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Grouping of William A. Smith 1st and 40th Mass. WIA at Drewry's Bluff


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Grouping of William A. Smith, 1st and 40th Massachusetts Infantry - WIA Drewry’s Bluff


Probably my best find of the year so far. My thanks to this group for helping me save this from the dump! An incredibly complete group of badges, documents and photos of William Austin Smith. 1st and 40th Massachusetts. The highlights of the group include, the beautifully painted escutcheon with 2 dozen battle honors, a rare Third Army Corps Union badge and a wartime Matthew Brady of Smith.


Biographical Sketch


Born in New Hampshire in 1836 William Smith came from a proud military family. His grandfather having fought at Bunker Hill. Prior to the start of the war Smith relocated to Boston, where he would enlist in Co. H of the 1st Massachusetts Volunteers.


1st Massachusetts Service


Marching south with the 1st smith would see his first combat at Bull Run, where their brigade was the last to leave the field. On the Peninsula, now attached to the famous Third Corps. The 1st would be the tip of the spear. Notably, at Yorktown, Williamsburg and Fair Oaks. After the bloodbath in Virginia. The newly minted Corporal Smith would fight at 2nd Bull Run and Chantilly. Before being mustered out for promotion. First to Lt, then to captain in Feb of 63.

Earmarked for the newly formed 40th Massachusetts Smith would do miscellaneous staff duty in DC. Following the Army of the Potomac to Gettysburg where he was present with the reserves. After that battle Smith would be detailed to the staff of General Adelbert Ames. Participating in the chase of Lee’s army Smith would soon find himself even further south.


40th Massachusetts Service


In the fall of 1863, Captain Smith would continue to serve on the Staff of General Ames. Taking part in the Siege of Charleston. The 40th would suffer their first casualties in the trenches before Fort Wagner. After the final surrender of that redoubt Captain Smith and the 40th would be earmarked for the Jacksonville Expedition.

Converted to mounted infantry and armed with repeating rifles the 40th would distinguish themselves at Olustee. Where their repeaters would cover the federal retreat.

After the Jacksonville Expedition, Capt. Smith and the 40th would be called up to Virginia. Attached to the Army of the James, they’d see sharp fighting in the Bermuda Hundred campaign. Including at Drewy’s Bluff, where Smith was shot in the side. This wound would end his wartime career. Being mustered out in late 1864.




Postwar, Captain Smith would become deeply involved in a multitude of veterans organizations. As represented by membership badges in the display. He was a member of the Loyal Legion, Third Army Corps Union, 1st Massachusetts Volunteer Association, Union Veteran Legion and of course the GAR.

Smith would pass away in 1909. Leaving a daughter, from whose heirs I purchased this very group.

All in all a great group, with some rare pieces and an exceptional service record!









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M24 Chaffee

Congratulations! Very cool and interesting grouping! I enjoyed reading your research. 


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3 hours ago, sundance said:

Great Group. Your thought was that it was going to be discarded? 

Yeah, it went unsold at the estate sale. Was talking to a buddy and he said odds were decent  they’d toss it or melt it down for gold value 


and thanks all! As a III Corps and Massachusetts collector I’m very happy with this one

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On 8/6/2023 at 9:05 PM, mdk0911 said:

great pickup - really like those badges!!

Same here! The Third Army Corps Union (Top left) badge is super rare, I've only ever seen one of them listed for sale over at civilwarbadges.com

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