Florida’s Militia and Confederate Generals 1861-1865

Florida provided 15 general officers to the Confederate cause during the Civil War. some were, or had been, professional soldiers. Most were not. Several were born in Florida, other came to Florida from the states to the north, one even from Ireland. Roughly half had at least some prior military experience. The remainder would have to learn their trade “on the job.” All of these officers served in active campaigns during the course of the war. Many were wounded and one was killed.

Florida’s generals fought in all theaters of the war, from Virginia to Arkansas, Kentuky to Florida. One was the fifth highest ranking general in the Confederate Army, and one received his general’s commission only days prior to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. They were a typical American mixture of professional and citizen soldiers and they fought hard for Florida.

General Edmond Kirby Smith: Florida born and bred, he graduated from West Point, fought in Mexico and served with the 2nd Cavalry in Texas against the Indians. He was at First Manassas and in Tennessee and Kentucky. He commanded the Trans-Mississippi Department after the fall of Vicksburg. Larger than western Europe, the Trans-Mississippi Department, because of its isolation from the rest of the Confederacy, and reflecting his strong personal direction, became known as “Kirby Smithdom.”

Major General William H. Chase: A West Point trained engineer who had a long career, primarily civilian, on river improvement projects and railroads, William H. Chase was commissioned a colonel, later major general, of Florida State Troops. He was in command at Pensacola briefly at the start of the war. His advanced age and his generally poor health, precluded active campaigns outside the state.

Major General William W. Loring: One of the most famous and colorful of Florida’s soldiers, he served in the Second Seminole War, Mexico, and on the frontier prior to the Civil War. He commanded troops in Virginia and in all the great battles of the middle Tennessee and north Georgia campaigns. After the war he became a general, or pasha, in the army of the Egyptian Khedive.

Major General Martin L. Smith: Another West Point trained engineer, Smith served in Mexico before pursuing a civilian career in Florida. He was with the Confederate Corps of Engineers in many locations including Vicksburg, Mobile and Savannah. At Vicksburg, having been largely responsible for the design of the defenses, he commanded a division in its defense.

Major General James Patton Anderson: He led a regiment of Mississippi volunteers in the Mexican War. He later rose from company commander of Florida troops to become regimental commander of the 1st Florida. He later became brigade and divisional commander in the Army of the Tennessee. He fought in all the great battles, from Shiloh to the Atlanta Campaign, and was seriously wounded at Jonesboro in Georgia.

Brigadier General James McQueen McIntosh: He was a Florida man and a graduate of West Point. McIntosh was one of those professional soldiers who offered their services to the Confederacy. Rising to the rank of brigadier, he was killed leading his brigade at the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas.

Brigadier General Joseph Finegan: Born in Ireland, he was a prominent citizen of Florida when the war started. He was in command of all troops in east Florida from 1861 to 1864; his soldiers defeated a federal invasion force at the Battle of Olustee, near Lake City. He then took his Florida troops north and became the Florida Brigade commander in Lee’s Army, beginning at the Battle of Cold Harbor.

Brigadier General Edward Aylesworth Perry: Perry was one of several transplanted “Yankees” who had settled in Florida and, eventually, volunteered to defend it. He was born in Massachusetts and had attended Yale. After moving to Florida, Perry settled near Pensacola. He began the war as a company commander in the 2nd Florida Regiment. Eventually he became the regimental commander and, later, commander of the Florida Brigade in General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. He fought in most of the great battles of that army and was badly wounded. After the war, Perry became involved in state politics. He was elected governor of Florida, 1884-1888.

Brigadier General William S. Walker: Another West Point professional soldier, Walker had seen active service in Mexico and the Far West before the war. He saw combat service with Confederate forces in South Carolina, North Carolina, and in Virginia. After losing a foot in battle, he finished the war as an administrator, much to his disgust.

Brigadier General G. M. Davis: He was a prominent Florida lawyer who began the war in command of the 1st Florida Cavalry. He saw action in east Florida and east Tennessee where he commanded a brigade of three Florida regiments. He retired from service during the war for age and health reasons.

Brigadier General Francis A. Shoup: He was a West Point soldier sent to Florida during the Third Seminole War. He liked Florida, resigned his commission, and stayed. An artillery expert in the Confederate Army, he served in several campaigns from Shiloh to Pea Ridge, Vicksburg to Atlanta. It was Shoup who commanded the guns that destroyed the “Hornets Nest,” the sunken road position of Union General Prentiss at the Battle of Shiloh. Shoup also gained notoriety as the author of a pamphlet advocating the enlistment of blacks in the Confederate Army.

Brigadier General Jesse Johnson Finley: He first came to Florida as a volunteer in the Second Seminole War. After a period of wandering, he returned to make it his home. During the war he commanded the 6th Florida, having first joined as a private. Finley fought with his regiment in all the bloody battles of the Army of the Tennessee, from Perryville to the Atlanta Campaign, being seriously wounded at Reseca in north Georgia. After the war he served for a time as a Florida representative in the U.S. Senate.

Brigadier General William Miller: Going to war as a commander of the 1st Florida, he was badly wounded at Murfreesborough, Tennessee. Placed in command of the Florida District, CSA, his was wasn’t over. Miller commanded Confederate and state troops in the campaign that ended with the Union defeat just south of Tallahassee, at Natural Bridge.

Brigadier General Robbert Bullock: A prominent Marion County citizen, he raised a company for service with the 7th Florida. As with so many of the others listed, his war was long and hard. He and his regiment served under Generals Kirby Smith, Bragg, Johnston, and Hood. They suffered many casualties, but few campaigns were as destructive as Hood’s winter campaign against Nashville. Bullock and the remnants of the regiment, approximately three dozen men, surrendered to General Sherman in North Carolina after Appomattox.

Brigadier General Theodore W. Brevard: Beginning the war as a captain in the 2nd Florida, Brevard later became colonel in command of the 11th Florida following their victory at Olustee. With his regiment, he joined Lee’s army on the eve of Cold Harbor, taking part in the famous counterattack by the newly reconstituted Florida Brigade that saved the day for the Confederate cause. Brevard, and most of his regiment, were captured at Sailor’s Creek during the retreat to Appomattox Court House. He had been a general a little more than one week.

Sources:

  • Hawk, Robert. Florida’s Army: Militia, State Troops, National Guard, 1565-1985. Englewood, Fla: Pineapple Press, 1986.
  • Florida Memory (http://www.floridamemory.com), Division of Florida Library & Information Services, Florida Department of State