Edmund Kirby Smith - Facts

May 16, 1824 - March 28, 1893

Key facts about Kirby Smith, the last of the Confederacy's seven full general's to pass away after the American Civil War.

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Full Name:

  • Edmund Kirby Smith

Birth Date:

  • May 16, 1824

Birth Location:

  • St. Augustine, Florida

Parents:

  • Joseph Lee Smith and Frances (Kirby) Smith

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1845)

Occupation:

  • Military officer
  • Business executive
  • Educator

Career Summary:

  • Major (USA)
  • General (CSA)
  • President of the Accident Insurance Company
  • President of the Pacific and Atlantic Telegraph Company
  • Co-chancellor of the University of Nashville
  • Professor of mathematics at the University of the South

Spouse:

  • Cassie Seldon (1861)

Nickname(s):

  • Seminole

Place of Death:

  • Sewanee, Tennessee

Date of Death:

  • March 28, 1893

Place of Burial:

  • Sewanee, Tennessee, on the campus of the University of the South

Significance:

  • Kirby Smith was the third child and second son of Connecticut natives Joseph Lee Smith and Frances (Kirby) Smith.
  • Kirby Smith’s grandfather, Ephraim Kirby, served as an officer in George Washington’s army during the American Revolution.
  • Kirby Smith’s father, Joseph Lee Smith served as a lieutenant colonel in the War of 1812, and a U.S. district judge in Florida.
  • In 1836, Kirby Smith’s parents sent him to Hollowell’s preparatory school in Alexandria, Virginia.
  • In 1841, Kirby Smith received an appointment to the United States Military Academy.
  • While attending the United States Military Academy, Kirby Smith acquired the nickname “Seminole” due to his native state.
  • Kirby Smith graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1845, twenty-fifth in his class.
  • Kirby Smith’s older brother, Ephraim graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1826.
  • Kirby Smith entered the U.S. Army as a brevet second lieutenant in the 5th Infantry on July 1, 1845.
  • Kirby Smith saw extensive action in the Mexican-American War.
  • Kirby Smith was promoted to second lieutenant in the Seventh Infantry on August 22, 1846.
  • Kirby Smith received a brevet promotion to first lieutenant for “gallant and meritorious conduct” in the battle of Cerro Gordo on April 18, 1847.
  • Kirby Smith received a brevet promotion to captain for his service at the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, on August 20, 1847.
  • Kirby Smith’s older brother, Ephraim was killed during the Mexican-American War at the Battle of Molino del Rey (September 8, 1847).
  • Kirby Smith was an assistant professor of mathematics at the United States Military Academy from 1849 to 1852.
  • Kirby Smith was promoted to first lieutenant On March 9, 1851.
  • Kirby Smith was promoted to captain and assigned to the 2nd U.S. Cavalry on March 3, 1855.
  • Kirby Smith was wounded while fighting Comanche Indians in the Nescutunga Valley of Texas in 1859.
  • On January 31, 1861, Smith was promoted to major and placed in command of Camp Colorado in Texas.
  • When the American Civil War began, Kirby Smith refused to surrender Camp Colorado to Colonel Henry E. McCulloch’s Texas Militia forces.
  • Kirby Smith resigned from the U.S. Army on April 6, 1861.
  • Kirby Smith entered the Confederate Army as a lieutenant colonel and served as General Joseph Johnston’s chief of staff at Harpers Ferry, Virginia during the organization of Confederate troops in the Shenandoah Valley.
  • On June 17, 1861, Smith was promoted to brigadier general and placed in command of the 4th brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah.
  • Kirby Smith was seriously wounded in the neck and shoulder during the First Battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861).
  • Kirby Smith married Cassie Seldon on September 21, 1861. During their thirty-two year marriage, the couple produced five sons and six daughters.
  • Kirby Smith he was promoted to major general, on October 11, 1861, and assigned to he command the District of East Tennessee.
  • During General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Heartland Campaign, Kirby Smith commanded the Confederate victory at the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky (August 30, 1862).
  • During General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Heartland Campaign, Kirby Smith occupied Lexington, Kentucky unopposed on September 2, 1862.
  • Confederate officials promoted Kirby Smith to the rank of lieutenant general on October 9, 1862.
  • On March 7, 1863, Confederate Officials placed Kirby Smith in command of the Trans-Mississippi Department, which included Arkansas, Texas, and western Louisiana.
  • Kirby Smith’s Trans-Mississippi Department was also known as Trans-Mississippi Department “Kirby Smithdom” because of Smith’s near autonomy in the area.
  • On February 19, 1864, the Confederate government promoted Kirby Smith to the rank of full general.
  • Kirby Smith repulsed Union General Nathaniel Banks’s Red River Campaign in early 1864.
  • Kirby Smith repulsed Union Major General Frederick Steele’s Camden Expedition into Arkansas in early 1864.
  • In August 1964, Kirby Smith sent Major General Sterling Price and 12,000 soldiers designated as the Army of Missouri on an ill-advised and disastrous raid into Missouri.
  • At the conclusion of the Civil War, Kirby Smith surrendered his command to General Edward R. S. Canby at Baton Rouge, Louisiana on May 26, 1865.
  • Kirby Smith’s command was the last major Confederate force to concede at the end of the Civil War.
  • At the conclusion of the Civil War, Kirby Smith traveled to Galveston, Texas and then fled to Mexico and Cuba to avoid being prosecuted for treason.
  • Kirby Smith signed an oath of amnesty on November 14, 1865.
  • Kirby Smith served briefly as president of the Accident Insurance Company in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1866.
  • Kirby Smith served as president of the Pacific and Atlantic Telegraph Company from 1866 to 1868.
  • In 1868, Kirby Smith founded a school in New Castle, Kentucky, but it burned the following year.
  • In 1870 Kirby Smith and fellow Confederate General Bushrod Johnson were named co-chancellors of the University of Nashville. Smith and Johnson also managed the Montgomery Bell Academy preparatory school for boys.
  • In 1875, Kirby Smith was named professor of mathematics at the University of the South at Sewanee, in Tennessee. He remained on the faculty there for the rest of his life.
  • Kirby Smith died in Sewanee, Tennessee on March 28, 1893.
  • Kirby Smith was buried at Sewanee, Tennessee, on the campus of the University of the South.
  • Smith was the Confederacy’s last full general to die.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Edmund Kirby Smith - Facts
  • Coverage May 16, 1824 - March 28, 1893
  • Author
  • Keywords Edmund Kirby Smith
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date December 4, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021

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