BORN: 1824 in St. Albans, VT.
DIED: 1903 in Philadelphia, PA.
CAMPAIGNS: Peninsula, Antietam, Fredericksburg,
Cracker Line (Chattanooga), and Petersburg.
William Farrar Smith was born on February 17, 1824, in St. Albans, Vermont. Graduating from West Point in 1845, he was a topographical engineer in the years preceeding the Civil War. After the war began, he was appointed colonel of the 3d Vermont in July of 1861. Promoted to brigadier general as of August 13, 1861, he led troops in the Peninsula Campaign, at Antietam and at Fredericksburg. He publicly criticized Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside after Fredericksburg, and lost both his command and the confirmation of his promotion to major general. Smith became chief engineer of the Department of the Cumberland, and opened the Cracker Line, which supplied the U.S. Army at Chattanooga. This achievement won him the admiration of Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, support from whom helped bring Smith's career and reputation back to life. There were even rumors that Smith might be placed in command of the Army of the Potomac. Smith led a corps in the Army of the James at Petersburg, but failed to attack with enough force. This failure was compounded when Smith began quarreling with his superior, Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler. Grant eventually had to remove Smith from command on July 19, 1864, and Smith made reinstatement impossible by campaigning on his own behalf. He spent the rest of his life disputing his record in the Civil War, unwilling to recognize his own role in his downfall. Smith died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 28, 1903.