Colonel Walter Herron Taylor
1st Alley West, Lot 34
(1838 – 1916)
Walter Herron Taylor was an American banker, lawyer, soldier, politician, author, and railroad executive from Norfolk, Virginia. During the American Civil War, he was an officer in the Confederate States Army, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel as an aide to General Robert E. Lee. He was later a Senator in the Virginia General Assembly, and attorney for the Norfolk and Western Railway and later the Virginian Railway.
Taylor was born on June 13, 1838, in Norfolk, Virginia. He was the son of Richard and Elizabeth Calvert Taylor, and a descendent of Adam Thoroughgood and his wife Sarah. Throughgood (1604–1640) was an early leader and is widely credited for the naming of various forms of Norfolk County and the Lynnhaven River in the earliest colonial days of the 17th century. Walter graduated from Virginia Military Institute (VMI) at Lexington, Virginia in 1857. He became a merchant and banker in Norfolk.
During the American Civil War (1861–1865), Taylor joined the Confederate States Army on the secession of Virginia in 1861 and joined the staff of General Robert E. Lee. When General Lee assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia in June 1862, during the Peninsula Campaign, Taylor became assistant adjutant general of that army.
Taylor's fiancée was Elizabeth Selden "Bettie" Saunders, daughter of United States Navy Captain John L. Saunders and Mrs. Martha Bland Selden Saunders. Miss Saunders lived during the war with the family of Lewis D. Crenshaw in Richmond, Virginia where she worked in the Confederate Mint and for the Surgeon General in the Confederate Medical Department.
In the last few days of the Siege of Petersburg, as it became clear to Lee and his staff that Petersburg was lost and Richmond should be evacuated, 26 year-old Taylor received special permission from General Lee to go to Richmond to give Miss Saunders "the protection of his name." He sent a messenger ahead to Richmond to advise his bride-to-be and have her make arrangements with Reverend Dr. Charles Minnigerode, the rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
After midnight, in the wee hours of April 3, 1865, Taylor and Miss Saunders were married in the parlor of the Crenshaw house. Afterward, Lewis Crenshaw accompanied Taylor as far back toward the Confederate lines as safety permitted. One week after the surrender at Appomattox Court House, Taylor returned to Richmond with General Lee, picked up his bride, and they returned to Norfolk..
After the war, Taylor resumed the banking business at Norfolk, Virginia, and also worked as an attorney. He held municipal offices and was elected to the Virginia General Assembly, where he served as a State Senator from 1869 until 1873. He was president of the Marine Bank, and served on the Board of Directors of the Norfolk and Western Railway.
Taylor devoted a considerable portion of his postwar years to settling controversies related to the Army of Northern Virginia. He was petitioned by so many of the war's generals for so much information he decided to write a book to set the record straight. He asked for permission from the U.S. government to view the national archives related to the Army of the Potomac and was the first man ever granted such a privilege. In 1877, he wrote a book, Four Years with General Lee, which was the source for dozens of anecdotes about Lee. Col. Taylor wrote another book, published in 1906, Robert E. Lee, His Campaign in Virginia, 1861-1865.
Late in the 19th century, Taylor was active in the development of the Ocean View area, located along the south shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Norfolk County.
Walter Herron Taylor died of cancer on March 1, 1916. Walter H. Taylor Elementary School of the Norfolk City Public Schools is named in his honor.*
Wikipedia References: http://www.emmitsburg.net/montereypass/contents/about_monterey/walter_taylor.htm
Taylor, Walter H., Belmont, John S., Tower, R. Lockwood, Lee's Adjutant: The Wartime Letters of Colonel Walter Herron Taylor, 1862-1865, University of South Carolina Press, 1995, ISBN 1-57003-021-9.
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