John B. Floyd
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|John Buchanan Floyd|
|31st Governor of Virginia|
January 1, 1849 – January 16, 1852
|Preceded by||William Smith|
|Succeeded by||Joseph Johnson|
|24th United States Secretary of War|
March 6, 1857 – December 29, 1860
|Preceded by||Jefferson Davis|
|Succeeded by||Joseph Holt|
|Member of the Virginia House of Delegates|
June 1, 1806|
Blacksburg, Virginia, US
|Died||August 26, 1863
Abingdon, Virginia, US
|Spouse(s)||Sally Buchanan Preston|
|Alma mater||South Carolina College|
|Allegiance||Confederate States of America|
|Service/branch|| Provisional Army of Virginia
Confederate States Army
|Years of service||1861 - 1863|
|Rank||Brigadier General (CSA)|
John Buchanan Floyd (June 1, 1806 – August 26, 1863) was the 31st Governor of Virginia, U.S. Secretary of War, and the Confederate general in the American Civil War who lost the crucial Battle of Fort Donelson.
John Buchanan Floyd was born at Smithfield estate, Blacksburg, Virginia. He was the son of John Floyd (1783–1837), who served as a representative in Congress from 1817 to 1829 and governor of Virginia from 1830 to 1834.
After graduating from South Carolina College in 1826 (by some accounts 1829), Floyd practiced law in his native state and at Helena, Arkansas, where he lost a large fortune and his health in a cotton-planting venture. In 1839, he returned to Virginia and settled in Washington County, which he represented in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1847–49 and again in 1853. From 1849 to 1852, he was governor of Virginia. As governor, he recommended to the legislature the enactment of a law laying an import tax on the products of states that refused to surrender fugitive slaves owned by Virginian masters.
He married his cousin, Sally Preston, daughter of Francis Preston and they had no children. It is claimed that he did have a daughter, Josephine, who married Robert James Harlan in the 1852. Harlan was a slave of Kentucky politician James Harlan and may have been James' son. In the 1850s, Robert Harlan was living as a free person in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Secretary of War
In March 1857, Floyd became Secretary of War in the cabinet of President James Buchanan, where his lack of administrative ability was soon apparent, including the poor execution of the Utah Expedition. Floyd is implicated in the scandal of the "Abstracted Indian Bonds" which broke at the end of 1860 as the Buchanan Administration was reaching its end. His wife's nephew Godard Bailey, who worked in the Interior Department and who removed bonds from the Indian Agency safe during 1860, was also implicated. Among the recipients of the money was Russell, Majors, and Waddell, a government contractor that held, among its contracts, the Pony Express. In December 1860, on ascertaining that Floyd had honored heavy drafts made by government contractors in anticipation of their earnings, the president requested his resignation. Several days later Floyd was indicted for malversation in office, although the indictment was overruled in 1861 on technical grounds. There is no proof that he profited by these irregular transactions; in fact, he went out of the office financially embarrassed.
Although he had openly opposed secession before the election of Abraham Lincoln, his conduct after the election, especially after his breach with Buchanan, fell under suspicion, and he was accused in the press of having sent large stores of government arms to Federal arsenals in the South in the anticipation of the Civil War.
Grant in his postwar Personal Memoirs wrote:
Floyd, the Secretary of War, scattered the army so that much of it could be captured when hostilities should commence, and distributed the cannon and small arms from Northern arsenals throughout the South so as to be on hand when treason wanted them.— Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant
After his resignation, a congressional commission in the summer and fall of 1861 investigated Floyd's actions as Secretary of War. All of his records of orders and shipments of arms from 1859 to 1860 were examined. It is recorded that in response to John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, he bolstered the Federal arsenals in some Southern states by over 115,000 muskets and rifles in late 1859. He also ordered heavy ordnance to be shipped to the Federal forts in Galveston Harbor, Texas, and the new fort on Ship Island off the coast of Mississippi.
In the last days of his term, he apparently had an intention to send these heavy guns, but his orders were revoked by the president.
His resignation as secretary of war, on December 29, 1860, was precipitated by the refusal of Buchanan to order Major Robert Anderson to abandon Fort Sumter, which eventually led to the start of the war. On January 27, 1861, he was indicted by the District of Columbia grand jury for conspiracy and fraud. Floyd appeared in criminal court in Washington, D.C., on March 7, 1861, to answer the charges against him. According to Harper's Weekly, the indictments were thrown out.
THE INDICTMENTS AGAINST FLOYD QUASHED. The indictments against Ex-Secretary Floyd have been quashed in the Court at Washington, on the ground—first, that there was no evidence of fraud on his part; and second, that the charge of malfeasance in the matter of the Indian bonds was precluded from trial by the act of 1857, which forbids a prosecution when the party implicated has testified before a Committee of Congress touching the matter.— Harper's Weekly, March 30, 1861
After the secession of Virginia, Floyd was commissioned a major general in the Provisional Army of Virginia, but on May 23, 1861, he was appointed a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army (CSA). He was first employed in some unsuccessful operations in the Kanawha Valley of western Virginia under Robert E. Lee, where he was both defeated and wounded in the arm at the Battle of Carnifex Ferry on September 10.
General Floyd blamed Brigadier General Henry A. Wise for the Confederate loss at the Battle of Carnifex Ferry, stating that Wise refused to come to his aid. Virginia Delegate Mason Mathews, whose son Alexander F. Mathews was Wise's aide-de-camp, spent several days in the camps of both Wise and Floyd to seek resolution to an escalating feud between the two generals. Afterward he wrote to President Jefferson Davis urging that both men be removed, stating "I am fully satisfied that each of them would be highly gratified to see the other annihilated."  Davis subsequently removed Wise from his command of the western Virginia region, leaving Floyd as the region's unquestioned superior officer.
In January 1862, he was dispatched to the Western Theater to report to General Albert Sidney Johnston and was given command of a division. Johnston sent Floyd to reinforce Fort Donelson and assume command of the post there. Floyd assumed command of Fort Donelson on February 13 just two days after the Union army had arrived at that spot, also becoming the third post commander within a week. Fort Donelson protected the crucial Cumberland River and, indirectly, the manufacturing city of Nashville and Confederate control of Middle Tennessee. It was the companion to Fort Henry on the nearby Tennessee River, which, on February 6, 1862, was captured by Union Army Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant and river gunboats. Floyd was not an appropriate choice to defend such a vital point, having political influence, but virtually no military experience. General Johnston had other experienced, more senior, generals (P.G.T. Beauregard and William J. Hardee) available and made a serious error in selecting Floyd. Floyd had little military influence on the Battle of Fort Donelson itself, deferring to his more experienced subordinates, Brigadier Generals Gideon Johnson Pillow and Simon Bolivar Buckner. As the Union forces surrounded the fort and the town of Dover, the Confederates launched an assault on February 15 in an attempt to open an escape route. Although successful at first, indecision on General Pillow's part left the Confederates in their trenches, facing growing reinforcements for Grant.
General Floyd, the commanding officer, who was a man of talent enough for any civil position was no soldier, and possibly, did not possess the elements of one. He was further unfitted for command for the reason that his conscience must have troubled him and made him afraid. As Secretary of War, he had taken a solemn oath to maintain the Constitution of the United States and uphold the same against all enemies. He had betrayed that trust.— Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant
Early in the morning of February 16, at a council of war, the generals and field officers decided to surrender their army. Floyd, concerned that he would be arrested for treason if captured by the Union Army, turned his command over to Pillow, who immediately turned it over to Buckner. Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest and his entire Tennessee cavalry regiment escaped while Pillow escaped on a small boat across the Cumberland. The next morning Floyd escaped by steamboat with the 36th Virginia and 51st Virginia Infantry regiments, two artillery batteries and elements of the other units from his old command. He safely reached Nashville, having escaped just before Buckner surrendered to Grant in one of the greatest strategic defeats of the Civil War. He never satisfactorily explained upon what principles he appropriated all the transportation on to the use of his particular command". Floyd was relieved of his command by Confederate President Jefferson Davis, without a court of inquiry, on March 11, 1862. He resumed his commission as a major general of Virginia Militia, but his health soon failed and he died a year later at Abingdon, Virginia, where he is buried in Sinking Spring Cemetery.
- Kestenbaum, Lawrence. "The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Fletman to Flye". Retrieved 2 July 2016.
- Floyd, Nicholas Jackson. Biographical genealogies of the Virginia-Kentucky Floyd families: with notes of some collateral branches. Williams and Wilkins company (Virginia), 1912 page 77
- Gatewood, Willard B. Aristocrats of Color: The Black Elite, 1880-1920. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990, p 118
- Isaac N. Morris. Abstracted Indian trust bonds ...Report ... [and Supplemental report]. Washington: Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
- "THE ROBBERY OF INDIAN BONDS.; Report of the Special Congressional Committee.". New York Times. 13 February 1861. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
- Official Records, Series III, Vol. I.
- Civil War Daily Gazette Confederate General Henry Wise Relieved of Duty; "Contraband" Allowed in Navy. http://civilwardailygazette.com/2011/09/25/confederate-general-henry-wise-relieved-of-duty-contraband-allowed-in-navy/ Retrieved November 21, 2012.
- Rice, Otis K. 1986. A History of Greenbrier County. Greenbrier Historical Society, p. 264
- Cowles, Calvin Duvall (1897). "The War of Rebellion: A compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Government Print Office: 1897. Retrieved from http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=moawar&cc=moawar&idno=waro0005&node=waro0005%3A3&view=image&seq=880&size=100
- Wallace, Lew, Major-General, USV. The Capture of Fort Donelson. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. 1. p. 426.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (April 2008) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
- Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1.
- Gott, Kendall D. Where the South Lost the War: An Analysis of the Fort Henry—Fort Donelson Campaign, February 1862. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003. ISBN 0-8117-0049-6.
- Sifakis, Stewart. Who Was Who in the Civil War. New York: Facts On File, 1988. ISBN 978-0-8160-1055-4.
- U.S. War Department. The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880–1901.
- Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 978-0-8071-0823-9.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Floyd, John Buchanan". Encyclopædia Britannica. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 573–574.
- John B. Floyd in Encyclopedia Virginia
- A Guide to the Executive Papers of Governor John Buchanan Floyd, 1849-1851 at The Library of Virginia
- John B. Floyd at Find a Grave
|Governor of Virginia
|U.S. Secretary of War
Served under: James Buchanan