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T.A. Smyth

T.A. Smyth

Federal (USV)


Thomas Alfred Smyth

(1832 - 1865)

Home State: Delaware

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 1st Delaware Infantry

Before Antietam

Raised on a farm in Ireland, he emigrated to the US in 1854, working with a relative who was a carriage maker in Philadelphia. In 1855 he was on William Walker's expedition to Nicaragua, then returned to Philadelphia. He moved to Wilmington, DE in 1858. He enrolled at age 30 as Major of the First Delaware Infantry (3 years) on 2 October 1861 in Wilmington.

On the Campaign

In his after-action report on Antietam, Colonel Andrews wrote "I must also particularly mention the services of Lieutenant-Colonel Hopkinson, Major Smyth, and Acting Adjutant Postles, who behaved with exemplary coolness and bravery."

The rest of the War

He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 18 December 1862, Colonel on 23 July 1863, and Brigadier General on 15 October 1864. He had temporary command of the Irish Brigade from March - May 1864.

... during a cold and rainy April 7, 1865, Thomas Smyth and his men neared the town of Farmville, Virginia, where they encountered heavy fire from the Confederates. While on his horse, Smyth was hit in the mouth, by a sharpshooter. The conical ball had damaged his neck, which resulted in a fractured cervical vertebra. That in turn caused a small fragment of bone to lodge in his spinal cord, resulting in paralysis. His men caught him and brought him to Surgeon-in-chief D.W. Maull. The surgeon-in-chief stayed and attended to Smyth, as he was transported to Burkesville Station. Theron Parsons was at Smyth's bedside. When he regained conscious, he was aware of his wounds, but thought only of his men. On April 9, 1865, at 4 a.m., he passed away. His body was embalmed at Burkesville, forwarded to Wilmington for burial, and laid to rest at the Brandywine Cemetery in Wilmington.
He was the last Federal General Officer killed in the War. He was honored by brevet to Major General for his actions at Farmville.

References & notes

Basic information from State of Delaware1. Details and the quote above from text accompanying his photograph [via Flikr] in the Seville Collection of Civil War Soldiers carte de visites from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Washington, DC.


12/25/1832; Ballyhooly, County Cork, IRELAND


04/09/1865; Burkesville, VA; burial in Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery, Wilmington, DE


1   State of Delaware, Adjutant General's Office, Civil War Military records for Delaware Units, Published 1861-, first accessed 31 January 2015, <>, Source page: Muster Out Roll, First Delaware Infantry  [AotW citation 13720]