Brigadier General William Smith

William Smith
William "Extra Billy" Smith commanded a brigade in Jubal Early's division of I Corps. While contracting for a daily postal route between Washington, DC and the then state capital, Milledgeville, GA, during President Andrew Jackson's administration in the 1830s, he extended the route to numerous spurs for which he was given extra payments. When President Jackson's Postmaster General came under scrutiny for his payments to contractors, Smith's "extras" were discovered, and hence the nickname "Extra Billy."

On 1 July, Smith's brigade was at the rear of Early's column approaching Gettysburg along the Harrisburg Pike. Hearing a report from Smith of a Federal corps approaching on his left, Early held Smith's brigade in the rear to cover his flank. While disbelieving the rumors, Early also sent John Gordon's brigade to support Smith. The loss of these two brigades came at the time that Richard Ewell was making the decision whether or not to continue the attack to Cemetery Hill that afternoon.

On 2 July, Smith's brigade joined in the Confederate assault on Culp's Hill where his actions are open to some speculation. On one hand he is said to have gallantly moved his men to the highest position he could find and on the other is is accused of moving too far forward and exposing his men needlessly.

Tagg, L., The Generals of Gettysburg. Savas Publishing Co., Campbell, CA, 1998.

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Created 11 NOV 1999; Modified 23 JUL 2014