Charles Henry Smith was born on November 1, 1827 in Hollis, Maine. He graduated from Waterville (Colby) College in 1856, and became the principal of Eastport High School until 1860. After the call for Volunteers to serve in the Civil War, Smith enlisted and was recruited Captain of Company D of the 1st Maine Cavalry in 1861. He was made Major, Lieutenant Colonel, and then Colonel in 1863. He was in command of the 1st Maine Cavalry at Gettysburg. He was mustered out of the 1st Maine Cavalry in August of 1865. After discharge from the Civil War, he was a lawyer in Eastport from 1865-1866, and also served in the Maine Senate in 1866. He reentered the regular army after the Civil War and remained until his retirement in 1891. He commanded forts at Fort Lyon, Colorado; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Fort Brown, Texas; and was in command of all the troops around New Orleans during the Reconstruction riots in 1872. In 1879 he was in command of troops to expel invading Kansas settlers from the Indian Territory. In 1895 he received the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallant and meritorious service in the Battle of St. Mary's Church, June 1864, where he was severely wounded in the thigh. He died in Washington, DC in July of 1902, and is buried in Arlington Cemetery with high military honors.
The Smith Collection contains various materials gathered about Charles Henry Smith, including correspondence during and post-Civil War years - primarily documenting his service in the US Army - with both Maine and non-Maine military and political personalities, such as: David M. Gregg, Oliver Otis Howard, Harris Merrill Plaisted, Eugene Hale, John L. Hodsdon, J.A. Milliken, W.E. Miller, E.R. Platt, F.A. Pike, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, E.O.C. Ord, and others, as well as some descriptions from the field written by Smith to various military figures. The collection also contains several personal documents, including diplomas, military and legal appointments, certificates of membership in various associations, and application for the medal of honor. The collection also contains several 1st Maine Cavalry artifacts.
Collection of Charles Henry Smith Materials, Colby College Special Collections, Waterville, Maine.