James Rather Taylor, Confederate soldier, was born about 1838 in Fayette County, Alabama, the son of William S. and Elizabeth (Johnson) Taylor. His father was a Texas state representative. The younger Taylor and attended Larissa College in Cherokee County, Texas. He enlisted in the Confederate Army at Larissa on February 15, 1862, and was elected a captain in the Seventeenth Texas Cavalry. When the regiment was reorganized at Little Rock, Arkansas, on May 22, he was elected colonel. He was captured with most of his regiment at Arkansas Post on January 11, 1863, and was exchanged at City Point, Virginia, in April of that same year. He then returned to the Trans-Mississippi Department, where he collected men from the regiments captured at Arkansas Post to be organized as the Seventeenth Texas Cavalry, Consolidated. In the fall of 1863 the new regiment was attached to Polignac's Brigade of Texas infantry and served throughout the remainder of the war in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. A college classmate remarked that “a truer patriot, and a man of truer Spartan courage, has yet to be born.” Taylor was killed while acting as brigade commander at the battle of Mansfield, Louisiana, on April 8, 1864, during the Red River campaign. According to one account, he was killed by mistake by one of his own men, in the darkness at the end of that day’s battle. He is buried in Mansfield Cemetery.
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Bruce S. Allardice, Confederate Colonels: A Biographical Register (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2008). Alwyn Barr, Polignac's Texas Brigade, Texas Gulf Coast Historical Association Publication Series 8.1 (November 1964). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Marcus J. Wright, comp., and Harold B. Simpson, ed., Texas in the War, 1861–1865 (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1965).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Taylor, James Rather,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 17, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
July 28, 2011
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