Smith, Francis H. (Francis Henney), 1812-1890
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:
Scope and Contents The collection consists of the miscellaneous papers of three members of the Barton family who attended the Virginia Military Institute 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...
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...