Robert Franklin Beckham was born May 6th 1837 in Culpeper, Virginia. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated 6th out of 22 in the class of 1859. He served with the United State Topographical Engineers as a Lieutenant through 1861.
Beckham resigned his commission when the Civil War started. He was commanding an artillery battery at First Manassas. In January 1862 he served on the staff of Confederate General Gustavus Woodson Smith, where he saw action at the Battle of Seven Pines. Following the death of Confederate Major John Pelham, Beckham took over command of the Stuart Horse Artillery in the Army of Northern Virginia in April 1863. Beckham was transferred to the Confederate Army of Tennessee and ordered to report to General John Bell Hood in February 1864, and received a promotion to Colonel.
While commanding artillery at Columbia, Tennessee, Beckham was mortally wounded on November 29th 1864. This occurred just one day before the Battle of Franklin. He died December 5th 1864, and is buried in the St John’s Churchyard Cemetery in Ashwood, Tennessee.