Baldy Smith's "Special Duty"?


2nd Lieutenant
Apr 30, 2012
Jupiter, FL
After Maj. Gen. William F. "Baldy" Smith was relieved of corps command at Petersburg in July 1864, Cullum's Register gives the following:

July 19, 1864 to Nov 22, 1864: awaiting orders at New York City
Nov. 22, 1864 to Dec. 15, 1865: "on special duty, under the orders of the Secretary of War"
Bvt. Brig.‑General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865 for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Battle of Chattanooga.
Bvt. Maj.‑General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865, for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Field during the Rebellion.
Resigned Volunteer Commission, Nov. 4, 1865
On leave of absence Dec. 15, 1865 to Mar. 7, 1867 when he resigned his Regular Commission.

What "special duty" was Baldy Smith assigned to?


Lt. Colonel
Member of the Year
May 18, 2011
Carlisle, PA
It seems to have been a way for officers to remain "active" but having no real responsibilities. Sometimes they would preside over courts-martial but usually they were just at home awaiting further orders.



Lt. Colonel
Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
May 7, 2016
From my many years in the US Army when an officer was on Special Duty, he was counting something somewhere. Out of sight out of mind.

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012
I am not sure what William F. "Baldy" Smith did while he was on Special Duty. I guess he did anything the Secretary of War told him to do, but Ryan is probably right that he did not have any real job or responsibilities.