Part two in the series “Tales From the Tombstone”
In Westmoreland County on the historic Northern Neck of Virginia boasts of being the birthplace of a few famous persons in American history. George Washington, James Monroe, Richard Henry Lee, and the other Lee; Robert E. Lee.
Robert E. Lee, however, was not the only Confederate general born in this county. Hailing from another of the county and region’s distinguished families was Richard Lee Tuberville Beale, born on May 22, 1819 at Hickory Hill.
Two years after finishing his law degree at the University of Virginia, Beale was admitted to the bar and dabbled in politics in the pre-war years; as a delegate in the 30th Congress and as a member of Virginia’s constitutional reform convention.
When Virginia seceded in the spring of 1861, Beale enlisted as a lieutenant in a local cavalry unit. Promotions soon followed to captain and then major. After commanding a local drill camp, Beale served with the 9th Virginia Cavalry.
When the 9th Virginia commander, William “Rooney” Lee was promoted to brigade command, Beale assumed command of the regiment. Cited for good judgment by superiors, which was displayed on a raid in December 1862 along the Rappahannock River in which he captured a small Union garrison without losing a single man.
Beale would continue to serve in the Confederate cavalry for the duration of the war, except when wounded in the the latter stages of 1863. Besides the convalescence period in 1863, Beale fought in every major engagement the cavalry attached to the Army of Northern Virginia took part in.
On January 6, 1865, Beale finally gained his promotion to brigadier general.
With the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s surrender at Appomattox Court House, Beale returned to private life; returning first to the law and then again to politics. He was elected to the 46th Congress in 1878.
He wrote the “History of the Ninth Virginia Cavalry, In the War Between the States” which was not published until after his death. The book provides invaluable insight into this specific cavalry unit that, like Beale, fought so hard and long in the Eastern Theater.
Beale passed away on April 21, 1893 at Hickory Hill where he is buried today.