14th September 1862

Colonel Robert A Smith goes into battle

The American Civil War of 1861 to 1865 began with a vote in the southern states to break from the union in a disagreement over slavery. Abraham Lincoln had put his opposition to slavery at the centre of his winning 1860 campaign for the presidency so, when he won, it was perhaps inevitable that the seven southern states would vote for independence.

South Carolina lawmakers unanimously voted to break away first, and within three months had been joined by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

Edinburgh-born leader

The American Civil War comprised multiple discrete battles, including the Battle of Munfordville at Hart County, Kentucky. Munfordville was the site of a Union (northern states) garrison, on which Confederate (southern states) brigadier general James R Chalmers marched, on 14 September.

Chalmers’ troops bombarded the Union troops’ extensive fortifications, while one of their number, Edinburgh-born colonel Robert A Smith led an attack on an important bridge. In this effort, he was badly wounded, and he died of those wounds some days later.

Monuments in Scotland and the US

Smith’s brother, James, later emigrated to America, and commissioned a monument to his fallen brother. That monument is the Colonel Robert A Smith Monument; a limestone obelisk sited close to the field of battle. A further monument, which is smaller but of similar shape, can be found in Edinburgh’s Dean Cemetery.

Initially, the Confederate assault on the garrison had been unsuccessful, but Chalmers troops were reinforced the following day and, after another two days of fighting, they triumphed. The Union troops surrendered, and 4000 men were captured.



Other events that occured in September

FREE Scotland history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Scotland's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want.