IDENTIFIED MAJOR GENERAL MARTIN LUTHER SMITH’S CONFEDERATE FROCK COAT WITH MEXICAN WAR TOPOGRAPHICAL ENGINEER EPAULETS AND HAT INSIGNIA

$75,000.00

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Item Code: 766-1388

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This coat for many years was on display, while loaned, at the Museum of the Confederacy (now the Museum of the American Civil War) in Richmond, Virginia. This coat has been professionally conserved and detailed illustrated conservation reports accompany.  All descended in the family until now.

Martin Luther Smith (1819-1866) graduated from West Point in 1842. His class would provide 24 Civil War Generals, both North and South. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the topographical engineers. After graduation his first assignments were in the South, which he never left, even though originally from New York.

He fought in the Mexican War and continued his military engineering until the Civil War began. Smith was commissioned Colonel of the 21st Louisiana Infantry. He was soon promoted to Brigadier General and after the loss of New Orleans Smith took command of troops in Vicksburg while improving the city's defenses and designing earth works. Smith was confirmed Major General April 1863. During the siege of Vicksburg, Smith's troops held the left side of the Confederate line, opposing William Tecumseh Sherman's forces. Smith was captured after the fall of Vicksburg.

In the spring of 1864 Major General Smith became Robert E. Lee's Chief Engineer of the Army of Northern Virginia. M. L. Smith was key to keeping Grant's forces at bay during the Overland Campaign. It was Smith who scouted out the unfinished railroad cut that subsequently allowed Longstreet's troops to roll up Hancock's left flank at the battle of the Wilderness. It was Smith who developed much of the defensive line at Spotsylvania. And it was again Smith who proposed using the bluffs on the south bank of the North Anna River as a defensive position, forming an inverted V. "He was a splendid tactician as well as skillful engineer and gallant withal." James Longstreet on Martin Luther Smith, From "Manassas to Appomattox", p. 563.

By July, Smith was reassigned as Chief Engineer of the Army of Tennessee under John Bell Hood.His last assignment was in Mobile. As the Chief Engineer of the Department of Alabama, Mississippi & East Louisiana, he erected the Defenses at Spanish Fort in Blakely. After Mobile fell, General Smith was paroled May 8, 1865 and returned home to Georgia. After the War he worked as an engineer for an Alabama & Tennessee railroad. He died July 29, 1866 in Savannah, Georgia at the age of 47.

MAJOR GENERAL'S FROCK COAT. This double-breasted coat of heavy wool must have been made for the field. This coat was made without insignia or facings, but the buttons are made in regulation Major General specifications with three groups of 3 buttons stitched in 2 rows. It was not uncommon for generals to have coats without rank insignia for use on the battlefield. Sharpshooters loved to zero in on high ranking officers. General Smith was often at the front as he was chief engineer in charge of defensive positions for both Robert E. Lee and later John Bell Hood in 1864 and this no doubt was a coat he wore in the field.

The sleeves balloon to 9 1/2" at elbows, tapering to 3 3/4" cuffs. Coat is lined in a glossy olive green polished cotton. This coat saw use in the field but survived quite nicely. A regulation Confederate General's collar insignia wreath with 3 stars was found loose with the coat and has now been professionally sewn on in period fashion. Coat comes with complete conservation report with images. Coat is very good as conserved. The coat retains all of its original buttons. Lining is 95% plus complete with wear and small reductions. Detailed conservation report which consists mostly of backing moth damage on cuffs & collar.

ENGINEER EPAULETS AND HAT INSIGNIA. These were the epaulets Lieutenant M.L Smith wore in the Mexican War. They have 14mm topographical engineer buttons for attachment and gilted raised brass borders with gold braid edging. There is cut out silver letters in old English script "T" & "E" with a small silver star between. There is a metallic embroidered shield between the 2 letters measuring about 2" across. The embroidered hat insignia has same shield inside oak leaf & acorn wreath. Very good condition overall Minor reductions to one of the embroidered shields. Yellow silk backing and pillows have about 10% reductions and one pillow is loose. Insignia is very good and solid with minor reductions as seen in photos.

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