William H. Smith

Private, USMC, USS Brooklyn

Private William H. Smith, USMC enlisted in the Marine Corps in Brooklyn, New York on 8 April 1864 and was attached to the Marine guard of the USS Brooklyn on 14 April 1864 under the command of Captain George Porter Houston, USMC. [1]

Smith was aboard the Brooklyn during the 5 August 1864 Battle of Mobile Bay, in which action he was knocked overboard and drowned.[2]

William H. Smith had been in the Corps for nearly four months.


Possibly the unknown in Section 2, Grave 432, Mobile National Cemetery

Roll of Honor lists this grave as "Marine, US Navy, Aug. 5 1864" whose remains were moved from Fort Powell. This is the only unknown in the original "Navy" section. Three Marines were KIA at the Battle of Mobile Bay and one died the next day of his injuries in Pensacola - Peter Murphy and William H. Smith of the Brooklyn, Thomas Gibson of the Oneida and Timothy Hynes of the Lackawanna.

Murphy's grave is marked at Mobile National and Gibson was buried at sea per the Oneida's deck log. Hynes died the next day at Naval Hospital Pensacola and it would be very unlikely that Hynes' remains were transported over 60 miles back to Fort Powell when the Navy had its own cemetery just outside the gates of the Pensacola Navy Yard.

Circumstantial evidence points to this grave possibly belonging to PVT William H. Smith through deduction of known KIAs and the known fact that other Brooklyn burials were moved from Fort Powell. An 1875 report of the condition of Mobile National Cemetery notes the "graves are marked by head-boards or stakes, old and faded", so being able to prove conclusively this is Smith would be impossible due to poor record keeping and the original wooden headboard likely rotting into illegibility before it was replaced with a stone one.



Awards and Memorials



[1] United States Muster Rolls of the Marine Corps, 1798-1937. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. [2] "Report of Casualties on the USS Brooklyn" NARA "Letters Received by the Secretary of the Navy From Commanding Officers of Squadrons, 1841-1886".