Smith, William Farrar, 1824-1903

Alternative names
Birth 1824-02-17
Death 1903-02-28

Biographical notes:

American army officers.

From the description of Letter signed for him by James J. Brady : New York, to Joseph Holt, 1865 Aug. 4. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270664862

Union army officer.

From the description of William Farrar Smith correspondence, 1863-1899. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70980495

William Farrar Smith, also known as Baldy Smith, was born in St. Albans, Vermont, February 17, 1824, the son of Ashbel and Sarah Butler Smith. He was educated locally until appointed to the Military Academy at West Point in 1841. He graduated in 1845 and was commissioned as brevet second lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical Engineers. He served in the Corps making surveys of the Great Lakes, Texas, Arizona, Mexico, and Florida. In 1856 he became involved in the light-house service, headquartered in Detroit, and eventually became Engineer Secretary of the Light-House Board. During his early career, Smith also taught mathematics at West Point.

In 1861 Smith was sent to Fortress Monroe as an engineer officer to do reconnaissance work around Yorktown and Big Bethel. He was then commissioned as Colonel of the Third Regiment of Vermont Volunteer Infantry. He was named Brigadier General in August of 1861 and almost immediately was given charge of the Second Division of the IV Corps, Army of the Potomac. In 1862 he commanded the Second Division, VI Corps, at Antietam. In October of 1863 Smith went to Chattanooga as chief engineer and by March 1864 was re-appointed major general. He was then assigned to the XVIII Corps under Benjamin Franklin Butler but was soon relieved of his command. In March of 1865 Smith was brevetted brigadier-general and major general for distinguished services at Chattanooga, and in the Virginia Campaign of 1864.

Smith resigned from the volunteers in 1865, and from the regular army in 1867. His publications include: "Military Operations Around Chattanooga," (1886); articles for "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War" (four volumes, 1887-1888); "The Relief of the Army of the Cumberland" (1891); and "From Chattanooga to Petersburg," (1893).

From the description of William Farrar Smith papers, 1849-1903. (Vermont Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 36082339


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  • Governmental investigations
  • Governmental investigations--United States
  • Missionary Ridge, Battle of, Tenn., 1863
  • Military engineering
  • Chickamauga, Battle of, Ga., 1863


  • Army officers
  • Lawyers--New York (State)--New York
  • Soldiers--New York (State)--New York


  • Georgia (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Tennessee (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)