Richard Taylor (1826-1879)

Lieutenant General

Monument: Find-a-Grave

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Reference: Alabama Department of Archives & History. Custodian of the original pictures. Confederate Officers photo album.

Richard Taylor, son of President Zachary Taylor and brother of Jefferson Davis' first wife, was born at "Springfields," a family estate near Louisville, Kentucky, on January 27, 1826. Much of his early life was spent in frontier posts while his father was an army officer. He later studied in Europe, and after transferring from Harvard to Yale, was graduated from the latter institution in 1845. For a time he was his father's military secretary during the Mexican War. He established himself as a sugar planter in Louisiana in 1850; then became interested in politics, and served from 1856 to 1861 in the state senate. Appointed colonel of the 9th Louisiana Infantry at the outbreak of hostilities, Taylor arrived at the field of First Manassas on the night of the battle. He was promoted brigadier general on October 21, 1861, and major general on July 28, 1862. He served under Jackson in the Valley campaign of 1862 and in the Seven Days battles before Richmond, and was assigned to command the District of West Louisiana that summer, an area in which he made a notable record with a paucity of troops and supplies. His most celebrated achievement was the complete repulse of Banks' Red River expedition at Mansfield and Pleasant Hill in the spring of 1864. Prevented from following up his advantage by what he deemed to be the incredible stupidity of his superior, General Kirby Smith, Taylor asked to be relieved of his command. He was, nevertheless, promoted lieutenant general to rank from April 8, 1864, and assigned the Department of Alabama and Mississippi. He surrendered in May 1865 the last of the Confederate forces east of the Mississippi. After the war he was a leading advocate of leniency toward the Southern states, interceding with President Johnson on behalf of Jefferson Davis, and appealing for a less severe application of the Reconstruction Acts. He died in New York City, April 12, 1879, and is buried in Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans.

Ref: Generals in Gray, Lives of the Confederate Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Printed by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London.