1st Battalion 22nd Infantry
Ist Lieutenant Walter L. Taylor
1st Lieutenant Walter Lucian Taylor
During the Spanish-American War
the United States Army lost 385 Soldiers killed in action and
2061 dead from disease. 1
Those dead from disease included casualties lost to malaria, yellow fever, typhoid fever, dysentery, and several other
tropical ailments of non-specific nature. The huge amount of men sick from all kinds of causes was so great, that,
out of fear of contagion, the Army sent to Cuba and Puerto Rico was quarantined upon their return, at a specially
set-up quarantine camp at Montauk, New York. The camp was named Camp Wikoff, in honor of Colonel Charles A. Wikoff,
of the 22nd Infantry, who was detached from the Regiment and given command of a Brigade just before the troops
landed in Cuba. Wikoff was killed in action while leading his new command into the fight at San Juan Hill.
One of the Regulars of the 22nd
Infantry who succumbed to disease and died
was 1st Lieutenant Walter L. Taylor, of Company D 2nd Battalion 22nd Infantry. 2
Walter Lucian Taylor was born in
Georgia on May 26, 1865. At one month beyond the age of eighteen
he entered the
US Military Academy, on July 1, 1883. His grades at the Academy were quite low, his best subjects being Tactics,
Spanish and Mathematics, his worst subjects were Law, Engineering and Drawing. Interestingly, one of his instructors
in Mathematics was 2nd Lieutenant Harry C. Hodges, on temporary duty at the Academy from the 22nd Infantry.
The two would later serve together when Taylor was assigned to the 22nd Infantry.
Taylor graduated 60 out of a
class of 64, and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant on June 11,
1887. From June 12
to August 31, 1887 he was on temporary duty with the 16th Infantry as an "additional" 2nd Lieutenant. When a position
became open in the 20th Infantry, he was assigned to that unit on August 31, 1887. He remained with the 20th Infantry,
until he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant of Infantry on December 29, 1894, and assigned to the 22nd Infantry.
At the battle of El Caney, Cuba,
on July 1, 1898, Taylor and his Company were part of the force
from 2nd Battalion
that had chopped its way through jungle while under heavy fire, to get to its assigned objective, covering the Cuabietas
Road. This road was the likely avenue of retreat the Spaniards in the town of El Caney would take, should they be forced
out of their positions in the town. As the attacking force drove the Spanish defenders into the trap, 2nd Battalion
poured a withering fire into them, inflicting severe casualties within their ranks and causing the enemy to surrender.
Taylor and his fellow officer
from Company D, 2nd Lieutenant William Hudspeth Wassell,
performed gallantly in the fight,
Taylor directing the Company, since their Company Commander, Captain Benjamin Lockwood, had been appointed as
Battalion Commander for the action. Taylor's valor and that of Wassell was noticed by Captain Robert Getty,
Commander of Company F, who then took command of 2nd Battalion shortly after the battle, when Lockwood became ill.
In a letter to the Brigade Commander, Getty praised the two young officers, who had been classmates at West Point:
On January 30, 1899 President
William McKinley recommended 1st Lieutenant Walter Taylor
for a Brevet promotion to Captain for "gallantry in battle, El Caney, Cuba, July 1, 1898."
No record could be found to indicate that the Senate ever acted on the recommendation.
Walter Taylor contracted malaria
during the campaign in Cuba, and then typhoid fever at Camp
He died in New York City on September 18, 1898, was taken home to Thomasville, Georgia, and buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery.
1st Lieutenant Walter L. Taylor's decorations
1st Lieutenant Walter
L.Taylor was remembered by the West Point
Association of Graduates with the following obituary:
WALTER LUCIAN TAYLOR.
No. 3233. CLASS OF 1887. Died, September 18, 1898, at New York City, aged 33.
TAYLOR was born in Thomasville,
Ga., where his family still lives, and his life was spent in that
town until he went
to West Point, at the age of seventeen. After his graduation he was appointed to the Twentieth Infantry and served with it
in the northwest most of the time, until the breaking out of the Spanish-American war.
He was for a time Professor of
Military Science and Tactics at the University of Alabama,
Tuscaloosa, Ala., and in the fall of 1894
was on duty with Alabama State troops. He was made First Lieutenant in the Twenty-second Infantry, December 22, 1894,
and served with it at Fort Leavenworth, Fort Assinniboine, Fort Yates and Fort Crook. He went through the Santiago campaign
with the Twenty-second Infantry, and although he escaped injury in the fight, where he constantly exposed himself,
he contracted malarial fever before the troops were brought back to the United States. Being the only officer on duty with
his company he insisted on remaining with his men, and at Montauk was taken with typhoid fever. He was taken to a hospital
in New York City, but he had been too much weakened by exposure on the battle field to withstand the disease.
Lieutenant Taylor married Miss Adele Pitmann, who survives him, and who, with their three children, lives in Thomasville now.
The writer has heard Major R. N.
Getty, First Infantry (then Captain Twenty-second Infantry,)
speak in terms of
unqualified praise of Taylor's cool bravery and his great efficiency in the fight at El Caney. He said that Taylor,
though exposed constantly to the galling fire, which was causing many casualties in his company, was not in the least
moved or disturbed by it, but that he constantly went from man to man, counseling them, examining and arranging their
rifle sights for them, and seeing in every way that the fire of his company was directed to the best purpose.
Taylor was always known among
his friends as a man of kind, sympathetic disposition, with
strong religious convictions.
Though it was not his fortune to die in the thick of the fight, he gave up his life for the republic with no less distinction
than does the man for whom we proudly erect a tablet with the thrilling inscription, "Killed in Action." 4
The following article
appeared in Taylor's home town newspaper
two days after his death:
Sep. 20, 1898 pg 1
Lieut. Walter L. Taylor Dead.
A telegram was received in this city Sunday evening announcing the death of Lieut. Walter L. Taylor in New York.
The news was both a surprise and a shock to the relatives and friends of the young officer in this city.
The cause of death was Typhoid Fever, contracted while with his regiment at Santiago.
Lieut. Taylor was born and raised in Thomasville and he had a large number of relatives and friends here.
He was appointed to West Point by Congressman Turner, something like fifteen years ago. Being a bright and
studious boy he passed a most creditable examination and entered upon his studies at the National great military academy.
A few years ago he graduated with honors and was made a second lieutenant in the Twenty-Second Infantry.
He has been with his regiment almost constantly ever since, being promoted a few years ago to First Lieutenant.
When his regiment was ordered to Santiago he accompanied it and in the trying times in Cuba he and his regiment
were in the thickest of the fight. During the entire campaign he was acting captain of his company and was among
the very few officers of the Twenty-Second that came out of the conflict without a wound. Many of them were killed.
After the surrender of the Santiago the Twenty-Second was ordered to Montauk, L. I., and while there the malaria
absorbed while lying in the trenches in Cuba got in its work, and the gallant young officer who had escaped Mauser bullets
and the dreaded pestilence in Cuba, was stricken down with fever.
Mr. John G. Pittman, his brother-in-law, had Lieut. Taylor removed to his home in New York City,
where he was given the best of medical attention and nursing. Mrs. Taylor, who remained with relatives in Athens, Ga.,
when her husband went to Cuba, went at once to New York to be with her sick husband and remained at his beside until the end.
It was not known here that Lieut. Taylor was seriously ill, and the news of death was a shock to the whole community.
He leaves a wife, formerly Miss Della Pittman, and three children to mourn the death of husband and father.
These have sympathy of everyone in the deep affliction.
The remains will be brought here for interment, but just when they will arrive could not be ascertained yesterday.
It is likely however, that they will reach here on 2:35 train this afternoon, in which even the interment will take place
in Laurel Hill cemetery shortly afterwards, Notice will be given by some means as soon as the hour for the funeral is determined.
Daily Times Enterprise Thomasville Georgia September 20, 1898
The Grave of Walter L. Taylor
Photo by Mike Dover from the Find A Grave website
The inscription on the monument of Walter Taylor's grave. It reads:
WALTER LUCIAN TAYLOR
First Lieutenant of the United States Army
BORN MAY 26, 1865.---DIED SEPT. 18, 1898
from fever contracted during the siege before
Santiago de Cuba, of the Spanish American War
Photo by Mike Dover from the Find A Grave website
1 Department of Defense official figures
2 During the Santiago Campaign in Cuba, 1st Battalion consisted of Companies A, B, C and E. 2nd Battalion consisted of Companies D, F, G and H.
3 Annual Reports to the Secretary of War 1898
4 Thirty-second Annual Reunion of the Association & Graduates of the United States Military Academy, at West Point, New York, June 8th, 1901 Saginaw, Mich. Seemann & Peters, Printers and Binders 1901
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