William “Baldy” Smith

Engineer, Critic and Union Major General in the Civil War


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About the Book

Lauded for gallantry at Antietam and demoted for insubordination after Fredericksburg, Major General William “Baldy” Smith remains a controversial figure of the Civil War. His criticism of the Union high command made him unpopular with both peers and superiors. Yet his insight as an officer and an engineer enabled him to offer effective solutions to challenges faced by fellow generals. In this first comprehensive biography, Smith emerges as a field commander with deep concern for his men and a fearless critic of the failures of the Union generalship, who was recognized for a strategic perspective that helped save Federal armies.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Nicholas Siciliano teaches American Civil War history and serves as the vice president for educational services at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, Michigan.

Bibliographic Details

Stephen Nicholas Siciliano
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 261
Bibliographic Info: 22 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8613-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4644-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface 1
Introduction 3
Chapter I. From Saint Albans to Atlantic Coast Lighthouses: The Making of an Engineer 9
Chapter II. Smith Prepares for War: The Making of a Brigade Commander 24
Chapter III. Smith Readies His Division: Drills, Reconnaissances, and Army Politics 33
Chapter IV. Tactical Insight Frustrated: Smith’s Division Moves Up the Peninsula 40
Chapter V. Shielding the Retreat: Smith’s Division from the Seven Days to Harrison’s Landing 58
Chapter VI. Smith in the Maryland Campaign: Hard Fighting, Insights Frustrated Again, and McClellan’s Departure 68
Chapter VII. Smith’s Corps Command During the Fredericksburg Campaign: The Trials of a Democratic General 78
Chapter VIII. Smith’s Command in the Gettysburg Campaign: Ancillary Military Efforts and Continued Political Trials 97
Chapter IX. Smith Secures the Army in Chattanooga: An Engineer of Victory 107
Chapter X. Smith’s Continued Success at Chattanooga: And His Triumphant Return East 118
Chapter XI. Smith in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign: A Critic of Defeat 129
Chapter XII. The Critic of Defeat in the Overland Campaign: The Battle of Cold Harbor 148
Chapter XIII. Smith Before Petersburg: The Last Campaign 165
Chapter XIV. The Critic of Defeat Is Removed 181
Chapter XV. The Conclusion of Smith’s Army Service 193
Chapter XVI. Smith’s Postwar Civilian Life 202
Chapter Notes 215
Bibliography 241
Index 247

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “A detailed story, and one of an often over-looked or mischaracterized Civil War general”—Jennifer M. Murray, teaching associate professor, Oklahoma State University