Cushing Memorial Library, Texas A & M University

Inventory of the G. Hobart Taylor Civil War Diary:

1 Jan.-30 May 1862

Descriptive Summary and Abstract

Creator Taylor, G. Hobart
Title Inventory of the G. Hobart Taylor Civil War Diary
Dates 1 Jan.-30 May 1862
Abstract Diary (1 Jan.-30 May 1862) kept by G. Hobart Taylor (fl. 1862), while serving during the early part of the Civil War, as a Sergeant in Campany D, First Oregon Cavalry. Taylor, a native of Jacksonville, Oregon, was first stationed at Camp Baker, Oregon, then moved with the battalion of volunteers in May 1862 to Oregon City, Oregon, to be outfitted with arms and uniforms. Taylor often served guard duty and with the quartermaster, as well as overseeing provisioning of both soldiers and horses. He recounts aspects of military life for recruits, including bouts of drinking and fighting, requiring arrest and time in the guardhouse, often caused by inactivity in the face of constant snow and rain, difficulties learning drill, while also constructing barracks, stables and parade grounds for the Camp. Taylor himself was actively involved in visiting his many relatives, as well as attending sermons in town preached by his father, Sunday School and prayer meetings to counter the boredom. He describes encountering "Secesh" or Confederate sympathizers in the populace, conditions on the military road, leading from Phenix City, Oregon to reach Ft. Vancouver in Washington Territory, from which location they would be sent to protect immigrant roads and mining areas while regular army units were reassigned to fight farther east in the Civil War. Along the road Taylor records crossing the Umpqua river, the Callapooa [i.e. Callapooia] Mountains, reaching the Willamette Valley 15 May 1862, and eventually Oregon City on the Clackamas River 22 May 1862. He describes Oregon City in detail including the steam ships plying the newly established route between Portland, Oregon and Oregon City, Oregon.
Identification Ragan MSS 00117
Extent .2 linear feet (2 items)
Language English.
Repository Cushing Memorial Library,  College Station, TX 77843-5000

Biographical Note

G. Hobart Taylor (fl. 1862), apparently a native of Jacksonville, Oregon, enlisted in the First Oregon Cavalry, Company D, stationed at Camp Baker, Oregon, near Phenix City [now Phoenix, Oregon] possibly in December 1861, but was definitely in camp 1 Jan 1862. This volunteer cavalry was necessary to maintain a miltary presence in Oregon, guarding the reservations, and protecting both settlers fleeing the war back East and miners following the new gold rush into central and eastern Oregon. Also, most regular U.S. Armysoldiers had been tranferred to fight farther east in the Civil War.

Taylor was made a Sergeant in his company, called the Jackson Rangers. Officers of Company D were Captain Sewall Truax, aided by 1st Lieutenant Drake, and 2nd Lieutenant John McCall. Several other volunteer companies such as the Josephine Company [Company F under Captain William J. Matthews] and Umpqua Company joined the Jackson Rangers at Camp Baker in early 1862, before traveling overland to Oregon City in May 1862, where they were finally outfitted as regular soldiers, their uniforms and arms having been shipped from San Francisco, California via Portland, Oregon by steamer to Oregon City on the Clackamas river.

Taylor was a firmly Union sympathizer in the Civil War, though his diary entries record that many citizens in Oregon were "Secesh," or Confederate sympathizers. Taylor was often detailed to guard duty or work with the quartermaster, and also regularly attended to providing for the campany's stock. Taylor had many realtives in the area, including his father, the Reverend S.P. Taylor, whose sermons G. H. Taylor often attended while in Camp Baker, as well as counsins in Oregon City, Oregon. While enjoying an occasional taste of hard cider or inferior whiskey called Tarantuala juice, Taylor kept his sanity in the face of either seemingly hopelessly awkward amateur drilling, or enforced inactivity on account of Oregon's relentless snow or rain, by visiting relatives, attending church functions, or possibly by making entries in his often quite humorous diary.

Scope and Content Note

Diary of G. Hobart Taylor (fl. 1862), originally of Jacksonville, Oregon, while he was stationed first in Camp Baker, Oregon (1 Jan 1862) at Phenix City [now Phoenix, Oregon] as a Sergeant in Company D of the First Oregon Cavalry, also called the Jackson Rangers. Taylor recounts events as the fledgling battalion completed constructing barracks, parade grounds and stables at Camp Baker, while fending off the snow and rain, and trying their best to learn drill. Then 5 May 1862 the whole camp "packed up & started for Ft. Vancouver in Washington Territory" via Oregon City, Oregon. Taylor's diary details the journey in rain and mud along the military road from Myrtle Creek to Jacksonville that had been surveyed under General Joseph Hooker, and declared a territorial road on 31 Jan. 1854. Along the road Taylor records crossing the Umpqua river, the Callapooa [i.e. Callapooia] Mountains, reaching the Willamette Valley 15 May 1862, and eventually Oregon City on the Clackamas River 22 May 1862.

Regarding life in Camp Baker, which included being regularly buried by snow or buffetted by rain, travel on the miserably muddy road to Oregon City, and finally conditions while camped outside of Oregon City with more rain pelting their tents, in the face of frequent cabin fever and disgust, many enlisted men either took to drinking concoctions such as Tarantula juice, an inferior whisky, or fighting, and quite often a combination of both. Taylor himself was kept busy on guard duty, or trying to find provisions for the company's stock. Having relatives nearby helped Taylor maintain good humor as well as, on his account, fairly good behavior. G. H. Taylor's father, Reverend S. P.Taylor, was only about nine miles from Phenix City in Jacksonville, so G. H. Taylor often attended sermons, as well as prayer meetings and Sunday School when he was able to get liberty to do so. Taylor's cousins also scattered the route to Oregon City, providing meals, news, and diversion.

According to Taylor, officers were often viewed as unjustifiably high-handed and soldiers in this rain-sodden backwater of the Civil War, very often pushed to the verge of insubordination. On 1 April 1862 "The Umpqua Company made its appearance at the camp," nine of whom were in the guardhouse 2 April 1862 for fighting "on the parade." 7 April 1862 "Josephine Co. arrive at Camp Baker ... 50 men ... a rough set ...judging form external appearances." The populace was thickly laced with "Secesh" or Confederate sympathizers. Taylor records the soldiers celebrating the fall of Fort Donelson, Tennessee (11-16 Feb. 1862) and 20 March 1862 "the joyous news of the victory of our troops at Manassas," although at the 13 gun salute in honor of the victory at Manassas, Virginia, two men were injured, one mortally by a gun's premature discharge.

The diary concludes after the battalion's overland journey from Camp Baker to Oregon City is completed 22 May 1862 by reaching Oregon City, and the promised uniforms have arrived 27 May 1862 by steamer from San Francisco, California via Portland, Oregon Territory, unfortunately with "no pants among the lot." Taylor muses: "Guess we will wear high water jackets, paint our legs Skey Blue & 'put money in our purses & go to the war.'" By 30 May 1862 the soldiers were "still in camp doing nothing with a vengeance," although by June 1862 Company D was at Fort Vancouver, Washington Territory, and from there to Fort Dallas, Oregon, later participating in expeditions against the Snake Indians in Idaho, and protecting immigrant roads. The diary's endpapers contain a list of expenses, both personal and for the quartermaster, the latter having an initial date of Dec. 1861.

  • Bibliography
  • History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington. Portland, Or. : North Pacific History Co., 1889. Vol. 2.



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Usage Restrictions

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Online Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog of Cushing Memorial Library. Researchers wishing to find related materials should search the catalog under these index terms.
United States. Army--Cavalry--Drill and tactics.
United States. Army--Cavalry--Barracks and quarters.
United States. Army. Oregon Cavalry Regiment, 1st (1861- 1864)
Military discipline--Oregon--History.
Military life--Oregon--History.
Guard duty--History.
Military roads--Northwest, Pacific--History.
Cavalry horses--Oregon--History.
Propaganda, Confederate--History.
Steamboat lines--Oregon--History.
Camp Baker (Or.)--History.
Oregon City (Or.)--History.
Willamette River Valley (Or.)--History.
Clackamas River (Or.)--History.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Cavalry operations.
Oregon--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Phoenix (Or.)--History.
Washington Teritory--History.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Equipment and supplies.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Religious aspects

Administrative Information


Purchased by repository in 1980s.

Processing Information

Processed by Aletha Andrew in October 2002.

Other Available Formats

Paper transcription of diary available in repository.

Detailed Description of the Diary


Item 1. Diary, 1 Jan-31 May 1862

Diary in a tan leather bound notebook, measures 15 x 9 cm., with pages ruled in blue and red as for accounts. "G. H. Taylor, Phenix, Ogn, Camp Baker," is written on the cover in ink, and the title page is inscribed in ink, "G. H. Taylor, Phenix, Jackson Co., Ogn, Jan 1st A.D. 1862, Price 37 1/2 cts." Entries, beginning "Camp Baker, Jan 1st A.D. 1862" and ending 31 May 1862, are handwritten in ink, or, during the journey from Camp Baker to Oregon City, in very faint pencil, on pages numbered 1-92 in pencil on the upper corners of pages. Last few pages unnumbered containing a few lists of expenses, primarily for groceries, tobacco and notions.
1-1 Diary, 1 Jan-31 May 1862


Item 2. Transcription of Diary, undated

The first version of the transcription by an unknown author, is handwritten in ink on one page of white bond paper followed by sheets from a yellow 81/2 x 11 in. size legal pad, with pages numbered by hand 1-33, and is caption titled "G. H. Taylor, Civil War, MS Diary, transcription-1st Draft." The second copy of the transcription, also undated and probably by the same unknown author, with pages numbered 1-15, is typed on white bond paper and titled "The Civil War Diary of G. H. Taylor." The author of the transcription(s) was probably a former staff member or student working in the repository.
1-2 Transcription(s), undated