|Edmond Kirby Smith and Ephraim Kirby Smith
|Edmond Kirby Smith
He was born in St. Augustine on May 16, 1824 and died at Sewannee, Tenn., March 28, 1893.
His father was Joseph L. Smith, judge of the United States Superior Court for the Eastern District
of Florida and Mayor of St. Augustine. Joseph Lee Smith (1776-1846) served with credit in the
War of 1812 and rose to the rank of colonel U.S.A. His grandfather, Ephraim Kirby, served as an
officer in George Washington's army in the American Revolution and was wounded thirteen times.
His mother was Frances Kirby Smith. They were from Connecticut 1836 he was sent to a
boarding school in Virginia (Hollowell's preparatory school in Alexandria.)
Kirby Smith was appointed and admitted to West Point July 1, 1841 graduating July 1, 1845
standing twenty-fifty in his class. His nickname was "Seminole." He was appointed brevet 2nd
Lieutenant in the 5th Infantry July 1, 1845. He was 2nd in the 7th Infantry on August 26, 1846; 1st
Lieutenant March 9, 1851, Captain of 2nd Cavalry March 3, 1855; Major January 31, 1861. He
resigned his commission April 26, 1861 on the sucession of Florida.
Serving under both Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott in the Mexican War he was breveted 1st
Lieutenant April 18, 1847 for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battle of Cerro Gordo and
Captain August 20, 1847 in the battle of Contreras and Cherubusco, Mexico. His older brother,
Ephraim Kirby Smith, a captain in the regular army and a graduate of West Point in 1826, served
with him in the 5th U.S. Infantry in both the campaign with Taylor and Scott, until he died from
wounds suffered at the Battle of Molino del Rey in 1847. 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 of twenty-six attained the rank of brevet-colonel U.S.A. At the close of the Mexican
War Lieutenant Smith was assigned to West Point where he served for three years as assistant
instructor in mathematics.
He served under Major William H. Emory on the boundary commission to locate the line between
Mexico and the United States. His botany reports were published by the Smithsonian. As a
Captain in the 2nd Regiment he was ordered to Texas where he fought the Comanche Indians in
the Nescutunga Valley.
On entering the Confederate Army he was given the rank of Major of Cavalry and under Van
Dorn was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. At Lynchburg where he was sent to organize trops
General Joseph E. Johnston made him his Adjutant-General and took him to Harper's Ferry. He
was promoted to Brigadier-General and assigned to a brigade in Johnston's army. With Kershaw
he arrived at the battle of Manassas to change a defeat into a Confederate victory. He was
wounded in this battle.
In his rout of Union troops in Richmond, KY, on August 30, 1862, Kirby Smith captured 4,000
soldiers, 10,000 arms, and a wagon train of much-needed supplies.
He was sent to East Tennessee where he took command of the right wing of General Bragg.
Declaring East Tennessee to be "an enemy's country," he completely reversed Zollicoffer's policy of
reconciliation and leniency. Smith enforced martial law, suspended habeas corpus, jailed and
deported suspected Unionists, and vigorously enforced the April 1862 conscription act, sending
hundreds of Unionists into headlong flight to Kentucky. These heavy-handed measures only
succeeded in further provoking Unionists and spreading discontent by turning previously neutral
East Tennesseans into enemies. Moreover, Smith cast doubt upon the dependability and loyalty of
East Tennessee troops raised for Confederate service, suggesting that these men be transferred to
the Deep South, where they could be molded into good soldiers away from the pernicious
influences of local Unionist leaders.
President Jefferson Davis ordered him to assume command of the trans-Mississippi department.
After Grant captured Vicksburg he was made a full General. He surrendered his department on
May 26, 1865 to Gen. Edward R. S. Canby, and arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 2, whence
he fled to Mexico and then to Cuba to escape potential prosecution for treason. He returned to
take an oath of amnesty at Lynchburg, Virginia, on November 14, 1865.
After the war he became president of the Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph Co. He became president of
the University of Nashville till 1875 when he was made professor of mathematics in the University
of the South at Sewannee. He was the last surviving man who had been a full general in the war.
He is buried in the University Cemetery at Sewannee.
* * *
Ephraim Kirby Smith
Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1822, to July 1, 1826, when he was graduated and
promoted in the Army to Bvt. Second Lieut., 2d Infantry, July 1, 1826.
Second Lieut., 5th Infantry, July 1, 1826.
Served: in garrison at Sackett's Harbor, N. Y., 1827; on frontier duty at Ft. Howard, Wis.,
1827-28, 1828-29, -- and Ft. Mackinac, Mich., 1829-30.
Dismissed, Oct. 6, 1820, for Inflicting Corporal Punishment on Mutinous Soldiers, and Reinstated,
Apr. 26, 1832.
Served: on frontier duty at Ft. Howard, Wis., 1832-33, .
(First Lieut., 5th Infantry, Mar. 4, 1833)
Dearborn, Ill., 1833; on Recruiting service, 1833-36; on frontier duty at Ft. Dearborn, Ill., 1836,
-- Ft. Howard, Wis., 1836-37, -- Ft. Snelling, Min., 1837-38, -- Ft. Winnebago, Wis., 1838,
1839-41, -- and
Captain, 5th Infantry, July 7, 1838 Detroit, Mich., 1841-45; in Military Occupation of Texas,
1845-46; in the War with Mexico, 1846, 1846-47, being engaged in the Battle of Palo Alto, May
8, 1846, -- Battle of Resaca-de-la-Palma, May 9, 1846, -- Siege of Vera Cruz, Mar. 9-29, 1847,
-- on Expedition to Alvarado to procure provisions and draught animals, Apr., 1847, -- Capture of
San Antonio, Aug. 20, 1847, -- Battle of Churubusco, Aug. 20, 1847, -- and Battle of Molino del
Rey, Sep. 8, 1847, where he was Mortally Wounded in leading the Light Infantry Battalion under
his command to the assault of a battery of the enemy.
Died of Wounds, Sep. 11, 1847, near the City of Mexico: Aged 40.
|Edmond Kirby Smith
|Ephraim Kirby Smith