In 1938, William Beadle was memorialized with a statue in the US Capitol Building at Washington DC. While remembered largely for his work as an educator in Dakota Territory, the statue also honors his stint as a soldier in the Civil War. It was in this role, fighting for the Union, that Beadle experienced one of his most memorable encounters.
Born in Indiana in 1838, William Henry Harrison Beadle enlisted in the US Army less than one month after graduating from the University of Michigan in 1861. While serving as lieutenant-colonel of the First Michigan Sharp Shooters three years later, his regiment was exposed to severe snowstorms while passing over the mountains in Pennsylvania. Coming down with a severe case of pneumonia, Colonel Beadle was sent to the Naval Academy Hospital. He eventually recovered, but doctors refused to return him to his regiment. Instead, he was reassigned as a major in the Veteran Reserve Corps. Placed in command of the Third Regiment, Beadle's men provided defense for Washington DC, serving as guards for the prison, navy yard and arsenal. His well disciplined officers and men did not escape notice. On March 2nd, 1865 Beadle received an order from the adjutant general's office to have six companies prepared to act as guards in and around Washington DC during the second inauguration of Abraham Lincoln.
Beadle had met the President on several previous occasions; Lincoln even recognized and called him by name. But little could compare with the experience of participating in the Presidential Inauguration.
On this date in 1865, with his men in place, Major Beadle took his seat on the stage next to the Senate sergeant-at-arms. Only fifteen feet away from the President, he was mesmerized by one of Lincoln's greatest speeches.
Shortly after the war, Beadle received an appointment from President Grant as surveyor-general for Dakota Territory. He later served as member of the Dakota Territorial legislature and superintendent of public instruction. He is best remembered for making sure that public schools were provided for in the enabling acts for both North and South Dakota's admission to the Union.
William Beadle was most proud of his accomplishments as an educator, but surely nothing could be as memorable as his unique experience on this date in 1865.
Written by Christina Sunwall
"Former Madison Man Inducted into Hall of Fame ". Madison Daily Leader (October 13, 2005) http://www.madisondailyleader.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=15383623&BRD=1302&PAG=461&dept_id=181987&rfi=8.
Kingsbury, George W. History of Dakota Territory. Vol. 4. Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1915.
Ohles, John F., ed. Biographical Dictionary of American Educators Vol. 1. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, Inc., 1978.
Robinson, Doane. History of South Dakota. Vol. 1: Bowen & Co., 1904.