Monday, May 16, 2016

General C. F. Smith at Gettysburg

Maj. Gen. C. F. Smith
Major General Charles F. Smith did not fight at the Battle of Gettysburg. His name does not appear in the many books on the battle and national park. No monument commemorates his contribution to the Union victory. However, acknowledged or not, General Smith was there.

The Battle of Gettysburg

One hundred and twenty-one general officers fought at Gettysburg. Sixty-eight commanded Union units and fifty-three led Confederate troops. Of the 121 generals, sixty-two or fifty-one percent received their commissions at the US Military Academy at West Point, NY.

Artillery Practice at West Point
C. F. Smith served as an assistant tactical instructor (June 25, 1829-September 1, 1831), adjutant (September 1, 1831-April 1, 1838), and Commandant of Cadets (April 1, 1838-September 1, 1842) at the Academy. He was tactics instructor, drill master, and role model for many of the young men who led the northern and southern armies in the Civil War. Of the sixty-two West Point graduates at Gettysburg, Smith taught twenty-nine during his thirteen year tenure at the Academy. That's forty-seven percent of the West Pointers and twenty-four percent of the total. An additional seven officers served under General Smith in the Utah War where he conducted instruction in Tactics. This brings the total to thirty-six men or fifty-eight percent of the West Pointers who Smith helped become future generals.

Maj Gen. John Reynolds
Lt. Gen. James Longstreet
Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock
Ten of the fourteen union major generals were West Point graduates. General Smith taught nine of the ten offices as cadets at the Academy. On the Confederate side, fourteen of the fifteen officers who were major generals or higher were West Pointers. Smith taught six of them at West Point and two of them during the Utah War. Eighty-three percent of the officers at Gettysburg who were major generals or higher were former cadets at the Military Academy and C. F. Smith taught seventy-one percent of these.

Major General Charles F. Smith did not fight at the Battle of Gettysburg, but his former students earned a place of honor on that sacred ground.

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