Floyd, John Buchanan

Floyd, John Buchanan,

1807–63, U.S. Secretary of War (1857–60) and Confederate general, b. Smithfield, Va. After failing as a lawyer and cotton planter in Arkansas, he returned to Virginia and practiced law at Abingdon. He served (1847–48, 1855) in the state assembly and was governor (1849–52). His cabinet post was a reward for aiding in James Buchanan's successful campaign for the presidency. Though a states' rights man, Floyd opposed secession. He maintained that Major Robert Anderson's removal from Fort Moultrie to Fort SumterFort Sumter,
fortification, built 1829–60, on a shoal at the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, S.C., and named for Gen. Thomas Sumter; scene of the opening engagement of the Civil War. Upon passing the Ordinance of Secession (Dec.
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 in Charleston harbor was contrary to his orders. When President Buchanan refused to allow him to order Anderson back, Floyd resigned and became an ardent secessionist. The President, meanwhile, had requested his resignation because of irregular and unauthorized practices in the War Dept., which involved an apparent loss of $870,000. Feeling was bitter against Floyd in the North, although the belief that before he resigned he had conveniently transferred large quantities of arms to Southern arsenals has since been discounted. However, his inefficient administration of the War Dept. certainly was no help to the Union later. As a Confederate brigadier general in the Civil War, serving first under Lee in the western section of Virginia, Floyd was equally incompetent. After his defeat at Fort DonelsonFort Donelson
, Confederate fortification in the Civil War, on the Cumberland River at Dover, Tenn., commanding the river approach to Nashville, Tenn. After capturing Fort Henry, on the Tennessee River (Feb. 6, 1862), General Ulysses S. Grant, on Feb.
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, Jefferson Davis, who nursed an old quarrel with Floyd, removed him from command.
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