Edmund Kirby Smith "Commander West Of The Mississippi" May 16, 1824 - March 28, 1893
West Pointer Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith was briefly taken out of service to the Confederacy after receiving a bullet in the chest at the 1st Battle of Bull Run. Heralded as a hero and promoted to major general, Kirby Smith was not enthusiastic about his new assignment to a small western department that offered little chance for glory. Though presumably defending Chattanooga with Gen. Braxton Bragg during the summer of 1862, the 38 year old Kirby Smith had made his own plans to invade Kentucky.
In his rout of Union troops in Richmond, KY, on August 30, 1862, Kirby Smith captured 4,000 soldiers, 10,000 arms, and a wagon train of much-needed supplies. His forces then moved freely to Lexington and Frankfort. As a result of his success in Kentucky, he was made a lieutenant general and in February 1863 given command of the Trans-Mississippi Department.
As the ranking Confederate officer west of the Mississippi, Kirby Smith had many responsibilities, especially once he was cut off from the rest of the Confederacy when the Mississippi River became controlled by the Union. He had to deal with impressment of supplies and with keeping the blockade-running route to Mexico open. He also kept western Louisiana and Texas in Confederate hands through well-planned defensive campaigns. In the spring of 1864 troops in Kirby Smith's command defeated Gen. Nathaniel Banks's Red River campaign in Louisiana and Gen. Frederick Steele's Camden expedition in Arkansas. He was rewarded with a full generalship. On May 26, 1865, Kirby Smith surrendered his troops, the last major Rebel army to surrender.
Kirby Smith fled to Mexico and Cuba, but returned to the United States to become president of a telegraph company, then president of the Western Military Academy in Nashville, TN. He served as chancellor of the University of Nashville from 1870 to 1875 and then taught mathematics at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, until he died on March 28, 1893.
Fascinating Fact: In 1863, while serving the Confederacy west of the Mississippi in the territory known as "Kirby Smithdom", Kirby Smith considered resigning and entering the ministry.
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