Inventory of the G. Hobart Taylor Civil War Diary:
1 Jan.-30 May 1862
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.
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.
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Purchased by repository in 1980s.
Processed by Aletha Andrew in October 2002.
Paper transcription of diary available in repository.
Detailed Description of the Diary