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A Day Late and a Dollar Short: The Fate of A. J. Smith’s Command during Price’s 1864 Missouri Raid

A Day Late and a Dollar Short: The Fate of A. J. Smith’s Command during Price’s 1864 Missouri Raid

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A Day Late and a Dollar Short: The Fate of A. J. Smith’s Command during Price’s 1864 Missouri Raid

153 pages
4 hours
Sep 25, 2014


Major General Andrew Jackson Smith, commanding the Right Wing of the 16th Army Corp, is on his way east to join Major General William T. Sherman’s Atlanta campaign.
The Federal commander in Missouri, Major General William S. Rosecrans keeps hearing reports that Confederate Major General Sterling Price is planning to invade Missouri.
Much to Sherman’s annoyance, Rosecrans convinces the US War Department to divert A. J. Smith’s command into Missouri to counter the Confederate cavalry raid. Smith’s objectives are to bring Price’s Army of Missouri to battle and destroy it.
This book tells the story of how A. J. Smith’s command is diverted to Missouri to defend the state against Sterling Price. Find out if Smith's operations against Price in the fall of 1864 are successful. Learn about the difficulties in managing a campaign in 1864 Missouri. Understand some of the personalities of the Federal commanders who are the key decision makers in Missouri during Price's raid.

Sep 25, 2014

About the author

Dick Titterington is theCivilWarMuse, an amateur historian with particular interest in the American Civil War. Dick maintains a website, theCivilWarMuse.com, providing virtual tours of Civil War battlefields with interesting facts about the battle and biographies of key individuals. The virtual tours allow you to travel back in time and personally take walking and auto tours of various battlefields and expeditions. Area maps, waypoints and pictures are provided to orient and guide you through your visit. Dick also has a blog Trans-Mississippi Musings (http://www.transmississippimusings.com/) writing about interesting stories that took place in the Trans-Mississippi theater during the American Civil War, including the Reconstruction era following the war. Dick is currently retired and living in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area after a 26-year career as an Information Technology professional. Dick is a volunteer docent at the Battle of Westport Visitor Center (http://battleofwestport.org/VisitorCenter.htm) in Kansas City, Missouri. Dick volunteers for SPARK (Senior Peers Actively Renewing Knowledge) teaching classes on the Civil War in Missouri. SPARK is an Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI) and a member of the Road Scholar Institute Network (RSIN). SPARK partners with the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Follow Dick on Twitter @theCivilWarMuse

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A Day Late and a Dollar Short - Dick Titterington


Many years ago when I began researching Price’s 1864 Missouri Raid, I was bemused by the role of Andrew Jackson Smith. A Major General of Federal Volunteers, A. J. Smith was on his way east to join Major General William T. Sherman’s Atlanta campaign. En route, Smith, his two divisions of infantry and a cavalry brigade were diverted to Missouri to reinforce the Federal commander there, Major General William S. Rosecrans.

Based on what I had read in secondary sources, I came away with the impression that Smith’s command had chased Price across Missouri, but never caught up with him. My initial conclusion was Smith had failed in his mission to bring Price to battle and destroy his army. Well, as everyone probably already knows, it was a bit more complicated than that.

During the first three years of the American Civil War, A. J. Smith earned the respect of three key commanders, Henry W. Halleck, Ulysses S. Grant, and William T. Sherman. Such was their respect for A. J. Smith, they usually just gave him an assignment and let him work it out in his own way. It seems they were never disappointed. Which is another reason why A. J. Smith’s role in the 1864 Missouri cavalry raid is so intriguing.

So I decided to dig into the record of Major General A. J. Smith and the Right Wing of the 16th Army Corps. I wanted to understand better the events that sent him to Missouri. How did Smith end up in Missouri? Who decided to divert Smith to Missouri? Why did he fail to catch up with Price? Did he fail to meet his assigned objectives? I wrote this book to answer these questions to my satisfaction.

Oh, I handled the images in this book a bit differently from previous books. Except for the A. J. Smith front piece, I put images of people into a Cast of Characters section at the end. The two maps and other images are spread throughout the book as usual.

Dick Titterington

September 4, 2014

Major General A. J. Smith (Library of Congress)

A Tug of War

In the summer of 1864, two senior Union commanders were engaged in a tug-of-war over the services of Major General Andrew Jackson Smith. A. J. Smith commanded the Right Wing of the 16th Army Corps, two veteran infantry divisions from the renowned Army of the Tennessee. Earlier that year, Major General William T. Sherman had detached A. J. Smith’s command to operate west of the Mississippi River. Now Sherman wanted Smith’s command for the Atlanta campaign. But Major General Edward R. S. Canby, commanding the Military Division of West Mississippi, needed Smith’s infantry to fight Confederate forces west of the Mississippi River. Canby was tasked with keeping the Mississippi River under Union control, preventing Confederates from crossing the river to reinforce Atlanta, and protecting Sherman’s supply lines. During this struggle for his services, A. J. Smith found his command diverted to counter another Confederate threat, an invasion of Missouri by Major General Sterling Price.

Andrew Jackson Smith was born on April 28, 1815 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His father was an American war veteran, having served in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. So it seemed natural for A. J. Smith to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point. Among his contemporaries at West Point were fellow Civil War Generals Hooker, Bragg and Pemberton from the class of 1837; Beauregard and Hardee from the class of 1838; Canby and Halleck from the class of 1839; and Sherman from the class of 1840. He graduated in 1838 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the First Dragoons, United States Army. During the War with Mexico, Smith spent most of his time in California.

When the American Civil War began, Smith was a Major in the First Cavalry Regiment, US Army and stationed in California. Then in August 1861, the Secretary of War asked California to raise a regiment of cavalry volunteers. The Second California Cavalry Regiment was mustered in during October 1861. A. J. Smith received an appointment as the regiment’s Colonel. [1]

A. J. Smith only served as the regiment’s Colonel for about six weeks. Experienced cavalry commanders were in short supply, and his old class mate from West Point, Major General Henry W. Halleck, wanted Smith as his Chief of Cavalry in the Army of the Mississippi. Now a Brigadier General of Volunteers, it was during the Siege of Corinth, Mississippi in 1862 that the Union commanders began to take notice of Smith’s command abilities. By the end of 1862, A. J. Smith was an infantry division commander and taking part in Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s operations against Vicksburg. [2]

Smith continued to perform well in varied assignments for the Army of the Tennessee, now commanded by Major General William T. Sherman. On March 8, 1864, Sherman ordered A. J. Smith to take command of a detachment of 10,000 men from the 16th Army Corps and the 17th Army Corps. Sherman named Smith’s command the Right Wing of the 16th Army Corps. It consisted of two divisions of infantry. The First Division was commanded by Brigadier General Joseph A. Mower. The Third Division was commanded by Colonel David Moore (Colonel William T. Shaw replaced Moore as commander of the Third Division on July 31, 1864). It was this command of Smith’s that would be ordered into Missouri later that fall.

But before Smith became entangled in Price’s Missouri Raid, Sherman ordered A. J. Smith to Louisiana to reinforce Major General Nathaniel P. Banks as part of the Red River Campaign. Sherman was willing to lend A. J. Smith to Banks, but only for thirty days. Smith reached the mouth of the Red River with his detachment on March 11, 1864. The plan was to link up with Major General Nathaniel P. Banks upriver in Alexandria, Louisiana. Banks did not reach Alexandria with his command until March 26. [3]

Sherman had made it clear to the War Department that he would recall Smith’s detachment in thirty days to prepare for the spring campaign east of the Mississippi River. So on April 3, Sherman send a dispatch to Smith, ordering him to return to Vicksburg to get ready for the spring campaign. Smith was to head for Grenada, Mississippi in an attempt to find and destroy the Confederate forces commanded by General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Sherman kept Grant in the loop. [4]

Last night I sent General [John M.] Corse [from my staff] down the Cumberland in a steamboat to touch at Paducah, Cairo, and Columbus, with orders and verbal explanations to all these commanders. He is then to push on to Memphis, explain the same to Hurlbut, and then hurry up the Red River to General A. J. Smith, and bring him with all dispatch to Vicksburg and up the Yazoo, and rapidly occupy Grenada. His appearance there with 10,000 men, now hardened by our march to Meridian and recent marching up Red River, will be a big bombshell in Forrest's camp. [5]

Bayonet charge by Winslow Homer (Harper’s Weekly)

But because of Banks’ delays, Smith was finding it hard to extract his command from Louisiana. On April 8, Confederate forces under the command of Major General Richard Taylor attacked Banks near Mansfield, Louisiana. The Confederates overwhelmed the Federals, who withdrew downriver to Pleasant Hill. On April 9, A. J. Smith deployed his divisions across the road to Mansfield and successfully repulsed a Confederate attack. But Major General Banks had enough and ordered a retreat down the Red River to Grand Ecore, Louisiana. A. J. Smith described his success at beating off the enemy attack. [6]

We drove them back, desperately fighting, step by step across the field,

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