AUTHOR: Robert Taylor (edited and vetted by Cheri Todd Molter)
Born in Granville County, N.C., John Tillinghast Taylor was a son of John Camillus Taylor and Emily Elizabeth Tillinghast. His mother had been born in Cumberland County, N.C., to Paris Jenckes Tillinghast and Emma Elizabeth Vowell. His father was a graduate of the University of North Carolina, a lawyer, a Latin teacher, a legislator, and a state senator from Granville County. John Camillus Taylor was also the guardian of my great-great-great-grandfather, Richard Taylor, who died at an early age leaving behind a widow and six sons.
On April 26, 1861, when he was twenty-seven years old, John Tillinghast Taylor enlisted at Granville County, N.C., as First Lieutenant. He served in Company B, 12th Infantry (North Carolina). Taylor was promoted to Captain (Full, Vol) on May 1, 1862. He was killed on June 27, 1862 at Gaines’ Mill, Virginia.
It has been said that John Tillinghast Taylor’s body was found on the battlefield with a note pinned to his jacket. On the note was written the following message: “This is Captain John Tillinghast Taylor. Please give me a Christian burial.” After hearing that story, I visited the battlefield once. One of the guides said he could tell me which of the fields Capt. Taylor may have been on when he was killed. The guide had maps of where the regiments were positioned during the battle and told me where the troops in the 12th Infantry (NC) had been. I feel like we may have been very close to the place where he was killed. That place was sacred to me and being there was a very humbling experience.
John T. Taylor was buried in the St. John Episcopal Churchyard in Williamsboro, N.C., but I have never been able to find a marker. This is the church where he was a member, and his grandfather, Captain John “Brandy” Taylor, was an elder. That Capt. John Taylor served in the American Revolutionary War. Capt. John Tillinghast Taylor’s obituary was published in the North Carolina Standard on Aug. 6, 1862. It stated: “Captain John Tillinghast Taylor, of the Townsville Guards, Company B, fell a martyr in the cause of Southern Independence at Gaines’ Mill, on Friday 27th June last. While gallantly leading his Spartan band, he was shot through the head and immediately expired. The Captain was the oldest son of John C. Taylor, Esquire, of Granville County, NC and was in his 28th year. He was an Alumnus of the University of North Carolina; a young man of fine literary taste and culture; and in enlisting recruits in the service of the Confederacy, early in the contest; exhibited talents of his order. He was a communicant of St. John’s Church in Williamsboro, NC; and as a vestryman was very useful in his parish.”