Nelson Taylor was born in South Norwalk, Connecticut, on June 8, 1821. He was educated in the local public schools and in 1846 enlisted for the Mexican War as a captain of the 1st New York Infantry. He was stationed in California during the entire war, and after muster-out in 1848 he remained there, settling in Stockton. He became state senator in 1849, was president of the board of trustees of the insane asylum in 1850, and was elected sheriff of San Joaquin County in 1855. Soon after, he returned to New York and was graduated from Harvard Law School in 1860; the same year he ran for Congress, unsuccessfully, on the Democratic ticket. At the beginning of the Civil War, he again entered the army, this time as colonel of the 72nd New York, and on September 7, 1862, was advanced to brigadier general. When his regiment was organized it was assigned to Sickles' Excelsior brigade. Taylor successively led the regiment and the brigade during George B. McClellan's campaign on the Virginia Peninsula and in the campaign of Second Manassas. In the latter battle his command was in a division of Hooker's III Corps and suffered severely. The III Corps was not present at Sharpsburg, but shortly after the battle Taylor was ordered to report to McClellan, who assigned him to command a brigade of Gibbon's division of the I Corps, which he led at the battle of Fredericksburg. Despite the fact that Gibbon's report called "special attention to [Taylor's] services" at Fredericksburg, his resignation was accepted by the War Department on January 19, 1863, whereupon he returned to his New York law practice. That summer, during the draft riots, General Taylor took command of some troops in Harlem. In 1864 he was elected to Congress as a Democrat and served from 1865 to 1867; he was unsuccessful in his campaign for reelection. In 1869 he returned to South Norwalk, where he practiced law for many years and was city attorney several times. He died on January 16, 1894, and was buried in Riverside Cemetery, South Norwalk.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.