Smith, Michael William (DNB00)

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SMITH, MICHAEL WILLIAM (1809–1891), general, was the posthumous son of Sir Michael Smith, bart. (1740–1808), master of the rolls in Ireland, by his second wife, Eleanor, daughter of Michael Smith, his cousin-german. He was born on 27 April 1809, four months after his father's death, and was commissioned as ensign in the 82nd foot on 19 Nov. 1830. He became lieutenant on 21 Feb. 1834, and exchanged into the 15th hussars on 29 Aug. 1835. He was promoted captain on 23 April 1839, and in November obtained a first-class certificate at the senior department of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He afterwards served for several years in India, becoming major on 9 Feb. 1847, and lieutenant-colonel on 8 March 1850.

During the Crimean war he commanded Osmanli irregular cavalry, and received the Medjidie (second class). He was made colonel in the army on 28 Nov. 1854. He had exchanged from his regiment to half-pay on 25 Aug. 1854, and on 16 June 1857 he became lieutenant-colonel of the 3rd dragoon guards, which served in India during the mutiny. In 1858 he was placed in command of a brigade of the Rajputana field force, and was detached from the main body of that force to assist Sir Hugh Rose (afterwards Baron Strathnairn [q. v.]) in his operations against Tantia Topi. On 17 June he attacked the mutineers between Kotah-ki-serai and Gwalior, and drove them back after some severe fighting, in which the famous rani of Jhansi was killed. He took part in the capture of Gwalior on the 19th. In August he was sent against Man Singh, rajah of Narwar, who had rebelled against Sindhia. His own force proved insufficient, but he was soon joined by Sir Robert Cornelis Napier [q. v.] (afterwards Lord Napier of Magdala), who had succeeded Rose in command of the Central India force; and he took part in the siege and capture of Paori, and in the subsequent pursuit of Tantia Topi. In November he surprised the camp of Man Singh at Koondrye. He was several times mentioned in despatches (London Gazette, 5 Oct. 1858, 31 Jan., 24 March, and 18 April 1859). He received the medal with clasp, and was made C.B. on 21 March 1859, and was given a reward for distinguished service on 6 April 1860.

He left his regiment and went on half-pay on 25 April 1862, after being appointed to the command of the Poonah division with the local rank of major-general. He held this command till 1 June 1867. He was promoted major-general on 4 July 1864, lieutenant-general on 19 Jan. 1873, and general on 1 Oct. 1877. On 27 April 1879 he was placed on the retired list. He had been given the colonelcy of the 20th hussars on 22 Nov. 1870, and was transferred to his old regiment, the 15th hussars, on 21 Aug. 1883. He died at West Brighton on 18 April 1891. In 1830 he married Charlotte, eldest daughter of George Whitmore Carr of Ardross, and he left one son, Major William Whitmore Smith, R.A., and one daughter. Smith was not merely a practical soldier, but thought and wrote with originality on military, especially cavalry, topics. He was author of: 1. ‘A Treatise on Drill and Manœuvres of Cavalry,’ 8vo, London, 1865. 2. ‘Cavalry Outpost Drill, with a Chapter on Cavalry Skirmishing,’ 8vo, London, 1867. 3. ‘Modern Tactics of the Three Arms’ (with illustrations by himself), 8vo, London, 1869. 4. ‘A New System of Perspective,’ 8vo, 1881.

[Times, 22 April 1891; Foster's Baronetage; Malleson's Indian Mutiny.]

E. M. L.