On this day in 1822, Confederate General William Taliaferro is born in Gloucester County, Virginia. Taliaferro served under General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson for the first part of the war,and spent the second half preparing coastal defenses in the lower South.
Taliaferro attended William and Mary College and Harvard Law School. He practiced law in Virginia before volunteering during the Mexican War (1846-48), where he rose to the rank of major. Before the Civil War, he served in the Virginia legislature and the state militia. He was at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia),in 1859 when John Brown made his raid on the arsenal in an attempt to stir up a slave insurrection.
Taliaferro became a colonel in the Confederate army when the war began. He fought in western Virginia in 1861, then served under Jackson in 1862. His relationship with Jackson was rocky at first, asTaliaferro became involved in a dispute between Jackson and General William Loring. Taliaferro signed a petition circulated by Loring that protested Jackson’s placement of troops at Romney, Virginia. Taliaferro fought alongside Jackson during the 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign, and he impressed his commander later in the summer at the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia. He was given permanent command of Jackson’s old division for the Second Battle of Bull Run, Virginia,in late August, but a wound kept Taliaferro from seeing action.
Shortly after the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia,in December 1862, Taliaferro was transferred to Charleston, South Carolina. He helped General Pierre G. T. Beauregard fortify the city, for which Beauregard gave him an enthusiastic commendation. Taliaferro’s work made Charleston impenetrable for the Union;the citydid not fall until the end of the war. He helped evacuate Savannah, Georgia, before William T. Sherman’s army captured the city in 1864. Taliaferro ended the war fighting with General Joseph Johnston’s army at Bentonville, North Carolina. He spent the years after the war practicing law and serving in the Virginia legislature and as a county judge before his death in 1898.