Ronald D. Smith

Ron Smith is a fifth generation Kansan, an attorney, a grandfather several times over, a Vietnam veteran, and a civil war historian. Territorial Kansas, the Civil War, and the post-Civil War west are his writing subjects.  Some of his writing uses a pen name, Dean Halliday Smith.

He served on Gov. John Carlin's staff in 1979-80 and then lobbied for various commercial interests for twenty years in the Kansas legislature.  He now is a a partner in the Larned, Kansas, law firm of Smith and Burnett, LLC, and lives close to historic Ft. Larned, one of the best preserved frontier cavalry forts in the National Park system. His law office in Larned is located near where the historic Santa Fe Trail converged on the "Pawnee Fork" on the wet route of the SFT.

In 1969, he was originally assigned as a machine gunner on a PBR in the Mekong River delta, he finished his service in Vietnam as a Navy photojournalist.  He graduated from Kansas Wesleyan in 1973 and Washburn Law School in 1976. After practicing law in Great Bend, Kansas, then returned to Topeka as Deputy Secretary of Administration for Governor Carlin. From 1985 to 1999 he was general counsel of the Kansas Bar Association.  Prior to joining the Larned law firm in 2005, he served as counsel for the Community Development division of the Kansas Department of Commerce. 

During the Vietnam conflict, Ron served as a Navy photojournalist at the AFVN radio station in Saigon. In the top row, 3rd from right, is Pat Sajak of Wheel of Fortune fame. Pat served two tours in Vietnam at AFVN-Saigon, replacing Adrian Cronauer, about whom the movie Good Morning, Vietnam was (very) loosely based.

In 2012 he was President of the Southwest Kansas Bar Association, and remains on its board of directors. He is also a director of the Santa Fe Trail Center museum, and a past president of the Larned Rotary Club and a member of the Western Writers Association of America.

He is married to Kahrmellesarah, and lives on a small farm.  His law practice is featured at the law firm's website

Upcoming Events

Sep. 27, 2017
Battle of Pilot Knob Reenactment
Location: Fort Davidson
Pilot Knob, MO

Every third year a full-scale reenactment of the Battle of Pilot Knob is staged, attracting tens of thousands of spectators.  The 2014 re-enactment commemorated the 150th anniversary of this pivotal battle in the West.  The assault on Fort Davidson in 1864 by Confederate troops left 1,300 of their most experienced soldiers dead, missing or wounded and thwarted the last best hope the Confederacy had to sweep Missouri back into the Confederacy, destroy St. Louis, and embarrass the Lincoln Administration, perhaps costing Lincoln the 1864 presidential campaign. 

The fort and site are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 

Oct. 25, 2017
Battle of Mine Creek
Location: South of Pleasonton, Kansas
Sponsor: Kansas History

    The Battle of Mine Creek was the aftermath and final downfall of Confederate General Sterling Price's ill-fated attempt to invade Missouri and then Kansas during late 1864.  As stated in Jeff Stalnaker’s excellent book on this battle, “Union troops controlled much of the South, Sherman's men marched with impunity through Georgia and defeat at Gettysburg was a painful and distant memory,” and Grant and Lee were stalemated in the east in the Petersburg trenches.  “The Confederacy needed to stem the tide. Confederate major general Sterling Price led an army of twelve thousand mounted infantry on a desperate charge through Missouri to deliver the state to the Confederacy and dash President Lincoln's hopes for reelection. This daring campaign culminated with the Battle of Mine Creek. A severely outnumbered Union army crushed the Confederate forces in one of the war's largest and most audacious cavalry charges.”

    Imagine what the Confederals saw:  two brigades of Union cavalry, several thousand horses, in two long lines thundering toward your positions, with your backs to a swollen river and trying to protect wagons loaded with plunder and loot from the Missouri campaign.  Mine Creek was a disaster for the Confederacy. The clash of the outnumbered Union force against a hamstrung CSA line of battle was an overwhelming Union victory.  Price's army scattered and remnants limped back into Arkansas.  Actual CSA casualties from Price's Missouri raid are unknown but some historians place the losses at 75% killed, wounded, or missing.

Ron Smith
111 E 8th St.
PO Box 360
Larned KS 67550

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