Thomas Church Haskell Smith

Thomas Church Haskell Smith was born March 24, 1819, in Acushnet, Massachusetts. He was graduated from Harvard in 1841, ranking second in his class. He then went west to Marietta, Ohio, where he commenced a study of law which he completed back in Cambridge. He then practiced in Cincinnati until 1848 when he embarked upon the construction of telegraph lines linking North and South. In 1851 he returned to Cincinnati. A Douglas Democrat of strong convictions prior to the outbreak of war, Smith boldly went all out for the Union cause and on September 5, 1861, was made lieutenant colonel of the 1st Ohio Cavalry. During the advance upon Corinth following the battle of Shiloh, Smith be-came attached to the headquarters of John Pope, who appointed him his aide-de-camp in July, 1862, and took him east when he was summoned to head the Army of Virginia. Smith's testimony against Fitz John Porter during the latter's court-martial upon charges preferred by Pope's inspector general (B. S. Roberts) after the fiasco at Second Manassas was not only highly damaging to Porter but also imaginative, visionary, and adhering more rigidly to prejudice than fact, as was brought out seventeen years later when Porter was exonerated. Nevertheless Smith was rewarded by the War Department for his zeal by promotion to the grade of brigadier general on March 16, 1863, and accompanied Pope to Minnesota. Smith commanded the District of Wisconsin that year and at war's end accompanied Pope to the Department of Missouri when the latter took over that command. Smith was mustered out of service in 1866 and began raising livestock in southwest Missouri. The Chicago Fire of 1871, however, destroyed his sources of independent income and he was compelled to accept government service, first in the Treasury Department, and subsequently (1878) as paymaster with rank of major in the Regular Army. He was retired for age in 1883; thereafter, he made his home in the Ojai Valley of southern California. He died April 8, 1897, at Nordhoff (now Ojai), California, and was buried in Santa Barbara Cemetery. Smith was a controversial figure who to the end of his days, despite all evidence to the contrary, insisted that Pope was a military genius, brought to ruin by the jealousy of George B. McClellan's supporters, chief of whom was, of course, Porter.

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