Secretary of War John B. Floyd


John Buchanan Floyd (1806–63) was a Confederate general in the American Civil War. Born on a plantation near Blacksburg, Virginia, he studied law at South Carolina College and was admitted to the bar in Virginia. He served as governor of Virginia from 1849 to 1852 and, as a Democrat, championed states’ rights and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. In 1857 he was appointed secretary of war by President James Buchanan, but resigned during the 1860 secession crisis. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Floyd was commissioned a brigadier general and given command of the Army of the Kanawha in western Virginia. In December 1861, he was transferred to Fort Donelson and arrived on February 13, 1862, just as the combined army and naval forces of Ulysses S. Grant and Andrew Hull Foote were attacking. After three days of fighting the Confederate command agreed to surrender. Instead of allowing himself to be taken prisoner, Floyd relinquished his command and fled with his troops to Nashville, Tennessee, an action for which President Jefferson Davis relieved him of his command. Floyd died in 1863. The image is from an album of mostly Civil War-era portraits by the famous American photographer Matthew Brady (circa 1823‒96) that belonged to Emperor Pedro II of Brazil (1825‒91), a collector of photography as well as a photographer himself. The album was a gift to the emperor from Edward Anthony (1818‒88), another early American photographer who, in partnership with his brother, owned a company that in the 1850s became the leading seller of photographic supplies in the United States. Dom Pedro may have acquired the album during a trip to the United States in 1876 when he, along with President Ulysses S. Grant, opened the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Brady was born in upstate New York, the son of immigrants from Ireland. Best known for his photographs documenting the battles of the American Civil War, he began his career in 1844 when he opened a daguerreotype portrait studio at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Streets in New York City. Over the course of the next several decades, Brady produced portraits of leading American public figures, many of which were published as engravings in magazines and newspapers. In 1858 he opened a branch in Washington, DC. The album, which also contains a small number of non-photographic prints, is part of the Thereza Christina Maria Collection at the National Library of Brazil. The collection is composed of 21,742 photos assembled by Emperor Pedro II throughout his life and donated by him to the national library. The collection covers a wide variety of subjects. It documents the achievements of Brazil and Brazilians in the 19th century and also includes many photographs of Europe, Africa, and North America.

Last updated: March 30, 2016