Civil War Confederate Brigadier General. Born into a modest family of Giles County, Tennessee, he received a primary education necessary to continue his studies at Jackson College located in Columbia, Tennessee. Thereafter, he became a student of law and began a distinguish career as a lawyer with offices in Waynesboro and Memphis, Tennessee. Canceling his law profession with the outbreak of Civil War in 1861, he enlisted at the rank of Colonel in the 154th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, a state militia that predated the war. He and the regiment consolidated into Confederate service at Randolph, Tennessee in May, 1861 with the addendum of the designation “senior” attached, thus becoming the 154th Senior Tennessee Infantry. The April 6 and 7, 1862 Battle of Shiloh was the regiment's baptism of fire. The command of General Bushrod Johnson’s Brigade was entrusted to him after that officer was put out of action from a bursting shell. At the height of action on the second day of the battle, Smith received a disabling wound to his right shoulder and was borne from the field. Upon recovering, he remained a Colonel and was designated a permanent brigade commander in the division of General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne. At the battle at Perryville, Kentucky on August 8, 1862, the responsibilities of division command fell upon him after his superior, Cleburne, could no longer give orders due to the nature of the wound he received. Thereafter, he led the division skillfully through the remnant of the battle and would be awarded the “Thanks of Congress” posthumously on February 17, 1864 for the “signal victory achieved”. His promotion to Brigadier General, CSA, was dated October 27, 1862. At the commencement of the September, 1863 Battle of Chickamauga, his brigade was assigned to General Benjamin Franklin Cheatham’s Division, forming the right wing of the Confederate Army. On the night of September 19, 1863, Smith’s soldiers were formed in reserve and to the rear of the brigade of General James Deshler. During the opening of the nighttime engagement, disorder and misunderstanding erupted in Deshler’s Brigade upon them receiving initial fire from the Union forces opposite it and in consequence, the Confederates shifted. Unaware of the shift and fully expecting the friendly forces of General Deshler’s to his front, Smith moved forward to reconnoiter. Unbeknownst him, he ventured into the battle line of the Pennsylvania 77th Infantry Regiment. Identifying him as an enemy, the Pennsylvanians unleashed a deadly volley that toppled Smith and officers of his staff out of their saddles. Receiving a mortal wound to his chest, he died within an hour and was interred in Atlanta Georgia. His remains were subsequently transferred to Memphis Tennessee and re-interred on May 2, 1868. (bio by: Stonewall)
Cause of death: Killed by a point blank Union volley
Burial: Elmwood Cemetery Memphis Shelby County Tennessee, USA Plot: Chapel Hill Section, Lot 146
Maintained by: Find A Grave Record added: Mar 03, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 20741
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I am a relative of General Smith's and proud of his service; may he continue to rest in peace. He was also the special administrator of my great grandfather John Blount DeWitt's will in Memphis, Tennessee. -
Debra DeWitt Jordan Added: Sep. 2, 2015