Full Plate Ambrotype of Private Charles Anderson Floyd, in the Uniform of Lynchburg’s Wise Troop, Later Company B of the 2nd Virginia Cavalry; KIA at Hatcher’s Run

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Full Plate Ambrotype of Private Charles Anderson Floyd, in the Uniform of Lynchburg’s Wise Troop, Later Company B of the 2nd Virginia Cavalry; KIA at Hatcher’s Run – This exceedingly rare Full Plate ambrotype was taken ca. 1861 of Charles Anderson Floyd, an elite member of Lynchburg, Virginia’s citizenry. The image is housed in its original, rare, large, oval thermoplastic frame.  Floyd was a relative of General, Governor, and U.S. Secretary of War, John Floyd.  In the image, Floyd is armed either with a Model 1840 saber, or more intriguingly, a Model 1860 light cavalry saber, possibly of the same batch of 1,200 that Secretary Floyd directed to the state of Virginia, in March, 1860. The uniform Floyd is wearing in the ambrotype conforms precisely to this description by Susan Blackford:

 “During the first three weeks after the John Brown raid, as it was always called, a cavalry company was also organized in Lynchburg called the “Wise Troops, a name selected in honor of Henry A. Wise, then Governor of Virginia and very active in encouraging the formation of military companies.  The uniform of this troop seems now to me, who saw it so many times afterward so differently costumed, as very singular, even partaking of the absurd.  It consisted of bright blue pantaloons with a gold cord down the sides, the brightest scarlet coats and black felt hats with broad brims and long scarlet horse-hair tufts hanging down behind themThe papers made great fun of them and pretended to think the British had invaded our homes again.  The gay attire was, however, only a holiday dress; when the company was really equipped for the field, as it was two years afterwards, the Confederate gray was adopted, and the red coats disappeared – either seeking the dye-pot to reappear in some more sombre hue or being relegated to some colored camp-follower who rejoiced in its startling tint.”

–Blackford, Susan Leigh and Charles Minor, Memoirs of Life In and Out of the Army in Virginia During the War Between the States, Volume I, 1894; page 6.

After President Lincoln’s call for volunteers, Charles Floyd assisted in organizing a cavalry company to resist an anticipated invasion.  Although forty years old in 1861, Floyd refused to accept a commission, insisting that young men, with military schooling or training, should be chosen to lead.  His regiment fought under Colonel Radford, at first Manassas and was later brigaded with other Virginia cavalry units, under General Thomas T. Munford.  Private Floyd was in the first charge which precipitated the Federal rout at First Manassas; after enduring multiple episodes of combat, Floyd was discharged for illness, during the summer of 1862. In the Fall of 1864, he reenlisted, joining the 8th Virginia Infantry. Serving with the 8th Virginia, he was killed, on March 31,1865, at the Battle of Hatcher’s Run, just prior to the fall of Petersburg.

“A companion who was only a few rods behind Mr. Floyd when he fell (Captain Camp, later of the municipal force of Lynchburg, Va.) reported : “The Federals had attempted to turn our right flank, but we had stopped them and started them on a run, some of them firing back occasionally.  We knew, of course, that they had greatly superior numbers, and our only hope was to keep them moving.  We were dismounted, and in our pursuit, through the thick forest growth, we came upon a forester’s cabin with an enclosed yard and stable lot.  Being tall and athletic, and a swift runner, Mr. Floyd was the first over the fence, and, running half across the lot, he sprang upon a pile of stable-bedding and trash, to get a better view, and shouted back: ‘Hurry up boys! We mustn’t give them time to rally!’ At that instant a bullet pierced his heart, killing him so suddenly that not a muscle twitched after we reached him. He was buried nearby, with some fifteen or eighteen others, in the silent forest.  Years passed before members of the family could make a search for his grave, and then it could not be found.  No better man or braver soldier sacrificed his life in the Army of Northern Virginia.”

Floyd Biographical Genealogies, pages 36-37.

“Killed instantly at the battle near Hatchers Run, March 31st 1865, CHARLES A. FLOYD of Campbell Co., Va., aged 43 years.  At the beginning of the war he served for fifteen months in the Wise troop from Lynchburg; was then obliged to leave the army for some time due to failure of health; and again, in 1864, he joined the 8th Virginia Infantry with which he continued til’ he sealed his blood…to the cause which he had…”

Newspaper clipping found in the Perkins family Bible.

 Floyd, Charles Anderson.  Private, Company B (Wise Troop, Lynchburg).  Born February 8, 1821.  Enlisted Lynchburg 5-31-61, age 40.  Farmer.  Present through 7-61.  Absent sick 9-31-61 through 1-6-62.  Absent 6-15-62.  Absent sick and discharged 7-22-1862.  (Howard, H.E. and Driver, Robert; 2nd Virginia Cavalry; H.E. Howard).

Floyd, C.A.  Private, Co. A (Hillsboro Border Guards, Loudoun County).  Enlisted 10-20-1864.  Richmond Hospital 12-24-1864.  Returned to duty 1-16-65.

(Devine, John; 8th Virginia Infantry; H.E. Howard).

 This striking ambrotype is a most significant, Confederate image; although there are three narrow, horizontal cracks in the plate, none detract from the image proper. The color of the early uniforms of the Wise Troop is quite evident in this image, indicative of the early stage of Floyd’s service and the period when this image was made.

Measurements: Frame – H: 12.5”; W: 10.5”; Plate Size – H:7”; W – 5”