This letter was written by Benjamin Franklin Taylor (1843-1920), the son of Thomas Taylor (1812-1878) and Louisa Lamb (1817-1902) of District 5 near Paris, Henry county, Tennessee. After the war, Benjamin married a woman named Margaret and returned to farming in Henry county. By 1900, his occupation was given as a “physician.”
Benjamin wrote the letter to his boyhood friend William Henry Harrison (“Tip”) Wilson (1840-1921) of Paris, Henry county, Tennessee. Born in September 1840 during the Log Cabin and Hard Cider Presidential Campaign of William Henry Harrison, William’s parents named him after the war hero and presidential candidate who was nicknamed “Tippicanoe” or “Tip” for short. As he grew into an adult, William’s family nicknamed him “Tip” as well and he often signed his letters that way. We know from census records that Tip’s father was from North Carolina and his mother was from Virginia. Digging further in census records, we learn that Tip’s mother was Ann Adeline Neblett (1804-1858) of Lunenburg county, Virginia, who was first married to Green Jackson (1800-1833). In 1839 at the age of 35, Ann married Tip’s father, Joseph Hannibal Bonaparte Wilson (Aft1800-Bef1849).
Both Benjamin Taylor and “Tip” enlisted in Co. C, 5th Tennessee (Confederate) Volunteers in May 1861. Tip was promoted to lieutenant and later captain of Company A. The regiment was mustered into Confederate service in August 1861 and went through a couple of reorganizations and consolidations during the war before they were paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina on 1 May 1865.
Tip was married to Naomi Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Cox (1842-1921) on 30 June 1864 at Macon, Alabama—just one day before this letter was written from Marietta, Georgia.
June the 21, 1864
Capt. W. H. Wilson
Most Esteemed Friend,
This rainy morning finds me trying to interest one whom I have not seen since the day we formed our first line of battle. I have no news more than what you have heard. Our Brigade acted cavalry for a week at Dalton after which time we have had some pretty hard fighting to do. As for myself, I left the regiment at Kingston owing to a chronic sore on my leg. I was in the fight at Resaca and since that time have been detailed at the Div. Hospital. This is a protracted fight and [if] we get a chance at those blue you-know-what, we will not leave one of them to tell the tale. We capture some of them every day. Two of them came by here this morning with their arms in a sling. I had much rather see them with their neck in one.
Well, Tip, I will change the subject. I have received seven letters from home since we have been on this tramp—two of which came from Sallie & Anna. They both expressed a wish to see your Lady. Anna says you did not get her consent to marry. I have not answered it yet nor will not until you get back—i.e. if you are coming soon.
Tip, I am writing in post haste. What you can’t read, you can spell & guess at the balance. I am needed at the hospital every minute so I will very soon have to close. Tip, you know we have been soldiers over three years and we never have seen the time when we were more exposed. We never saw as hard time before but our boys will not give it up. They build fortifications and hallo at the Yankees to come on. We have a slaughter pen for them.
Well, I must close. Give my respects to your lady. I am going back to the company in a few days—i. e., if I can get off from the hospital. The colonel, a few hours previous to his death, eulogized Old Co. A very much. ¹ He said he never saw better fighting done in his life by any troops. No more. I remain your most devoted friend.
B. F. Taylor, Third Sergeant in Co. A, 5th Regt. T. V.
P. S. I have a note for you from Anna.
¹ A reference to Col. Jonathan J. Lamb (1833-1864). Renowned for his courage, Lamb commanded the combined 4th and 5th Tennessee Regiments until he was mortally wounded at Ellsbury Ridge, Georgia on 20 May 1864. Lamb was also from Paris, Henry county, Tennessee.