1880's cabinet card of Major General Francis H. Smith (1839-1889), who was the very first Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute.
Please see below for a brief biography.
Cabinet card is in fine condition, with wear as shown in the scan. No backmark, but image attributed to Miley of Lexington, Va.
$350.00 plus shipping
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Smith was appointed a Brevet Brigadier General in the Virginia Militia on April 24, 1861, then a colonel in the 9th Virginia Infantry Regiment on July 7, 1861. He was often absent and returned to VMI when it reopened in late 1861. He was dropped as colonel of the 9th Virginia Infantry Regiment in the reorganization of May 8, 1862 and then was Colonel of the VMI Infantry battalion between April 30, 1862 and May 18, 1862, May 11, 1864 and June 27, 1864 and March 1865 and April 1865. At some date not shown in the references, possibly coincident with his appointment as "major general of cadets," he was appointed a major general in the Virginia Militia. He was appointed "major general of cadets" on December 18, 1861 according to the inscription below his statue shown in the accompanying image. Regardless whether the date of that appointment coincided with the date of his appointment as major general in the Virginia Militia, his appointments in the Confederate Army were only to positions with the rank of colonel.
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.