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Edward Fitzgerald Beale, LT, U.S.N.

The Beale's Namesake




















Edward Fitzgerald "Ned" Beale (February 4, 1822 – April 22, 1893) was a national figure in 19th century America. He was naval officer, military general, explorer, frontiersman, Indian affairs superintendent, California rancher, diplomat, and friend of Kit Carson, buffalo Bill Cody and Ulysses S. Grant. He fought in the Mexican-American War, emerging as a hero of the Battle of San Pascual in 1846. He achieved national fame in 1848 in carrying to the east the first gold samples from California, contributing to the gold rush.


Ned Beale was born in Washington, D.C. on 4 February 1822. His father, George Beale, who was a paymaster in the U.S. Navy, had earned a Congressional Medal for Valor in the War of 1812. His mother, Emily, was the daughter of Commodore Thomas Truxtun of the U.S. Navy. Ned was a student at Georgetown University when, at the solicitation of his widowed mother, President Jackson appointed him to the Naval School in Philadelphia, precursor the U.S. Naval Academy. From 1837 to 1842,


Beale was an acting midshipman on naval ships that sailed to Russia, Brazil and the West Indies. He graduated from the Naval School as a midshipman in 1842, and sailed for two years in Europe and South America. In 1845 he was assigned to the squadron of Captain Robert F. Stockton, a wealthy New Jersey businessman and inventor as well as a career naval officer, who was an intimate of presidents. Beale sailed with Stockton's squadron to Texas, where Stockton met with the Texas Congress, which accepted annexation by the United States.


After a promotion to acting master and private secretary to Stockton, Beale sailed for California and Oregon in 1845 on the U.S.S. Congress, a 1,867-ton sailing frigate, but 20 days later Stockton instructed Beale to board a Danish ship they had encountered and sail to England, where Beale was to disguise his identity and seek information on the British feelings on the Oregon boundary. Back in Washington in 1846, Beale reported his findings to President James Polk that the British had been making warlike preparations. Promoted to the position of master, Beale carried packages for Navy Secretary Bancroft to Stockton, sailing to Panama, crossing by the isthmus by boat and mule, and then sailing to Peru to meet up with Stockton and the Congress in 1846. He sailed with Stockton to Honolulu, and then to California. Hostilities with Mexico had already begun when the vessel reached Monterey, California on July 20, 1846.


After reaching San Diego, Stockton dispatched Beale to serve with the land forces. Beale and a small body of men under Lt. Archibald Gillespie joined General Stephen W. Kearney's column just before the Battle of San Pascual on December 6, 1846. After the Mexican Army surrounded the small American force and threatened to destroy it, Beale and two other men (his Delaware Indian servant and Kit Carson) crept through the Mexican lines and made their way to San Diego for reinforcements. Two months later, although Beale still suffered from the effects his adventure, Stockton again sent him east with dispatches. Beale reached Washington about June 1. In October he appeared as a defense witness for John C. Fremont at the "Pathfinder's" court martial.


Within the next two years, Beale made six more journeys across the country. On the second of these (July–September 1848), he crossed Mexico in disguise to bring the federal government proof of California's gold. After the fourth journey, he married Pennsylvania Representative Samuel Edwards' daughter, Mary, on June 27, 1849. They had three children: Mary (1852–1925), Emily (1854–1912), and Truxtun (1856–1936). Beale was promoted to Lieutenant in 1850. He resigned from the Navy in 1851.


In the following years, Beale became involved in a wide variety of endeavors and adventures to include: surveying a route across Colorado and Utah to California for the first transcontinental railroad; appointment as Brigadier General in the California State Militia; testing the practicality of establishing the U.S. Army Camel Corps (the experiment failed as the camels spooked the horses); establishing the Beale Wagon Road that later became route 66 and eventually Interstate 40; and, appointment as Minister to Austria-Hungary. In addition to having destroyers named after him, he is also the namesake of Beale Air Force Base in California. He died in Washington, DC on 22 April 1893.


The above text is from public domain information posted in Wikipedia. Photos are public domain and were taken from various web sites. Additional information can be found on the internet at wiki/Edward_Fitzgerald_Beale where you will find many links to historical documents about Beale’s life and adventures.


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