"Patriotism and feminine persuasion herded thousands of men into the confederate ranks early in 1861, but
army life lacked virtually all the glories so widely proclaimed. Camps were dreary, monotonous places, filthy, frequently
boggy, and always unhealthy. Men soon found that they wasted away from ennui, measles, "flux," and all the timeless ills of
armies. With the hard fact of camp life came a wary wisdom, and many Johnny Rebs cautioned friends to spurn the false attractions
of glory." -Frank E. Vandiver-southern historian.
On April 15, 1861 President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to put down the "insurrection" in the South.
On May 16,1861 the Confederate Congress authorized the recruiting of 400,000 men. Governor John Milton of Florida supported
Confederate recruiting efforts and stripped the state of available men. His determination and the patriotic response of Floridians
gave that least populated of Southern states the distinction of having the most men, per capita, in the Confederate
One of these patriotic men was Ephraim Taylor a farmer from
Fernandina and on Monday the 8th day of July
1861 he enlisted as a Private in Captain Call's Company, Florida 2nd Infantry Regiment.. They rendezvoused with 10 other Florida
Companies at the Brick Church just west of Jacksonville, now known as La Villa, and on Saturday, July 13th, 1861 they were
mustered into the Confederate service by Major W. T. Stockton. This company subsequently became Company K (The Davis Guards
of Nassau County), Florida 2nd Infantry Regiment. On Monday, July 15th the Regiment left by rail for Virginia, arriving in
Richmond Sunday afternoon, July 21st. The Regiment was in Camp of Instruction,5 in the neighborhood of Richmond, for nearly
2 months. On September 17,1861 the Regiment left Richmond for Yorktown. During the fall of 1861 and the following winter the
Regiment was encamped near Yorktown, forming a part of the Army of the Peninsula under the command of Maj. General J. B. Magruder.
With the beginning of spring began the advance of the Union Army under General McClellan.
" It was during the siege
of Yorktown that the Second Florida
received its baptism of fire. With the Second Mississippi Battalion it was selected
to make a sortie to dislodge a detachment of the enemy's sharpshooters which had approached very near Fort Magruder: " The
enemy's skirmishers pressed closely in front of Yorktown. Brigadier- General Early ordered a sortie to be made from the redoubts
for the purpose of dislodging the enemy from Pulmentary's peach orchard. This was affected in the most brilliant manner by
the Second Florida, Colonel Ward, and the Second Mississippi Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel Taylor, all under the command of
Colonel Ward. The quick and reckless charge of our men, by
throwing the enemy into a hasty flight, enabled us to effect,
with little loss, an enterprise of great hazard, against a superior force supported by artillery, when the least wavering
or hesitation on our part would have been attended with great loss."-as told in a report by General Magruder.--Confederate
Military History Extended Edition-- Broadfoot Publishing Company, Wilmington, NC, 1989.
It was in this manner that
Ephraim Taylor came under fire. His unit continued to distinguish itself throughout the war. On May 5, 1862, at Williamsburg
the Regiment again distinguished itself by its gallant resistance to the advance of McClellan's much larger army. In the battle
of Seven Pines Major Call was killed. He was the Captain that enlisted Ephraim and was his original company commander. The
Regiment fought in the Seven Days Battles of Beaver Creek, June 26, 1862. At the battle of Gaines Mill, June 27, 1862 and
Fraysers Farm, June 30,1862, the Second Florida, in Pryors Brigade of Longstreets division added to the laurels it had already
won, with the sacrifice, however, of many valuable lives. It was in the battle of Gaines Mill that Ephraim was wounded. He
was hospitalized for several days in the Richmond area.( It was here that he supposedly met Mary Charlotte Wright who was
a volunteer nurse.)
Their next battle was the battle of 2nd Bull Run, August 28-30, 1862. This appears to be his last
major battle because on September 9th, 1862 he asked for his discharge and it was granted at Fredrick City, Maryland. He was
paid back pay for 6 months and 9 days at $11 per month($69.30), Transportation @ $.02 per mile to Gordonsville, Virginia(100
miles =$2.00) and a clothing allowance of $25 for 6 months and $7.92 pro rata for rations. This all came to $104.22 and was
paid in full on September17, 1862.
"It was a ragtag army that began crossing the shallow fords of the
River just above Leesburg, Virginia, on the following afternoon (September 4, 1862). As one of Lee's brigadiers phrased it,
the men had been "marching, fighting and starving" since the Seven Days' Battles in late June. They were gaunt and unshaven,
and many were wearing vermin-infested , tattered uniforms. By one estimate, fully a fourth of the army marched barefoot. Some
20,000 fresh reinforcements from Richmond joined Lee's march, but nearly that many men dropped out. These dropouts were ill
and exhausted or simply wanted to sit out the invasion at their homes in northern Virginia. Some stayed behind because they
had enlisted to defend their homeland, not to invade the North. The 50,000 men who did march into Maryland were the most determined
of the veterans who had driven the Northern invaders from the outskirts of Richmond all the way back to Washington. "None
but heroes are left," one of them wrote home"---Brother Against Brother---Time-Life Books
One of the questions that
need to be answered is, "Why did Ephraim choose to ask for his discharge at this point in time?" His enlistment was up on
July 8, 1862, having completed the year that he volunteered for. Did he ask for his release because he didn't want to invade
his homeland. Maybe he did ask for release on July 8 and was refused due to the Subscription Act that stated that all volunteers
that wanted out could not do so until they had a replacement to take their place. Maybe; as the story is told; he met and
fell in love with a volunteer nurse during his hospitalization when he was wounded. This nurses name was Mary Charlotte Wright.
The reason that he asked for his discharge at this time will never really be known, but one thing we all must remember is
"None but heroes are left".