Green Clay Smith

Green Clay Smith, whose uncle was General Cassius M. Clay, was born July 4, 1826, in Richmond, Kentucky. Before serving a year during the Mexican War as a second lieutenant of infantry, he entered Transylvania University from which he was graduated at the age of eighteen. Three years later he took his degree from the Lexington Law School and commenced practice with his father, a prominent Kentucky politician and member of Congress. Young Smith moved to Covington in 1858 and in 1860 was a member of the legislature and a staunch supporter of the Union. He is said to have enlisted in the army as a private, but in any case was made colonel of the 4th Kentucky (Union) Cavalry on March 15, 1862, and brigadier general of volunteers to rank from June 11. On May 5, 1862, his regiment and two others under the command of General Ebenezer Dumont took part in the rout of the celebrated Confederate John Hunt Morgan at Lebanon, Tennessee. Later, he was not as successful in resisting the incursions of the dauntless raider, moving his superior General Jeremiah T. Boyle at one point to query Don Carlos Buell, "Don't you want General G. Clay Smith?" Smith was elected to Congress in the fall of 1862 and resigned his army commission on December 4, 1863. He was a congressman until 1866, when he resigned to accept the post of territorial governor of Montana. Meantime he had been brevetted major general of volunteers "for meritorious service during the war." A few years later he entered the ministry, was ordained in 1869, and the same year became pastor of the Baptist church in Frankfort, Kentucky. The Reverend Smith was of an evangelical bent and many of the succeeding years of his life were devoted to this cause. An ardent temperance advocate, he was the candidate of the National Prohibition party in 1876, attracting 9,522 votes in the presidential election of that year. From 1890 until his death on June 29, 1895, he was pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church of Washington, D. C. His death occurred in Washington, and he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.