Prelude to the Raid
The Raid
The Sequel
Medal of Honor
The Raid Lives On
Links of Interest
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The gravesite and real name of Private Smith was one of the last mysteries of the Andrews Raid.

James Smith’s mother, Mrs. Mary Smith, applied for a pension on account of her son’s military service on May 29, 1884, and gave her address as Parkersburg, W VA, Wood County. She was then 77 years of age, and her husband, the Rev. Samuel Smith, had died at the age of 81 on October 4, 1880. Mrs. Smith stated in her application that she was the “Mother of (James Smith) Ovid Smith, who enlisted under the name of James Smith, at Circleville, Ohio, on the 15th of August, 1861, in Company I, 2nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, who went in to the Army healthy and was afflicted with Rheumatism and Catarrh on his discharge. He enlisted without his parent’s consent and was only 16 years of age, but gave his age as 22.”

“He was never well after his return but continued in bad health until his death on the 28th of January, 1868, and was never married.”

Mrs. Smith appointed S.F. Shaw, a lawyer of Parkersburg, as her attorney to prosecute her claim. Shaw wrote a covering letter addressed to the Honorable Commissioner of Pensions and stated: “Enclosed please find application for pension of Mrs. Mary Smith. This son for gallant service was given a Medal by Congress which I have here and will file with the papers when numbered. Ovid, who enlisted as James Smith, formerly lived here and was well-known in this city. No difficulty in proving the identity of the same.”

Along with Mary Smith’s pension application was additional information relative to James Smith’s military service not heretofore obtained from the National Archives. This data indicated that James Smith enrolled as a private in Lieutenant Julius F. Williams, Company I, Second Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment on the 15th day of August, 1861, at Circleville, Ohio, to serve three years, was mustered in on September 3, 1861, at Camp Dennison, Ohio, and was discharged from the service of the United States on the 10th day of October,1864 at Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio. The record further indicates that James Smith was born in Fredericksburg, VA, was 22 years of age, 5 feet 9 inches tall, with dark complexion, black eyes, black hair, and by occupation, was a mechanic.

With this information, the writer got in touch with Harry D. Lynch, editor and publisher of the West Virginia Hillbilly, in December, 1982, and asked him to publicize the matter and see if some reader in Parkersburg could help locate the resting place of James Smith. In early January, 1983, word came from Charles E. Arnold of Vienna, and Wes Cochran of Parkersburg, that James Smith’s parents were buried there in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery. More importantly, they enclosed a print from a microfilm copy of a portion of the West Virginia Weekly Times, Parkersburg, Thursday, February 6, 1868, with a death notice of Ovid W. Smith. The obituary states:

In Columbus, Ohio on
January 28, 1868, Ovid W.
Smith, youngest son of the
Rev. Samuel and Mary Smith
of Parkersburg, W VA

This information was communicated to Doug Byrum in Columbus and he soon concluded that James Smith had to be buried in Green Lawn Cemetery, the oldest in Columbus. A visit to the cemetery revealed that he was buried there. The records of Green Lawn Cemetery reflect that Ovid W. Smith, was interred in the Samuel Smith lot, burial No. 3359, Lot No. 84, Section C, on January 31, 1868. The record also indicates that he was born on November 9, 1844, at Fredricksburg, VA. That he died on January 28, 1868, at Columbus, Ohio, and that his parents names were: Samuel and Mary Smith. The cause of death was listed as pneumonia. The undertaker was Taylor, O’Hara, and Company of Columbus. The inscription on his tombstone reveals his full name as Ovid Wellford Smith.

James Smith joined Corporal Samuel Lewellyn, of Company I, 33rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and together they started for Marietta. Near the town of Jasper, Tennessee, some 30 miles west of Chattanooga, they were sharply questioned as strangers. They decided to join a local Confederate Artillery unit, as they had been instructed to do by Andrews in such an event, with the intention of escaping later.

All went well until April 29, 1862, when their unit was engaged with elements of General Mitchel’s Division, their parent unit, near Bridgeport, Alabama. During the course of the action, Llewellyn made a run for it and escaped over the Tennessee River bridge back to his own unit of the 33rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Smith was not able to get away. Llewellyn’s action put Smith under greater suspicion and he was then placed under arrest and soon found himself in the Swims Jail in Chattanooga where Andrews’ remaining 21 members of the party were. The jail was a two-story building and Smith was placed in the upper story whereas the rest were on the ground floor. In this way, it is doubted that Smith ever came in contact with other members of the party and they made no effort to recognize or communicate with him. Smith was there, apparently, because of questionable loyalty and not because he was known to be a member of the Andrews Raiding Party.

At their initial meeting, Andrews had instructed the men if they were pressed too much about their presence or identity, to say they were from Fleming County, Kentucky, and going south to join a Confederate Army unit and, if necessary, to join and later escape back to their own lines. Andrews knew that no one from Fleming County, Kentucky had enlisted in the Confederate Army, and he felt this would be a safe course of action. It had the reverse effect in several instances, such as Porter and Hawkins, as it indicated to the Confederates that these strange men were all from the same party who had seized the train at Big Shanty. It is not known whether Smith or Llewellyn used the story. If they did, the information apparently was not conveyed to the Confederate authorities in Chattanooga and at the Swims Jail for Smith was not treated as a member of Andrews Party.

It appears that Smith spent several months in the Swims Jail. On May 2, 1862, the other members of the party were moved from Chattanooga to Madison, Georgia, for a few days. Smith did not accompany the group. His service record indicates that he was on “detached service” during April and May, 1862, and that he was not present for duty until September, 1862. Sometime during that period, he was released for the Swims Jail and returned to his Confederate unit. Then he was able to make good his escape and rejoin the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He was promoted from private to corporal on September 25, 1862, and this may have been related to his return from detached service. Sometime during May and June, 1863, he was under arrest for “sleeping on post.” This infraction probably caused his reduction in rank to private, and we find he was on furlough for some period in January and February, 1864. Later in 1864, he probably was fighting in the Atlanta Campaign under General William T. Sherman, for the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Inventory Regiment was part of Brig. Gen. William P. Carlin’s First Brigade of Brig. Gen. John M. Palmer’s 14th Corp of the Army of Tennessee. The regiment did not complete the campaign for it was ordered back to Chattanooga on July 27, 1864. Wilbur G. Kurtz was in Tiffin, Ohio, and in conversation with William J. Knight and Jacob Parrott, two members of the raiding party, was told that James Smith had been killed in the Atlanta Campaign. The 2nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, after being withdrawn from Sherman’s forces, made its way back to Ohio, where the unit was mustered out of the service on October 10, 1864, at Camp Chase. The members had served their three years. Private James Smith was among those discharged and his record indicated that he was then 19 years of age. This corresponds with his birth date of November 9, 1844, as indicated in the burial records of Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus.

The first awards of the Medal of Honor, our Nation’s highest award for valor, were made to those Andrews Raiders who were exchanged in March, 1863. Subsequently, additional awards were made to others who had been executed and who had escaped. Eventually 19 of the 22 soldiers who had gone with Andrews were awarded the Medal of Honor.

On June 29, 1864, Brig. Gen. Edward Canby, Assistant General of the Army, wrote in Washington, to Maj. Gen. W.S. Rosecrans, Commanding Department of the Cumberland, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, as follows:

“The Secretary of War has received information of another survivor of the secret service expedition sent out by the late Gen. O.M. Mitchel, in April, 1862 — Private James Smith, Compy I, 2nd Ohio Vols — who he intends to place on the same footing as the other men of his party, as regards compensation and medal.

“I am therefore instructed by the Secretary of War to enclose herewith a draft for one hundred dollars ($100), for which you will cause Private Smith to sign a receipt to be transmitted to the Chief Clerk of the War Department.

“His claim for commutation of rations while a prisoner will be made to Commissary General of Prisoners, and for that property lost or destroyed will be verified by affidavit and sent to the proper officer for final settlement.”

James Smith’s father wrote a letter applying for the medal and stating that his son had been one of the raiders and had been in a Confederate prison for some time. The record does indicate that on July 6, 1864, more than a year later, James Smith was awarded the Medal of Honor for being one of the Andrews Raiders.

It is not known for sure what James Smith did during those three years plus following his release from military service in 1864. The Columbus (Ohio) City Directory for 1867-68 reflects that Ovid W. Smith lived in Columbus and was working as a machinist for the Columbus and Indiana Central Railway Company whose office was located at 229 North High Street and whose shops were located one mile west of High Street on Railroad Avenue. Smith had given his occupation as “mechanic” when he enlisted in the service, so it follows that he gained employment in that field following his discharge. The Columbus City Directory for 1866-67 indicates that Howard M. Smith lived on Maple Street west of North High Street. His occupation was listed as “railroad man.” James Smith had an older brother whose name was Howard M. Smith and we can assume that James remained in Columbus after his military service and probably lived with this man, his brother, Howard, and they both worked for the Columbus and Indiana Central RR. This railroad subsequently became a part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system.

When James Smith died in 1868, his death was recorded in the Probate Court Records of Franklin County (Columbus) Ohio, and the data recorded is the same as previously discussed including his birth place as Fredricksburg, Virginia. The entry is probably based on the burial records, for the information is the same. The lot in which Smith’s remains were buried in Green Lawn Cemetery was owned by his father, The Rev. Samuel Smith, and so far as the records indicate, there is only one burial on the lot.

From The West Virginia Hillbilly, May 7, 1983


Biography of Pvt. James (Ovid Wellford) Smith


Andrews | Bensinger
| Buell
Buffum | Campbell
Dorsey | Hawkins
Knight | Llewellyn
Mason |
| Pittenger
| Reddick
| Ross
| Shadrach
| Smith
| J.Wilson
Wollam | Wood

Bond | Bracken
| Cox
Fuller | Haney
| Henderson
Martin | Murphy
| Stokley


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