• Civil War: Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith Attempts to Correct Misunderstanding; Concerned about Fighting in Virginia

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    EDMUND KIRBY SMITH (1824-1893) was a career U.S. Army officer who fought in the Mexican War under Gen. Zachary Taylor and taught mathematics at West Point. He spent most of his life in the South and was in command of Camp Colorado in Texas when the state seceded, and he refused to surrender it to federal forces. Smith also commanded the Army of East Tennessee and participated in the invasion of Kentucky, earning a promotion to lieutenant general. From 1863 until the end of the war, he commanded the Trans-Mississippi Department. He rose to full general. His tenure was plagued by feuds with subordinates, such as Richard Taylor.


    J. GEORGE WALKER (1822-1893) was a Missourian who volunteered for the Mexican War and rose to the rank of captain. He joined the Confederate Army as a lieutenant colonel of the 8th Texas Cavalry early in the Civil War.  He earned a steady promotion in the Army of Northern Virginia and, by November 1862, after a fine performance at Antietam, was made a major general. He was then reassigned to the Trans-Mississippi, with command of the Texas Division, which soon became known as “Walker’s Greyhounds.” When Richard Taylor was promoted to department command east of the Mississippi, Walker commanded the Department of West Louisiana, still under E. Kirby Smith.


    We’re pleased to offer this significant 2 pp, 7 ½ x 9 ½, ALS, by Smith to Walker, Shreveport, [La], May 20, 1864 in which Smith writes near the close of the Red River Campaign, a Confederate victory, concerning a misunderstanding over a statement he was said to have made concerning Walker’s performance during the Vicksburg Campaign of 1863. In actuality, it had been Richard Taylor, who had criticized Walker after the Battle of Milliken’s Bend, fought on June 7, 1863.  Smith attempts to smooth over the controversy and  also reveals his concern over the first reports of the Battle of Spotsylvania.


    “My dear General,


    “On my return to Shreveport, I examined the books to find if anything in my correspond[ence] with the War Dept. could be construed into a reflection upon your course whilst operating on the River opposite Vicksburg. The enclosed [not present] is a copy of my only letter on the subject. This you see could not have induced the remark, which in fact I believe was never made but that there is some misunderstanding on the subject.  I will take advantage of the first opportunity for correcting any impression that may have been made upon the president’s mind to your prejudice.


    “My anxiety is intense, as each paper brings intelligence of the protracted and desperate fighting in Richmond. I do not doubt the result but so much hangs upon the fate of that army that all other interests are absorbed in expectation of the result.  Eight days they fought on the 11th and 12th at Spotsylvania C.H.  The Battle was general.  Sedgwick was killed.  On the 13th Lee was four miles behind Spotsylvania C.H. falling back for provision. This is from the Federal papers. They claim victory.


    “Present my regards to Mrs. W – and remember me to Friends & the Members of your staff.


    “Your friend


    “E. Kirby Smith


    “Maj. Gen. Geo Walker”


    Wonderful piece of Confederate history, written by a renowned general.


    Folds. Lightly toned. Some text show through. A couple of ink burns, affecting a few letters.


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