Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 24.djvu/47
Sketch of Lieut.-Colonel Francis W. Smith.
LIEUT.-COLONEL FRANCIS W. SMITH, C. S. A.
A Short Sketch of a Short Life.
Francis Williamson Smith, son of James Marsden and Anne Walke Smith, was born at Norfolk, Va., November I2th, 1838. His education was commenced at the time-honored Norfolk Academy and continued at the Virginia Military Institute, where he graduated with first honors before he was eighteen. He took the course at the University of Virginia, but was interrupted in the second year by a long and severe attack of typhoid fever, and completed his education at the Ecole des Ponts et Chausées at Paris. On his return home, while still in his minority, he was unanimously elected to the chair of chemistry and geology and commandant of cadets at the State Military Seminary of Louisiana. There he was a colleague and friend of General Sherman, and remained so until Virginia seceded from the Union, when he promptly resigned and tendered his services to his native State.
He was appointed captain in the provisional army of Virginia by Governor Letcher and immediately assigned to duty by General R. E. Lee, who took him on his personal staff as his military secretary. General Lee was at that time stationed in Richmond engaged in the work of organization. General Beauregard at Manassas made application for Captain Smith, as "likely to be more useful to him at the front." General Lee declined to make the exchange, but when it became known to Captain Smith, after the opportunity was passed and he ardently desired more active service, General Lee advanced him to the grade of major and assigned him to the 41st Regiment Virginia Volunteers. He was given the command of Sewell's Point, the advanced post of Norfolk.
Soon afterwards Major Smith married Miss Deans, daughter of Josiah Lilly Deans, esquire, of Gloucester county. From this marriage there were two children. The eldest, Francis Williamson, died before he completed his first year, and the second, Anna Maria Dandridge survived him. He was at Sewell's Point all the winter, and his battery was engaged in the great naval battle between the ironclad "Virginia" and the Federal fleet in Hampton Roads, March 8th, 1862.The provisional army of Virginia was soon afterwards merged into