THREE-QUARTER STANDING VIEW OF MAJOR GENERAL WILIAM FARRAR “BALDY” SMITH BY BRADY

$125.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 259-89

Image shows General Smith in right profile standing by a chair. He wears a dark double-breasted frock coat with black felt collar and cuffs with major general’s shoulder straps and matching dark trousers.

Image is clear with great contrast. Upper right corner has a faint crease line on the paper but the mount appears to be fine. Edges have some light surface dirt as usual.

Reverse has back mark for BRADY’S GALLERIES and a period pencil inscription that reads “GENL. SMITH.”

This is a nice view of the General.

William Farrar Smith was born at St. Albans, Vermont on February 17, 1824. He was educated in Vermont and was appointed to West Point in 1841. He graduated 4th of 41 cadets. Smith was appointed a brevet second lieutenant on July 1, 1845, and was assigned to the Topographical Engineers Corps. He was promoted to second lieutenant on July 14, 1849, and to first lieutenant on March 3, 1853.

During his service in the Engineer Corps, Smith conducted surveys of the Great Lakes, the states of Texas, Arizona, and Florida, as well as much of Mexico. While serving in Florida, he was stricken with malaria. Although he would recover, the illness affected his physical health for the rest of his life. Smith was also twice assistant professor of mathematics at West Point and was promoted to captain on July 1, 1859.

During the First Battle of Bull Run, Smith served on the staff of Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell. On August 13, 1861, he was appointed a brigadier general after helping organize the 1st Vermont Brigade. He was appointed a brevet lieutenant colonel in the regular army for his gallantry at the Battle of White Oak Swamp. On July 4, 1862, he received promotion to the rank of major general. Smith led a division with conspicuous valor during the Battle of Antietam, and was again brevetted in the regular army. When his corps commander, Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin, was reassigned, Smith was placed at the head of the VI Corps of the Army of the Potomac, which he led at the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg.

The recriminations that followed Fredericksburg led to a general order in which army commander Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside proposed to dismiss several of the senior officers of the army. President Lincoln prevented this order from taking effect and relieved Burnside of his command instead. Smith was one of the affected officers, but it is to his credit that he did not leave the Army. However, his indiscretion in communicating to Lincoln directly about Burnside's shortcomings, compounded by the fact that Smith was a close friend of out-of-favor Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, resulted in his losing both his corps command and his rank; the Senate failed to confirm his nomination to major general, which expired on March 4, 1863. Reverting to the rank of brigadier general, he commanded a division-sized force of militia within the Department of the Susquehanna in Pennsylvania during the critical days of the Gettysburg Campaign, repelling Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart at a skirmish in Carlisle. Smith's green troops then participated in the unsuccessful pursuit of Gen. Robert E. Lee back to the Potomac River. He followed this in division command in West Virginia.

On October 3, 1863, Smith was assigned as chief engineer, Army of the Cumberland. As such he conducted the engineer operations and launched the Battle of Brown's Ferry, which opened the "Cracker Line" to provide supplies and reinforcements to the besieged troops in Chattanooga. Of this action the House Committee on Military Affairs reported in 1865 that "as a subordinate, General WF Smith had saved the Army of the Cumberland from capture, and afterwards directed it to victory." Smith was again nominated for the rank of major general of volunteers, and Grant insisted strongly that the nomination should be confirmed, which was done on March 9, 1864. Grant, according to his own statement "was not long in finding out that the objections to Smith's promotion were well grounded," but he never said what the grounds were.

For the Overland Campaign of 1864, Smith was assigned by Grant to command the XVIII Corps, Army of the James, which he led in the Battle of Cold Harbor. Smith's corps and a division of black troops were ordered to take the city of Petersburg. Smith performed exhaustive reconnaissance. Determining that the section of the defensive line was manned primarily by artillery, he ordered an attack. However, the attack was delayed and his hesitation may have lost him the opportunity to shorten the war by nearly a year. On July 19, 1864, he was relieved from command of the XVIII Corps and spent the remainder of the war on "special duty."

Smith resigned from the volunteer service in 1865, and from the U.S. Army in 1867. From 1864 to 1873 he was president of the International Telegraph Company, and from 1875 to 1881 served on the board of police commissioners of New York City, becoming its president in 1877. After 1881 he was engaged in civil engineering work in Pennsylvania. He died at Philadelphia in 1903 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.   [ad]

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