General Edmund Kirby Smith
Commander, Trans-Mississippi Department
Major Kirby Smith refused to surrender Camp Colorado to the Texas secessionist forces at the beginning of the Civil War. When his home state of Florida seceded, he resigned his United States Army commission and gave up his position in the Second Cavalry. This was the elite unit where many future generals served before the Civil War. He accepted a commission as a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate Army.
Brigadier General Kirby Smith effectively commanded a brigade at the First Battle of Manassas or Bull Run and was seriously wounded. He returned to duty in about three months as a major general and division commander. Then he was sent west. His forces were victorious at Richmond, Kentucky. Soon he was made a lieutenant general. Next he was given command of the Trans-Mississippi Department. There he served for the final two years of the war. After the Union gained control of the Mississippi River by capturing Vicksburg, the Trans-Mississippi Department was cut off from the remainder of the Confederacy. General Smith had to administer the area without input from the authorities in Richmond, Virginia. Kirby Smith was promoted to full general on February 19, 1864. Major General Richard Taylor, one of his field commanders, stopped the Union's Red River Campaign at the Battle of Mansfield. Major General Sterling Price, another one of his field commanders, made an unsuccessful invasion of Missouri. General Smith surrendered the last significant Confederate army on May 26, 1865.
Kirby Smith was the grandson of an officer in George Washington's army in the American Revolution. His father was a lieutenant colonel in the War of 1812. Kirby Smith graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1845. Two brevet promotions for gallantry were given to him in the Mexican War. For two years, he was an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at West Point. He fought against the Indians in Texas, and he was wounded in 1859.
After the Civil War, Kirby Smith served as President of the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company. Several academic appointments followed. He was Chancellor of the University of Nashville, President of Western Military Academy at Nashville, and Professor of Mathematics at the University of the South at Sewanne, Tennessee. In 1893, he died at the age of 68.
CLICK TO RETURN TO OTHER SOLDIERS' STORIES