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John B. Floyd


Virginia Governor and Confederate General John Buchanan Floyd (June 1, 1806-August 26, 1863) was born at Smithfield, Virginia, near present Blacksburg. Floyd, the son of Virginia Governor John Floyd, graduated from South Carolina College in 1829. A lawyer, Floyd was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1847 and as governor in 1848. He was appointed U.S. secretary of war in 1857 and resigned that post on December 29, 1860. He was later accused of misusing the office by transferring arms from northern to southern arsenals in anticipation of secession.

When the Civil War began, Floyd quickly raised a brigade for Confederate service, and on May 23, 1861, he was appointed brigadier general. In August 1861, General Floyd was assigned to command the Army of the Kanawha, with the expectation that he could retain that region for the Confederacy. On September 10, 1861, his forces fought the Battle of Carnifex Ferry, Nicholas County. Forced to withdraw the following day, Floyd participated in the Sewell Mountain campaign with General Lee and with Floyd’s political rival, Gen. Henry A. Wise, also a former governor of Virginia. On May 17, 1862, Floyd was put in command of the Virginia State Line, an independent force that included among its ranks many men from at least 22 West Virginia counties. Floyd died near Abingdon, Virginia, of natural causes.

Floyd’s nephew, also John B. Floyd, was a Logan County state senator and close associate of the Hatfield family.

Written by Tim McKinney


  1. Warner, Ezra. Generals in Gray. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959.

  2. Osborne, Randall & Jeffrey C. Weaver. The Virginia State Rangers and State Line. Lynchburg: H. E. Howard, 1994.