A young Walter H. Taylor, dressed in his uniform as a Virginia Military Institute cadet, crosses his arms and looks impassively at the camera in this cased daguerreotype. Taylor served for most of the American Civil War as adjutant to Robert E. Lee, overseeing the requisite paperwork and administrative duties related to the Confederate general's command. A businessman and banker before and after the war, Taylor is best known for writing books that defended the reputations of Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia, books that today are considered to be important contributions to Lost Cause literature.
Taylor attended VMI from 1853 until 1855, returning to his hometown of Norfolk before finishing his degree when his father died from yellow fever. After the Civil War, he served for several years on VMI's board of Visitors.