weapon, that would be imprudent on his part. Not that it did him any good.
 

lelliott19

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I admit I am making an assumption based on the wording "On Sunday night last..." To me, if it was dark, the wording would have been night. I assume that if it had occurred at twilight, the wording would have been something like, "On Sunday evening last..." Of course, my assumption could be wrong. Unless additional accounts come to light, I'm not sure there is a way to know for sure. But I still think that whatever the circumstances, Pvt. Owen deserves a spot on the county's roster. Even if it turns out that he was out committing depredations, Private Owen was killed during the war. Bad things happen during a war -- on both sides. It is not up to us today to judge Pvt Owen's actions or those of Mr. Ball. We weren't there to witness it or know what actually happened.
 

Story

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Regarding whether Pvt Owen was armed or not I think is of little consequence.
If I got tagged to be the Provost Marshal investigating this, the fact that PVT Owen was armed would weigh heavily on whether charges against the civilian were pursued or not.

Sneaking around in another man's property at night while heeled is unmutual behavior and would not warrant my sympathies for catching a load of buckshot.
 
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