Confederate Seadog

John Taylor Wood in War and Exile


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About the Book

John Taylor Wood, the grandson of President Zachary Taylor and a nephew of Jefferson Davis, was one of the most daring and remarkable participants of the Civil War and among the few people to hold dual rank in the Confederate military as a captain in the Confederate States Navy (CSN) and a colonel in the cavalry. Wood was widely known for his wartime activities, but at the time of his death in 1904, he had been largely forgotten.
This work combines a thorough biography of John Taylor Wood and three of his memoirs that were published in Century magazine between 1885 and 1898. The biography gives special attention to Wood’s childhood and youth, such as his harrowing experiences in Florida during the Seminole Wars, his service in the United States Navy during and after the Mexican War, his experiences in California during the Gold Rush and his leading role among the members of the little-known postwar Confederate naval colony in Halifax, Nova Scotia, organized to fight the Fenian forces for the British in 1866.
His writings about the war and other literary activities, and his friendship with William Hall, the first African American to win the Victoria Cross are covered. The memoirs in this book cover his service on the CSS Virginia, the cruise of the CSS Tallahassee (of which he was the commander), and his gutsy escape from the South as the Confederacy collapsed.

About the Author(s)

John Bell is a senior archivist at the National Archives of Canada. He lives in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Bibliographic Details

John Bell
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 190
Bibliographic Info: photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2002
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1352-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii
Preface     1

Under Three Flags: The Life and Legacy of John Taylor Wood
1 A Forgotten Confederate Colony     9
2 Early Life, 1830–1847     12
3 United States Navy, 1847–1861     16
4 Confederate States Navy, 1861–1865     22
5 Escape to Cuba, 1865     41
6 Exile in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1865–1904     53
7 A Rebel’s Legacy     66

The Civil War Memoirs of a Confederate Exile: Writings of John Taylor Wood
8 The First Fight of Iron-Clads     71
9 The Tallahassee’s Dash into New York Waters     96
10 Escape of the Confederate Secretary of War     114

Appendix 1: The Capture of the USS Underwriter     139
Appendix 2: United States Vessels Captured by the CSS Tallahassee     147
Appendix 3: A Song for the Forecastle     149
Appendix 4: An Annotated Checklist of the Published and Unpublished Writings of John Taylor Wood     151

Notes     155
Annotated Bibliography     167
Index     173

Book Reviews & Awards

“compelling…well-researched, well-written biography of a fascinating Civil War officer”—The Civil War News; “splendid…enthralling…clear and concise”—Civil War Courier; “splendid…well-written…a most satisfactory treatment of a neglected but important Confederate war leader”—North & South; “comprehensive volume of his adventuresome life”—Civil War Book Review; “stranger than fiction…recommended for those interested in the Civil War, the Navy and fascinating stories”—Catholic Library World.