News and Music Discovery
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

[Audio] Allen Mesch on the Civil War General You May Not Know, But Should

Matthew Brady
National Archives and Records Administration

If you're familiar with the American Civil War, you likely know the names Ulysses S. Grant, James Longstreet, and William Tecumseh Sherman.  They were among the men whose decisions and strategies charted the course of the war and ultimately, that of American history.  Charles Ferguson Smith is arguably no less important, but considerably less well-known.  And Plano, Texas history professor Allen Mesch is out to change that.

Ferguson was a career Army officer (Novelist Shelby Foote called him "Regular Army to the shoe-soles) who taught these future generals, among many others, when they were West Point cadets.  Smith also commanded Federal garrisons at Paducah and Smithland when the Civil War finally came to western Kentucky in 1861.  In his biography of Smith, Teacher of Civil War Generals: Major General Charles Ferguson Smith, Mesch says the Pennsylvanian's disappearance from history started with a tragic accident just before the April 1862 Battle of Shiloh that not only ended Smith's career, but also his life.

Allen Mesch will speak about the man he describes as creating "life-long learners" Thursday, March 24 at the McCracken County Public Library's free Evening Upstairs program.  He spoke with Todd Hatton first to offer a preview and to talk about his fascination, and affection, for Charles F. Smith.

Todd Hatton hails from Paducah, Kentucky, where he got into radio under the auspices of the late, great John Stewart of WKYX while a student at Paducah Community College. He also worked at WKMS in the reel-to-reel tape days of the early 1990s before running off first to San Francisco, then Orlando in search of something to do when he grew up. He received his MFA in Creative Writing at Murray State University. He vigorously resists adulthood and watches his wife, Angela Hatton, save the world one plastic bottle at a time.
Related Content