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John Taylor Wood

John Taylor Wood (August 13, 1830 – July 19, 1904) was an officer in the United States Navy who became a captain in the Confederate Navy during the American Civil War.


The son of Robert Crooke Wood, an Army surgeon, and Anne Mackall Taylor, daughter of President Zachary Taylor, Wood was born in Minnesota on August 13, 1830. He became a U.S. Navy Midshipman in 1847 and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1853. He served for a time aboard the USS Ohio alongside William Hall and later supported Hall's US Navy pension claim.[1] Wood served at sea during the last part of the Mexican-American War, off the coast of Africa and in the Mediterranean, as well as performing shore duty as a Naval Academy officer. In April 1861, Lieutenant Wood's southern sympathies led him to resign from the Navy and take up farming near Annapolis, Maryland. Fearing arrest, he later went to Virginia and, in October 1861, received a commission as a Confederate Navy First Lieutenant.

Following service with shore batteries on the Potomac, he became an officer in the newly-converted ironclad Virginia, participating in her actions with Union forces in the Hampton Roads area. In May 1862, after Virginia was destroyed, he assisted with the defense of Drewry's Bluff, on the James River. During the next two years, Wood led several successful raids against Federal ships and also served as naval aide to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Promoted to Commander in May 1863, he simultaneously held the rank of Colonel in the cavalry. These dual ranks, with his reputation for extraordinary daring and his family connections to Confederate leaders, allowed him to play an important liaison role between the South's army, navy and civil government.

In August 1864, Wood commanded CSS Tallahassee during her very fruitful cruise against U.S. shipping off the Atlantic coast. He received the rank of Captain in February 1865. A few months later, as the Confederacy was disintegrating, he took part in President Davis' attempts to evade capture. Though briefly taken prisoner, Wood was able to make his way to Cuba. He subsequently went to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he became a businessman. John Taylor Wood died there on July 19, 1904.


  • oldest son Zachary Taylor Wood was Acting Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Commissioner and Commissioner of the Yukon Territory from 1902 to 1903.
  • youngest son Lieutenant Charles Carroll Wood, graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada 1896 student # 352 served for Canada in the Boer War and died in 1899. He is memorialized on the Royal Military College Memorial Arch.
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Royal Military College memorial

  • Grandson Stuart Taylor Wood was RCMP Commissioner
  • Grandson Donald Taylor Wood served in the 431 Squadron in the Royal Canadian Air Force and died in 1944.
  • Great-grandson John Taylor Wood was named in his honour and is a retired RCMP Superintedent.


  1. States, David W. "William Hall VC of Horton Bluff, Nova Scotia Nineteenth Century Naval Hero", Collections of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society Vol. 44,
  • U.S. Naval Historical Center
  • Shingleton, Royce, John Taylor Wood Sea Ghost of the Confederacy, University of Georgia Press, 1979
  • John Bell, Confederate seadog: John Taylor Wood in war and exile, McFarland & Company, 2002

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