Thomas Alfred Smyth

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Thomas Alfred Smyth
Thomas Alfred Smyth.JPG
Thomas Alfred Smyth during the American Civil War
Born (1832-12-25)December 25, 1832
County Cork, Ireland
Died April 9, 1865(1865-04-09) (aged 32)
Farmville, Virginia
Place of burial Brandywine Cemetery Wilmington, Delaware
Allegiance United States of America
Union
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1861–65
Rank Union army maj gen rank insignia.jpg Major General
Commands held 1st Delaware Regiment
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, II Corps
2nd Brigade, 1st Division, II Corps
3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, II Corps
2nd Division, II Corps
Irish Brigade
Gibraltar Brigade
Battles/wars American Civil War
- Battle of Fredericksburg
- Battle of Chancellorsville
- Battle of Gettysburg
- Siege of Petersburg

Thomas Alfred Smyth (December 25, 1832 – April 9, 1865) was a major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He was the last Union general killed in the war.

Early life[edit]

Smyth was born in Ballyhooly in Cork County, Ireland, and worked on his father's farm as a youth. He emigrated to the United States in 1854, settling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He participated in William Walker's expedition to Nicaragua. Smyth was employed as a wood carver and coach & carriage maker.[1] In 1858, he moved to Wilmington, Delaware.

Civil War service[edit]

He enlisted in 1861 in the Union army in an Irish-American three-months regiment, the 24th Pennsylvania, and quickly made a captain. He was later commissioned as major of the 1st Delaware Infantry, a three-years regiment. He served at the battles of Fredericksburg (following which he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and then to colonel) and Chancellorsville. During the Gettysburg Campaign, he commanded the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division of the II Corps. During the Battle of Gettysburg, his men helped defend Cemetery Ridge and advanced to the area of the Bliss farm to oust enemy sharpshooters. Smyth was wounded on the third day of the battle and relinquished command briefly.[1]

Smyth retained brigade command during the reorganization of II Corps before Grant's Overland Campaign. He led the second brigade of the first division from March 25 to May 17, 1864. When Col Samuel S. Carroll was wounded, Smyth was transferred to his command, the third brigade of second division, the Gibraltar Brigade. In October 1864, Smyth was promoted to brigadier general during the Siege of Petersburg. He retained his brigade throughout the siege.

Early in the Appomattox Campaign, Smyth commanded the 2nd division of the corps until Francis C. Barlow was assigned to lead it. In April 1865 at Farmville, Virginia, Smyth was shot through the mouth by a sniper, with the bullet shattering his cervical vertebra and paralyzing him. Smyth died two days later at Burke's Tavern, concurrent with the surrender of Robert E. Lee and his army at Appomattox Court House.[2]

He was promoted posthumously to brevet major general. Smyth was the last Union general killed or mortally wounded during the war, and is buried in Brandywine Cemetery in Wilmington, Delaware.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Eicher, p. 500
  2. ^ Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission staff (June 1975). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Burke's Tavern". Virginia Department of Historic Resources.