Given a Second Chance at Life, This Civil War Soldier Became a Hero in Memphis


Typically a person is judged solely by a single act or rash of poor decisions over a sure interval, however it’s typically needed to look at a lifetime to gauge one’s true character. That was the case for Colonel Alfred Warren Taylor, who was cashiered for drunkenness in 1862 and, practically two years later, tried suicide. For the residents of Memphis, Taylor fortuitously didn’t succeed. In 1873, the once-disgraced colonel turned hero by single-handedly saving a neighbor’s dwelling engulfed in flames, seemingly stopping a fireplace from spreading all through the town. 5 years later, through the metropolis’s devastating yellow fever epidemic, he was “conspicuous” in offering reduction to his sick and dying fellow residents, even in danger to his personal well being and livelihood. Certainly, his selflessness through the disaster finally killed him in October 1878 when he contracted the lethal illness.

A Mexican Battle veteran, Taylor had a promising begin within the Civil Battle, appointed a captain within the 4th New York Infantry (1st Scott Life Guards) on April 24, 1861. Somewhat greater than two weeks later, he was promoted to colonel. That August, nonetheless, he was reportedly so drunk throughout a parade in Baltimore that he was unable to drill his regiment or talk together with his superior, Maj. Gen. John Dix. A few of Taylor’s fellow officers got here to his protection and testified throughout his court-martial that he hadn’t been as inebriated because the stories recommended. However stories of earlier drunken escapades in New York Metropolis helped seal his destiny. The court docket beneficial that Taylor be cashiered out of the Military.

A suicide try practically introduced Alfred Taylor’s ignoble Civil Battle to a tragic finish. Given a second probability, he grew to become a hero in Memphis. (Photograph by Frank Jastrzembski)

Taylor’s lawyer efficiently appealed to President Abraham Lincoln to have the colonel reinstated, recalling,
“I used to be with Colonel Taylor when he was restored to his regiment. His males cheered him as he entered camp. When he left for New York on enterprise, the entire 800 males ranged alongside the highway and gave him three cheers.”

However, lower than three months later, on July 7, 1862, Taylor resigned his fee, apparently due to friction amongst his officers. He relocated to Memphis and opened a store promoting army items.

On the night of Might 24, 1864—days after informing his buddies that he supposed to commit suicide—Taylor shot himself within the left breast. He was discovered mendacity mindless in his dwelling, the pistol at his facet. Regardless of a severe wound to his left lung, he recovered.

Taylor took benefit of the second probability at life. On Might 13, 1873, when a fireplace broke out at his neighbor’s dwelling, he single-handedly started to douse the flames with buckets of water and subdued the conflagration earlier than fireplace engines arrived.

When yellow fever ravaged Memphis in 1878, Taylor’s buddies urged him to go away the town. In September, roughly 200 individuals have been dying per day. Taylor joined the Residents’ Reduction Committee, which distributed meals, cleaning soap, candles, bedding, and so on., to these in want. “He was conspicuous as a member of the…committee, and was zealous and punctual within the discharge of [his] duties,” declared The Memphis Every day Attraction. “To the final he did his obligation and stood by his fated fellow-citizens of Memphis as long as he had well being and life.”

Taylor grew to become sick and succumbed on October 5. He was buried together with different yellow fever victims in Memphis’ Elmwood Cemetery.

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