Saturday, August 13, 2011

August 16, 1861 (Friday): Wise and Floyd Come to Loggerheads

General John B. Floyd

                                                HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE KANAWHA,
No. 11.}
            On the march, forty miles west of Lewisburg, Va., Aug. 16, 1861.
General HENRY A. WISE:
   SIR:  I understand that an order has been issued by you, requiring the officers of your Legion to communicate with me through you.  Such an order can result in nothing but the most serious embarrassment, as your headquarters are 40 miles from my position and that of some of your officers co-operating with me.  You will see, therefore, the necessity of revoking immediately that order, if such a one has been issued.
  I hope you will hurry up all your available force to my support.  I shall in all human probability stand in great need of them almost immediately.  I learned from a source deemed worthy of full credit that a large force of the enemy has crossed Gauley, and are advancing by this road.  Two hundred of their wagons have been counted this side of Gauley.  There is the utmost need for promptness and speed in sending your forces to my support.
   I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                                        JOHN B. FLOYD,
                        Brig. Gen., Comdg. Forces in the Valley of the Kanawha.

Series I., Vol. 5, Page 790.

What is more problematic than one political general?  Two.  Wise was a former Virginia governor who had raised a legion, which was under command of another former Virginia governor (and ex-Secretary of War under Buchannon) John B. Floyd.  Floyd constantly attempted to have Wise unite his command with his and Wise resisted.  This letter was the beginning of a long string of correspondence which would eventually make its way to General Lee, now cast in the role of mediator.  He would ultimately uphold Floyd’s authority, but in his careful way, respecting both men.

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