There are eight Confederate icons enshrined by their states as heroes of the Confederacy and hold places of honor in the U.S. Capitol:
Jefferson Davis and James Zachariah George of Mississippi
Wade Hampton III of South Carolina
Robert E. Lee of Virginia
Edmund Kirby Smith of Florida
Alexander Hamilton Stephens of Georgia
Zebulon Baird Vance of North Carolina
Joseph Wheeler of Alabama
Let’s take a look at one of them – E. Kirby Smith.
Smith was born in St. Augustine, Florida in 1824. He got his nickname Seminole because of his native state. He went to a military boarding school, and then to the United States Military Academy.
Smith was honored for bravery in the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846-48, serving under Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott. He later taught math at the Academy, and served in the cavalry on the frontier. His botany reports were published by the Smithsonian. But in 1861, he resigned from the U.S. Army to join the Confederate army.
Smith joined as a Major in the regular artillery and quickly rose through the ranks to brigadier general in 1861. Smith helped to organize the Army of the Shenandoah. He was badly wounded in his neck and shoulder while leading his troops in the battle of Bull Run. He returned to duty a few months later.
He took command the Army of East Tennessee and won a victorious combat at the Battle of Richmond. For his victory, Smith received the Confederate “Thanks of Congress” in February 1864.
In June of 1865, he signed the terms of surrender for the last Confederate field army in Galveston, Texas.
After the war, Smith ran the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Co. and became chancellor of the University of Nashville in Tennessee, near what is now Vanderbilt University. When he died of pneumonia in 1893, he was the last surviving full general of either army.
At Smith’s statue unveiling in 1922, a resolution praised his “…justice, his firmness and moderation, his integrity and conscientious regard for law, his unaffected kindness to the people, the protection of their rights and the redress of their wrongs, and has thus won the confidence of Congress.”
In 1943 during World War II, the 422-foot liberty ship SS E. Kirby Smith was built in Panama City, Florida, in his honor.SS E. Kirby Smith Liberty Ship 1943