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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 4 Collections and/or Records:

Barton family papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0020
Scope and Contents The collection consists of the miscellaneous papers of three members of the Barton family who attended VMI during the mid-19th century. Papers relating to Cadet Charles M. Barton (VMI Class of 1856) include a letter dated September 28, 1855 from Charles to his cousin Joseph M. Barton, in which he complains about VMI life and about his instructor Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson (Jackson is described as a "hell of a fool"). Other Charles Barton material is found in a notebook (ca. 250 pages)...

James Henry Waddell papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0130
Scope and Contents 4 items, including a letter (1855) from Cadet Waddell to his sister, that contains a detailed description and pencil drawing of his room (#14) in Barracks and of his roomates (Barksdale, Penn, Magruder, Shepherd, Wilson); a second drawing of a barracks room & roommates (similar to a sketch found in the Shepherd Collection, MS#0019); pencil map, 8 inches x 10 inches, labeled "Plan of Battle of Bethel Church, June 10, 1861." Letter of recommendation, 1879, written by VMI's Superintendent...

John F. Early papers

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

Marshall McDonald papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0169
Scope and Contents Papers, approximately 90 items, of Marshall McDonald. The papers include primarily incoming and some outgoing correspondence, 1861-1892; notes; scientific reports; and miscellaneous documents. Among the correspondents are several VMI alumni and faculty members, including Scott Shipp, Francis H. Smith, Edward Cunningham, Wilfred E. Cutshaw, John W. Lyell, James H. Morrison, Mark B. Hardin, and Daniel W. Flowerree; and several Civil War officers including Gen. Dabney H. Maury and Hunter McGuire....