Lt Algernon Emory Smith


Algernon Emory Smith was born September 17, 1842 in New York state. In June 1862, after attending Hamilton College in New York, he enlisted in the 7th US Regular Infantry. Algernon Smith won an appointment as a 2nd Lieutenant of the 117th New York Volunteer Infantry on August 20, 1862 and later was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on September 20, 1862. While fighting at Fort Fisher, in January 1865, he was severely wounded. Following Lt. Smith’s brave actions he was brevetted a Major of US Volunteers on March 13, 1865 as a reward. Lt. Smith was mustered out of the US Army on May 15, 1865 following the US Civil War.

After the war on August 9, 1867 Algernon Smith was appointed 2nd Lieutenant, 7th US Cavalry serving under General George Armstrong Custer. Lt. Algernon Smith liked General Custer and the feeling was mutual. Lt. Smith soon became part of the "Custer Clan". General Custer gave him the nickname "Fresh" Smith to differentiate him from another Trooper who bore the nickname "Salty" Smith. While serving with the 7th US Cavalry he married Nettie B. Bowen on October 10, 1867 at her home in Newport, New York.

Lt. Algernon Smith saw his first action against Indian Warriors in the 1868 Washita Campaign. He was once again promoted to 1st Lieutenant on December 5, 1868. Lt. Smith participated in most of the 7th Cavalry's campaigns, including the 1873 Yellowstone campaign and as Assistant Quartermaster in the 1874 Black Hills expedition prior to the ill-fated Battle of The Little Big Horn.

At the June 25, 1876 Battle of The Little Big Horn, Lt. Algernon Smith was assigned to Company E, whose commander was at Fort Leavenworth. Lt. Smith normally commanded Company A. Company E was known as "The Gray Horse Troop". Using a Civil War tactic, General George Custer divided the 7th US Cavalry’s twelve companies by the color of their horses. General Custer felt the Troopers could find their respective Company, with greater ease, in the heat of battle by recognizing a horse color.

Like all of the Troopers who accompanied General Custer, Lt. Smith was killed in the battle. Lt. Smith’s body was found on Last Stand Hill. Lt. Smith’s death was not at the location of the men of his immediate command. Many theories exist as to why. Like many of the various versions of the battle, most are reasonable, some unlikely but possible, and others mere foolishness. It is said the Indians noticed the Company E mounts because gray horses weren't common in the Indian camps. Indian Warrior Foolish Elk said "The Gray Horse Troop" were mounted and moving forward, followed by a company of Troopers on foot. Foolish Elk said they stayed ahead of those on foot and didn't wait for them, "The soldiers must have known now that they were all going to die.".

Lt. Algernon Smith, like all the 7th US Cavalry Troopers, was initially hastily buried near where his arrow riddled body was found. Lt. Smith was re-interred in 1877 at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. His widow, Nettie B. Smith, died on April 4, 1903


Lt Algernon Emory Smith

Lt Smith's gravesite




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