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Federal (USV)


William Frances Smith

(c. 1840 - 1864)

Home State: Delaware

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 1st Delaware Infantry

Before Antietam

From Dover, age 21, he enrolled as 2nd Lieutenant of Company D of the First Delaware Infantry on 10 August 1861 at Milford, DE. He was promoted to First Lieutenant on 21 December.

On the Campaign

He was in action at Antietam on 17 September 1862 and afterward wrote:

We were halted and ordered to fix bayonets. We began to think something was to do ... We marched in line some mile and a half, when the Rebels made their appearance on our left ... We still continue to advance, the shells coming over our heads, till we got through a cornfield that Rebels had to hide in, we drove them out of there.

They fell back to a ditch [the Sunken Road] at the foot of the hill ... as soon as we got through the corn field, the Rebels poured a volley into us. We got over the fence and up to the top of the hill, and there laid down and fired at the Rebels after firing some ten minutes, we received orders to charge.

All the color guard was either killed or wounded. The stat flag was almost shot to pieces, the staff cut in two by a ball. The fire was so hot we had to fall back with a great loss. It was here that Capt. Watson & Leonard was killed. Capt. Yardley, Woodall, & Shortledge was wounded. The regiment fell back to form, but got mixed up with the different regiments.

Major Smith and about 150 men went up a lane and got on the Rebels right where we poured a directed fire upon them. Capt. Rickards was killed up here and Lt. Col. Hopkinson was wounded in the knee at the same place. We fought here sometime till we got relieved, then tried to reform the regiment, which we found a very difficult for they were in all the regiments around fighting. We however got about 150 together and encamped for the night ...

The rest of the War

He was promoted to Captain of Company C on 24 September 1862 to replace Captain Rickards. He was wounded by a gunshot to the chest at Fredericksburg, VA in December and in the leg at Gettysburg in July 1863, and was promoted to Major on 6 November 1863. He was on recruiting duty in Delaware early in 1864 but returned on 23 April and was mortally wounded in the leg on the Boydton Plank Road near Petersburg, VA on 27 October 1864 and his leg was amputated, but that didn't save him. He died on 6 November 1864.

References & notes

Service information from his Compiled Service Records, online from fold3. The quote above from a letter he wrote his mother on 3 October 1862, offered for sale by Museum Quality Americana in 2021. His gravesite is on Findagrave.

More on the Web

His Civil War diary was sold by Cowan's Auctions in January 2020.


c. 1840


11/06/1864; burial in Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery Dover, DE