William Smith
Brigadier General

1797-1887

Monument: Find-a-Grave

Previous Page

Reference: Alabama Department of Archives & History. Custodian of the original pictures. Confederate Officers photo album.  http://www.archives.alabama.gov/conoffalb/index.html

William Smith was born at "Marengo" in King George County, Virginia, September 6, 1797. He received his early education in Virginia and Connecticut. He studied law and in 1818 began practice in Culpeper, Virginia. Nine years later he began a mail-coach service, and by 1834 was operating daily postal service from Washington, D. C. to Milledgeville, then the capital of Georgia. From the rapid expansion of this route and the resultant extra mail payments Smith derived his sobriquet, "Extra Billy." In the years between 1836 and the outbreak of the Civil War, Smith served five years in the Virginia senate, five terms in Congress, and one term as governor of his state. Becoming colonel of the 49th Virginia Infantry in 1861, he fought at First Manassas and was elected to the First Regular Confederate Congress. He attended sessions between campaigns, but ultimately resigned in 1863. Taking part in the Peninsular campaign, the Seven Days battles, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, and Gettysburg, he was five times wounded. He was promoted brigadier general from January 31, 1863, and major general from August 12. On the following January 1, General Smith was again inaugurated governor of Virginia, serving until the end of the war. The remainder of his life was spent in farming on his estate, "Monterosa," near Warrenton, where he died in his ninetieth year, May 18, 1887. At the age of eighty he was elected to the Virginia house of delegates and served from 1877 to 1879. Smith liked to indulge his well-known aversion to the "spit-and-polish" West Point tradition: he was seen at least once during a battle topping his uniform with a high-crowned beaver hat, and since the weather was inclement, carrying a blue cotton umbrella. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond.

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