Thomas T. Taylor dreamed of glory.
“Brigadier General Thomas T. Taylor”
Thomas T. Taylor was the 24 year old Prosecuting Attorney of Brown County in 1861. He was part owner of a drug store and owned and edited a local newspaper. He was well educated and very ambitious. Margaret Antoinette (Netta) White Taylor was Thomas’ wife and daughter of prominent ‘Teacher’ John D. White. She was in her early twenties and had two young boys, Miles and Thomas, Jr. She too was well educated and not afraid to talk about current affairs. They were very much in love.
The Taylor’s lived in “Elmwood Cottage” on W. Main Cross St.
(now W. Grant Ave.) that Tom bought from his father-in-law,
teacher John D. White.
When the Confederate cannons fired on Ft. Sumter a patriotic fever swept across the North. Within days a “Union meeting” was held on the Brown County Courthouse Square. Prominent men gave rousing speeches. The last to speak was Dr. Carr B White, Thomas’ brother-in-law. He closed his speech by asking the men of Brown County to join him and volunteer to help save the Union. Thomas T. Taylor was one of the first in line. Two days later the volunteers marched out of town, and as Thomas Taylor hoped, to glory. The 12th was to serve 90 days.
Netta saw it more practically. She saw the support of her growing family leaving. She saw a bleak future for her and her boys living on a small farm, Elmwood Cottage, on the fringe of Georgetown. She would not join women’s groups that sewed, baked, and canned for the soldiers but spent her time trying to support her family and trying to get her husband to resign his commission and return home.
Thomas served his 90 days in the 12th OVI then transferred to the newly formed 47th OVI when he reenlisted for 3 years against Netta’ wishes. He was commissioned Captain of the Brown County Company. He was disappointed when the regiment was sent to what he considered the backwater of West Virginia with little chance of large battles and glory. He believed military glory would help his future political ambitions. He would volunteer for every dangerous assignment to gain that glory.
Captain Taylor was noticed by his superiors and was soon promoted to Major and then Lt. Colonel. Thomas cleared the area around his regiment of ‘bushwhackers’ and turned the 47th into an elite unit. Taylor’s ambition had no limits. In a letter to his wife he wrote, “I dream of leading my regiment into the cannon’s mouth with sword upraised”.
On December 30th, 1862 the regiment boarded steamers and joined General Grant’s campaign against Vicksburg. Their first duty was to help dig the canal that was to divert the Mississippi River and thus bypass Vicksburg.
That plan having failed led to the next idea that was to run the gauntlet of fire from Vicksburg’s batteries with gun boats and supply barges and get below the city and on dry ground. On May 2nd the Navy made a run past the city. Each barge needed a detachment of 35 soldiers to protect it from Confederate boarders. All of these troops were volunteers and many were from the 47th Ohio. The mission was a success. Nine members of the 47th were awarded the Medal of Honor for their part in the mission.
By the middle of May, Grant’s Army had defeated the Confederates in nine battles and had driven them into Vicksburg. The city was surrounded and on May 19th, 1863 an assault was ordered. The 47th was to attack Cemetery Fort. This forlorn attempt was made with great valor. The fort was protected by a 10 foot wide, 7 foot deep ditch at to base of its front wall. The men reached the ditch but could go no further through the galling fire. The Confederates rolled exploding cannonballs into the ditch and shot anyone who tried to retreat. Some of the fuses in the bombs were too long and the men of the 47th picked them up and threw them back into the fort. Finally, under cover of darkness, the 47th was able to return to Union lines. The regiment received another five Medals of Honors for this assault, bring the total to 14. No other regiment in the Union army was awarded more Medals of Honor during the war and they did it in 20 days.
‘Netta’ continued to worry about her husband and increasingly asked and begged him to resign and come home to her. Thomas was just now in the battles he had dreamed of and he had no intention of resigning. The 47th would move on to fight bravely at Chattanooga, Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain, and the Battles of Atlanta, and March to the Sea and through the Carolinas.
At Savannah Taylor led the 47th in a frontal attack against Ft. McAlister and was promoted to Colonel for his bravery. When the war ended Taylor war promoted to Brigadier General and was asked by the war department to stay in the army. Thomas wanted to use his success in the war to advance his political dreams so he finally resigned and returned to Brown County and ‘Netta’.
Tom was not to find the opportunities for the advances he sought in Georgetown so the family moved to Missouri in 1867 and then Kansas in 1874. In Kansas he succeeds. He practices law and reenters politics. He was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives where he successfully campaigned for the right of women to vote in municipal elections. He was then elected to the state Senate.
The family had grown to ten when Tom and Netta left Kansas and moved to Louisiana to be the general council for the St. Louis, Watkins, and Gulf Railroad. In January of 1908 the Taylors celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. Within a month Tom would die. He was 72. Netta would live until 1913. She was 77. They are buried side by side in Arlington National Cemetery. Both finally getting what they most wanted; Brigadier General Thomas T. Taylor buried with military honors among heroes and Netta is beside her ‘darling husband’ forever.
Thomas T. Taylor while he was in Kansas