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Edmund Kirby SMITH

American Edmund Kirby SMITH

United States Army officer who fought in the Mexican–American War, president of the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company

Source :  Tim DOWLING

Born: on May 16, 1824 in St. Augustine, Florida, United States
Died: on March 28, 1893 in Sewanee, Tennessee, United States


Biography

Smith was a career United States Army officer who fought in the Mexican–American War. He later joined the Confederate States Army in the Civil War, and was promoted to general in the first months of the war. He was notable for his command of the Trans-Mississippi Department after the fall of Vicksburg to the United States

Smith was wounded at First Bull Run and distinguished himself during the Heartland Offensive, the Confederacy's unsuccessful attempt to capture Kentucky in 1862. He was appointed as commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department in January 1863. The area included most actions east of the Rocky Mountains and west of the Mississippi River. In 1863, Smith dispatched troops in an unsuccessful attempt to relieve the Siege of Vicksburg. After Vicksburg was captured by the Union in July, the isolated Trans-Mississippi zone was cut off from the rest of the Confederacy, and became virtually an independent nation, nicknamed 'Kirby Smithdom'. In the Red River Campaign of Spring 1864, he commanded victorious Confederate troops under General Richard Taylor, who defeated a combined Union army/navy assault under Nathaniel P. Banks.

On June 2, 1865, Smith surrendered his army at Galveston, Texas, the last general with a major field force. He quickly escaped to Mexico and then to Cuba to avoid arrest for treason. His wife negotiated his return during the period when the federal government offered amnesty to those who would take an oath of loyalty. After the war, Smith worked in the telegraph and railway industries. He also served as a college professor of mathematics at the University of the South in Tennessee. He botanized plant specimens and bequeathed his collection to the University of Florida.

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