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"The Decision to Attach William F. Smith to the Army ..." Topic

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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2018 3:33 p.m. PST

….of the James.

"Major General William Farrar Smith is one of the Civil War's most controversial commanders. He was twice removed from command. He was once considered for an army command. He was one of the few men to befriend Ulysses Grant and lose Grant's full confidence. That loss started the moment Grant posted Smith to command of XVIII Corps.

Smith was known throughout the army as "Baldy" to distinguish him from the eleven other generals with his surname. Smith ran a relaxed headquarters, serving champagne and fine food. He was popular with his subordinates but hypercritical of his superiors. He was a schemer who undermined his superiors. He was also given to bouts of poor health due to his previous exposure to malaria…"
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Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2018 3:49 p.m. PST

Good grief! This must be a record for duplicate posts of the same thread starter -- 13!!


Personal logo Florida Tory Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2018 4:03 p.m. PST

I thought exactly the same thing when I started reading the thread, too.


67thtigers05 Jan 2018 4:07 p.m. PST

Smith was always a problem case. He failed to cross the Warwick on 5th April, delaying McClellan for a month. He had a psychotic break during the seven days and was responsible for McClellan having to retreat to Harrisons*. He was ultimately responsible for the failure of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign.

* This is a research area of mine, see two blog posts:



Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2018 4:26 p.m. PST

Wow!… I was not aware of that!… a BUG JOB RECORD !!!!!!!!!….


lloydthegamer Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2018 5:48 p.m. PST

67th, I'll have to read your articles since I always thought McClellan needed no help being slow or retreating! :)

donlowry06 Jan 2018 9:39 a.m. PST

Smith was known throughout the army as "Baldy" to distinguish him from the eleven other generals with his surname.

IIRC, the nickname goes back to his West Point days, at which time he evidently had a bald spot. But by the time he was a general he, as he complained, had more hair than many of the men who called him "Baldy."

Grant was very impressed with him at Chattanooga, where he was the chief engineer of the Army of the Cumberland. He not only planned and supervised the scheme to shorten that army's supply line (the famous "Cracker Line") but also devised the plan that ultimately won the battle of Chattanooga. Consequently, Grant put him at the top of his recommendations for promotion.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2018 11:06 a.m. PST

But he ended bad… (smile)


donlowry07 Jan 2018 10:23 a.m. PST

Yes. While a good engineer and planner, he didn't have what it takes to be a good battlefield commander. He turned cautious just when he needed to be bold.

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