John E. Smith

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John Eugene Smith
John E Smith.jpg
John E. Smith
Born(1816-08-03)August 3, 1816
Bern, Switzerland
DiedJanuary 29, 1897(1897-01-29) (aged 80)
Chicago, Illinois
Place of burial
AllegianceSwitzerland (formerly)
United States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army
Union Army
Years of service1861 - 1881
RankUnion Army brigadier general rank insignia.svg Brigadier General
Union Army major general rank insignia.svg Brevet Major General
Commands held45th Illinois Volunteer Infantry
27th Infantry Regiment
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War
Other workjeweler, goldsmith

John Eugene Smith (1816-1897) was a Swiss immigrant to the United States, who served as a Union general during the American Civil War.

Early life[edit]

Smith was born in Bern, Switzerland, in 1816. His father had served under Napoleon Bonaparte and emigrated with his family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after the emperor's downfall.[1] In Philadelphia, Smith was educated to be a jeweler and 20 years later settled in Galena, Illinois, where he practiced his jewelry trade.[2] Smith was one of nine residents of Galena who would eventually become generals fighting for the Union during the Civil War. The other eight were: Augustus L. Chetlain, John O. Duer, Ulysses S. Grant, Jasper A. Maltby, Ely S. Parker, John A. Rawlins, William R. Rowley and John Corson Smith.

Civil War[edit]

When the Civil War began in 1861, Smith served as an aide de camp to Illinois Governor Richard Yates. On December 26, 1861 he was appointed colonel of the 45th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, with the rank backdated to July 23, 1861 to replace the previous Colonel who resigned his state Commission when the regiment entered Federal service.[3] He led his regiment at the battles of Fort Henry, Fort Donelson and Shiloh. On November 29, 1862 he was promoted to brigadier general of U.S. Volunteers.[4] He briefly commanded a brigade before taking command of the 8th Division, XVI Corps. When Ulysses S. Grant began his final campaign against Vicksburg, Smith was placed in command of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, XVII Corps. He fought at the battles of Port Gibson, Raymond, Champion Hill and in the assaults on Vicksburg. In June, 1863 in the midst of the siege of Vicksburg, Smith was chosen to replace Gen. Isaac F. Quinby in command of the 7th Division, XVII Corps after Quinby became ill and took a leave of absence. In September, 1863 Smith was transferred to command the 2nd Division, XVII Corps and his division was sent with William T. Sherman to aid in the relief of Chattanooga. During the battle of Missionary Ridge, Smith took part in the attacks against the Confederate right flank at Tunnel Hill.

In December, 1863 Smith took command of the 3rd Division, XV Corps which he would command until the end of the war.[4] He saw action during the Atlanta Campaign, March to the Sea and the Carolinas Campaign.

Later life[edit]

In 1866 General Smith was mustered out of the volunteer service, but chose to stay in the regular army. He was appointed colonel of the 27th U.S. Infantry Regiment. He received a promotion to brigadier general in 1867 and a brevet promotion to major general in 1869.[4] He retired from the army in 1881.

Smith resided in Chicago, Illinois during his final years of life and died there on January 29, 1897. He is buried in Galena.[2]

See also[edit]


  • Eicher, John H., & Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Korn, Jerry, The Fight For Chattanooga: Chickamauga to Missionary Ridge, Time-Life Books, 1985
  1. ^ Virtualogy: John Eugene Smith
  2. ^ a b Galena' Nine Civil War Generals Archived 2009-01-01 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Report of the Adjutant-General of Illinois for the years 1861-1866, vol. 1, 704. Online at;view=1up;seq=704
  4. ^ a b c Eicher p.497