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James Addams Beaver
James Addams Beaver was born on the 21st day of October, 1837, at Millerstown, Perry Co., Pa. He was the son of Jacob and Ann Eliza (Addams) Beaver. He was educated at Jefferson College, Canonsburg, Pa., where he graduated in August, 1856, having previously passed two years at the academy at Pine Grove Mills, Centre Co., Pa.
He studied law in the office of H. N. McAllister, Esq., in Bellefonte, and was admitted. to the bar in January, 1859.
As a member of the Bellefonte Fencibles, a volunteer company, of which Hon. A. G. Curtin was captain, he acquired some knowledge of military tactics.
When the echoes of rebel guns turned upon Fort Sumter aroused the North, the Bellefonte Fencibles promptly tendered it services, and was the third company to arrive at the camp of rendezvous at Harrisburg. General Beaver was chosen first lieutenant, and it became Company H of the Second Regiment, 2nd Regiment, for the three months' service.
He was hardly mustered out of the three months' service when, July 22, he was commissioned lieutenant-colonel of the Forty-fifth Pennsylvania, 54th Regiment, which was ordered to South Carolina, and the lieutenant-colonel was placed in command of five companies at Fort Walker, occupying the works' commanding the entrance to Port Royal Bay.
Engaged in active duty upon the islands before Charleston, for the most part having an independent command, be frequently met the enemy by day and night in hostile encounters.
In July, 1862, the regiment was ordered northward, and Sept. 4, 1862, Lieut.-Col. Beaver was promoted colonel of the One Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania, 148th Regiment, a new three-years' regiment, recruited mostly in Centre County. The Antietam campaign was opening, and he was ordered to guard a portion of the Northern Central Railway most exposed to incursions by the enemy, and one of the main lines of supply for the capital and the army. Upon the eve of the battle of Fredericksburg he was ordered up, but was not put into the fight.
At Chancellorsville, Col. Beaver, while leading his command, and while at close quarters with the enemy, was shot through the body and carried off the field. He was removed to a hospital in Washington, where he received the most skillful medical aid and attendance. It was near the middle of July before he was sufficiently recovered to return to his regiment.
In the mean time the battle of Gettysburg had been fought and won, and the army was again advancing into Virginia. At Bristoe Station and at Mine Run he was actively engaged, at the former place the enemy being handsomely repulsed.
At Po River, on the fourth day after the opening of the spring campaign of 1864, Col. Beaver led his command in a determined fight, holding his ground in the most intrepid manner. At Spotsylvania, the North Anna, and Tolopotomy the struggle on the part of the two armies was no less desperate, but still indecisive.
In the first of these Col. Beaver was struck by a Minie-ball, but fortunately was shielded from its full effect by a memorandum-book, in the thick cover and leaves of which its deadly power was spent. In the charge delivered at Cold Harbor by the division to which he was attached, the most desperate resistance was met, and upon the fall of the leader of the brigade, Col. Beaver succeeded to its command. Here, too, he was again struck, but not disabled.
In the first assault upon the works before Petersburg, on the evening of the 16th of June, while gallantly leading his brigade amid the crash, of musketry and a terrific fire of artillery, he received a serious wound from the fragments of a shell, inflicting internal injuries and cutting a ghastly gash in the side. He was again confined to the hospital for weary weeks.
Eager to be with his men at the front, he left it before he had entirely recovered. He chanced to reach the field just as his division was preparing to go into battle at Ream's Station, Aug. 25, 1864. Finding his regiment had moved to the battle-field, he pressed on and joined in the line of battle only in time to be struck down by a ball which crushed his thigh and maimed him for life with the loss of a leg.
Nov. 10, 1864, Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War, notified Col. Beaver that for highly meritorious and distinguished conduct throughout the campaign, and particularly for valuable service at Cold Harbor, the President had appointed him a brigadier-general of volunteers by brevet, to rank from the 1st day of August, 1864.
With the close of the war Gen. Beaver resumed the practice of law at Bellefonte, and Dec. 26, 1865, was married to Miss Mary A. McAllister, daughter of H. N. McAllister, Esq. His living children are Gilbert, Addams, Hugh McAllister, and Thomas Beaver.
His services in the cause of education have been laborious and highly honorable, as president of the board of trustees of the Pennsylvania State College and member of the boards of Washington and Jefferson College, at Washington, Pa., and Lincoln University at Oxford, Pa.
He was one of the commissioners who supervised and built the State Hospital for the Insane at Warren.
General Beaver's distinguishing characteristics are his earnestness in the discharge of duty, complete mastery of every subject he undertakes, and the thoroughness with which every item of business, however diversified, is disposed of. His career (thus far) culminated in his unanimous nomination for the office of Governor of Pennsylvania by the Republican party, made in convention May 10, 1882.
Source: History of Centre and Clinton Counties, Pennsylvania; John Blair Linn; Philadelphia; Louis H. Everts; 1883