Francis H. Smith Outgoing Correspondence
March 20 - April 5, 1860

Smith 1859-1860 top level     Smith Papers top level  

 Francis H. Smith, circa 1862 

Notes on the transcription-- Salutations (My Dear Sir, etc) and closings (Very truly etc.) are omitted. All letters were written from VMI unless noted otherwise. FHS=Francis H. Smith.

Some of the original letters are faded and illegible in parts. Illegible or omitted words are enclosed in parentheses.

Francis Smith was Superintendent of VMI for fifty years, from the Institute's founding in 1839 until his retirement in 1889. He died in 1890. Additional biographical information is located here.


March 20, 1860
William H. Whiting Esq. 48 Merchant's Exchange. New York
In reply to your letter of the 17, I send you a catalogue &copy of our last annual Report. The conditions of this Institute do not oppose the admission of non-residents, except when the applications from Va exceed the ability of the Institute to accommodate. Preference must then be given to Residents. The Institute is very full & is likely to have an overwhelming list of applicants this year./FHS/

March 20, 1860
Capt. R.T.W. Duke. Charlottesville Va.
Your letter with the accompanying order from the Adjutant Gen'l has been rec'd & I have forwarded to you by way of Staunton & the Central Rail Road 4 Boxes containing 50 percussion Rifles & implements. I have added to these, at the request of Mr. Henderson, 60 Rifle flask & shot (powd) belts, 60 shot pouches & 60 cap pouches for rifles. These are not included in your order, so that you will have to get an order from the Adj.Gen'l to cover all the accoutrements, otherwise you must return items. I do not know whether your bond corresponds with the existing law. I will inquire & inform you. The possibility is, it will be necessary to change it to include the accoutrements./FHS/

March 20, 1860
Richard S. Sims. Ryland Depot, Greenville Co. Va.
RE: Cadet R. H. Sims, VMI Class of 1864.
I am in rec't of your favor of the 15 Inst. & it will give me pleasure to submit the claims of your son for appointment as Pay Cadet this Summer. To this end, please send me his full name & let it be accompanied by a testimonial from his last teacher. showing what studies he has prosecuted, & his usual diligence & deportment. I send you a copy of our last Catalogue & annual Report./FHS/

March 20, 1860
J.M. Whitehurst Esq. Princess Anne Co. Va.
Your letter of the 14th is rec'd, I presume ere this you have rec'd my letter with a copy of our Catalogue. I send you today another Catalogue & a copy of our Annual Report. Also, enclose a printed sheet which will give you the information you desire. It will give me great pleasure to give you any additional information if needed. /FHS/

March 20, 1860
Mrs. P. O. Lewis. Nashville, Va.
I am in rect. of your favor of the 15th inst. enclosing check for $34.75 which I have placed to the credit of your son. The deposit now due is $175. Decucting the payment now made, he will need $230.25 which you will please remit as he is now requiring his spring outfit of clothing. /FHS/

March 20, 1860
Charles R. Grandy. Norfolk, Va.
RE: Cadet Patrick H. Grandy, Class of 1864. Also contains a reference to the death of Samuel Forrest, Mrs. Smith's brother-in-law; he was a purser in the U. S. Navy. Forrest married Anna Maria Henderson, the sister of Sarah Henderson Smith.

My protracted absence and sickness since my return have delayed a reply to your letter. I was sorry to hear that your brother still continues unwell & I hope he will be able to assume his duties 1 Apr. He will not be charged with Board, washing, fuel or lights during his absence. You have heard of the death of Purser S. Forrest. He was buried Saturday. With kindest regards to your (illegible) family & best wishes for yourself. /FHS/

March 22, 1860
Letter of Recommendation
RE: William Keiter, Class of 1859
It gives me great pleasure to state that Mr. Wm. Keiter is a graduate of this Institute, & has been successfully engaged in teaching in the Norfolk Academy since his graduation. His qualifications as a teacher are of a very high order & I would strongly recommend his school to the support of the public. /FHS/

March 22, 1860
Capt. George W. Randolph. Richmond VA.
Reference to business conducted by the legislative commission to purchase arms for the state of Virginia. The commission was appointed in January 1860; Smith and Randolph were both members, along with Philip St. George Cocke.
I have rec'd this morning the enclosed letter from Mr. DuPont. Had I not better close an engagement with him for the am't of Powder authorized by our order? It appears time will be required to prepare the am't & I presume by the 1 June, we shall be in funds to pay. Let me know what amount was ordered. $10.000 or $20.000? I made the condition that the powder should be delivered in Richmond at their risk. We could determine at our next meeting where to store it./FHS/

March 22, 1860
W.C. Norris Esq. Warrenton Va.
In reply to your letter of the 17 Inst. I would state that your Senatorial District is now represented by Cadet Hart of Fauquier who graduates July 1861. I can file your son's application & give it the benefit of the first vacancy. Mrs. Smith requests here kind remembrances to you. /FHS/

March 22, 1860
James Ker, Esq. Petersburg, Va.
RE: Cadet Severn P. Ker, VMI Class of 1862.
I am pained to see the list of your son's demerit fearfully increased since 1 January. I find upon a recent examination of his reports, that he has accumulated 110 demerits in the months of January & February, & many of them are for absences from quarters at night. I have immediately sent for him & said that unless his excuses should show some error, it would be my duty forthwith to send him home. I will do all in my power for him & I have deemed it best to write to you at once on the subject./FHS/

March 22, 1860
Not transcribed. Largely illegible, concerning demerits.

March 22, 1860
(first name illegible) Cowper Esq. Portsmouth Va.
I have much disappointment that the draft given to Messr. J. M. Smith & Bro. on you, on acct. of the expenses of your nephew, has not yet been attended to. I have been aware of the personal sacrifices you have all along made to enable you to give an education to your nephew, & I have endeavored to accomodate (any) drafts upon you to meet your (view)as far as I could. There has been no deposit made since Nov. 1848, & he now owes $249. Your early attention to this matter is courteously requested, as the means are absolutely reqd. to meet any engagement on his acct.

March 22, 1860.
(Mr.) LaPrade. Republican (illegible), Halifax Co. Va./
I send herewith a copy of our Catalogue. The minimum age for admission of a Pay Cadet is 16 although if the applicant be well grown & especially if he be well advanced in his studies, admission has been at an earlier age./FHS/

March 22, 1860
Thomas Barnes Esq. (illegible), Florida.
RE: Cadet Joseph Greenwood Barnes, Class of 1862
Your favor of the 12th Inst has been rec'd & will be duly filed. There will be no difficulty in your brother having the furlough (this) summer for which you apply. /FHS/

March 22, 1860
H.C. Boyd Esq. Massie's Mill Nelson Co. Va
RE: Cadet Waller M. Boyd, Class of 1863
I find the demerit of your son for the last two months to have increased most rapidly & I fear culpably from neglect -- & I have considered it my duty at once to write you on the subject. His demerit for Jany & February numbers 113. Something is wrong when such an am't exists & I have immediately sent for him to explain it & re-write his excuses./FHS/

March 22, 1860
D. Chalmers Esq
RE: Cadet Joseph W. Chalmers, Class of 1863
I find that I have (illegible) many payments to make early in April that I shall be compelled to call upon you for your deposit for your son. In this respect, however, it will suit me as well as I have heavy dealings with the Bank to take a negotiable note or draft. Your son is well & doing well./FHS/

March 23, 1860
Capt. George W. Randolph. Richmond Va.
Reference to business conducted by the legislative commission to purchase arms for the state of Virginia. The commission was appointed in January 1860; Smith and Randolph were both members.
I enclose to you today a letter rec'd from the agent of Colt's Establishment. It would be well to let Capt. Dimmock forward at once the revolving carbines &c now at the Armory to them- & let Colt fill up the order for the Navy Pistol. /FHS/

March 23, 1860
In reply to your favor of the 17th Inst. I would state that the next appointments of cadets will be made about 20 June. In the meantime, forward to me your testimonials & let me know your own post office. Your application will be laid before the Board. To enter the 3d Class next year, you should be prepared in Algebra, Geometry & Trigonometry. /FHS/

March 23. 1860
Capt. Lawson Botts. Charles Town, Va.
Botts was graduated from VMI in 1844.
In reply to your question, I would state that the generally received opinion writ up is, that when a sentinel is posted, his gun is reserved by him as his only means of defense & it should never be demanded of him by Officers of the Guard or Officers of the Day. He might be relieved from duty as a sentinel & the post left vacant -- or another sentinel substituted, but it is no place to inspect his arms while on post, for this should be done before being posted. If the sentinel give up his gun for inspection, he virtually disarms himself. /FHS/

March 23, 1860
Capt. R.H. Simpson. Front Royal, Warren Co., Va.
Reference to the legislative commission to purchase arms for the state of Virginia. Smith, of which Smith was a member.
In reply to your letter of the 20th Inst I would say that the Board of Comm of which I am a member, has it in charge to provide the necessary arms for the service of the state -- but we have hitherto found it impossible to purchase any rifles of a description suitable to our want. Should Congress authorize the sale of any, your company can be immediately supplied, otherwise, it may have to wait until arms can be made at the state Armory. I will file your letter./FHS/

March 22, 1860
John M. Preston Esq. 7 Mile Ford, Smythe Co. Va.
RE: Cadet Charles Henry Campbell Preston, VMI Class of 1862.
Since my letter to you of the 16th I have been examining (illegible) the delinquencies of the cadets since the 1 Jany and I was really shocked to find that your son was hazarding his connection with the Institute by the excessive number of his demerits occasioned in a great degree sheer neglect. I have at once called his attention to the matter, to see what excuses he can give, for he has rec'd 120 demerits for the months of January and February./FHS/

March 1860
J. Ravenscroft Jones Esq. Laurenceville Va.
RE: Cadet James H. Morrison, VMI Class of 1860.
Your valued favor of the 19'Inst is rec'd & contents noted. I was not aware, nor was our treasurer, that notices in the case of young Morrison's deposits should be sent to our friend,or this would have been attended to. Cadet Morrison will require about $200 to graduate him. He has had no depositis since (Sept?) 1858./FHS/

March 26, 1860
Rt. Rev. Leonidas Polk. New Orleans, La.
RE: Cadet William M. Polk, VMI Class of 1863.
Altho' there has been marked improvement in your son since 1 Jany, especially in his studies, his demerit list for the months of Jany & Feby just made up show the necessity of a prompt attention on his part. He has 73 for these months. I need not argue with you to convince you that this amount of demerit could not be gotten, without great carelessness & maybe criminality -- and he is now just at the age to have an impression left upon him that may stamp him for life. He is not without pride of character. He is inert & requires more than (illegible) effort to (illegible) him. He values your good opinions & hence I have thought I would at once write to you that you combine your wholesome influence with that which I am now exerting on his behalf. I would add that he is disposed to be extravagant. Perhaps some excess of indulgence has fostered this. I dread to encourage a niggardly parsimony -- but a young man should avoid the opposite extreme. And while he is generous -- let him be just. This is a part & parcel of the carelessness which leads to excessive demerit./FHS/

March 26, 1860
Jacob Houck. Harrisonburg, Va.
RE: Cadet John William Houck, VMI Class of 1861.
May I ask your immediate attention to the deposit due on acct) of your son. We have been placed to some inconvenience by the delay & would be obliged to you to remit the amt due./FHS/

March 26, 1860
Wyatt B. Paris. Talcott P.O., Va.
RE: Cadet Andrew B. Paris, VMI Class of 1860.
I write today to ask specially that you will immediately make the deposit called for on account of your son. I have been making advances to meet the necessary charges for his clothes & the deposit is now absolutely needed to meet the obligations of the Institute. Be pleased to reply by return mail./FHS/

March 26, 1860
James A. Gregory Esq. Christiansville, Va.
RE: Cadet Edward S. Gregory, VMI Class of 1864; mentions his brother William R. Gregory, Class of 1861.
I am sorry to say that the neglect of your son still continues. His demerit for the months of January & Feby is 225. You may judge of the extent of this neglect when I say to you that William has only 3 for the same period. His idleness is the parent of mischief. I have thought it better for him, & it is certainly my duty to the school, to let him return home & I have given him instructions to this effect. There seems to be no visciousness in him, but a general neglect of his duties and studies, which I cannot understand./FHS/

March 27, 1860
Mr.R.P. Carson. Lebanon, Russell Co. Va.
Robert P. Carson, VMI Class of 1854.
Your favor of the 17 Inst has been rec'd. I think the Gov has selected the Coms for the boundary line. At least he asked me a month ago the qualifications of one gentleman whom he thought of appointing. I expect to be in Richmond very soon & if he has not made his appointments, I will take pleasure in calling his attention to you. I am glad to hear you are doing well in Russell. /FHS/

March 27, 1860
Messrs. Bacon & Baskerville, Richmond Va.
During the mid-19th century, Bacon & Baskerville was one of the Institute's major suppliers
I send enclosed quarterly requisition for the Institute, which please fill. We need immediately the fine salt and rice & will thank you to send them by Rail Road to Goshen. Butter is so scarce with us, that I am forced to ask you to get me if possible 10 kegs of the best & send them to Goshen with the Rice & salt. It seem strange that we should be looking to Richmond for butter, but it is so. Our wagon is in the road all day & comes back empty./FHS/

March 27, 1860
Mr. S. Hinten (or Hunter) McKown. Gerrardstown Berkeley Co. Va.
I send you as requested a copy of our Register in which you will find all the information you solicit. The enclosed table of estimated expenses conforms also with that in the Catalogue. If you desire an appointment, your application should be filed before the 20 June./FHS/

March 27, 1860
Dr. E.V. Bargamin. Richmond Va.
Eugene V. Bargamin, VMI Class of 1855. He died of scarlet fever in Paris, July 20, 1860.
I am pleased to hear from your letter that you are on your way to Paris. I envy you the pleasant trip before you, and it will give me great pleasure to aid you in any way in my power. I send you a letter of introduction to some friends of mine in Paris; where you will find many useful to you. You must take all your Diplomas with you & make application through our Minister for admission into the College of Medicine. Go to the Hotel Meunce on arriving in Paris. You will find it a comfortable house & you can remain there until you get private lodgings. Messieur Bassange will aid you in this & in other matters. You will find a good restaurant & a cheap one in the Palais Royal, kept I think by Dumourier. Dennis (illegible). A good bootmaker is Legay No 5 Rue Suresne. Richard is the best tailor - boulevard des Italiens. Do call & see old M. Biot at the College de France & tell him I sent you to see him & give my love to him. He will be glad to see you. If any thing else occurs, let me know & I will gladly give you any help in my power./FHS/

March 27, 1860
Wm O. Harding Esq. Moscow, Polk Co. Texas
RE: Richard James Harding, VMI Class of 1862.
I have duly rec'd your esteemed favor & it gives me pleasure to reply to it. I endeavoured in vain to point out to your son the folly of his course. He had been doing well in his studies & I thought promised to graduate with credit to himself. But the restraints of scholastic life seemed to be burdensome to him & he indicated some desire to the roving life upon the prairies. I advised him then to go to Richmond & report himself to his uncle, & tendered him money for this purpose. I feared at the time & indeed had reason to believe, he was going to Missouri, & on this account I limited the amt of money which I was willing to give him. He has been boarding in Lexington ever since, until about ten days ago, when being taken with mumps, he came down and asked permission to go into our Hospital. There he has been ever since. He is now well enough to go about again & yesterday I had an interview with him, by way of ascertaining his reasons for not going home. he said he was waiting to hear from you. It will give me pleasure to attend to any matter of business he may have left unattended to in Lexington./FHS/

March 29, 1860
Wm H. Whiting Esq. No. 48 Merchants Exchange. New York
Your favor of the 27 is at hand. No cadet appointments will be made before 20 June by which time all applications, accompanied by testimonials of character, etc. The demand for admission is very great & our ability to accommodate is not in proportion to it, so that many must be disappointed in their applications. The strength of testimonials will, of course, settle the matter, other things being equal. The advance pay't is $250. We have an Episcopal Church in the Village which is acceptable to all cadets. They attend the services of the Village, as we have no chaplain. I will take pleasure in submitting your son's claims./FHS/

March 28, 1860
Prof. E.T. Fristoe. Washington City
Edward T. Fristoe, VMI Class of 1849.
When you were a cadet or rather being elected such, I was in part instrumental in securing for you the kind offices of our friend Col. Cocke [Philip St. George Cocke] to aid you, in getting through with your expenses here. You will recollect you accepted this act of kindness as a loan & gave me your bond, to return to Col. Cocke the amount of the sum advanced. You know that Col.Cocke does not need this money & I wish now to ask whether you have been able to lay aside any thing to refund the amount they advanced or when you will probably be able to do this. I know that Col.C. designed using his money, when returned, to aid some other meritorious youth & it is only on this account that the money would be valued by him. I write, without his authority, but from a feeling of duty, considering my own part in the matter, & I hope you will let me hear from you without reserve. Indeed, I have been prompted to write, perhaps by the fact that Col. C. has now a young friend here whom he is aiding, as he aided you, & upon like conditions & it encourages a good man in his work to know that his good offices are appreciated./FHS/

March 28, 1860
Col. Philip St. George Cocke. Jefferson P.O. Powhatan Co Va.
Cocke was a supporter of VMI and a member of the Board of Visitors several times between 1846 and 1861. He died in December 1861.
RE: James H. Morrison, Class of 1860. Also contains a reference to business conducted by the legislative commission to purchase arms for the state of Virginia. The commission was appointed in January 1860; Smith and Cocke were both members, along with George W. Randolph

I have this moment rec'd your letter. We did not understand that the notices of young Morrison's dues had to be sent to you & so I have just written to our friend Revd. Jones. He has had no deposit since Sep. 1858, but he had a large one then and I think $200 to $220 will carry him through, as he graduates in July. I agree with you as to what you say of Fristoe & I will write to him on the subject today. I think the last of April will suit us better for our trip than the 15th. If our bill passes, of which I have strong hopes from a letter rec'd yesterday, I shall call a meeting of the Board in Richmond just in advance of our work on the Commission, so that we may kill two birds with one (stone). I see the Senate of the U.S. has passed the bill for the sale of small arms. This will facilitate our work. I should like very much to have my daughter Fanny to accompany Miss Sally on our trip. She has been laid up for 3 weeks with cold and the trip would do her good. I will write you again on this subject. I took cold in Richmond, the day before I left there, like the one you had & I have been more or less unwell ever since. I am better in the last 2 days. Letcher is making a good Governor. I think he has managed the legislature well & is getting work out of them. Mrs. S joins me in affectionate remembrances to yourself, Mrs. Cocke, John & the ladies. /FHS/

March 26, 1860
J.A.M. Battle Esq. Mobile Ala.
RE: Cadet James Battle, VMI Class of 1864.
Your esteemed favor, enclosing the letter herewith returned from your son was duly rec'd and in the hope that he would at least begin to act in the spirit of the letter, I have foreborne taking any action until I should have full time to see what he would do. The reports for the months of January & February are just closed & his record of delinquencies for these two months is 284; 200 being the maximum limit for one year. You will thus see that all hope founded upon a better course now is gone & I have no alternative under my duty to the school but to send him home. Indeed, a more careful reexamination of his conduct as shown as well by his reckless extravagance & abuse of public property, as by his demerit, seems to demand that he should be at home. As he lives so remote from us I will make some proper disposition of him until I hear from you. In the mean time I enclose a statement of his account showing a balance of $3.63 to his credit. He will need funds to bear his expenses home or to said place as you may direct him to be sent./FHS/

March 28, 1860
E.T. Jones Esq. Richmond, Va.
RE: Richard James Harding, VMI Class of 1862.
I send herewith a statement of the acc't of your nephew Cadet Harding & a check for the balance to his credit. I had not forgotten my promise to you but I have been laid up ever since my return from Richmond & it has only been in the last 2 or 3 days that I have been about. Young Harding is still here. I rec'd a letter from his father enquiring about him. I thought that he had gone but hearing that he was still here, I sent to the Hotel for him. The reply was that he was sick in our Hospital. I then sent to the Hospital & found that having taken the mumps in town, he thought he would be better taken care of in our Hospital & sought the privilege to go in. I have asked him why he did not go home. He said he was waiting to hear from his father. I told him then, he had better at once go to Richmond & seek your advice, but he said there was no use in this & here I presume he will remain until he hears from his father./FHS/

March 18, 1860
W. Poulson
RE: George B. Poulson, VMI Class of 1863.
You are aware perhaps that your son Cadet G. B. Poulson has left the Institute, without authority, and that in doing so & remaining absent more than one month, he has involved himself in discharge. As he never mentioned to me his intention of going, I have no idea what induced him to do so, but regret that any thing should have caused him to desert his duty to the state & cut short his opportunity for an education here. I send you his acc't book showing a balance due the Institute of $43.41, which you will oblige me by paying to my brothers J.M. Smith & Co. of Norfolk./FHS/

March 28.1860
R. Christmas Esq. Tallula, Mississippi.
RE: Henry H. Christmas, VMI Class of 1863.
My absence on public duty must be my apology for not sooner acknowledging the rec't of your favor of the 11 Feby. With regard to your son, I am satisfied he will do nothing here. Even before his neglect of duty made it indispensible for me to send him home, his conduct was so negligent that it req'd all my authority as well as care to keep him to his work. I am fearful therefore his return would do him no good, while I am sure, it would relax our discipline. I regret this, but I am sure he will see the correctness of it./FHS/

March 28, 1860
B.F. Ficklin. Leavenworth, Missouri.
Benjamin F. Ficklin, VMI Class of 1849; one of the founders of the "Pony Express."
You have no idea what a commotion occasioned in the City of "Gotham" when it was known that a package of gold was at the Express office for Col. F.H.S. & all the way from Kansas & from B.F.F. Even the young ladies were on tip-toe on the occasion. I have no doubt surmises were afloat that orders were received by the said F.H.S. for the manufacture of a plain gold ring-- But who was to be the lucky lass for whom this ring was designed. To answer all these queries was out of the question. "Pony Express" would break down in the effort, so I had only to say in your own language, "I had not time to attend to such matters." But more seriously the gold has arrived & I thank you for it. It is not only a fine specimen of Pike's Peak, but it is a grateful remembrance from one whom I have so much reason to respect. I will have it worked up into some enduring memorial. I have this morning received your (f???) from the "Crossing South Platte," & will give immediate attention to it & try and get a young man who will suit you. With best wishes for your success in which all with me unite./FHS/

March 28, 1860
R.H. Goodwyn Esq. New Orleans, La.
RE: Frank W. Goodwyn, VMI Class of 1862.
I never sit down to write to you in reference to your son Frank that I am not pained at the sense of pain which I am sure my letter may occasion you & Mrs. G. And yet I must be faithful to you & to him. With all my hopes in reference to Frank, I am afraid I shall not be able to do what I hoped for him, that is, retain him until I could make a man, in its fullest sense, of him. For the months of January & February, I find 90 demerits! When 200 is the limit for one year. I have talked over and over with him. He admits all I say, seems penitent at the time, but the next day goes directly in the course against which I guarded him the day before. The case is now left in abeyance and I will not send him off until public duty compels me to do so but I am bound, in truth, to say to you, that this duty, I fear, will be made but too plain to me. /FHS/

March 29, 1860
Col. Samuel McDowell Reid. House of Delegates, Richmond
RE: A bill increasing state funding for VMI; also mentions David C. Lynch, Class of 1862.
I have never known a more joyous greeting than was given to the tidings conveyed by your welcome letter rec'd last night. The whole comunity was in a state of the highest excitement. Altho' the cadets had gone to bed, the scamps got up and fired a salute. The shouts from town responded to each volley, so that you would have thought, that a successful election return had just been rec'd. Altho' the bill is much reduced, & therefore does not meet all our demands, we are most truly grateful for it & shall ever hold in lively remembrance, those kind friends, through whose timely aid, it was finally passed, when it had been almost given up. I beg you to present our kindest returns to Gov. Kemper, Mr. Barbour, Col. Anderson, Dr. Yerby & Mr. Martin of Henry & Bob Christian, & Mr. Speaker. Their kind words fell like oil upon troubled waters. Mr. Speaker, Dr. Yerby & Mr. Martin have been our main stay for 20 years. And yet I must not forget those friends whose voices were only heard in saying "Aye." Thank them -- especially friend Ball, (Mr. Kemper?), Thompson, & others. I never hold malice towards those who oppose our bills, (two illegible words) our claims. I expect opposition where my arguments do not convince, but I really believe Judge Hopkins & Wm. Lynch do not represent their constituents in their grounds of opposition. I had to dismiss a son of Mr. Lynch. He was a good boy, but an idle one and a spendthrift, and he would have spent $1000 a year instead of $400 if I had not have restrained him, as his father well knew. No county in the state had more benefits from this School than Washington County. We have graduated 2 of the Humes & a third brother is here now. -- we have graduated & of the Whites & one of their cousins. Hannum & a 4th is here now. Campbell & Cummings, leading lawyers, are our graduates, while Fulkerson & Carson are the state Cadets representatives, both graduates. This patronage could not exist, if the complaint were well founded. But my time is exhausted. Will you do me the favor to send me a copy of the bill as soon as passed. I must not omit to thank you & our friend Patterson for your interest and attention to this important measure of our school. I am sure all your friends here, and I know all the friends of the Institute, unite with me in this word of praise./FHS/

March 29, 1860
Capt. George W. Randolph. Richmond, Va.
Reference to business conducted by the legislative commission to purchase arms for the state of Virginia. The commission was appointed in January 1860; Smith and Randolph were both members, along with Philip St. George Cocke.
I am embarrassed by the state of things as represented by your letter of the 27 rec'd last night. I see no alternative than to execute the law in the way you propose, unless legislative provisions remove the difficulty. With the precedent already existing & sanctioned, it seems, by the tacit approval of the legislature, I would vote for the necessary arms and pay for them as the internal improvement Companies, which are dependent upon state bonds, pay their obligations. Perhaps it is the best way for the state to legalize a depreciation of her bonds. If it be necessary to close definitively with Ames before our Commission meets again, I will sanction the proposition you have submitted to him. I think we should meet, not later than the last of April, & this time will suit the convenience of Col. Cocke. I am not surprised at the course of Ball, and I am only surprized that a gentleman of good sense of Barbour should encourage him in his conceit of himself. My own opinion is that the only way of correcting what are the manifest defects in his character, is by the strongest provisions which Maj. Gilham informed me, you had placed in the supplemental Bill. Some such regulations are essential & if not adopted by the legislature, the existing law will fully warrant, in my judgment, the Commissioners, presenting them in the plan of Government which the Governor is required to adopt. It may be well for you to see some of the members of the legislature, that no more delay may be occasioned than is indispensable. /FHS/

March 30, 1860
Wm. Martin Esq. House of Delegates
I had written to Col. Reid requesting him specially to thank you for your kind support for our bill in the struggle through the House the other day. But I cannot permit your great kindness to pass with this simple mention. There has been nothing which has cheered me so much in my arduous work, as the consciousness that these friends who stood by us in our infancy have always been with us in our time of trial. You were one of our earliest & most tried, & often have Dorman & myself referred to the zealous and what you & our friend Yerby & others of that day, not forgetting Mr. Speaker, gave to us in our struggles for life. I am sure you will feel more & more comfort, as this Institution becomes more and more established, in knowing that you have done the state service. But it is a duty that we owe to you & our other friends to let them know how deeply & truly we appreciate yours and their kindness. /FHS/

April 4, 1860
W. L. Wingfield
William L. Wingfield, Class of 1859. Benjamin F. Ficklin, VMI Class of 1849 was one of the founders of the "Pony Express."
I have rec'd a letter from Mr. Ficklin, asking for one of our graduates to aid him in his business out there. You know he has a Pony Express from Leavenworth to Pikes Peak involving a heavy outlay. He will give $50 a month & would like whoever goes to be somewhat acquainted with keeping books, etc. Would you like it? If so come over at once & come prepared to go direct to Leavenworth. The opening is one involving some hazard, but it is a good one for a bold young man. Ficklin is a graduate & he has now one graduate with him. /FHS/

April 4, 1860
Genl. William H. Richardson. Adjutant General
Richardson was a member of the VMI Board of Visitors, 1841-1876. The letter contains a reference to the death of Samuel Forrest, Mrs. Smith's brother-in-law; he was a purser in the U. S. Navy; Forrest married Anna Maria Henderson, the sister of Sarah Henderson Smith. Also references to the legislative commission to purchase arms for the state of Virginia, of which Smith was a member.

I returned yesterday from a visit of a day or so to my poor afflicted sister Mrs. Forrest having spent Saturday & Sunday with her. I am glad to hear that the Militia Bill & the Institute bill are now the law of the land & I congratulate you that at last some show of returning justice is given to you. It is all important that our Board meets as soon as possible to make arrangements, for the buildings authorized under the late law, & I shall tomorrow send out notices for a meeting at your offices on 26 April. I write to you at once, that the governor may not appoint a new Board until after this meeting -- for the present Board has fully canvassed this matter & if the new Board acts upon it, their actions could not take effect until the annual meeting. I would prefer an earlier day for the meeting, but it does not suit me to attend sooner & I can at that time attend a meeting of the Armory Commission & thus kill two birds with one stone. I suppose the 1st May will be time enough to announce the new Board for the Institute./FHS/

April 5, 1860
Samuel H. Hodges Esq. Norfolk Va.
RE: Cadet Samuel Hodges, VMI Class of 1863.
I feel it to be my duty to you to call your attention to the conduct of your son. He is not doing justice to himself & unless he is brought up at once to his duty, he will have over 200 demerits in July. His conduct is culpably careless & trifling & a word from you will be of service to him./FHS/