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 [Biography] Martin Smith

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Martin Smith
Martin Smith
US Army

Posts : 5
Join date : 2018-09-21

[Biography] Martin Smith Vide
PostSubject: [Biography] Martin Smith   [Biography] Martin Smith I_icon_minitime25.09.18 2:36

Early Life and Childhood

Born in County Cork, Ireland June 12th, 1824 to parents Mary and Patrick O'Grady, Martin was the fourth of what would be seven children. Martin's father tended the family's farm with his children helping with the house chores. They were by no means rich but they survived through hard work and determination. Being a middle child, Martin found that he had always had to follow his older brothers example and to protect his younger sisters. This gave him a protective nature towards those weaker than himself. Growing up in Ireland, as his older brothers tended to the farm with his father, Martin was pushed to get an education so he can become a businessman or a banker. He found that he was not particularly interested in either and had a mind for adventure.

This came in 1840 as Martin's family left Ireland due to the urging of his uncles who had emigrated to the United States. They sent letters telling of vast land and opportunities to make a better life. And so, convinced, Martin's father brought the entire family to Charleston, South Carolina where he ran a general store with the help of his children. Martin found that life in the city was dazzling and interesting, there was always something happening. As the family stayed in America, they grew to love the nation and the new lives it gave them. Their father changed their family name to become more "American" and so the O'Gradys became the Smiths.

Martin found time away from his work and studies to explore the city. Eventually on one of his walks he found the Citadel Military Academy and saw the cadets in their grey uniforms. He saw soldiers and sailors out on liberty in the city enjoying the taverns and not so upstanding areas of town. Of all the military personnel he saw on his adventures he found the officers to be the most exciting to find. The men who commanded hundreds or thousands. He knew what he wanted to do with his life, he wanted adventure, discipline, but most of all he wanted to make his family proud.

West Point

Martin saw an opportunity and with his fathers store providing financial aid and connections with local politicians, he gained entry to West point to become an officer in 1841. He found the newly found independence from home took some time to get used to but Martin always found a way to stay busy through working or studying. He found that most of the other students didn't care for him because of his Irish origins but he overcame that quickly through finding other Irish students and sticking together. Martin found that during practical, hands-on, instruction he excelled, but when it came to retain knowledge solely from books he found that he absorbed the knowledge at a slower pace.

For four years Martin dedicated himself to his studies, playing to his strengths and studying extra on his weaknesses. He found that he loved the discipline and camaraderie of the army. Now he knew this is what he wanted to do and that he looked forward to the challenges of an officer.

Martin Graduated 1845 within the top 20 of his class, well above average. He was humble enough to recognize that there were better men than him and was satisfied that he had completed school with such an achievement. Now he looked forward to the future career as an Army Officer.

When the United States Annexed Texas in 1845, most of the Smith family moved to the abundant lands and even more opportunity of Texas. Who Martins uncle help gained independence for from Mexico.

Mexican American War

When the Mexican American war broke out Martin found himself fighting Indians on the Frontier with Company I, 3rd Infantry Regiment. Seeing an opportunity to finally do what he has been trained for, Martin put in a request for assignment to Zachary Taylor's army but found it denied. The army had many volunteers to fill the ranks and Martin was too late. The army needed him in the frontier so that was where Martin stayed reading the newspapers about victory after victory over Mexico's armies.

Martin tried to keep his ind off the war. If the army wanted him there they would have sent him, he must do his duty. As always he kept himself busy with work, this time to avoid depression over not being a part of the only war in his lifetime.

A year later, Martin's Company received orders to the Texas border to join the army under Winfield Scott. In short time he landed with Scott at Vera Cruz, staying active with the fighting on the road to Mexico City it was at the battle of Chapultepec where Martin distinguished himself.

His commanding officer, Colonel Brown, wrote "In his part attaining victory in the assault on Chapultepec, I wish to mention Leiutenant Martin Smith's unwavering courage and devotion to duty in the face of overwhelming odds. In the assault before the castle Smith led the way to clear Meican soldiers from a grove of trees between our forces and the castle. Recognizing this threat to the main attack, Smith quickly dispatched his men to clear these troops. Once the way to the castle was clear Smith and his men rejoined the now stalled attack while troops waited for scaling ladders.

"During this period Smith kept his men calm and firing to cover the brigade bringing scaling ladders. Once the ladders were at the walls, Smith once more led the way with his men being some of the first to scale the walls of the castle. Lieutenant Smith's leadership proved invaluable in the taking of the castle and should be looked upon favorably for future promotion or reward."

Martin Smith would politely refuse credit for his actions and would direct them towards his men who he led. His humble attitude would rub some officers the wrong way as if he had slapped them for not accepting praise. But, Martin was proud to do his job and he saw his actions as just that.

Once the war was over he stayed in Mexico City with his platoon witnessing the execution of the San Patricio Battalion, Irish Americans who after mistreatment and witnessing crimes committed against fellow Catholics, Mexicans, they abandoned the army and joined Mexico's army. A crime some would not let men of Irish descent never forget. Martin felt that each man of them made his choice that he felt was right, no matter how wrong he personally felt it was. He respected those men for doing what they thought was right, but at the same time he felt that they had also abandoned their duty to the United States Army.

Postwar Years

After the war Martin was once more on Frontier Duty, this time to Texas where most of his family moved to because of the fast growing economy of the newly added land to the United States. His father became more successful with running a hotel in San Antonio which he would visit on his few week long liberty. He would also take tie to visit his brothers and sisters spread out over Texas if he found the opportunity.

Smith found that he and his family loved Texas much more than they did the Carolinas. Smith, who only lived in South Carolina for a year only saw it as a stopping point before he became an officer. With his posting to different forts in Texas he found that more than the wildlife and the people, he loved the land of Texas more than anything. He knew this is where he will build a home and family.

Throughout the 1850's Smith traveled across Texas to see the land and people interact. He found it amazing to find to much variety. German communities, Mexican Rancheros, Anglo towns, Vaqueros and Rangers, Irish and Africans. He found the land and its people interesting. Certainly more unique than other states he traveled. Even with the slow advancement of peacetime army he realized he loved his job. He was no longer defending the United States, he was now defending his home.

He even built a home outside of Fort Worth where he kept his sister after her husband died. This would be his home away from the army, a refuge where he could relax and not worry about military matters.

With the coming approach of hostilities between the states in 1860, Smith had to make a decision. To take up arms for his adopted state of Texas, or will he stay with the Union?

His family urged him to side with his state, his home that he loves dearly. The place where his family are now settled. What his family could not see were Smith's commitment to the army, to his country. He felt that he could not turn back on the Nation that has provided for him and his family since they arrived. He only wished for his home to remain a part of the United States, that it was foolish for the states to secede when they could settle their arguments peacefully.

Was it not the United States that accepted them as Immigrants? Was it not the United States that Martin had fought and served for most of his life? Martin understood the troops who were more loyal to their states than to the Union, any man would rightly call themselves a New Yorker or a Carolinian before they call themselves an American. But Smith felt that his loyalty, personally, was ultimately to the United States.

And so he left Texas when he was ordered to leave along with all other troops stationed across the state. He came to Washington with his remaining troops who were all northerners. He knew they did question his loyalties behind his back. He had reassured them that he was loyal to the Union. But the troops had shown some hints of doubt, but nothing short of openly questioning him.

While awaiting in Washington Martin had been offered a commission into the volunteer army. He quickly turned it down. "No New Yorker in their right mind would accept command from an Irishman whose home is in the south." Martin requested a position in a regular army regiment, even if he had to be overqualified. So he awaits his new assaignment surrounded by men both professional old army and new generals who moments before were civilians. Both suspicious of the Irish, adopted southerner's loyalties. A suspicion he wishes to disprove on the battlefield.

Timeline Military Career Ranks held:

  • [Biography] Martin Smith 2lttin10 2nd Lieutenant (August 1845)
  • [Biography] Martin Smith 1lttin10 1st Lieutenant (December 1847)
  • [Biography] Martin Smith Captti10 Captain (May 1853)
  • [Biography] Martin Smith Majtin10 Major (July 1859)
  • [Biography] Martin Smith Ltcolt10 Lieutenant Colonel (Janurary 1862)

Short Biography

Name Martin Smith
Date of Birth June 12, 1824
Age 38
Place of Birth County Cork, Ireland
Date of Death -
Place of Death -
Mother Mary
Father Partick
  • Joseph
  • Connor
  • Sarah
  • Marie
  • Allegiance USA / PRO-NORTH
    Army USA Army
    Branch INFANTRY
    Prior Service US Army
    Years of Service 17 (US Army)
  • Current Rank Lieutenant Colonel
    Former Ranks
  • 2nd Lieutenant
  • 1st Lieutenant
  • Captain
  • Major
  • War Service

  • Battles of
  • Vera Cruz
  • Cero Gordo
  • Contreras
  • Churubusco
  • Molino Del Ray
  • Chapultepec
  • Current Location Washington DC

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