Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/297

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Cavalry Raids.

the command would be too great to be thought of. General Buckner, commanding-the Kentucky troops, who constituted the bulk of the force (the entire Confederate strength being about 10,000), believed escape impossible, and was a strong advocate of surrender. General Floyd's command held the ground highest up the river and nearest the point of practicable exit. He was unwilling to surrender, and so was Colonel N. B. Forrest, who then commanded a regiment of cavalry.

Unwilling to assume the responsibility of an extremely hazardous attempt to cut his way out with his entire command, against the judgment of a majority of the officers of the council. General Floyd claimed the "right (we give his own words) individually to determine that I would not survive a surrender there." To satisfy both propositions, I agreed to hand over the command to General Buckner, through General Pillow, and to make an effort for my own extrication by any and every means that might present themselves to me." General Floyd succeeded in getting away during the night with a large part of his own command before the terms of capitulation were made. Colonel Forrest also got out with all his cavalry.

I recall frequent conversations with the late General G. C. Wharton; also with Colonel Thomas Smith, of Warrenton, and Dr. (then Captain) I. W. McSherry, of Martinsburg—who were officers in Floyd's command—in regard to the conduct of both General Buckner and General Floyd in connection with the surrender at Donelson, and they all concurred in the opinion that General Floyd was fully justified in the course he pursued. The Confederate authorities at Richmond, however, took a different view and relieved General Floyd of his command.

The Legislature of Virginia, indignant at the treatment he had received, made him a major-general, and directed him to recruit and organize the classes not embraced in the Confederate conscription. His new command was called "The State Line," and was independent of the Confederate government. I was aware that it had rendered valuable services in Southwest Virginia, of which I was anxious to make a record. But not being a Confederate organization no reports of its operations are to be found in the "Official Records," and General Floyd's reports to the Governor were doubtless among the files of Adjutant-Gen-