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436   Gustavus W. Smith  $200 $220 $242 2 You must login to place a bid.

#436 - Gustavus W. Smith

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“His death from wounds received when Wilmington fell, was deeply lamented by all Federal as well as Confederate officers who knew him”

Confederate general from Kentucky (1821–1896) who took command of the Army of Northern Virginia for one day in 1862 before being replaced by Robert E. Lee. TLS, ten pages, 8 x 13, April 26, 1895. Letter to C. B. Denson defending the military services of William H. C. Whiting at the Battle of Seven Pines, in part: “On the 30th of May, 9.15 p.m., General Johnston sent direct to General Whiting an order preparatory for battle: and at the same time sent the order to me: ‘If nothing prevents, we will fall upon the enemy in front of Major-General D.H. Hill, who occupies the position on the Williamsburg road from which your troops moved to the neighborhood of Meadow Bridges.’ ‘Please be ready to move by the Nine-miles road, coming as early as possible to the point at which the road to New Bridge turns off. Should there be cause of haste, General McLaws, on your approach, will be ordered to leave his ground for you, that he may reinforce General Longstreet.’…[After a series of delays], movements of the division under Whiting were directed by General Johnston in person. He was with it the whole day until he was wounded a little before sunset. Whoever may be responsible for the most unfortunate delay on the part of the Confederates in attacking the Federal Corps, badly isolated at Seven Pines, on the morning of the 31st of May; no blame can fairly attach to General Whiting, or to the division he commanded.

Without entering upon a description of the battle of Seven Pines, it may be mentioned here, that, as second officer in rank in the Army of Northern Virginia, I took command, at dark, on the 31st of May; General Johnston having been, a short time before, removed from the field, very seriously wounded. About 2 p.m. on the 1st of June, by order of President Davis, I turned over the command, on the field, to General R.E. Lee. On the 2nd of June I was suddenly struck down by disease and was taken to Richmond.”

He continues with a lengthy quote from a letter by Whiting, describing the severely weakened state of his division, “constantly in contact with the enemy,” fighting two battles—York River and Seven Pines—and requesting relief, which was granted. Whiting went on to command two brigades in “Lee’s operations against McClellan in front of Richmond.” Smith then returned to duty, ended up in command of Whiting, and “urged and repeatedly insisted” that Whiting’ be promoted to Major-General. “The protracted and uncalled for delay, of President Davis, in promoting General Whiting to the rank of Major-General did gross injustice to one of the ablest and best officers of the Confederate States Army and was an injury to that service.”

After detailed praise of Whiting, Smith concludes: “His extraordinary skill as a military engineer was fully exemplified in the defensive works he planned and constructed for the defense of the approaches to Wilmington; and I am convinced that, in the final attack of the Federals upon that place. President Davis, by superseding General Whiting, at the eleventh hour, and depriving him of supreme control over the defenses he had created—made a sad mistake…His death from wounds received when Wilmington fell, was deeply lamented by all Federal as well as Confederate officers who knew him.” In fine condition. An incredible and detailed account of a heroic soldier’s career, with many notable references to some of the Confederacy’s biggest names. Pre-certified PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.

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