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The text that follows is reproduced from (the report of the) Thirty-Fourth Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 10th, 1903.

p28 James Argyle Smith
No. 1623. Class of 1853.
Died, December 5, 1901, at Jackson, Miss., aged 70.

This distinguished officer, patriotic citizen and cultured gentleman was born in Maury County, Tennessee, on July 1st, 1831, and died at Jackson, Mississippi, on December 5th, 1901. He became a cadet of the Military Academy of the United States at West Point on July 1st, 1848, and graduated from that institution on July 1st, 1853, on which day he received the appointment of Brevet Second Lieutenant of Infantry in the United States army. He served as such during parts of 1853 and 1854, on frontier duty at Fort Riley, Kansas, p29and at Fort Atkinson, Kansas, for part of 1854, and in garrison at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, parts of 1854 and 1855.

On March 3d, 1855, he was promoted to the place of Second Lieutenant of the Sixth Infantry, on frontier duty at Fort Riley, Kansas, and in that year was in the famous Sioux Expedition, and was engaged in the action of Blue Water, on September 3d, 1855. He was at Fort Kearny,º Nebraska, parts of years 1855 and 1856; at Fort Pierre, Dakota, in 1856; engaged in quelling the Kansas disturbances in 1856, and was in the march to Bridger's Pass, Utah, in 1857, in which year he was at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and took part in again quelling Kansas disturbances, in 1857‑1858; was in the Utah expedition and the march to California, both in 1858; was at Benicia, California, in 1858, and in the march to Colorado River, 1858‑1859. He was at Camp Prentiss, near San Bernardino, California, part of 1859; at Fort Yuma, California, 1859‑1860, and at Fort Crook, California, 1860‑1861.

He was promoted to the First Lieutenancy of the Sixth Infantry on December 2d, 1859.

The foregoing, on its face, presents mere dry details, but the experiences they embody show great dangers, privations, suffering and hardships, every possible strain of human courage, patience and endurance. Under all this, in camp, in barracks, on the terrible marches and in numerous battles, this officer showed himself the thorough soldier from crown to sole. There was none braver than he, none with more patriotism, fortitude or devotion to duty.

On May 9th, 1861, he resigned from the army of the United States in order to cast his lot with the South, in the great conflict of arms between the States. Into this contest he brought the same heroism, the same patriotic ardor he had shown in his service under the flag of the Union. Believing that the old confederation was a compact between sovereign states, it was, as he saw it, and as it was in fact, his first duty p30to stand by his own and the other seceding states. Right nobly did he illustrate the sincerity of his convictions. Enlisting as a private soldier he was soon called to command and so bore himself as to elicit from the famous Major General Patrick R. Cleburne the encomium that he was one of the very best Brigadier-Generals in the Confederate service. This was said by General Cleburne in his tent, near Shelbyville, Tennessee, to the writer.

The writer has also seen the man in battle. It seemed to require conflict to develop his powers. His equanimity was never disturbed. The greater the danger the more imperturbable he became, until the danger became a thing of contempt, and yet no point of vantage over the enemy was ever overlooked.

Immediately on the tender of his services he was appointed Captain of Infantry in the regular army of the Confederate States, and in March, 1862, he was promoted to the office of Major because of patriotic service, and as such was Acting Adjutant General on the staff of Lieutenant General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Leonidas Polk, until made Lieutenant Colonel of the Second Regiment of Tennessee Infantry. In this capacity he served at Shiloh, and Colonel Preston Smith, then commanding the First Brigade of the Second Division of the Army of the Mississippi, in his report of that battle, makes special mention of the conspicuous gallantry of Lieutenant Colonel J. A. Smith.

In the great battles of Murfreesboro and Chickamauga he signally distinguished himself for valor and tactical skill, for which he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General. In a report of the battle of Chickamauga made in front of Chattanooga October 10th, 1863, Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk says:

"Colonel Smith, of the Third and Fifth Tennessee Regiments, acted with his usual courage and skill. He has since been promoted. Promotion could not have fallen upon one more worthy."

p31 From the start to the finish of the Confederate War this superb officer's conduct was marked by the utmost personal intrepidity, cool strategy and continual solicitude for the welfare and comfort of his soldiers.

Perhaps the most striking and valuable service of his whole military career was rendered at Missionary Ridge. There, when disaster came upon us and our army was, as a whole, in great danger, he led his brave Texas brigade against Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Sherman's entire corps, thus protecting our flank, and checked the attack which threatened the only avenue of retreat of the Army of the Tennessee. This, and the consequent bringing up of the rear of this orderly retreat, presented a spectacle of stubborn fighting for specific purpose not surpassed in the history of that war. In this engagement General Smith was very severely wounded, but we find him again in command of the remains of his gallant brigade, on July 22nd, 1864, at Atlanta, capturing three lines of the enemy's works in his front, nineteen pieces of artillery and two stands of colors. There he was again severely wounded. Such deeds speak their own panegyric.

Subsequently he commanded Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Mercer's Georgia Brigade in Cleburne's Division, which division he commanded after General Cleburne was killed at the battle of Franklin, and so he and General Bate were the commanders of the two divisions of the shattered remnants of Cheatham's corps which went into the North Carolina campaign of 1865. Here, with the certainty in all minds that the cause was lost, his indomitable devotion was unabated, and he writes from Graniteville, N. C., on February 11th of that year, to General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Wheeler:

"I am here with Cleburne's division, Cheatham's corps — 1200 men; communicate with me;" and a few days after we find him in command in the hot little battle near Bentonville.

So, to the very end of the great conflict, we see James Argyle Smith, as patriot and soldier, equal to all demands p32upon his skill, courage, endurance and soldierly valor. When the flag was furled, he returned to Mississippi, his adopted state, and entered upon the duties of peaceful citizenship, as farmer, teacher and editor. With fortune gone and no training except to arms, he was resolute and undismayed. He held the elective office of State Superintendent of Public Education from 1877 to 1884, and an important federal office under Mr. Cleveland's second administration, in charge of the Indian Agency at Yankton, S. D.

When death came to him in the bosom of his family, he met it with the equanimity of a Christian philosopher.

A Friend.


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