Edward Fitzgerald "Ned" Beale (1822-1893) - Military Officer,
frontiersman, and trail blazer Edward Fitzgerald "Ned" Beale was born in
Washington D.C. on February 4, 1822 to George and Emily Beale. The son of
a naval officer, he grew up to attend Georgetown University before
enrolling in Naval School in Philadelphia, during which time he served on
a number of naval ships that sailed to Russia, Brazil and the West Indies.
After graduating from the Naval School as a midshipman in 1842, he sailed
for two years in Europe and South America. After being promoted to acting
Sailing Master, he traveled to
under Commodore Robert Stockton upon the frigate, Congress.
However, after being there for only about three weeks, he was sent back to
Washington D.C. with several important dispatches. After reaching
Washington in March, 1846, he was promoted to the grade of master and soon
sailed for Panama. The ship reached
on July 20, 1846. With the
Mexican-American War in
progress, Commodore Stockton dispatched Beale to serve with the land
Soon, Beale and other troops under Lieutenant Archibald Gillespie joined
General Stephen W. Kearny's column just before the Battle of San Pasqual
on December 6, 1846. After the Mexican Army surrounded the small American
force and threatened to destroy it, Beale, his
servant, and fellow frontiersman,
crept through the Mexican lines and made their way to San Diego for
reinforcements. Their actions saved Kearney's soldiers.
Over the next two years, Beale made six more journeys across the country.
On his second journey in the summer of 1848, he crossed Mexico in disguise
to bring the federal government proof of
gold. On one of his trips back east, he married Pennsylvania
Representative Samuel Edwards' daughter, Mary, on June 27, 1849. The
couple would eventually have three children.
Beale was promoted to Lieutenant in 1850, but the following year, resigned
from the Navy. Afterwards, he returned to
and first worked for W. H. Aspinwall and Commodore Stockton, who had
acquired large properties there. Two years later; however, he was
appointed Superintendent of
and Nevada. After his appointment in Washington, D.C., he returned
with 13 men and surveyed a route across
for the First Transcontinental Railroad.
Fort Tejon was established in
in 1854, to protect and control the
on the Sebastian
Reservation, as well as protecting both local
and white settlers from raids by the Paiute, Mojave, Chemeheui, and other
tribes from the desert regions to the east.
Beale continued to serve as the Superintendent of
Affairs until 1856, at which time he was appointed a Brigadier General in
the California State Militia, which provided him more authority to
negotiate peace treaties with the
Just one year later, in 1857, President James Buchanan appointed Beale to
survey and build a 1,000 mile wagon road from Fort Defiance, New Mexico to
the Colorado River, between Arizona and
During this time, the U.S. Army was conducting an “experiment” utilizing
in the desert. The southwest was quickly expanding and it was thought that
could be used to carry at least twice the amount of weight as horses or
mules, and might also be used in tracking and pursuing
as they could travel without water or rest for a much longer time. The
arrived from Africa in the early part of 1857, just in time for Beale’s
survey expedition. In March, the Secretary of War ordered the formation of
the 1st U.S. Army Camel Corps and appointed 35-year-old Lieutenant Edward
Beale to command it.