Major General
Andrew Jackson Smith


The signature is taken from a letter signed 11/18/1864
Both the Photograph and the signature are from the
collections of the US Army Military History Institute.
(Digitally enhanced by Deborah Rice of St. Louis, MO)

 

Excepted from TWENTY SEVENTH ANNUAL REUNION
OF THE ASSOCIATION OF GRADUATES
OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY AT WEST POINT,
New York, June 11th, 1896. Seemann & Peters, Saginaw, MI, 1896.
1880

By Leslie J. Perry (1843-1910)

 

ANDREW JACKSON SMITH.
No.976. CLASS OP I835
Died, January 28, 1897, at St. Louis, Mo., aged 82.


In the Union Army there served twenty-four persons of the name of Smith, as Generals or Brevet Generals, and on the Confederate side there were six General Smiths of the various grades. Of the twenty-four Union General Smiths, six or eight were conspicuous officers; the others were not so well known, though nearly all the Smiths performed their parts in the war with honor and more or less glory to their cause and themselves. Among the numerous military Smiths who served the Union cause with fidelity, C. F. Smith, Baldy Smith, Morgan L. Smith, John E. Smith, Thomas Kirbv Smith, W. Sooy Smith and Giles A. Smith were bright names in our military annals. But, in my judgment, the greatest of all the Smiths was Major General Andrew Jackson Smith of the Western armies, who died at St. Louis recently. For long-continued, unceasing, uncomplaining and uniformly successful service A. J. Smith, I think, held the record over all the other Smiths, numerous and deserving and distinguished as some of them were. Few Generals of other names, too, soared higher than he, for he was in the front rank of the most distinguished commanders of the war.

General Smith in his day was not an unknown and unsung hero. Although he never achieved the distinction of commanding a department while the war progressed, his influence was great in determining many important events of the conflict in the Mississippi Valley. Yet when he died the other day, thirty-two years afterward, Smith was waived off the stage with a perfunctory obituary notice exactly six lines in length, so vague as to make it difficult to differentiate him from the other distinguished Smiths, in newspapers where President Roberts of the Pennsylvania railroad, who died the same day, received nearly a column of panegyrics and a portrait. And the press this last week has been teeming with the exploits of the Confederate raider, Joe Shelby, whose influence upon the war was almost nil.

Andrew Jackson Smith was a Pennsylvanian. He was appointed from that State to West Point July 1, 1834, graduating from the Academy, in 1838, No. 36 in a class of forty-five cadets; that is, within nine of the bottom. In Smith's class were McDowell, Casey, and R. S. Granger, who subsequently made names on the Union side during the Civil War, and Beauregard, Hardee and Edward Johnson of the Confederate service. Among his college mates in the preceding class were Hooker, Sedgwick, French, Bragg, Early and Pemberton, while in the succeeding class were Halleck, Isaac I. Stevens, Lawton, and others who afterward became conspicuous on one side or the other.

Upon his graduation Smith entered the old First Dragoons as a Second Lieutenant, and served against the Indians of the plains and in Oregon. He also had a share in the Mexican war. At the outbreak of the Rebellion he was already a Major in the First Dragoons. October 3, 1861, he was appointed Colonel of the Second California Cavalry, but was soon detached, for in February, 1862, he turned up a Chief of Cavalry of the Department of the Missouri. This makes it probable that it was through Halleck that Smith was brought east and turned loose in the theatre of active military operations. He was commissioned a Brigadier General of Volunteers May 17, 1862, while at St. Louis, and was thus fairly launched. All his earlier service was with the cavalry, and it appears that his superiors held him to have special qualifications for that arm; but it was as an infantry commander that he made his mark.

When, after Shiloh, Halleck left St. Louis and went to the front to direct in person the combined armies operating against Corinth, Smith was taken along as Chief of Cavalry. It was in the Corinth campaign that he first displayed those qualities of boldness and activity which made him so successful as a leader, and afterward won him the regard and confidence of Halleck, Grant and Sherman. He commanded in a minor affair or two, which were cleverly managed. When the Confederates, Brag and Kirby Smith, invaded Kentucky in 1862, A. J. Smith was sent back and assigned to a miscellaneous command in front of Cincinnati, which took some part in repelling the enemy from the Ohio river. It was one of the queer things in Smith's career that he never appeared to be permanently attached anywhere, but was constantly tossed about from pillar to post, at the will and necessity of his chiefs, on important detached service. He wrote very few letters, and never remonstrated or grumbled, no matter what the nature of the duty assigned him, but went about its accomplishment in the most effective manner and without delay. Hence he became a prime favorite for the most difficult and dangerous undertakings, and was always available. When Banks needed aid, Grant said: "Send A. J. Smith." When Price had to be chased out of Missouri; the order came: "Send up A. J. Smith;" after Forrest had cleaned out nearly every Union Officer sent after him, Smith was put on his trail and defeated him; when Hood sat down in front of Nashville, Thomas did not attack until Smith's veterans arrived from Missouri, and he finally wound up a series of remarkable marches and operations by taking part in the capture of Mobile. His selection for these various expeditions is strong proof of the high estimate placed upon his military capacity by his superiors.

After Bragg had retreated out of Kentucky, Smith was shifted down into West Tennessee again. He soon had organized a division of about 7,500 men, which composed part of the force used in the first great expedition clown the Mississippi river against Vicksburg under General Sherman. He took a prominent part in the assault on Chickasaw Bluffs, where Sherman met with a serious repulse. Immediately afterward the Vicksburg expeditionary force was withdrawn, and, under command of General McClernand, it attacked and, in conjunction with the navy, reduced Arkansas Post, near the mouth of the Arkansas river. The fort, all its munitions, and some 5,000 prisoners fell into the hands of McClernand. General Smith led the attack with his division, and it was largely owing to his admirable dispositions that the fort was so cheaply won.

Soon after this event Grant came down from Memphis and superseded McClernand, and then followed the great Vicksburg campaign, in which Smith took part as a division commander.

He was conspicuous in most of the movements and battles leading up to the environment of Vicksburg. It was in these operations that Smith first fell under Grant's personal observation, and he ever afterward had that commander's high regard. When Pemberton's messenger, General Bowen came forth to ask terms for the surrender of the Confederate stronghold, he presented himself on General Smith's front on the Union lines. In the reports of Assistant Secretary of War Charles A. Dana, who accompanied the army during tile Vicksburg campaign, it is recorded that Smith took part with Grant and McPherson in the conferences with Pemberton and his advisers. After the surrender, Smith accompanied Sherman's second expedition against Jackson and Joe Johnston.

After the capture of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, things became duller along the great river, and on the 5th of August, 1863, Smith was detached again to the command of Columbus, Ky., where he remained until January 21, 1864, after which, for a few weeks, he was engaged in some minor operations around Memphis.

When the Banks expedition up the Red river to Shreveport and beyond, if possible, was determined upon by the government, General Grant detached A. J. Smith with parts of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Corps, about 10,000 men, to reinforce Banks. Upon arriving at the mouth of the Red river, Smith learned that General Banks would be delayed in making the final advance. He thereupon determined to do a little business upon his own account. He entered Red river on March 13, and on the 14th captured the Confederate stronghold, Fort de Russy, which barred the way of the navy to Alexandria, where Banks was to concentrate his command. He also made a dash on Henderson's Mill, capturing 250 prisoners and four guns. The Confederates attacked and defeated Banks at the Sabine Cross Roads on May 8, before Smith could join, and fell back upon the latter at Pleasant Hill, where the Confederates, under General Dick Taylor, attacked again on the 9th and were repulsed. In this last battle Smith's command was conspicuous and successful. He commanded the front and drove the enemy off the field, capturing 1,000 prisoners, five guns anti six caissons. Smith covered Banks's retreat down Red river. In this expedition, ill-fated considered as a whole, Smith's share was brilliant. He captured all told, 1757 prisoners and twenty-two pieces of artillery. In all its affairs he displayed quick perception and uncommon coolness and enterprise. He returned to Vicksburg with his command on the 23d of May, after an absence of seventy-four days.

Early in June the Confederate, General Forrest, had defeated disastrously General Sturgis at Guntown, Miss. In the beginning of July, Smith, with a force of 14,000 men, infantry and cavalry, was ordered to beat up Forrest. In those days the Union Generals did not have to hunt long for Forrest; he was never in hiding when a fight was in sight. He attacked Smith on the 14th with all his force; in fact, Smith had out-manoeuvred the Confederate by a flank movement, forcing him to give battle at a disadvantage. Forrest was outnumbered and badly worsted in the engagement and in the subsequent operations. His success against Forrest added largely to Smith's reputation as a soldier. Later, during the early fall, the Confederate cavalryman, General Joseph Wheeler, got into East Tennessee, and upon Sherman's communications, Grant telegraphed Halleck: "If A. J. Smith has reached Decatur, he had better be ordered by rail to Nashville to get on the track of Wheeler and drive him south." On September 12 Sherman telegraphed Smith from Atlanta: "I have been trying for three months to get you and Mower to me, but am headed off at every turn. Halleck asks for you to clear out Price. Can't you make a quick job of it and then get to me?" These quotations show in what estimate Smith was held by the military authorities.

Meanwhile Smith had been promoted to Major General for his service in the Red river campaign, of date May 12, 1864. Price's raid into Missouri had become so threatening as to alarm the government, because the forces under General Rosecrans, for the defense of that State, had been very much reduced. So it happened that Smith, while at Cairo with his division, at last on his way to join Sherman, was diverted once again by an order from the War Department to go into Missouri. Hard marching, hard fare, and isolated skirmishing characterized this expedition. It was a most trying service, Yet Smith performed his part with uncomplaining zeal and fair success. He followed Price across Missouri, but at the final moment, through an error of judgment on the part of his superior in the direction of Smith's march, the latter was deprived of a last opportunity to strike Price at Hickman's Mills, and the glory of the wind up was reserved for Pleasonton at Mine Creek.

While Price was penetrating Missouri, Hood had entered Tennessee, and was pressing the old hero, Thomas, back on Nashville. Frantic appeals were sent for Smith's troops to go to the assistance of Thomas, which was ordered from Washington. Smith's long march from the western part of the State, where he had followed Price, caused great delay in his reaching Thomas. He embarked on steamers at St. Louis finally, and reached Thomas at Nashville on the 1st and 2d of December, 1864, almost simultaneously with Hood's appearance before the city. Hood had been severely defeated by General Schofield on November 30, at Franklin. Smith's share in the subsequent battle of Nashville, under Thomas, on the 15th and 16th of December, was large and successful, and he was highly commended by Thomas. Hood was driven back across the Tennessee with enormous losses. Smith took part in the pursuit, which was greatly retarded by bad weather, down to the river.

Smith's extended operations had earned for his troops the sobriquet of "Smith's Guerrillas." After the battle of Nashville, he wrote to Washington asking that to his command, which had now grown to the dimensions of a corps, should receive a corps designation. He jocularly referred to their long journeyings and battles, and remarked that until they were assigned a corps number he should call them the "lost tribes of Israel." The President thereupon designated it the Sixteenth Army Corps. He was not permitted to remain long idle. Canby's movement, against Mobile, long delayed, was at last under way, and on the 6th of February, 1865, Smith's veterans started on their last long journey by transports via the Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans, and thence by sea to Mobile. Under his command they participated in the capture of that city, the operations requiring about a month. Then they advanced up the Alabama river, Smith occupying Montgomery and the whole outlying country, by making detachments to the more important points.

The war had now come to an end; the national authority was restored in all quarters. He remained in command of the district of Montgomery until the fall of 1865, when he was transferred to the district of Western Louisiana. He was mustered out of the volunteer service January 15, 1866, and made Colonel of the Seventh Regular Cavalry July 28, 1866, but resigned May 6, 1869, and entered upon civil pursuits. Soon after General Grant became President, in 1869, he appointed General Smith to be postmaster of St. Louis, where he continued to reside until his death. Under a special law, passed in December, 1888, General Smith was re-appointed into the army as Colonel, January 22, 1889, and on the same day was placed on the retired list.

General Smith was of small stature, with rather brusque, abrupt manners, sometimes verging on irascibility, yet was popular with his troops, anti shunned none of the hardships to which they were subjected. The Union cause owed General Andrew Jackson Smith a great debt of gratitude.

Leslie J. Perry
From the New York Sun


Leslie J. Perry (1843-1910) is best known today as a co-author of The Official Military Atlas of the Civil War (Washington: G. P. O., 1891-1895.) together with Calvin D. Cowles, George B. Davis and Joseph W. Kirkley. He also served on the Board of Publication of the War of the Rebellion: A compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate Armies commonly referred to by Civil War scholars as the "OR". Leslie Perry, a prisoner of war, who spent 19 months as a prisoner in Libby and Andersonville Prisons, worked particularly on the prisoner-of-war series1. During the Civil War Perry served as Captain in the 2nd Wis. Vol. Inft. He was a printer, journalist, and writer by profession2.

1. http://www.warchronicle.com/us/general/historicalwkptone.htm#*7*
2. http://www.rootsweb.com/~wiwaupac/News/waupnews1917.htm


Proceedings of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee

This is a copy of the circular issued by the Committee on Erection of the Monument to Major-General A. J. Smith:

St. Louis, December 10, 1901.

Dear Sir: -- At the thirty-third meeting of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee, recently held at Indianapolis, attention was called to the fact that the grave of that splendid soldier Major-General A. J. Smith, the hero of the Red River expedition, he who defeated the forces of Forrest and destroyed his prestige at Tupelo and Oldtown Creek; who drove Price from Missouri and assisted in the destruction of Hood's Army at Nasville, was unmarked and almost unknown. That he had died poor, leaving only the rich legacy of his great services to the Nation; that his only son, the last survivor of his family had died last summer, and that unless some action were taken by his companions in arms, his last resting place would remain unmarked and in a short time forgotten.

Therefore, to the end that a suitable monument might be erected at his grave in Bellefontaine Cemetery at St. Louis, the undersigned were appointed by General Dodge, President of the Society, as a committee to solicit subscriptions for the purpose named.

You are therefore respectfully requested to forward to Colonel Charles Parsons, President of the State Bank of St. Louis, Treasurer of the fund, such an amount as you desire to contribute, at your earliest convenience.

Respectfully,

Captain W. R. Hodges
Colonel Charles Parsons
General John W. Noble
Major H. L. Morrill,
Mrs. Mary Spoor-Latev,
Committee.

S. E. Williams and A. J. Smith, Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri
PHOTO BY DEB RICE, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

 

Headstone for Gen. A. J. Smith in Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri
PHOTO BY STEPHEN WILLIAMS
A. J. Smith on CivilWarTraveler

CLICK ON PHOTO ABOVE FOR ENLAGEMENT

The Many Lives of A. J. Smith
by S. E. Williams

In St. Louis's elegant Bellefontaine Cemetery stands a stout grey granite obelisk bearing the inscription "ERECTED BY HIS COMPANIONS IN ARMS IN MEMORY OF A SOLDIER WHO NEVER KNEW DEFEAT". The monument bears the name "ANDREW JACKSON SMITH", "MAJOR GENERAL U. S. V.", "COLONEL U. S. A.". A.J. Smith is the soldier of the inscription and the "Companions in Arms", who erected the obelisk, were undoubtedly "Smith's Gorillas", ultimately the 16th Army Corps of the Union Army in the Civil War. This collection of raggedly dressed veterans of the Vicksburg campaign were labeled with this epithet by Maj. Gen. Banks who was used to the spit and polish of eastern troops. When, he first saw Smith's detachment, he disdainfully remarked "What in the name of Heaven did Sherman sent me these ragged guerrillas for." This insulting label was adopted by Smith's men as a badge of honor. Smith's Guerrillas where soon hardened into a corps that was arguably the best fighting unit in either army of the Civil War. They were used as shock troops in the toughest situations faced by the western Union forces. As one of Smith's Guerrillas said "We have been to Vicksburg, Red River, Missouri, and about everywhere down South and out West, and now we are going to Hell, if old A. J. orders us!"--and Hell is exactly where many in Mississippi and Louisiana would have liked to see Smith and his "Guerrillas". To them Smith's Guerrillas were a scourge that burned their property during Sherman style marches. Smith and Sherman first applied this method while together in their march to Meridian, Mississippi. Smith, the wily tactician, and Sherman, the brilliant strategist, who had a strong mutual respect for each other from their days together in the Mexican War, began to destroy civilian property and practice Total War during this march. After Smith's detachment from Sherman's Corps, War was often Hell for the civilians in the South along the marches of both Generals forces.

However, A. J. Smith was not just a Civil War general. He was a military officer long before he was a general. Small in stature and a magnificent horseman, this irascible soldier popped up a number of times and places playing significant historical roles. As bungling second lieutenant, A. J. Smith, just five months out of West Point, is a major part of the Cherokee Legend of Tsali during the Cherokee Removals. The Mormon Battalion would know and revile him as First Lieutenant A. J. Smith the dragoon officer who drove them mercilessly on forced marches from Ft. Leavenworth to Santa Fe. On this trek, Smith alienated the men but completed the mission. If it were not for Smith's pitiless forced marching of the men, the Mormon Battalion would not have reached Santa Fe soon enough before winter to pass through the mountains and play an important part in the Mexican War in California. Captain A. J. Smith played a major role in the settlement of Oregon, alternately fighting Indians and protecting them from rogue militias and mobs of settlers. After the Civil War the tribes of the western plains, and the Cherokee and others located in Oklahoma would see him as the old colonel of the 7th Cavalry. Here he was the regimental commander who court marshaled Custer for being AWOL. So we see 2nd, Lt. A.J. Smith, 1st Lt. A.J. Smith, and Capt. A.J. Smith of the first dragoons and Col. A. J. Smith of the 7th Cavalry in roles important enough in themselves that those writing about events they are involved in sometimes do not realize that all these A.J. Smiths are the same man as General A.J. Smith, who commanded a division at Vicksburg and later in the Civil War, commanded the most important detachment of soldiers in the Union Army, Smith's Guerrillas.

 

Andrew Jackson Smith
Ancestry and Marriage:

By S. E. Williams

Andrew Jackson Smith, while not from an extremely wealthy family comparable to sons of New York patroons or southern planters that he would rub elbows with at West Point, was non-the-less from a highly respected and influential Bucks County, Pennsylvania, family.  His father was Brigadier General of volunteers during the War of 1812 and had served as a Captain in La Fayette's Brigade during the revolutionary war.  His older brother was a respected judge and congressman with a long and successful political career.

Andrew Jackson Smith's great grandfather, Hugh Smith was a Scots-Irish settler who immigrated from Ireland to Bucks County Pennsylvania early in the first half of the 18th century and settled on the Reynolds tract in Buckingham.

James Smith of Buckingham, was the son of Hugh Smith.  He is known to have served as Justice of the Piece in 1803, presumably both before and after that date.  He married Agnes Darrah of Bucks County.  Their son was Samuel Smith.

General Samuel Smith (2/1/1749-9/17/1835) of Doylestown, Pennsylvania served as a soldier and officer of the American Revolution. Samuel Smith entered the Continental army in 1776, and served to the end of the war.  He rose to the rank of captain, and was in numerous battles including the Battle of Trenton where he was an officer in Lafayette's brigade.  After the war he married a daughter of John Wilkinson, and settled down as a farmer on a tract now known as Crystal Springs Farm.
In the war of 1812 he was in command of a brigade of militia at Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania.
General Smith and his wife had at least four sons.
     Samuel A. Smith,(1795-1861)Oxford, Chester Co., PA
     George A. Smith,(1794-1879)Zion Hill, MD
     Andrew J. Smith,(1815-1897)United States Army
     Jenks Smith, Philadelphia, PA

Samuel A. Smith, (A. J. Smith's older brother) was elected as a Jacksonian Democrat to the Twenty-first Congress to fill the vacancy resulting from a resignation.  He was reelected to the Twenty-second Congress and served from October 13, 1829, to March 3, 1833.   He also served as a judge and in numerous local and state offices.  He had a business in Doylestown, PA, and later in Point Pleasant, PA.  Samuel A. Smith was born in Harrow, Nockamixon Township, Bucks County, Pa., in 1795. He died in Point Pleasant, Bucks County, Pa., May 15, 1861 and is buried in the Presbyterian Churchyard in Doylestown, PA.

Several aspects of A. J. Smith's upbringing can be inferred from his family. He was, very likely, raised as a Presbyterian. His Scots-Irish ancestry and the fact that his brother is buried in a Presbyterian church yard are evidence of this. His father and brother were Jacksonian Democrats. His brother was elected to congress as a member of this political party and his father named him Andrew Jackson Smith. He grew up on a working but very prosperous farm in a county blessed with very fertile soil, the son of a prosperous yeomen farmer. We know that he was a small man with a fighting spirit and we can suspect that he was a small boy who made up for his size with his daring.

His 1833 appointment to West Point (He enrolled in 1834) corresponds with his brother Samuel's last year in congress so there is little mystery as to how he is likely to how gained the appointment. Many West Point cadets would have been from privileged families of wealthy planters.  Although Smith's family was prosperous and prestigious locally, in Bucks County, he would have been surrounded by farms inhabited by equally prosperous farmers with a strong work ethic that, combined with productive farms, created a broad based high standard of living among the land owners.  His brother, Samuel, was brigade inspector of militia for the Bucks and Montgomery County district as A.J. grew up and his father had one of the most impressive military records in the state.  The family had a strong military tradition and was looked to by the community for leadership in military matters.  A.J. Smith entered West Point with this background.

Lieutenant A. J. Smith of the 1st Dragoons married Ann Mason Smith (b. 1819) on October 17, 1844 in St. Louis. Ann was the daughter of Dr. Robert Simpson, a retired military surgeon and the 2nd Postmaster of St. Louis. At that time A. J. Smith was posted at Jefferson Barracks. Mrs. Smith lived in St. Louis during A. J. Smith's many tours of duty in the West and South. One source claims that he lived with an Indian woman while captain of a company of the 1st Dragoons that was posted in Oregon. A. J. Smith and Ann Smith had at least one son, Robert S. Smith (b. 1860).

 

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