Brigadier General William Nelson Rector Beall (1825-1883) was the commander of
all Confederate Army forces at Port Hudson from around 1 September 1862 until General Franklin Gardner
assumed command in late December, 1862. He then was placed in command of
the left of the Confederate defenses, and at the time of the May 27th battle, he
was in command of the defenses in the center of the line which included the
Beall was born in Bardstown, Kentucky on 20 March 1825. His parents moved
from Kentucky to Arkansas where Beall was raised. He was an 1844 graduate
of the United States Military Academy.
After graduating, Beall served in the United States Army. He was first assigned
as a brevet second lieutenant with the Fourth Infantry and served on the
northwestern frontier. In 1849 he was promoted to second lieutenant and assigned
to the Fifth Infantry. He served until 1855 in the Indian Territory and
Texas. He was promoted to first lieutenant and then shortly thereafter to
captain with the First Cavalry.
Beall was involved in several skirmishes, combats, and expeditions against the
Indian tribes in the west. In 1860, he participated in a raid against the
Kiowa and Comanche.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Beall resigned his commission and was
appointed as a Captain of cavalry in the Confederate Army. He served in
the Trans-Mississippi Department under General Earl Van Dorn early in the war,
and was appointed Brigadier General in the spring of 1862. On April 23,
1962, General Beall was placed in command of the Confederate cavalry forces at
Around the 1st of September, 1862, Beall was placed in command of the
Confederate forces at Port Hudson, and although General Frank Gardner
subsequently assumed chief command, General Beall and his brigade continued to
be important factors in the gallant defense of the post until its surrender.
On July 9th the post was surrendered, and the men were then paroled, and some of
them, including General Beall, were never exchanged. General Beall was
first imprisoned on Johnsonís Island Prison Camp in Ohio.
In 1864 Beall was appointed as a Confederate agent for the purpose of supplying
Confederate prisoners of war and paroled for this purpose. Beall
established an office in New York, New York and sold cotton allowed through the
Union blockade of southern ports. The proceeds of these sales were used to
purchase clothing and blankets for Confederate prisoners in northern prison
Beall was released on 2 August 1865. He moved to St. Louis, Missouri and engaged
in business as a general commission merchant.
General Beall died on 26 July 1883 in McMinnville, Tennessee, and is buried at
Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee.