Archive Grouping of Herman E. Smith 3rd New York Cavalry, Killed in Action at Darbytown Road, Virginia - Inventory Number: GRO 068
Extensive archive obtained directly from the family of Herman E. Smith of the 3rd New York Cavalry. Smith enlisted in August 1861 as a sergeant in the 3rd New York Cavalry. He served alongside his brother Julius in countless battles and skirmishes in Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. Herman Smith was a 2nd lieutenant and serving as an aid to cavalry division commander Colonel Robert M. West at an engagement near Darbytown Road on October 7, 1864 when he was shot in the back. The ball struck a limb above him and went through his shoulder and back, paralyzing him. He was captured and died in Libby Prison that night. This extensive lot includes the following items.
-Cabinet card image of Herman E. Smith wearing a cavalry shell jacket with 1st sergeant chevrons. The image measures 6 ½” by 4 ½” and has a biographical sketch on the back in ink by a nephew or niece.
-Seated carte de visite image of Herman E. Smith and his brother Julius G. Smith.
-Standing carte de visite image of Herman E. Smith in shell jacket with 1st sergeant chevrons, with backmark “J. TAYLOR’S PHOTOGRAPHIC STUDIO, No. 191 Sixth Avenue, Near 13th St.”
-Three of Herman Smith’s discharge documents, by reason of reenlistment as a veteran volunteer and later promotion.
-Smith’s original order appointing him as aid to Colonel Robert M. West
-Smith’s last will and testament written to his brother Julius from Bermuda Hundred, Virginia on July 15, 1864.
-1865 paperback commemorative sermon for Herman E. Smith, delivered at Margaretville, New York and printed in 1865.
-Collection of wartime documents addressed to Julius and Herman Smith.
-Original muster in roll of Herman Smith dated July 1864.
-Large collection of legal documents settling Herman Smith’s accounts and estate.
-Hardcover sermon published in 1878 in memoriam of Reverend Caleb Clapp, from the smith family archive.
The lot includes extensive documentation on the Smith brothers, including a typewritten copy of Julius Smith’s account of his brother’s death, written in 1918. This grouping would make a great addition to any collection of identified Civil War artifacts.
Herman E. Smith - 23 years old. Enlisted on 8/10/1861 at Margrettsville, NY as a Sergeant. On 8/22/1861 he mustered into "E" Co. NY 3rd Cavalry. He Re-enlisted on 12/16/1863. He was Killed on 10/7/1864 at Darbytown Road, VA. Promotions: Qtr Master Serg 12/25/1861. 1st Sergt 1/1/1863. 2nd Lieut 7/2/1864 (As of Co. D). Intra Regimental Company Transfers: 7/2/1864 from company E to company D. 9/10/1864 from company D to company M.
NEW YORK THIRD CAVALRY (Three Years)
Third Cavalry.-Cols., James H. Van Alen, Simon H. Mix, George W. Lewis; Lieut.-Cols., Simon H. Mix, John Mix, George W. Lewis, Ferris Jacobs, Jr., Samuel C. Pierce; Majs., John Mix, Charles Fitz Simmons, Ferris Jacobs, Jr., Alonzo Stearns, Israel H. Putnam, George W. Lewis, George W. Cole, John M. Wilson, Jeptha Garrard, Newton Hall, John Ebbs.
The regiment was named in honor of its first colonel, James H. Van Alen, who received authority from the war department on July 26, 1861, to recruit a regiment of cavalry. As fast as organized the several companies left the state and proceeded to Meridian hill, Washington, where the regiment was organized early in September, Col. Van Alen assuming command on the 9th. Cos. A, C and H were recruited at Rochester; B at Syracuse; D at Schoharie, Schenevus, Schaghticoke, Albany, Cobleskill, Gallupville and Unadilla; E at Delhi, Deposit, Elmira, Margaretville, Middletown and Walton; F at Medina, Newstead and Newfane; G at Utica, Leyden, Boonville, Lowville and Watson; I at Syracuse and North Hamburg; K at Elmira, Brockport and Rochester; L at Cincinnati and Xenia, Ohio.
The original Co. M was a New Jersey company, which was transferred in April, 1862, to the 1st N. J. cavalry and a new company M was raised at Rochester and Brockport in Sept., 1862, to take its place. The different companies were mustered into the U. S. service at various periods from May 14 to Sept. 13, 1861, at Syracuse, Albany, Elmira, Boonville and Cincinnati, Ohio, for three years.
Before the expiration of its term of service in 1864, many of the original members reenlisted and with the recruits continued in the service. The regiment served in Banks' and Stone's divisions, Army of the Potomac, until April, 1862, when it was ordered South and served in the Department of North Carolina and the 18th corps during the remainder of 1862 and all of 1863.
In April, 1864, it was assigned to the 1st brigade, Kautz's cavalry division, Army of the James, and saw much hard service with that organization during the remainder of the war. In the operations against Petersburg in May, 1864, the 3d lost a total of 37 killed, wounded and missing; in the raid to the South Side and Danville railroads in June it met with a loss of 105 killed, wounded and missing; and in the action on the Darbytown road in October its loss amounted to 52.
When Col. Van Alen resigned in April, 1862, he was succeeded by Col. Simon H. Mix, who developed into one of the most intrepid and efficient cavalry leaders in the service. He commanded the regiment with distinguished credit until June 15, 1864, when he fell in action before Petersburg and Lieut.-Col. George W. Lewis succeeded to the colonelcy.
In July, 1865, while stationed at Norfolk Va., the regiment was reduced by consolidation to five companies, A, B, C, F and L, and on July 21 it was united with the 1st mounted rifles to form the 4th provisional regiment volunteer cavalry (q. v.). During its entire term of service the 3d took part in about 122 engagements, besides many minor affairs.
The regiment lost 3 officers and 48 men killed in action and mortally wounded; 1 officer and 155 men died of disease, accidents, etc.; total deaths, 207, of whom 38 men died as prisoners. Five officers and 170 men are recorded as missing.
Source: The Union Army, Vol. 2, p. 183