Gustavus Woodson Smith
Gustavus Woodson Smith (November 30, 1821 – June 24, 1896), more commonly known as G.W. Smith, was a career United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 officer who fought in the Mexican-American War, a civil engineer, and a major general in the Confederate States Army
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...


Early life and Mexico

Smith was born in Georgetown, Kentucky
Georgetown, Kentucky
Georgetown is a city in Scott County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 29,098 at the 2010 census. The original settlement of Lebanon, founded by Rev. Elijah Craig, was renamed in 1790 in honor of President George Washington. It is the home of Georgetown College, a private liberal arts...

, and was a brother-in-law of Horace Randal and a distant relative of John Bell Hood
John Bell Hood
John Bell Hood was a Confederate general during the American Civil War. Hood had a reputation for bravery and aggressiveness that sometimes bordered on recklessness...

. He graduated from the United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 at West Point
West Point, New York
West Point is a federal military reservation established by President of the United States Thomas Jefferson in 1802. It is a census-designated place located in Town of Highlands in Orange County, New York, United States. The population was 7,138 at the 2000 census...

 as a brevet
Brevet (military)
In many of the world's military establishments, brevet referred to a warrant authorizing a commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily, but usually without receiving the pay of that higher rank except when actually serving in that role. An officer so promoted may be referred to as being...

 second lieutenant in 1842. Smith finished eighth out of 56 cadets while at West Point. He entered the Army Corps of Engineers
United States Army Corps of Engineers
The United States Army Corps of Engineers is a federal agency and a major Army command made up of some 38,000 civilian and military personnel, making it the world's largest public engineering, design and construction management agency...

 afterward, and was promoted to second lieutenant on January 1, 1845.

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
Battle of Cerro Gordo
The Battle of Cerro Gordo, or Battle of Sierra Gordo, in the Mexican-American War saw Winfield Scott's United States troops flank and drive Santa Anna's larger Mexican army from a strong defensive position.-Battle:...

, and on August 20, 1847, brevet captain for the Battle of Contreras
Battle of Contreras
The Battle of Contreras, also known as the Battle of Padierna, took place during August 19–20, 1847, in the final encounters of the Mexican-American War. In the Battle of Churubusco, fighting continued the following day.-Background:...

. 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
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, and was Streets Commissioner there from 1858 to 1861.

Civil War service

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
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

 to serve the Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

. Commissioned as a major general on September 19, he served in Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia
Northern Virginia consists of several counties and independent cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in a widespread region generally radiating southerly and westward from Washington, D.C...

 as a divisional and "wing" commander, and fought in the Battle of Seven Pines
Battle of Seven Pines
The Battle of Seven Pines, also known as the Battle of Fair Oaks or Fair Oaks Station, took place on May 31 and June 1, 1862, in Henrico County, Virginia, as part of the Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War. It was the culmination of an offensive up the Virginia Peninsula by Union Maj. Gen....

 near Richmond during the Peninsula Campaign
Peninsula Campaign
The Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War was a major Union operation launched in southeastern Virginia from March through July 1862, the first large-scale offensive in the Eastern Theater. The operation, commanded by Maj. Gen. George B...


On May 31, 1862, Smith briefly took command of what would become the Army of Northern Virginia
Army of Northern Virginia
The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac...

 after Gen. Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph Eggleston Johnston was a career U.S. Army officer, serving with distinction in the Mexican-American War and Seminole Wars, and was also one of the most senior general officers in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

 was wounded, due to his being the senior major general in Johnston's army. However, Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

 replaced him with Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

 the following day, June 1. On June 2, Smith became ill and took a leave of absence to recuperate.

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
Confederate States Secretary of War
The Confederate States Secretary of War was a member of the Confederate States President's Cabinet during the Civil War. The Secretary of War led the Confederate States Department of War. The position ended in May 1865 when the Confederacy crumbled during John C. Breckinridge's tenure of the...

 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
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 state militia and commanded its first division until the end of the war.

Postbellum life

Smith was paroled in Macon, Georgia
Macon, Georgia
Macon is a city located in central Georgia, US. Founded at the fall line of the Ocmulgee River, it is part of the Macon metropolitan area, and the county seat of Bibb County. A small portion of the city extends into Jones County. Macon is the biggest city in central Georgia...

, on April 20, 1865, and moved to Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 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 1862 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
New London, Connecticut
New London is a seaport city and a port of entry on the northeast coast of the United States.It is located at the mouth of the Thames River in New London County, southeastern Connecticut....


See also

  • List of American Civil War generals

External links

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