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[473] days of peace, he soon made himself familiar with military tactics. Though it may not have been remarked by the casual acquaintance, yet those who best knew the quiet young citizen of Jackson felt that behind the reserved and self-possessed exterior of Robert A. Smith dwelt the qualities of the true soldier. Thus it was that on the first mutterings of the coming storm he was elected Captain of the Mississippi Rifles, a company organized in and composed of his fellow citizens of Jackson, whose services were tendered to the State as soon as she cast her fortunes with the Confederacy, and whose first duty was to escort the newly elected President to the seat of government at Montgomery, Ala. At the first call of the Confederacy on Mississippi for troops in March, 1861, he was ordered with his company to Pensacola navy yard, where General Bragg was organizing his heroic little army, that was subsequently to become so justly famous in the annals of war. This call resulted in the assembling of twenty companies from Mississippi, at Pensacola, which were organized into two regiments and named the Ninth and Tenth. The Mississippi Rifles, as Company D, formed a part of this latter regiment commanded by Colonel Moses Phillips. Before the expiration of two months service Colonel Phillips sickened and died, immediately after which Captain Smith was elected to the vacant colonelcy. From that time to the date of our removal in the spring of 1862 to Corinth, where Albert Sidney Johnston was assembling his army to give battle to the enemy under Grant and Buell, Colonel Smith was industrious in his study of the science and art of war and giving the needed instruction to his regiment. So proficient had he become in all the accomplishments of a regimental commander that on reaching Corinth and being placed with the other Mississippi troops which formed the brigade of General James R. Chalmers, he was soon recognized as the best drill-officer and the best disciplinarian of his grade. He needed only the opportunity to prove that these necessary accomplishments of an officer were but secondary to his ability to successfully command troops on the battlefield. This opportunity was soon given him in the sanguinary battle of Shiloh. Then, as ever after when under fire, he proved himself the knightly soldier and skilled commander. What in the quiet of the camp he had studied as a theory, now in the activities of the bat tlefield, he readily and scientifically reduced to practice, and with the eye and intelligence of the born soldier, disciplined by limited yet the closest study, the system of successfully handling troops in action was thoroughly mastered by him.

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