Thomas Benton Smith

Headstone: Find-a-Grave

Thomas Benton Smith was born at Mechanicsville, Tennessee, February 24, 1838. After securing his early education in the schools of the neighborhood, he attended Nashville Military Institute for four years. There seems to be no basis for the statement that he subsequently attended West Point for a year. He worked in the shops of the Nashville & Decatur Railroad for a time. At the beginning of the war he was elected 2nd lieutenant of Company B, 20th Tennessee. He took part in the battles of Mill Springs and Shiloh, and was elected colonel of the regiment upon its reorganization in May 1862. Severely wounded at Murfreesboro, he fought at Baton Rouge, Chickamauga, and throughout the Atlanta campaign. He was promoted to brigadier general from July 29, 1864. During the battle of Nashville, General Smith and most of his command were captured. While being conducted to the rear, an unarmed prisoner of war, he was wantonly and repeatedly struck over the head with a sword by Colonel William Linn McMillen of the 95th Ohio Infantry. General Smith was taken to a Federal field hospital, where it was found that his brain was exposed, and his death was anticipated momentarily. However, he recovered temporarily, only to spend the last forty-seven years of his life in the state asylum at Nashville. After working as a brakeman and conductor for various railroads, and running unsuccessfully for Congress in 1870, he was admitted to the hospital in 1876, dying there at the age of eighty-five on May 21, 1923. He is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.

Ref: Generals in Gray, Lives of the Confederate Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Printed by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London.

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