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Smith, Francis H. (Francis Henney), 1812-1890

 Person

Major General Francis Henney Smith (b. 1812 d. 1890) was appointed VMI's first Superintendent in 1839. An 1833 graduate of West Point, he had previously served briefly in the U. S. Army and was a Professor of Mathematics at Hampden-Sydney College (VA) when he accepted the position as head of the newly established Virginia Military Institute. He served for fifty years, from the Institute's infancy, through the Civil War, and through the difficult post-war period. He is known as the "builder and rebuilder of VMI." Smith retired on January 1, 1890 and died only a few months later, on March 21, 1890.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

John F. Early Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0012
Scope and Contents The collection consists of the letters and diary of Cadet John F. Early (b. 1830 in Lynchburg, Va.; d. 1894), who attended VMI 1848-1850. The one volume diary-notebook contains short and sporadic entries; daily routines and special events are noted; one of the earliest references to Superintendent Francis H. Smith as "Spex" (April 30, 1850); lists of cadets; room occupants; poetry of Sara Henderson Smith ("The Old Gray Coat) and others. The five letters were written to...

John T. L. Preston Craney Island journal (photocopy and transcription), 1861 July 24 - September 22

 File
Scope and Contents Copy and transcription of John Thomas Lewis Preston journal, which he called "Jottings", written during his military assignment at Craney Island, Virginia in the the summer and fall of 1861.

Relating to his activities while with the 9th Virginia Infantry Regiment under the command of VMI Superintendent Francis H. Smith. Includes comments on the cuase of the Civil War, the defense of Norfolk, military science, and family.