Taylor, Robert Allan 1958-
TAYLOR, Robert Allan 1958-
PERSONAL: Born May 2, 1958, in McKeesport, PA; son of George R. and Genniveve Taylor; married, December 18, 1999, wife's name Virginia Joan. Education: University of South Florida, B.A., 1983, M.A., 1985; Florida State University, Ph.D. in history, 1991. Religion: Episcopalian.
ADDRESSES: Office—Florida Institute of Technology, 150 West University Blvd., Melbourne, FL 32901-6975. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: University of South Alabama, visiting instructor of history, 1990-91; Indian River Community College, adjunct instructor of history, 1992-99; Florida Atlantic University, adjunct instructor of history, 1992-96; Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, adjunct professor, 1997-99, assistant professor, 1999-2001, associate professor of history, 2001—. Military service: U.S. Naval Reserves, 1975-1977.
MEMBER: Organization of American Historians, Southern Historical Association, Florida Historical Society (vice president, 2000—), Brevard County, FL, Historical Commission, Tebeau-Field Library of Florida History (board of directors, 2000—).
AWARDS, HONORS: Volunteer Service Award, 1997; Executive Director's Award, 1999, Tebeau-Field Library of Florida History.
(Editor with Lewis N. Wynne) This War So Horrible: The Civil War Diary of Hiram Smith Williams, University of Alabama Press (Tuscaloosa, AL), 1993.
(Editor) A Pennsylvanian in Blue: The Civil War Diary of Thomas Beck Walton, White Mane (Shippensburg, PA), 1995.
Rebel Storehouse: Florida in the Confederate Economy, University of Alabama Press (Tuscaloosa, AL), 1995.
World War II in Fort Pierce, Arcadia Press (Charleston, SC), 1999.
(Editor with Ann Blomquist) This Cruel War: The Civil War Letters of Grant and Malinda Taylor, Mercer University Press (Macon, GA), 2000.
(With Lewis N. Wynne) Florida in the Civil War, Arcadia Press (Charleston, SC), 2001.
Also contributed article, "The Frogmen in Florida: U.S. Navy Combat Demolition Training in Fort Pierce, 1943-46," published in Florida Historical Quarterly, winter, 1997.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Florida: An Illustrated History, for Hippicrene Press; Florida and Civil War Generalship: A Study in Command, for Mercer University Press (Macon, GA); Fort Pierce's Naval Amphibious Training Base, 1943-46; The 40th Alabama Volunteer Infantry.
SIDELIGHTS: Robert A. Taylor has taught history at the collegiate level for several institutions and has written several books, mostly about the U.S. Civil War, as well as articles that chronicle the role of Fort Pierce, Florida, and its naval amphibious training base during World War II.
Taylor co-edited This Cruel War: The Civil War Letters of Grant and Malinda Taylor, 1986-1865 with Ann K. Bloomquist, a descendent of this west central Alabama couple. According to Journal of Southern History's David Carlson, "This Cruel War offers an important look at one southern family's personal, patriotic, emotional, and spiritual evolution during the Civil War."
The collection of more than 160 letters includes thirty-two from Malinda to her husband. Private Grant Taylor joined the Confederate army in 1862 at age thirty-four to avoid the shame of being conscripted, leaving his wife and four children to tend the family farm on which he owned no slaves. As part of the 40th Alabama regiment, Taylor fought in several major battles, including the defense of Vicksburg, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge in Tennessee, the Atlanta campaign, and action around Mobile, Alabama.
Taylor's letters, however, address more than his fighting experiences. Carlson said, "He tries to guide Malinda through a move to a new home, failing crops, unscrupulous neighbors, greedy substitutes, the birth of a child, the burning of the family kitchen, and the death of friends and family." The couple's correspondence also demonstrates their strong Christian convictions, which uphold them amid the strain of Taylor's long absence and other ordeals.
Civil War History reviewer James S. Humphreys wrote, "While concern for loved ones at home and descriptions of camp and combat are not unusual in Civil War soldiers' correspondence, a few of the letters of the Taylors go beyond the ordinary.... This Cruel War ranks as a significant addition to the large corpus of Civil War correspondence." One of the letters describes Taylor's opposition to the Confederate Congress's decision in spring, 1865, to deploy black slaves as soldiers; had the Confederates won, the slaves would have been freed after the war, and Taylor thought it was "outrageous" for blacks to be freed for fighting to keep slavery.
Carlson praised the editing, calling it easy for modern readers while maintaining original spellings and sentence structure, but he criticized the footnoting as ineffective. Still, he said the work "offers important insights into the battlefield and home front, husband and wife, father and family during the Civil War that deserve further study."
Taylor's Rebel Storehouse: Florida in the Confederate Economy examines Florida's significance as a supplier to the Confederate army. Because no important battles were fought in Florida and its capital was the only Confederate one Union troops did not capture, the state was able to produce large amounts of food and other supplies for the rest of the Confederacy. Farmers in Florida planted crucial crops of corn, and the Confederate government bought oranges and other citrus fruits as well as sugar and molasses. Cattle was an especially important export as other sources in the South were cut off, and production from several salt works along the Gulf coast was probably Florida's most vital economic contribution.
Civil War History reviewer William Warren Rogers, Jr. felt that "some might hope for a more lively account of the subject, and a greater focus on individuals as providers would help," but added, "These objections do not detract from the contribution that has been made. The Southern economy, as with the homefront generally, has received less attention than is warranted."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, December 1996, Larry Schweikart, review of Rebel Storehouse: Florida in the Confederate Economy, pp. 1627-1628.
Civil War History, September, 1994, J. Tracy Power, review of This War So Horrible: The Civil War Diary of Hiram Smith Williams, pp. 264-267; June 1997, William Warren Rogers, Jr., review of Rebel Storehouse: Florida in the Confederate Economy, pp. 158-159; March, 2001, James S. Humphreys, review of This Cruel War: The Civil War Letters of Grant and Malinda Taylor, 1986-1865, p. 88.
Historian, fall, 1996, Lex Renda, review of Rebel Storehouse: Florida in the Confederate Economy, p. 161.
Journal of American History, March, 1996, Samuel C. Hyde Jr., review of Rebel Storehouse: Florida in the Confederate Economy, pp. 1579-1580.
Journal of Southern History, February, 1997, Marion B. Lucas, review of Rebel Storehouse: Florida in the Confederate Economy, pp. 176-177; November 1994, Mark Grimsley, review of This Cruel War: The Civil War Letters of Grant and Malinda Taylor, 1986-1865, pp. 821-822; November, 2001, David Carlson, review of This Cruel War: The Civil War Letters of Grant and Malinda Taylor, 1986-1865, p. 868.*