Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
William A. and Junius S. Smith Papers, 1862-1865

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, April 1992

Summary Information
Title: William A. and Junius S. Smith papers
Creator: Smith family
Inclusive dates: 1862-1865
Extent: 19 items
Abstract:
Brothers from Marion, Mich., Gus and June Smith both enlisted in the 22nd Michigan Infantry in August, 1862. Their letters depict their first year of service and provide useful descriptions of camp conditions, health, and morale in the regiment. The collection also contains four receipt rolls, returns, and other documents signed by Gus for material issued to his company.
Language: The material is in English.
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Donated by Philip P. Mason, 1992. M-2789.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

William A. and Junius S. Smith Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

Smith, William Augustus, ca. 1830-1863

Rank : Lt., Capt. (Jan. 1863)

Regiment : 22nd Michigan Infantry Regiment. Co. H (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 August 11-1863 October 11

Smith, Junius S., b. ca. 1843

Rank : Private

Regiment : 22nd Michigan Infantry Regiment. Co. H (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 August 11-1865 June 26

Brothers from Marion (near Howell), Mich., Gus and June Smith both enlisted in the 22nd Michigan Infantry in August, 1862. Gus, the elder, was appointed Lieutenant of Co. H, with June serving as a Corporal in the same company. With little time to prepare, the 22nd was ordered into Kentucky in September, 1862, to shore up the federal presence, but by then the region was comparatively calm. They served in various locations including Lexington and Cynthiana, seldom seeing even the threat of action, though they did suffer continual morbidity from heat, poor water, and disease.

An avid soldier, Gus evinced an almost constant concern for his "family" -- the men in his company -- and worried that the regiment was not getting a chance to do their part in securing victory. For him, Kentucky was too quiet, though not so quiet that he was unable to earn a promotion to Captain in January, 1863. After two small engagements at Danville and Hickman's Bridge, Ky., in March, 1863, the regiment was ordered into Tennessee, but even though they were closer to the great scenes of action, prospects for the regiment to make a serious military impact still seemed dim. Watching from the comparatively safe confines of Nashville in May, 1863, Gus complained that "Grant is giving the curses H__ (supply the word) down below, and if they will only let us, we will give em the same here" (1863 May 22-25).

The chance to give the enemy hell proved a bitter pill for the Smith brothers. When the 22nd finally entered their first large-scale battle, it was in the horrendous defeat at Chickamauga. On the second day of the battle, as part of the reserve corps under the command of Gen. Walter Whitaker, the 22nd Michigan were ordered by Gordon Granger into support of George Henry Thomas, "The Rock of Chickamauga." This impromptu decision by Granger salvaged the left flank of the army, but at a terrible price. Both Smith brothers were badly wounded. June remained hospitalized for several weeks before returning to duty with the 22nd, which participated in the Atlanta Campaign and thereafter in reserve in Georgia and Tennessee. Gus paid a higher price. He died of his wounds in Nashville on October 11, and was buried in the National Cemetery at Chattanooga, grave number 1110.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Smith brothers' collection is a slender, but significant one, documenting the combined Civil War service of two brothers from Marion, Mich. Seven letters are written by Gus, five by June, and one letter was written jointly. Gus' letters tend to be more descriptive, perhaps because he was an officer or because he was more enthusiastic about soldiering, or perhaps because June was so often plagued with ill health.

Their letters from the fall of 1862 through the summer of 1863, all written home to their family, depict their first year of service and provide useful descriptions of camp conditions, health, and morale in the regiment, and contain the expected inquiries about affairs at home. Because they are sporadic correspondents, a detailed sense of their family relations or military experiences does not clearly emerge, but individual letters rise well above the mundane. Perhaps the two most interesting are an undated letter from Gus, probably written in the fall, 1862, describing his tent and living conditions in Kentucky, and his letter from May, 1863, crowing over his promotion to captain. The collection also contains four receipt rolls, returns, and other documents signed by Gus for material issued to his company.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • United States. Army. Michigan Infantry Regiment, 22nd (1862-1865)
    • Kentucky--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States. Army--Promotions.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health aspects.
    Contributors:
    • Smith, William Augustus, ca.1830-1863.
    • Smith, Junius S., b. ca.1843.
    Genre Terms:
    • Receipts (financial records)
    • Returns (military reports)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   40, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    William A. and Junius S. Smith papers,  1862 September 12-1865 October 18 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Partial Subject Index
    Bounties, Military.
    • 1862 September 26
    Combs, Leslie.
    • n.d.
    Copperhead (Nickname)
    • 1863 March 12
    Firearms--Accidents.
    • 1862 September 29
    Flint, George (d. 1862)
    • 1862 September 29
    Furs.
    • 1865 October 18
    Howell (Mich.)--Description and travel.
    • 1863 July 15
    Marriage.
    • n.d.
    Morale.
    • 1863 May 12
    Patriotic stationary.
    • 1862 September 22-23
    Photographers--Kentucky.
    • 1864 April 2
    Pillage--Kentucky.
    • 1862 September 26
    Smith, Gus (W. Augustus), c.1830-1863.
    • 1862 November 9
    • 1863 May 31
    • 1863 July 7
    • 1863 August 5
    • 1863 August 5
    • 1864 April 2
    • 1865 February 28
    Smith, June (Junius L.)
    • 1863 May 12
    • 1863 July 15
    Smith, P. L.
    • 1862 September 26
    Soldiers--Health and hygiene.
    • 1863 March 12
    Solidarity--United States.
    • 1863 March 12
    Tents.
    • n.d.
    United States. Army. Michigan Infantry Regiment, 22nd. Co. H (1862-1865)--Returns.
    • 1863 May 31
    • 1863 July 7
    • 1863 August 5
    • 1863 August 5
    United States. Army--Barracks and quarters.
    • n.d.
    United States. Army--Michigan Infantry Regiment, 18th (1862-1865)
    • 1862 September 26
    United States. Army--Officers.
    • 1863 May 25-26
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--African Americans.
    • n.d.
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Destruction.
    • 1862 September 26
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health aspects.
    • 1862 September 22-23
    Vallandingham, Clement Laird, 1820-1871.
    • 1863 May 25-26