The Wallace-Taylor boys of Southwestern Indiana (Gibson and Vanderburg counties)

This article is about blood-relatives on Lori’s side of the family.

Fighting for the Blue: The Wallace-Taylor Boys (circa 1860) of
Gibson and Vanderburg Counties (Indiana)

Most hailed from Gibson County, Indiana. A few would call Vanderburg County home. Many were brothers. If they weren’t brothers, they were first-cousins. All forty-two of them were grandsons (or married to granddaughters) of John Wallace (b. 1782) and Francis Jane Taylor (b. 1787). Young men, and some just plain boys, like Eli Daniel Bryant, Patterson Witherspoon Wallace, Abraham Gudgel, Solomon Reavis and Thomas Jefferson Williams. Sixteen of the young men had the last name of Wallace. The Wallace-Taylor clan was of typical spirit that was passed down from the earliest pioneers of Gibson County, Indiana:

“The early settlers of Gibson County were principally from the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia. They were a hardy and sturdy people, who possessed more intelligence and piety than usual for new settlers, and the moral tone of their influence and example has left impress on their descendants.”
The Pictorial Story of America. Part Three – Gibson County. 1895: page four.

What of the name Wallace and the patriarch John? John Wallace (b. 1782) became the first American-born Wallace descended from Arthur Wallace (b. 1730) in Longford (78). Ireland. John was the youngest of five sons. The Wallace family was apparently rooted in the faith of the Covenanters (72). The Covenanters were a Protestant group that had experienced nearly a century of persecution from French Catholics in Scotland. As a result, many Scotland Covenanters immigrated to Ireland and the American colonies in the 1600 and 1700s. Arthur Wallace came over to Maryland from Ireland in the late 1700s.

John Wallace (1782 – 1855) married Frances Jane Taylor (1787-1856) in August of 1804 in Jefferson, KY. Frances Jane was the daughter of Captain Edmund Taylor (b. 1744) and Sarah Stubbs, of Orange County, Virginia. Edmund (1) was one of at least eight brothers, all whom faithfully served in the Revolutionary War and were handsomely rewarded with generous land grants after the War. Edmund and Sarah gave birth to Frances Jane Taylor (73) in 1787.

When the Wallace’s married in 1804 the Louisiana Purchase had been signed one year earlier, Thomas Jefferson was President, Lewis and Clark were just beginning their famed expedition, and Indiana was still part of the Northwest Territory and would not become a State until 1816.

When John Wallace and Frances Jane Taylor married (circa 1804), two family lines merged from distinct, noble and patriotic heritages. The Wallaces moved to Ohio County, Ky, shortly after they were married where John engaged in milling in Rough Creek (69). He did well in milling but eventually decided to leave Kentucky because of the presence and support of slavery.

In 1829 they moved to Gibson County, settling in a place known as King’s Station (70) for several years until they located on the canal below Francisco. John (74) was a Whig and a Republican. John experienced success as a ‘botanic doctor’ though his main occupation was that of a farmer. When they moved to Gibson County they brought with them eleven children; six sons and five daughters (76). John and Frances found a home in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Gibson County.

When the Wallace’s moved to Gibson County (75) in 1829 the locomotive had just been invented by George Stephenson in England, Andrew Jackson had just been elected President, and Harriet Tubman was just nine years old. The nation was just thirty-two years away (circa 1861) from facing the crisis of secession. They both died within one year of one another in the mid 1850’s, thus John and Frances did not live long enough to watch their numerous grandchildren go off to war in the early 1860’s. They are both buried in Forsythe Cemetery.

Though grandmother Frances (d. 1856) was not alive when the Civil War broke out, one can only imagine how many times she must have pulled one of her fifty-plus grandsons up on her knee to tell him about their grandfather Captain Edmund Taylor, or one of their great-uncles, who fought valiantly during the Revolutionary War. What is for sure is that Grandmother Frances had a tremendous impact on her family, especially her grandsons. One of her grandsons – Thomas Jefferson Williams – describes his grandmother in a family letter as the “the best and most patient woman who ever lived.” (77) She also probably told her many grandchildren of how they were related to President Zachary Taylor (elected in 1849) since she was first-cousin to President Zachary Taylor.

The decade of the 1850’s was a turbulent decade for the United States. The United States was just coming off a major war with Mexico (1846-1848), President Zachary Taylor died barely one year in office (d. 1850), a stronger Fugitive Slave Act was enacted (1850), Harriet Beecher Stowe published Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1851), in 1854 the Kansas-Nebraska Act overturned the Missouri Compromise of 1820 allowing Kansans and Nebraskans to determine if their respective states would be free or slave states, the Dred-Scott decision of 1857 effectively made slavery legal throughout the United States, John Brown and his followers attempt to seize the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry (1859), and Abraham Lincoln barely won the national election in 1860.

As we all know, the 1860 election split the country between southern Democrats (though there were northern Democrats too) who were pro-slavery and northern Republicans who were by-and-large against the ‘peculiar institution’. In December of 1860 South Carolina issued an Ordinance of Secession. Several other southern states shortly followed the lead of South Carolina.

In the spring of 1861 Abraham Lincoln had a difficult decision to make. If he were to re-supply the Federal fortifications at Sumter, S.C., the newly formed Confederate States of America, led by President Jefferson Davis, would take this as an ‘act of War’. Well, Lincoln attempted to re-supply Ft. Sumter and 67-year old Edmund Ruffin, and southern sympathizer, is popularly credited with firing the first short of the Civil War at 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861. Within twenty-four hours Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to quell the rebellion. Most northerners believed the rebellion would be put down within 90 days.

As the rebellion was nearing its 90th day the nation saw the first major Battle at Manassas, VA on July 21st 1861. Over 60,000 total forces were engaged that hot summer day near Fairfax Courthouse. A little known general by the name of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson would save the day as he and his Virginia brigade stood like a stonewall. The Union Army, 28,000 strong, was shattered. The embarrassing defeat under Union Gen. McDowell convinced the Lincoln administration that the was going to be a potentially long engagement. On August 16, 1861, Abraham Lincoln officially declared the southern states in rebellion. Lincoln had issued a second call for volunteers on July 2nd – this time for 300,000 eligible fighting men – and on August 6th he issued another call for 300,000 more men.

The August ‘61 call for volunteers resulted in ‘war fever’ sweeping across the entire country, and the young boys and men of Gibson County, Indiana caught it too. Within four days of the August 16th call for volunteers three of the Wallace Taylor-boys enlisted. Brothers James Henry and David H. Wallace donned the blue uniform on August 20, 1861, mustering in to Company A of the Indiana First Cavalry (also known as the 28th Indiana Infantry). Their first cousin, Theophilus Alanzo Wallace also mustered in to Company A, 1st Cav. The first three Wallace-Taylor boys were from Vanderburg County.

On November 12th (1861) alone, sixteen Wallace-Taylor boys roused to patriotism and enlisted to take up arms on behalf of the Union by representing Gibson County, Indiana. The fall of 1861 would see a total of twenty-four Wallace-Taylor boys putting on the blue on behalf of the Hoosier State. Most of the boys were either from Francisco (68) or Princeton, Indiana. Other places listed as residences at the time of enlistment include Oakland City, Owensville, and Newville.

Gibson County would provide as many as 2,100 boys to fight for the Union during the Civil War (66). “Gibson County not only gave her best and noblest blood, but also subscribed liberally her money and other means necessary to carry on a great war (67).” The county offered a total bounty to support the war effort that exceeded $100,000.00.

The Wallace-Taylor boys were mostly just that – boys becoming men in 1861. The average age at enlistment was barely twenty years of age for these boys. One of the boys, Henry Lafayette Wallace (2) was just thirteen years old when he enlisted with Company F, 44th Indiana. Henry would see action at Perryville, Shiloh, Corinth, Stones River, and Chickamauga. He survived the war. Twenty-one of the Wallace-Taylor boys served in the 58th Indiana Infantry, thirteen of whom served in Company A. That means that about 15-20% of the soldiers who fought in Company A of the 58th were Wallace-Taylor boys. The 58th Indiana saw action at Corinth, Stone’s River, Chickamauga and Chattanooga. In April 1864 they were assigned to the Engineer Dept and took charge of all pontoon trains for Sherman’s famous March to the Sea.

In all, the forty-plus Wallace-Taylor boys would serve in ten different Civil War regiments: Indiana and Kentucky. A regiment was roughly composed of 7-10 companies, usually around 1,000 men total (3). At the time of enlistment the ranks of the Wallace-Taylor boys ranged from Private, Corporal, Quarter Master Sergeant, a Musician, to pontoon builders. Most would live to see the end of the war but four of the Wallace-Taylor boys were not quite so fortunate. Indeed, three (4) of them would fall at Stone’s River in Murfreesboro, Tennesee, in January of 1863: David L. Bryant, Isaac Witherspoon, and Joseph Reavis of Princeton. The average time of enlistment was 30 months for those who survived the war, and 90% did.

The Wallace-Taylor boys enlisted together, drilled in camp together, fought together, worshipped together, and sadly, died together. Seven different Regiments with Wallace-Taylor boys would fight together during the Atlanta Campaign in 1864, six different Regiments at Franklin, TN (November 30, 1864), and four different Regiments at Shiloh, Perryville, Chickamauga and Chattanooga. Six brothers served together in the 28th Infantry (1st Indiana Cavalry), three of them, teenagers, served together (5) in Company A. Altogether, the Wallace-Taylor boys fought in over ten major Civil War conflicts, shedding patriotic Hoosier blood in seven states, including Tennessee, Kentucky, Atlanta, Illinois, Arkansas, Alabama, and North Carolina. The Volunteer state of Tennessee would absorb most of the Wallace-Taylor blood.

One of the boys, William Witherspoon, Company A, 58th Indiana Infantry, was wounded at Lavergne, TN on December 27, 1862. His chaplain – John J. Hight – describes the situation as follows:

He was “taken with a series of severe convulsions. He was wounded in the charge of his company on Lavergne . . . having been struck on the top of the head by a ball [a mini ball or bullet]. For a long time he has been well and hearty, but I have no doubt his present affliction is a result of the injury received in that battle.” (79).

Gibson and Vanderburg Counties, the state of Indiana, and the United States of America owe much to these brave young Wallace-Taylor boys who fought to preserve our great Union during the Civil War. As mentioned earlier, twenty-one of the Wallace-Taylor boys fought in the 58th Indiana. The Chaplain of the 58th, John J. Hight wrote this poetic, albeit romantic description of the “bold soldier boy” whom he compiled in his mind’s eye by watching the boys who fought for the 58th. He mentions many of the Wallace-Taylor boys in his history (71) of the 58th.

“Oh, the wild, glorious, roving life of a bold soldier boy! With all thy faults, I love thee still. How pleasant the sweet consciousness that God gives to him that he fights in a good cause. His soul is unfettered by the trammels of civilized life. Does he desire to worship? Where he is is church. Does he wish for sleep? He says with Tecumseh, ‘The earth is my mother, I will repose on her bosom.’ No pent up Utica contracts his powers; he travels far and near, seeing many lands. He sails on the ocean, steams on the river, rattles on the cars, trudges on the mud road, and climbs the cold mountains. He bares his breast to the storm and says, ‘Thou art my brother.’ The gentle rains fall upon his brow, and he welcomes them as a mother’s kiss. He would not exchange the cooling draught of water from the sparkling fountain for all the drinks of the most fashionable saloon. His fare is rough, but then his appetite is good, and he has not sickened over dainties. He lives a life of toil, but his muscles are strong and his heart is brave. He exists amid dangers, but he heeds them not, for the smiles of the fair, the prayers of the good, and the hopes of the oppressed cheer him on. When he stands in battle, his soul sinks not in fear, for above him is the flag of the free, and beneath him the soul he would lie, rather than yield to tyrants. The canon’s deadly roar, the crash of arms, the shout of the charge is his music. If victory comes, his soul is filled with indescribable joy. If he fails, full well he knows, ‘Whether on the scaffold high, — or in the battle’s van, — The noblest places for man to die – Is where he dies for man.’ If he perish, true hearted comrades will dig his grave. ‘No useless coffin will enclose his form; he will lay like a warrior, taking his rest, with his martial cloak around him.’ Why need he dread death? Is not the grave the common receptacle of the young, the beautiful, the beloved? Let not the brave then fear to die. His memory shall be cherished by those who love him. The mighty deeds in ‘which he bore an humble part shall live in the traditions of a thousand generations’.


(1) Edmund was son of Col. George Taylor (1711-1792). George’s father (Edmund’s grandfather) was James Taylor, II (1674-1728). Edmund Taylor’s great grandfather was James Taylor I (b. 1635) who was originally from Northumberland, Carlisle, England; but who emigrated to Virginia in 1650. James was a lawyer and wealthy landowner in the colony of Virginia.

(2) Henry Lafayette Wallace was barely thirteen years old when he enlisted with the 44th Indiana Infantry.

(3) Indiana Regiments: 28th In (1st Cav), 33rd, 42nd, 44th, 58th, 65th, 80th, 120th , 125th (10th Cav) and the 143rd. Kentucky Regiments included: 17th, 28th and 48th.

(4) Killed at Stone’s River were: Joseph Reavis, David L. Bryant and Isaac Witherspoon. Charles F. Wallace was killed at Tuscumbia, Alabama. A Robert L. Wallace is listed by Hight (p. 184) of Company B, 58th Indiana as killed in action. However, to date, this author has not found a connection of Robert L. to the Wallace-Taylor boys.

(5) Theophilus A., Giles Smith and Lemuel Brazzle served in Company A of the 1st IN Cavalry. Their respective ages were 16, 17 and 18.

(66) The Pictorial Story of America. Part Three – Gibson County. 1895: page 10.

(67) The Pictorial Story of America. Part Three – Gibson County. 1895: page 10.

(68) Francisco: “was platted and laid out in January 1851, by John Perkins. It is on the line of the old Wabash & Erie canal, and during the time that canal was in operation the town was very flourishing. It is now [ circa 1895] a thrifty little village of about 500 people.” The Pictorial Story of America. Part Three – Gibson County. 1895: page 14.

(69) History of Gibson County, 1884: page 211.

(70) King’s Station, “on the line of the E. & T. H. R. R. The family lived there for a number of years, then moved to a timbered tract of land on the canal below Francisco,’ where they built another farm. In 1855 John moved to Section 23, Township 2 South, Range 9, where he resided until his death.

History of Gibson County, 1884: page 211.

(71) Hight’s History of the 58th Indiana Volunteers. Stormont, 1895.

(72) The Covenanters: The Covenanter’s stand for political and religious liberty led to almost a century of persecution and their widespread migration to Ireland and the American colonies. Their struggles brought an end to 500 years of French (Catholic) influence in Scotland and contributed to a close alliance with England. And their refusal to acquiesce in the face of overwhelming odds eventually led to the union of the thrones of Scotland and England in 1603 and over time, the invitation to the Protestant William of Orange to take the throne in 1690. This move ultimately led to the political Act of Union in 1707 between Scotland and England.”

(73) Frances Jane Taylor Wallace is buried in Forsythe Cemetery. She died October 3, 1856.

(74) John Wallace October 4, 1855 and is also buried in Forsythe Cemetery.

(75) The county of Gibson was formed in 1813. What is now Gibson County was originally part of Knox County. Gibson County derives its name from Gen. John Gibson, a solier who serve din the French and Indiana War as well as the Revolutionary war.

(76) The Wallace-Taylor line can be viewed here:

(77) Family letter written by Thomas Jefferson Williams (1845-1935), in possession of Mrs. William Redding of Pendleton, Indiana.

(78) John’s father, Robert, was born in Longford too (b. 1756).

(79) Hight, p. 159.

The Wallace-Taylor line can be viewed here:

To learn more about Gibson County:

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