Edmund Kirby Smith...
General Edmund Kirby Smith
James L. Choron
Edmund Kirby Smith was the son of Joseph Lee Smith (1776-1846), an American lawyer and soldier, who served with credit in the War of 1812 and rose to the rank of colonel U.S.A. His elder brother, Ephraim Kirby Smith (1807-1847), also a soldier, fell at Molino del Rey; and Joseph Lee Kirby Smith, Ephraim's son, who took the Federal side in the Civil War, was mortally wounded at the battle of Corinth, having at the age oi twenty-six attained the rank of brevet-colonel U.S.A. Edmund Kirby Smith was born at St Augustine, Fla., on the 16th oi May 1824, and graduated at West Point in 1845.
After graduation, Floidian nicknamed "Seminole" at the academy-had been posted to the infantry upon his graduation and won two brevets in the Mexican War. He was first breveted first lieutenant, and then captain for gallantry at Vera Cruz and Cerro Gordo and at Contreras-Churubusco. After the war, Edmund Kirby Smith was assistant professor of mathematics at West Point from 1849 to 1852 . In 1855 he transferred to the cavalry and served until his resignation as major in the 2nd Cavalry. He was wounded in 1859 fighting Indians in the Nescutunga Valley of Texas. When Texas seceded, Kirby Smith refused to surrender his command to the state forces under Ben McCulloch. In 1861 he attained the permanent rank of major in the United States Army. When Florida seceded he resigned his army commission and entered the Confederate service as a lieutenant-colonel. He was made a brigadier-general on the 17th of June 1861.
Joining the Confederacy, his assignments included: lieutenant colonel, Cavalry (spring 1861); chief of staff, Army of the Shenandoah (spring-summer 1861); brigadier general, CSA (June 17, 1861); commanding 4th Brigade, Army of the Shenandoah (ca. June-July 20,1861); commanding 4th Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac (July 20-21, 1861); major general, CSA (October 11, 1861); commanding 4th Division, Potomac District, Department of Northern Virginia (October 22, 1861-February 21, 1862); commanding Department of East Tennessee (March 8-August 25, ca. October 31 - December 1862, and December 23, 1862 - January 1863); commanding Army of Kentucky, Department #2 (August 25 - November 20, 1862); lieutenant general, CSA (October 9, 1862); also commanding corps, Army of Tennessee (November 20-December 1862); commanding Southwestern Army (January 14-March 7, 1863); commanding Trans-Mississippi Department (March 7, 1863-April 19, 1865 and April 22-May 26, 1865); and general, PACS (February 19, 1864).
After serving as Joseph E. Johnston's staff head in the Shenandoah Valley he was promoted to brigadier general and given command of a brigade which he led at 1st Bull Run. Wounded severely in that action, he returned to duty as a major general and division commander in northern Virginia. Early in 1862 he was dispatched to command in East Tennessee. Cooperating with Braxton Bragg in the invasion of Kentucky, he scored a victory at Richmond and was soon named to the newly created grade of lieutenant general.
Following the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson and the closing of the Mississippi, Confederate General E. Kirby Smith was confronted with the command of a virtually independent area of the Confederacy and with all of its inherent administrative problems. From February 1863 to the fall of the Confederacy he was in command of the Trans-Mississippi Department, a veritable private kingdom which was called, in some circles “Kirby Smithdom”, and was successful in making this section of the Confederacy (isolated from, the rest by the fall of Vicksburg self-supporting. From his headquarters in Shreveport, Louisiana, he instituted a regular system of blockade running, both along the Texas Gulf Coast and through Mexico, and met and defeated the Red River expedition unde reneral Nathanial P. ("Commissary") Banks in 1864. After defeating Banks at Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, in Louisiana, and forcing his retreat to New Orleans, Kirby Smith dispatched reinforcements northward to defeat Steele's cooperating column in Arkansas. With the pressure relieved, Smith attempted to send reinforcements east of the Mississippi but, as in the case of his earlier attempts to relieve Vicksburg, it proved impracticable due to Union naval control of the river. Instead he dispatched Sterling Price, with all available cavalry, on an unsuccessful invasion of Missouri. Thereafter the war west of the river was principally one of small raids and guerrilla activity.
General Kirby Smith was forced by circumstances to deal himself with such matters as impressment of supplies, destruction of cotton to prevent capture in addition to his normal military duties. He also, in an irregular fashion, promoted officers to general's rank, sometimes making his actions subject to the president's approval and sometimes not. Davis approved some and never acted on others. Smith could be forgiven for exceeding his authority in such matters due to the situation of his command as an almost separate country. Kirby Smith, by war's end a full general, and his troops surrendered on the 26th of May 1865, being the last armed forces of the Confederate States to do so.
After the war, Edmund Kirby Smith was from 1866 to 1868 president of the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph company, from 1868 to 1876 president of the Western Military Academy, from 1870 to 1875 chancellor of the university of Nashville, and from 1875 to his death professor of mathematics at the university of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. He died at Sewanee on the 28th of March 1893. At the time of his death he was the last of the full Confederate ex-generals.
- Thanks General,I was born and raised about sixty miles from Shreveport, just inside the Texas border, and have been all over Ft. Humbug, Smith's old HQ in downtown, Mansfield and Pleasant Hill. A lot of people underestimate the size of the job he had facing him, and how little he really had to work with. It was a huge area, but thinly populated, and the need to satter his forces to the west because of indians, decreased what he had on hand for facing the Union.Fort Humbug is actually called Fort Humbug because Smith was so low of artillery that he was forced to carve and paint logs and mount them to look like cannon, so that the true state of Shreveport's defences wouldn't be known.Smith was not only a compitent general, he was an excellent administrator of what was essentially an independent country, even from the Confederacy, for most of the war.Jim----- Original Message -----From: GnrlJEJohnston@...Sent: Saturday, April 03, 2004 8:21 AMSubject: Re: [civilwarwest] Edmund Kirby Smith...In a message dated 4/2/2004 9:53:55 PM Eastern Standard Time, lordjim@... writes:
General Edmund Kirby SmithNice article JimJEJ
- In a message dated 4/6/2004 1:03:17 PM Eastern Standard Time, lordjim@... writes:Thanks General,I was born and raised about sixty miles from Shreveport, just inside the Texas border, and have been all over Ft. Humbug, Smith's old HQ in downtown, Mansfield and Pleasant Hill.Sounds like you know the VanWert area as well.JEJ