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Illustrator James E. Taylor (1839-1901) was born in Cincinnati and educated at the University of Notre Dame. He enlisted in the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War and is remembered as a newspaper artist providing detailed sketches of wartime scenes for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. He left many images of the Eastern Panhandle and neighboring areas of Maryland and Virginia.

Taylor began supplying drawings to Leslie’s while still serving with the Tenth New York Infantry, and went to work full time for the newspaper after leaving the army in 1863. Thereafter he traveled as a civilian journalist with Union troops in Virginia, West Virginia, and the Carolinas. He was with General Philip Sheridan’s Army of the Shenandoah during Sheridan’s Valley Campaign of late summer, 1864, when Union forces finally established firm control of the critical Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Sheridan began his march up the Valley from Jefferson County in August, and it was during this period that Taylor made many drawings of Harpers Ferry, Charles Town, Martinsburg, Halltown and other West Virginia places.

Taylor had an eye for architectural detail. He produced numerous drawings of the interiors and exteriors of buildings, including the Jefferson County Courthouse; Washington family mansions including Beall Air and Happy Retreat; and other buildings and streetscapes still familiar to travelers in the Eastern Panhandle. He produced lurid prose accounts of his travels, as well, gathering his local experiences into an illustrated diary titled With Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley, 1864.

Traveling west after the Civil War, Taylor established a second reputation as an illustrator of the frontier and of the conflicts between Whites and Indians during that period. He was present as an artist at the signing of the Medicine Lodge Treaties in Kansas in October 1867.

James E. Taylor continued with Leslie’s until 1883, when he left the newspaper to become a freelance illustrator. He died in New York City in 1901.

Last Revised on April 24, 2024


James E. Taylor. With Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley, 1864. Cleveland, Ohio: Western Reserve Historical Society, 1989.

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e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "James E. Taylor." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 24 April 2024. Web. 18 June 2024.


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