Sketches from the Shenandoah: James Taylor’s Scrapbook

In the collections of the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio rests With Sheridan Up the Shenandoah Valley. Leaves from a Special Artist’s Sketch Book and Diary. As the title implies, it is a book of incredibly realistic sketches and the diary of an artist named James Taylor. Today, Taylor is not one of the more well known artists who accompanied armies in the field and witnessed major battles. The Waud brothers, Alfred and William along with Edwin Forbes are more likely to come to mind when one is asked to name a Civil War artist.

Taylor hailed from Cincinnati and was a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. When war came in 1861, he enlisted in the 10th New York Infantry. When he mustered out in 1863, he took a job with Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper as a sketch artist. As fate would have it, Taylor would travel with the Federal army during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864.

As we continue to observe the Sesquicentennial and in conjunction with the Shenandoah Subordinates series, over the course of the next few weeks, I would like to offer our readers a glimpse of Taylor’s sketches. In fact, one has already been included in part two of the aforementioned series, which recounts David Russell’s actions at the Battle of Third Winchester. Each post will include a sketch and a brief description and hopefully bring to light the talent of James Taylor.

All sketches are courtesy of the Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio.

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