General John B. Floyd Part 2

Floyd must certainly have been influenced in this decision not only by the announcement that Bedford Forrest would lead an escape by the cavalry , but also by the fact that this surrender would be only the second time when Confederate general officers would be surrendered and it wasn’t clear if they would be treated as legitimate prisoners-of-war or as outright traitors to the Federal government.  Since, aside from General Buckner (a career army officer who had formally resigned his commission), Floyd would be the first general officer captured who had sworn an oath of allegiance to the Federal government.  The possibility of being hung as a traitor must have played on his mind.  In addition, there existed the possibility that a closed Federal indictment against him for malfeasance while Secretary of War could be reopened.

Gen John B Floyd

In the event, Floyd moved his brigade to the landing in the early morning og the 16th and, after reinforcements from Nashville came ashore, Floyd loaded his Virginians aboard the two boats as the sun rose, leaving the men of the 20th Mississippi behind as the rearguard.  It appears that only two of his four Virginia regiments loaded successfully, the 36th and the 51st, leaving the 50th and 56th Virginia regiments behind to be captured.

The four Virginia regiments had been recruited in southwestern counties of modern Virginia.  After their escape, the 36th and 51st returned to Virginia and participated in operations in the Shenandoah valley and the mountain country between the upper valley and Knoxville, TN.  The 50th and 56th Virginia were reorganized following their exchange from captivity and fought in the Army of Northern Virginia from 1862 until the end of the war.

Floyd was relieved of command by President Davis in March, but was appointed a major-general of state troops by the governor of Virginia.  However, he became ill shortly afterwards and played no further part in the war.  He died at home in August 1863.

Union General W.H.L. Wallace summarized Floyd’s post-war reputation from this event in Battles and Leaders: “Without loss of time the general (Floyd) hastened to the river, embarked with his Virginians, and at an early hour cast loose from the shore, and in good time, and safely, he reached Nashville. He never satisfactorily explained upon what principles he appropriated all the transportation on to the use of his particular command”.

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