Skip to main content

Collection Zachary Taylor Papers

Timeline, 1784-1815

An illustrated chronology of key events in the life of Zachary Taylor (1784-1850), twelfth president of the United States, from his birth in 1784 thorough his marriage and the War of 1812 until his resignation from the army in 1815.

  • 1784, Nov. 24

    Born, Orange County, Va., near Barboursville, the third son of Sarah Dabney Strother Taylor, originally of Maryland, and Richard Taylor, former officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolution and later prosperous planter in Kentucky.

  • 1785, Aug.

    While still an infant, moved near Louisville, Ky., with his mother and siblings. Joined father Richard Taylor at parcel of land in the western “frontier” granted in honor of wartime military service. Raised initially in a log cabin on Beargrass Creek, east of Louisville, on the Taylor farm, Springfield. Learned farming and business by apprenticeship to his father. Tutored at home.

    Springfield, home of Zachary Taylor. Caufield & Shook, Louisville, Ky., 1922. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-USZ62-99511.
  • 1808

    Commissioned as first lieutenant, Kentuckian Seventh Infantry Regiment. Worked as a recruiting officer.

  • 1809, April

    Led recruited company of men from Kentucky to New Orleans.

  • 1809

    Large numbers of Kentuckian troops fell ill or died at Terre Aux Boeufs, under poor camp conditions. Took sick leave in Louisville. Met Margaret “Peggy” Mackall Smith (1788-1852), daughter of a Calvert County, Md., tobacco planter, who was living with a sister in Kentucky.

  • 1810, June

    Married Margaret “Peggy” Mackall Smith at the Louisville, Ky., home of the bride’s sister Mary Chew. Granted 324 acres of land by Richard Taylor as a wedding gift. The Taylors eventually had five daughters and one son. Margaret and their children sometimes accompanied Taylor to a succession of wilderness outposts in the Mississippi Valley frontier.

  • 1811

    First child, Ann Taylor Wood (1811-1875), born. Returned to military service as a captain, briefly in command at Fort Knox, Ky. Sent to Frederick, Md., as a witness in Terre Aux Boeufs misconduct court martial of General James Wilkinson, but did not testify. Wilkinson acquitted and restored to command. Returned to Louisville to work as recruiter.

    Battle of Tippecanoe. Chromolithograph, Kurz & Allison, c. 1889. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-DIG-pga-01891
  • 1811, Nov.

    William Henry Harrison’s regulars and volunteers engaged in Battle of Tippecanoe and destroyed the village of The Prophet, visionary leader of Native American spiritual movement who defied white settlement and cultural assimilation and brother to Indian confederation leader Tecumseh.

  • 1812, Sept.

    Won military celebrity from Fort Harrison defense against Indian attack on the Wabash River near Vincennes, Indiana Territory, early in the War of 1812. Ill with fever. Many residents of the garrison became ill or died of disease.

  • 1812, Oct.

    Awarded rank of brevet major by President James Madison.

  • 1813

    Took sick leave in Louisville. Returned to command at Fort Knox.

  • 1814

    Second child, Sarah Knox Taylor (1814-1835) born. Put in temporary command of troops in Missouri Territory, in defense of St. Louis. Sent with militiamen up Mississippi River with orders to destroy Indian villages and erect a fort at Des Moines. Repelled by British and Indian forces near Credit Island. Erected Fort Johnson near juncture of Mississippi and Des Moines rivers. Abandoned and destroyed fort when ordered back to St. Louis upon the death, from illness, of General Benjamin Howard.

  • 1815, June

    Resigned from U.S. Army. Returned to Louisville plantation.

 Back to top