“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Nashville in Davidson County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

Thomas Benton Smith

February 24, 1838 - May 21, 1923


— Western Military Institute graduate, Confederate States Army brigadier general —

Thomas Benton Smith Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, February 7, 2021
1. Thomas Benton Smith Marker
Inscription.  Smith has a flat granite marker here in Confederate Circle. About 1,500 Confederate soldiers lie within the circle. Many were prisoners that died from wounds or illness. Others died in area battles. Smith lived until 1923 and was one of the last buried in Confederate Circle.

When it became apparent U.S. forces would invade Tennessee, Smith enlisted in the 20th Tennessee Infantry Regiment. He had attended Western Military Institute in Nashville, and his military skills were recognized. He was elected lieutenant of his company and rose to colonel in 1862. Smith led the 20th in the Battle of Murfreesborough, where he was severely wounded, and his brother John was killed carrying the regiment's flag.

In July 1864 the Army of Tennessee had been backed up to Atlanta. The U.S. Army shelled the city, killing civilians. A lady was ironing when a shell entered the house and killed her. Even little girls were killed, whether on a sidewalk with parents or asleep in their beds. Likewise the life of the Confederacy was being crushed. The government needed courageous generals, and on July 29 Smith was promoted to brigadier. At 26 he was one
Thomas Benton Smith Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, February 7, 2021
2. Thomas Benton Smith Marker
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of several young generals.

In August the U.S. Army attempted to cut the railroad supplying Atlanta. They attacked a portion of the C.S. line held by Bate's Division and largely that part held by the brigade Smith commanded. They repulsed three assaults and won the praise of a superior: “Soldiers who fight with the coolness and determination that these men did, will always be victorious over any reasonable number.” Unfortunately the U.S. defeat resulted in their bringing in longer-range artillery to “knock down the buildings of the town.”

The Army of Tennessee was maneuvered out of Atlanta in September. This led to the November reelection of Lincoln and ended any chance of Confederate independence. Yet the Army of Tennessee moved north in one last attempt to liberate the state. After battles at Spring Hill and Franklin in November, the army continued to advance to the outskirts of Nashville. Smith and his Tennesseans were on Shy's Hill on December 16 when the line to their right broke. Most on the hill, including Smith, were captured. After surrendering a U.S. Army colonel used his sword to beat Smith's skull open. A surgeon pushed him aside thinking he was about to die. Miraculously Smith lived another 58 years. But the wound led to Smith's insanity bringing him to live nearby in the old Central State hospital.
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Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 28.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Cemeteries & Burial SitesWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Sons of Confederate Veterans/United Confederate Veterans series list. A significant historical date for this entry is February 24, 1838.
Location. 36° 8.921′ N, 86° 44.093′ W. Marker is in Nashville, Tennessee, in Davidson County. Marker can be reached from Lebanon Pike. Marker is on Confederate Circle in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1101 Lebanon Pike, Nashville TN 37210, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hylan Leitus Rosser (here, next to this marker); Mary Elizabeth Bradford Johns (within shouting distance of this marker); Mary Kate Patterson Davis Hill Kyle (within shouting distance of this marker); Adolphus Heiman (within shouting distance of this marker); James Edwards Rains (within shouting distance of this marker); John Bell (within shouting distance of this marker); Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham (within shouting distance of this marker); William Hicks Jackson (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Nashville.
More about this marker. Marker is part of Mt. Olivet Confederate Memorial Hall Trail.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 8, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 7, 2021, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 29 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 7, 2021, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
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Mar. 9, 2021