General Richard Taylor, C.S.A.
Richard Taylor was born near Louisville, Kentucky. Although he grew up on the frontier, he was well educated and became a world traveler at an early age. Taylor, the son of former general and President "Old Rough and Ready" Zachary Taylor, was educated at schools in Scotland and France. He attended Harvard before graduating from Yale in 1845. During the U.S.-Mexican war (1846), he was present with his father at the battles of Palo Alto (May 8) and Resaca de la Palma (May 9). After the war with Mexico, he settled into civilian life, managing family estates in Mississippi and eventually establishing his own sugar plantation in Louisiana. While in Louisiana, Taylor entered politics as a Democrat in the state legislature (1856-61) and was in attendance at the Louisiana secession convention in January 1861. Shortly after Louisiana seceded, Taylor was appointed colonel of 9th Louisiana infantry. By October of that year, he was promoted to brigadier general and served under Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson during the Shenandoah Valley campaign. Although his early promotion to brigadier general was criticized by some officers (since he was the brother-in-law of Confederate president Jefferson Davis), Taylor soon fulfilled expectations. In the Valley, he fought at Mcdowell, Front Royal, and Winchester I.
From the Valley, Jackson's forces (with Taylor) joined Lee's forces near Richmond and fought in the Seven Days' battles (June 25-July 1), where Taylor was promoted to major general and sent to command the District of Western Louisiana. While in Louisiana, Taylor organized a considerable force and placed much of the state under Confederate control, forcing the "bottling up" of Benjamin Butler's forces in New Orleans. The fall of Vicksburg cut him off from the East, but, after battles at Sabine Cross Roads (Mansfield) and Pleasant Hill, he repulsed Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks's Red River Campaign (spring 1864) and with it Union plans of occupying the vital tri-state junction of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.
After quarreling with E. Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, he was promoted to lieutenant general in command of the Department of East Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama (August 1864). Taylor absorbed the remnants of Hood's Army of Tennessee (January 1865), but most of those troops were transferred to General Johnston's command in the Carolinas (February). He surrendered his command to Gen. Edward R.S. Canby at Citronelle, Alabama (May 4), and was the last Confederate force east of the Mississippi to do so. After the war he lived in New Orleans and New York, and published Destruction and Reconstruction (1879). Richard Taylor died in New York, April 12, 1879.
Sources: Dupuy, Trevor N, Johnson, Curt, and Bongard, David L., : Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography, Reprint, New Jersey, 1992
Taylor, Richard, Destruction and Reconstruction: Personal Experiences of the Late War. Reprint, New York, 1883