Walter Herron Taylor as aide-de-camp and chief-of-staff.

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012
No general wins wars, campaigns, or battles by themselves. Chiefs-of-staff and aide-de-camps can aid in or hurt victory. What was it about Walter Herron Taylor that helped of hurt Robert E. Lee? Lieutenant Colonel Taylor was not a career soldier. He did go to Virginia Military Institute where he graduated in 1857. He them became a banker, lawyer, soldier, politician, author, and railroad executive. During the Civil War he served as a key aide to Robert E. Lee. Taylor did staff work for Lee and often issued written and verbal orders in Lee's name. Taylor at time operated as a gatekeeper and decided who got to see Lee and who did not get to see Lee. Taylor was with Lee at the Appomattox Court House surrender. Taylor was on the young side during the war and did not have extensive military experience. In an army where going to West Point was key to higher rank, Taylor seceded as a soldier. So what skills did Taylor have that made him a successful aide to General Lee?

Post war Taylor supported the reputation of Lee and wrote two books. He was in the Association of the Army of Northern Virginia and the United Confederate Veterans. Fairly or not some see Taylor as a major player in the "Lost Cause" history.

Paul Yancey

Jan 13, 2019
In volume 2 of Douglas Southall Freeman's Lee's Lieutenants, Freeman had this to say regarding Taylor - "Of all the personal staff at Army headquarters, the man best known to visitors and on most intimate terms with the aides of other general officers was Walter Taylor. He was the youngest of Lee's official family and much against his wishes had to serve as "inside man" because of his skill and accuracy in handling the official correspondence that Lee detested. Of unassuming personality was Taylor but magnetic from youth, friendly and understanding. Possessed of a memory as notable as his industry, his one weakness was an impulse to steal off during a battle and to participate in a charge. Fortunately, he was never caught by Lee while thus indulging his love of martial excitement."

When Mathew Brady took his well known photographs of Lee soon after the surrender, Taylor and Lee's oldest son Custis posed with Lee in two of the photographs.


Apr 13, 2020
Maybe his 'lucky charm'.

Mostly off-topic:
Y'all might not believe this but on consecutive days at the same golf course on the exact same par 3 hole: I was partnered with 2 of my friends each day but different ones each day. 1 friend knocked in a hole in one on Sat... on Sun 1 of the 2 different friends knocked in a hole in one also! Suddenly... everyone wants to be my partner for some reason. Haha