Robert F. Beckham was born on May 6, 1837 in Culpeper, Virgina. He was living in Warrenton when he was appointed to West Point (USMA 1859), granduating 6th in his class. Beckham served as a brevet second lieutenant with the United States Topographical Engineers until 1861, when he resigned.
Beckham became an artillery lieutenant with the Provisional Confederate Army in March of 1861. He was a lieutenant in the Newtown Artillery at the First Battle of Manassas, commanding the battery while its captain was absent recruiting. After the battle he transferred to the Jeff Davis (Alabama) Artillery during the winter of 1861-62.
On January 14, 1862 he joined the staff of General Gustavus Smith, serving as an Ordnance Officer with a promotion to major.
In April of 1863 Stuart requested Beckham as a replacement for the fallen John Pelham as commander of the Stuart Horse Artillery. Beckham commanded the cavalry's artillery batteries during the Chancellorsville and Gettysburg Campaigns.
In February of 1864 Beckham transferred to the Army of the Tennessee and was given command of the army'sartillery with a promotion to colonel. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Franklin on November 29, 1864, and died on December 5.
Robert Beckham is buried at St. John's Church in Ashwood, Tennessee.