(1839 - 1867)
Home State: North Carolina
Education: Wake Forest College, Class of 1859
Command Billet: Regimental Adjutant
Branch of Service: Infantry
A recent Wake Forest graduate, he was master and teacher at the Reynoldson Male Academy (later Institute, Reynoldson, NC) in 1860. He enlisted in Weldon on 12 June 1861 as a Private in the "Gates Guards" - later Company B, 5th North Carolina State Troops. He was promoted to Sergeant Major of the Regiment on 7 February 1862 and elected 2nd Lieutenant, Company G on 5 March. He was promoted to First Lieutenant on 5 May and served as acting Regimental Adjutant and as Assistant Adjutant General to Brigadier General Samuel Garland on the Peninsular Campaign that summer.
On the Campaign
He was with General Garland until his death at Fox's Gap on South Mountain on 14 September, then returned to his Regiment. In his after action report for Sharpsburg, General D.H. Hill noted:
[about mid-day on 17 September] Colonel Iverson, Twentieth North Carolina; Colonel Christie, Twenty-third North Carolina; Captain Garrett, Fifth North Carolina; Adjutant [J. M.] Taylor and Lieutenant [Isaac E.] Pearce, of the same regiment, had gathered up about 200 men, and I sent them to the right to attack the Yankees' flank. They drove them back a short distance, but in turn were repulsed. These two attacks, however, had a most happy effect. The Yankees were completely deceived by their boldness, and induced to believe that there was a large force in our center. They made no further attempt to pierce our center, except on a small scale, hereafter to be mentioned.
... The following officers and men of Garland's brigade are specially commended for their good conduct: ... Adjt. J. M. Taylor, and Lieutenant Pearce, of the Fifth ... conducted themselves with soldier-like gallantry.
The rest of the War
He was formally appointed Adjutant of the 5th to date from 12 August, but apparently declined the position and was commissioned Captain, Company G in January 1863 (to date from 20 October 1862). He was in action at Chancellorsville, VA in May and was severely wounded by gunshot to the groin at Gettysburg, PA on 1 July 1863, after which he was in hospitals in Richmond, VA to 27 July, then on furlough home to Sunbury.
He returned to duty on 5 October 1863. He was wounded in the groin again in May 1864, probably at Spotsylvania Court House, VA. He was in Richmond hospitals into August then furloughed home. He was wounded for the third time, in his right side at Cedar Creek, VA on 19 October 1864. He was treated in CSA General Hospitals in Harrisonburg and Charlottesville, VA, and furloughed in November, but was back with his Company in December. He was probably promoted to Major of the Regiment in early 1865 and was surrendered with them on 9 April 1865 at Appomattox Court House, VA.
After the War
He reopened the Reynoldson Institute in the summer of 1865 but died the next year, relatively young at about 28 years:
The war ended, and reconstruction began, Prof. Taylor, with the stain of powder on his brow, and his limp coat sleeve, returned to the school again. With the aid of an old pupil, Julius Howell, again carried on the work successfully. Until one morning, the sad news spread rapidly that Prof. Taylor was at the point of death. In the dormitory, on the second floor, in the front room on the North side, he quietly passed into "That world from which no traveler returns." On the following day as the old school bell tolled its farewell, his remains, followed by his loved ones were carried to Sunbury and laid to rest.
References & notes
His basic service from the Roster1 via the Historical Data Systems database, and his Compiled Service Record (via fold3). Bio details from Fred Taylor posted to his State Troops and Volunteers Facebook page along with an 1866 photograph of J.M. Taylor from his collection, source of the picture here. The quote about his death from Lily Waff Smith's The History of Reynoldson Institute (1916), transcribed online by Sally Moore Koestler.
1839; Pasquotank County, NC
1867; Reynoldson, NC; burial in Sunbury, NC