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Beebe Beam

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Beebe Beam was an American woman who fought in the Spanish-American War. She disguised herself as a cabin boy in order to go the Philippines, and fought for twelve months in Manila while disguised as a man. She is quoted as saying, "I saw war and I lived it."Template:Citequote

Beebe Beam was one alias used by Elvira Virginia Mugarrieta, a newspaper reporter, writer, nurse, and adventurer who accompanied United States Army forces to the Philippines in 1899 to participate in the Philippine War. Elvira Virginia Mugarrieta was born in San Francisco, California on December 9, 1869, the daughter of a military officer serving as Mexican consul to San Francisco. In 1897, she dressed as a boy and took residence in Stockton, California, becoming an object of speculation. Using the name Babe Bean, she pretended to be mute, but engaged in a written dialogue with a local newspaper. She eventually took a job with The Stockton Evening Mail, writing stories that focused on social problems such as gambling and vagrancy.

On October 5, 1899, she adopted the male identity of Beebe Beam to see the war from the soldier’s point of view and write of her experience. Beam took the job of cabin boy on the troop transport City of Para to pay her way to the Philippines. She became sick on the journey and confessed her true identity to the ship’s captain, who set her ashore in Honolulu. The enlisted soldiers soon heard about the female newspaper reporter’s plight, and took up a collection to buy her ticket. The captain would not allow her back on the ship, so the soldiers gave her a uniform and hid her until they were safely away from Hawaii. She was discovered again and confined, but, dressed as a soldier, she escaped and followed the regiments to their Philippine garrisons. She offered her services as a Spanish language interpreter and nurse, living in military camps with the Sixteenth, Twenty-Ninth, Forty-Second, and Forty-Fifth United States Volunteer Infantry regiments. During her time in the Philippines, Beam did not participate in combat, but she witnessed the Battle of San Mateo and joined several marches throughout Luzon. She accompanied United States military forces to Santa Cruz, Laguna de Bey, Camarines, and Caloccan, as well as Manila and smaller garrisons.

Beebe Beam spent almost a year in the Philippines before returning to the United States. On October 21, 1900, she published her story, “My Life as a Soldier,” in the San Francisco Examiner Magazine. Although she never enlisted and did not participate in combat, Beam marketed her writing as a woman soldier in the Philippines. Shortly after she published her Philippine adventure, Beebe Beam abandoned newspaper writing and assumed her final identity, Jack Bee Garland. Beam ceased admitting her female identity and lived as a man for the remainder of her life. As Jack Garland, she devoted herself to social work with the American Red Cross and other charitable organizations.

Jack Bee Garland died of peritonitis in San Francisco on September 19, 1936 at the age of sixty-seven. The hospital discovered her identity, provoking a series of newspaper articles after her death. Beam had a tattoo on her arm that showed an American flag under the word Manila alongside an infantry insignia. Newspapers suggested that Jack Garland should be buried with military honors as a veteran, and her sister, Victoria Shadbourne, perpetuated the idea by suggesting that Beebe Beam had been a lieutenant in the United States Army. No record of her service existed, and she was denied a military burial.

ReferencesEdit

  • Gribble, Francis. Women in War. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1917.
  • LaRocque, Emilie. “The Manipulation of Gender Ideals: The Lives of Elvira Virginia Mugarrieta, Babe Bean, Beebe Beam and Jack Bee Garland.” M.A. thesis, Sarah Lawrence College, 2005.
  • Salmonson, Jessica A. The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era. New York: Paragon House, 1991.
  • Sullivan, Louis. From Female to Male: The Life of Jack Bee Garland. Boston: Alyson Publications, 1990.

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