November 20, 2007
The James E. Taylor Sketchbook
In August 1864, artist James E. Taylor was sent by Leslie’s Illustrated Magazine to follow and record the fortunes of Union General Philip Sheridan’s army in the Shenandoah Valley. His sketches appeared in that publication but then languished for decades at Ohio's Western Reserve Historical Society. In 1989, Bob Younger and his Morningside Press collected these drawings and released them as the James E. Taylor Sketchbook: With Sheridan Up the Shenandoah Valley in 1864 : Leaves from a Special Artist's Sketchbook and Diary. Almost two decades later, photographer Dana Mac Bean of Beaufort, S.C. insists, "If there was a Top Ten list of Civil War books, this book would be on it."
Mac Bean has retraced Taylor's steps from all those years ago and matched up his modern photographs to the original drawings that Taylor made, according to this Winchester Star article. Mac Bean reports how "Over the years, I’ve documented 95 percent of the illustrations in the Sketchbook" creating in essence a "now and then" book. Mac Bean's photos and Taylor's sketches will be presented side-by-side in a new book to be published sometime in the future.
Taylor's Sketchbook is now out-of-print at the publisher and apparently a difficult acquisition. I could no copies for sale on ABE or eBay, but I'll certainly keep an eye peeled for a copy.