RADM William Taylor, USN
USS Taylor (DD/DDE 468) honors with her name an officer who served in the Navy for over 45 years, and who had the distinction of guarding the body of Abraham Lincoln on his long last journey from Washington to Springfield, Illinois.
William Rogers TAYLOR, Rear Admiral, USN, was born In Newport, Rhode Island, 7 November 1811. The son of a naval officer, Taylor entered the Navy as a midshipman 1 April 1828, and received his training on the Brazil Station in HUDSON, VANDALIA, and PEACOCK from 1828–1832. Still in PEACOCK, he cruised in the East Indies, and here had the most remarkable incident of his early career. In 1836, PEACOCK was stranded on the island of Mazira, while carrying a diplomatic representative of the United States to Muscat where ratified copies of a treaty were to be exchanged. Taylor was assigned to command a five-oared cutter, carrying the diplomat and the treaties to Muscat, and arranging for help. It was a five-day pull, and a great test of the young officer’s seamanship. It was made successfully, and Taylor was given one of the Sultan’s small warships in which to return to the relief of his own ship.
During the Mexican War, he served in ST. MARY’S in the Gulf of Mexico, and commanded her first gun division in the attacks on defenses near Tampico in June 1846. Later, he commanded ST. MARY’S launch in the attacks on Tampico itself, and in the assault on Vera Cruz, he commanded an 8-inch gun in the naval battery for 36 hours.
In the years preceding the Civil War, he served in the Atlantic and Caribbean, and at the opening of the war, was assigned command of HOUSATONIC in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. In January 1863, he was senior officer present off Charleston, South Carolina when the Union vessels were attacked by two Confederate rams, when he successfully beat off with HOUSATONIC. He later served as fleet-captain, equivalent to today’s chief of staff, to John Dahlgren when Dahlgren was commanding the Squadron, seeing action at his side many times. Taylor was next assigned command of, JUNITA in the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, and in her took part in the attacks on Fort Fisher.
His outstanding service won Taylor the high and melancholy honor of serving in the guard of honor which escorted the body of president Abraham Lincoln from Washington to its final resting place in Springfield, Illinois. In the years that followed, he served on a number of high-level boards, and performed much duty in the Bureau of Ordnance and its field activities. The culmination of his career came when, as Commodore, he commanded the North Squadron of the Pacific Fleet from 1869 to 1871, and when, as Rear Admiral, he commanded the South Atlantic Station from 1872 until his retirement in 1873. He died In Washington, DC 14 April 1889.
When U.S. Sloop PEACOCK ran ashore on island of Madeira, in 1836, Passed Midshipman Taylor was sent to Muscat, in command of a cutter, to convey the diplomatic agent, Edmund Roberts, Esq. to that place, with some ratified treaties which he was charged to exchange. It was a sea voyage of five days duration, attended with considerable peril from bad weather and the Arab pirates, some of whom chased them for several hours. The Arabian sloop-of-war SULTANA was sent to render assistance to the PEACOCK.
Lieutenant in the USS ST. MARY’S, Home Squadron, during the Mexican War engaged at Tampico Bar, 8 June and 15 June 1846; present at siege of Vera Cruz, and commanded an 8-inch gun in the Naval Battery.
Captain, commanding steam sloop-of-war HOUSATONIC, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, 1862–1863. Senior officer off Charleston, at time of unsuccessful attack upon the blockading vessels by rebel rams CHOCURA and PALMETTO; present as Fleet-Captain with Admiral Dahlgren, during all the operations against Morris Island, from 10 to 19 July 1863, and was in battle with Forts Wagner and Sumter; on board the monitor CATSKILL on the 10th, and again on board the monitor MONTAUK, on 18 July 1863; commanded steam-sloop JUNIATA, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, 1864–1865, and was present upon both attacks upon Fort Fisher.
Rear Admiral Taylor was born in Rhode Island, 7 November 1811. Appointed midshipman from Rhode Island, 1 April 1828.