Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 12.djvu/482

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472 Southern Historical Society Papers.

by letter from Mr. James Smith, written from Glasgow, Scotland, to be present at this time and "perform the ceremony of unveiling the monument" erected by him "in memory of the sacrifice of the Tenth Mississippi Regiment, commanded by Colonel Robert A. Smith," and " to deliver an address " commemorative of the life and character of his deceased chivalric brother, and of the deeds of his heroic comrades now sought to be perpetuated. I attribute the par- tiality of my selection for the trust my friend from Scotland has con- fided to me, to the fact that he knew me to have been not only an officer under his brother, but a constant friend of that brother, and present in the engagement here September 14, 1862, when that gal- lant soldier fell. It is at this time meet that we take a retrospect, limited by the proprieties of the occasion, of what transpired here twenty-two years ago, and the prominent figure to whom our thoughts now revert.

Colonel Robert Alexander Smith was born on the 5th day of April, 1836, in Edinburg, Scotland. He was the youngest of five sons and five daughters of James and Annie Smith, of that city. The father, a Paisley manufacturer in early life, and later a wholesale druggist, still lives in his hale and hearty old age of ninety-three, at Spencer villa, 66 Brixton road, London, Southwest. At the age of fourteen Robert came to this country and settled in Jackson, Miss., where his eldest brother, our host, and a widowed sister had preceded him. Entering the business house of his brother, the youth soon won the elder's confidence, and by habits of sobriety, integrity and industry, together with the highest order of intelligent adaptability to the inte- rests of the firm, he was at a comparatively early age placed in sole charge of the prosperous business. That brother writes from Glas- gow : " In 1855, young as he then was, I parted with my business in Jackson to him, while I removed thence to live here. I visited Jack- son again in 1859, and did not see him more, but the record was al- ways good, unselfish devotion to duty and unflinching attachment to his command and the care of it."

The breaking out of the civil war — the war between the States — found him at the head of this business house — a law-abiding, indus- trious, firm and intelligent citizen of his adopted State, by principle a Southerner and by inheritance a Christian. Born in a land of heroes, his was a nature suited for the stirring events which were to follow. With a fondness for military life, and long before he could have ex- pected to be called to the battlefield, he exhibited evidences of the coming soldier. Entering the ranks of the Mississippi Rifles in the