Looking Back: Brown County has long history of military service

Mexican War, maybe Capt James TaggartOn Memorial Day, our thoughts turn to our beloved veterans who served this country with everything they had. As Francis Scott Key wrote, so long ago, the land of the free and the home of the brave, to this we owe our veterans a debt we can never repay.

In Brown County, the Taggart family had a tradition of military service.

James Taggart, a native of North Carolina, was born in 1801, was active in the organization of the county and was the first sheriff. He married Jane Weddle of Tennessee, born in 1804.

On May 13, 1846, the president of the United States called for troops to carry on the war with Mexico, which had just begun. Within a few days after receiving the news, James and several others concluded to raise a company in Brown County for the war.

They had purchased bright uniforms of blue jeans and had styled themselves “the Brown County Blues,” a name by which they were known through the war. In early June 1846, he organized Company E of the 13th Indiana Regiment for service in the Mexican War, and was elected captain of the company.

While they were in Brazos, Capt. Taggart took ill and was sent home. He regained his health at home and rejoined his company Feb. 21, 1847, the day before the Battle of Buena Vista. Capt.

Taggart received a mortal wound from a carbine ball, which entered just over his left kidney and came out near the center of his right breast. He pitched forward, exclaiming, “I’m a dead man!”

James’ son, Captain T. Taggart, was born Dec. 28, 1846, near Nashville, the youngest of the 11 children of James and Jane. He was reared on a farm, where he remained until age 15, and in June 1862, enlisted for three months in the 55th Indiana Volunteer Regiment.

He took part in the battle at Richmond, Kentucky, after which he re-enlisted for three years in the 120th Indiana Regiment, and was appointed principal musician, being present in the following engagements: Resaca, Stone Mountain, Kenesaw Mountain, Siege of Atlanta, Franklin, Nashville and Kingston.

After the war, he engaged in the mercantile business at Nashville. This he sold in 1868, and commenced the study of medicine under Drs. Phillips and Selfridge; graduated at the College of Physicians and surgeons in Indianapolis in 1880; and opened a practice at Mahalasville. On May 6, he moved to Nashville, and established his profession here.

On Nov. 19, 1865, he married Emarine Williams of this county, and to them were bestowed three children: Egbert B., Lorena M. and Alvy.

The accompanying photograph is believed to be Capt. James Taggart, but may actually be a member of the Brown County Blues or Company E, 13th Indiana Regiment. Either way, we can see what their uniforms were like.

— Brown County Historical Society archives volunteers