• Battle of Richmond's Colonel Preston Smith

    Smith (no relation to Edmund Kirby Smith) was born December 25, 1823, in Giles County, Tennessee. He was the son of Drury and Lucinda Smith.

    He attended schools locally and enrolled in Jackson College in Columbia, Tennessee. He studied law and was admitted to the bar. He opened his law practice in Waynesboro, Tennessee. He eventually re-located to Memphis, where he was rather successful.

    At the outbreak of the Civil War, Smith was commissioned colonel of the 154th Tennessee militia regiment, which was mustered into Confederate service under its old state designation.

    He received a severe wound to his right shoulder at the Battle of Shiloh in western Tennessee in April 1862, rendering it temporarily useless.

    Smith recovered in time to participate in the advance into Kentucky in the late summer of 1862, being attached to Edmund Kirby Smith’s Provisional Army of Kentucky’s 4th Division under Patrick Cleburne.

    At the Battle of Richmond, Smith assumed command of the 4th Division when Patrick Cleburne was wounded. He was able to continue Cleburne’s battle plans and outflanked the Federals on the Federal left during the battle for Mt. Zion Church. His units were not engaged during the Battle of White’s Farm, but again attacked the Federal center and left at the Richmond Cemetery late in the day.

    His units saw limited action at the Battle of Perryville in early October 1862. Smith was promoted to Brigadier General on October 27, 1862. Smith commanded mostly Tennessee troops under B. F. Cheatham during the Murfreesboro/Stones River & Chickamauga campaigns.

    At Chickamauga, just after dark on September 19, 1863, Smith and one of his most trusted aides, Captain Thomas King, rode in the front of what they thought were Confederate infantry, but turned out to the remnants of the 77th Pennsylvania infantry. Recognizing Smith and King as Confederate officers, the Pennsylvania troops fired a volley into them, killing King outright and mortally wounding Smith. Smith died within an hour. He was one of three Confederate generals killed at Chickamauga. His death was lamented by his commanders.

    Smith was initially buried in Atlanta, but was reinterred in Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis in 1868.

    Smith married Mary Amanda Crofford in 1846, and they had two children, Callie Smith Sykes (1849-1932) and Preston C. Smith (1851-1907).


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