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Gustavus Woodson Smith
Gustavus Woodson Smith, photo taken during the Civil War 1861–65
Born (1821-11-30)November 30, 1821
Died June 24, 1896(1896-06-24) (aged 74)
Place of birth Georgetown, Kentucky
Place of death New York, New York
Place of burial Cedar Grove Cemetery, New London, Connecticut
Allegiance  United States of America
 Confederate States of America
Service/branch U.S. Army
Confederate States Army
Years of service 1842–1854 (USA)
1861–1863, 1864–1865 (CSA)
Rank Union army cpt rank insignia.jpg brev. Captain (USA)
35px Major general (CSA)
Commands held Army of Northern Virginia

Mexican-American War

American Civil War

Other work Civil engineer
streets commissioner
iron manufacturer
insurance commissioner

Gustavus Woodson Smith (November 30, 1821 – June 24, 1896), more commonly known as G.W. Smith, was a career United States Army officer who fought in the Mexican-American War, a civil engineer, and a major general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.

Early life and Mexico[edit | edit source]

Smith was born in Georgetown, Kentucky, and was a brother-in-law of Horace Randal and a distant relative of John Bell Hood. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point as a brevet second lieutenant in 1842. Smith finished eighth out of 56 cadets while at West Point. He entered the Army Corps of Engineers afterward, and was promoted to second lieutenant on January 1, 1845.[1] Smith fought in the Mexican-American War, winning two brevet promotions for his actions there. On April 18, 1847, he was appointed brevet first lieutenant for the Battle of Cerro Gordo, and on August 20, 1847, brevet captain for the Battle of Contreras. On March 3, 1853, Smith was promoted to first lieutenant. After serving in the Mexican War, he resigned his commission on December 18, 1854, to become a civilian engineer in New York City, and was Streets Commissioner there from 1858 to 1861.[1]

Civil War service[edit | edit source]

Smith's home state of Kentucky became a border state when the Civil War broke out in 1861. Some months afterward, he presented himself at Richmond to serve the Confederate States of America. Commissioned as a major general on September 19, he served in Northern Virginia as a divisional and "wing" commander, and fought in the Battle of Seven Pines near Richmond during the Peninsula Campaign. On May 31, 1862, Smith briefly took command of what would become the Army of Northern Virginia after Gen. Joseph E. Johnston was wounded, due to his being the senior major general in Johnston's army. However, Jefferson Davis replaced him with Robert E. Lee the following day, June 1. On June 2, Smith became ill and took a leave of absence to recuperate.[2] In late August, Smith returned and took command of the defenses around Richmond, which was expanded to become the Department of North Carolina & Southern Virginia in September. In addition, he acted as interim Confederate States Secretary of War from November 17 through November 21, 1862. He resigned his commission as a major general on February 17, 1863, and became a volunteer aide to General P.G.T. Beauregard for the rest of that year. Smith was also the superintendent of the Etowah Iron Works in 1863 until June 1, 1864, when he was commissioned a major general in the Georgia state militia and commanded its first division until the end of the war.[1]

Postbellum life[edit | edit source]

Smith was paroled in Macon, Georgia, on April 20, 1865, and moved to Tennessee to become an iron manufacturer from 1866 to 1870. He moved back to his native Kentucky to become Insurance Commissioner until 1876, and then moved to New York City and began writing. Smith authored Noted on Insurance in 1870, Confederate War Papers in 1884, The Battle of Seven Pines in 1891, and Generals J. E. Johnston and G. T. Beauregard at the Battle of Manassas, July 1861 in 1892. His final work, Company "A," Corps of Engineers, U.S.A., 1846–48, in the Mexican War, was published in 1896 after his death. Smith died in New York City and is buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery in New London, Connecticut.[1]

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