About Richard Lee Turberville Beale
Richard Lee Turberville Beale (May 22, 1819 – April 21, 1893) was a lawyer, three-term United States Congressman from the Commonwealth of Virginia, and a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.
Early life and career
Beale was born at Hickory Hill, Westmoreland County, Virginia. He attended two local private schools, Northumberland Academy and Rappahannock Academy, before attending Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He studied law and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1837. Two years later, he was admitted to the bar and established a law practice at Hague, Virginia.
Beale was elected as a Democrat to the Thirtieth Congress (March 4, 1847 – March 3, 1849). However, he declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1848. He served as a member of the Virginia constitutional reform convention in 1850–51 and in the State senate from 1858 to 1860.
Upon the secession of Virginia in 1861, Beale enlisted in the cavalry as a lieutenant. He was soon promoted to captain and then major, and placed in command of Camp Lee, near his hometown of Hague, on the lower Potomac River. Being commended for his intelligence and excellent judgment, he subsequently served under Col. W. H. F. "Rooney" Lee in the 9th Virginia Cavalry in what became the Army of Northern Virginia. When Lee was promoted to brigadier general, Beale was advanced to the rank of colonel and given command of the regiment, which included his sons. In December 1862, he led a bold expedition throughout the countryside near the Rappahannock River, capturing the Federal garrison at Leeds without losing a man.
Beale's service in 1863 earned him several written commendations and praises. On April 16, he won the praise of Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart for repelling the threatened raid of Maj. Gen. George Stoneman's Federal cavalry division, capturing several prisoners during a week of nearly continual fighting. During the Gettysburg Campaign, Beale led the 9th Virginia in a charge on Fleetwood Hill at the Battle of Brandy Station in June. He participated in Stuart's subsequent ride around the Army of the Potomac and the raid through Maryland and Pennsylvania. He participated in hard fighting at Gettysburg's East Cavalry Field in early July and during the army's retreat to Virginia. He briefly assumed command of Rooney Lee's brigade during fighting at Culpeper Court House and participated in the Bristoe and Mine Run Campaigns.
In March 1864, he made a forced march to intercept Union Col. Ulric Dahlgren and his raiders. A detachment of his 9th Virginia Cavalry successfully ambushed the Federals, and, with other units, captured about 175 men and killed Dahlgren. The papers found upon Dahlgren's person, revealing a design to burn Richmond and kill President Jefferson Davis and his Cabinet, were forwarded through Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee to the Confederate government. These controversial papers discovered by Beale's troopers may have been a factor that influenced John Wilkes Booth in his decision to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.
Beale led his regiment during the Overland Campaign, and captured two Union flags at the Second Battle of Ream's Station during the Siege of Petersburg. In August, upon the death of John R. Chambliss, Beale was assigned to command of Chambliss's brigade, although still with the rank of colonel. It was not until February 6, 1865, that he was finally promoted to brigadier general. He led the brigade through the end of the war.
After the war, Beale resumed his political career during Reconstruction. He was elected to the Forty-fifth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Beverly B. Douglas. He was reelected and served in the Forty-sixth Congress from January 23, 1879 to March 3, 1881. Finally retiring from public service, Beale resumed the practice of law.
Beale died near Hague, Virginia, and was buried there at Hickory Hill Cemetery.