06080 - Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith; Trans-Mississippi Department, C.S.A. [LC-DIG-cwpb-06080]
Like many of his contemporaries Edmund Kirby Smith was a graduate of West Point and gained field experience during the Mexican American War. By the start of the Civil War he had just been promoted to Major and resigned a few months later to join the Confederacy. Initially a Confederate Lieutenant Colonel he was promoted to Brigadier General by June of 1861.
After being wounded at First Bull Run (First Manassas) he was promoted to Major General on October 11th. Taking command of the Army of East Tennessee he was promoted to Lieutenant General one year later in October of 1862. At the start of 1863 he took command of the Trans-Mississippi Department which gave him responsibility for Arkansas, Western Louisiana and all of Texas. With the Capture of Vicksburg and Port Hudson by Union forces the Confederacy was split in two. Smith became in effect governor of the western Confederacy. With only 30,000 men under his command he successfully defended “Kirby-Smithdom” from several Union attacks.
Promoted to full General in 1864 he managed to hang on longer than Lee and did not surrender his forces till May 26, 1865. To avoid personal capture he escaped to Mexico and then headed to Cuba. By November though he was back in Virginia and had taken an amnesty oath. Following an unsuccessful business venture after the war he moved into education. He had taught at West Point prior to the war and now became the president of the University of Nashville and then five years later left to become a mathematics professor at the University of the South. He remained there until his death in 1893 becoming the last surviving full general of the war.