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G. W. Smalley

G. W. Smalley

Federal (US)

George Washburn Smalley

(1833 - 1916)

Home State: Massachusetts

Education: Yale, Harvard Law, Class of 1855

Command Billet: Reporter

Branch of Service: Civilian

Unit: Army of the Potomac

Before Antietam

He practised law in Boston until the opening of the civil war, when, in the employ of the New York Tribune, he accompanied the Federal troops to Port Royal, afterward going with General John C. Fremont into Virginia.

On the Campaign

He was with Brig. Gen. Joseph Hooker's headquarters staff on the 17th and witnessed the near-suicidal fighting around the Cornfield and North Woods on the Union right. Then, after Hooker's wounding, he had ridden over to the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac's commanding general, George B. McClellan, and followed Brig. Gen. Ambrose Burnside's "dilatory crossing of the bridge that would henceforth bear his name at the other end of the battlefield". After the battle he went to some extraordinary lengths to get the story back to his paper, after discovering that his initial telegraphs were going to the War Department and President Lincoln, rather than to New York.

The rest of the War

By 1863 he was a member of the editorial staff of the Tribune.

After the War

At the beginning of the war between Prussia and Austria in 1866 he was sent on a day's notice to Europe. At the close of the war he returned for a few months to New York, but was sent to England in May, 1867 to organize a London bureau for his paper. It was said that his 'dandyism' and ability to adapt himself to aristocratic and Tory circles earned him considerable resentment in America, but admiration in London. While in London (at least til 1906) he was the American correspondent to the Times of London.

He was a strong advocate and friend of artist James Whistler (see the Whistler Centre at Glasgow Univ)

References & notes

Source: Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson and John Fiske. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889

More on the Web

See a fine article by Cowan Brew, written for America's Civil War magazine, July 1997.


6/2/1833; Franklin, MA