"......At the time it did not occur to one, but now, when years have passed and we look back we must feel astonished at the high moral standard of the army that fought the War of the Rebellion, and the Regiment was second to none in that respect. Seldom was an obscene word or an oath heard in the camp. Meetings for prayer were of almost daily occurrence, and the groups of men sitting on the ground or gathered on the hill side listening to the Gospel were strong reminders of the mounds of Galilee when the people sat upon the ground to hear the Saviour teach. Ofttimes in the Regiment the dawn witnessed the smoke of incense ascend to heaven amid the templed trees where serious groups knelt on the green sod and listened to the murmur of the Mass. In the evening Lieutenant Colonel Dale or Captain Samuel Taggart would hold a meeting for prayer where the larger number of the men would gather in reverence and devotion, while others would kneel around the Chaplain's tent to count their beads and repeat the rosary. Colonel Dale was a man of deep religious thought and feeling, and Captain Taggart was an ordained minister of the Gospel, both men of great devotion and sincerity, and by their example did much towards making others sincerely good. Both fell early and went to receive their great reward. Saints they were and each died with a prayer on his lips-true to their country and their God......" (May, '64, p. 195)
"......Reaching the crest of the hill the Regiment was rallied and aligned, Captain Taggart, Lieutenant Yocum and others of the officers displaying great bravery in re-forming, still under a heavy fire......" (Cold Harbor, p.265-66)
"......Every fight seemed to have a ludicrous feature, and the one connected with the 16th of June was a dull-witted son of Ireland in Company I. Daniel Dugan had mysteriously disappeared at the beginning of the charge, and next morning when Captain Taggart charged him with straggling and deserting in battle, Dan replied demurely: "Ah, then, Captain dear, sure it's many a poor fellow that's after bein' hit on the field lasht noight, an' here oi am shtill aloive!"
"Well", replied the Captain, "if you had been killed you would have lived in the hearts of your countrymen". "Oh, thin" said Dan, "bedad but its a moighty hard place to live in. I'd sooner be livin' on Uncle Sam's hard tack!......" (Petersburg, p. 269)
"......The Regiment moved off by the right flank, leaving behind the dead and wounded. Captains Nowlen, Megraw and Taggart were everywhere on the line, keeping the men together and showing the greatest valor......" (William's Farm, p. 277)
"......Captain Garrett Nowlen, then in command of the Regiment, stood up in front waving his sword and cheering on the men. At that moment a ball pierced his heart. For an instant he was motionless, then turning quickly to where the men of his own company were in line, he looked towards them and waved his hand:-- "Good-bye, boys, good-bye-good-bye." He was falling when he repeated the last words, and when he struck the ground he was dead. Captain Samuel Taggart then took command of the Regiment. A few minutes elapsed and Taggart, passing down the line (it is thought for the purpose of seeing Nowlen's body), crossed an opening in the line. He walked slowly, knowing no fear. As he approached the spot that was so exposed to the fire some of the men called out: "Hurry, Captain; they may kill you, too". But the brave soul never hastened a step, and as he reached the spot where Nowlen fell he was shot through the body. The men ran forward and carried him behind the works and laid him beside Nowlen. He was perfectly sensible and tried to speak but could not. He turned his head a little, and smiling on the men who had gathered around him and who loved him tenderly, he awaited death, calm, serene and fearless, as became the gallant martyr that he was.
He lived fifteen minutes after he was struck, the smile never leaving his face for a moment, and his pure spirit ascended to heaven, bright with the light of battle and radiant with the light of a stainless life......" (Ream's Station, p. 294)"......The loss of officers in the Union ranks was out of all proportion. The Confederate sharpshooters picked them off, as in the case of Nowlen and Taggart......"(Reams Station, p. 297)
It is difficult to find words in which to describe the high and lofty character of Samuel Taggart. It is rare, indeed, that we meet in life with a human being so replete in every good attribute that adorns a life or forms a perfect man. As a soldier he was "sans peur et sans reproche."
He was born in Pittsburg, Pa., on the 10th of May, 1841. He received his early education in the Second and Sixth Wards schools of his native city and was among the first to enter the High School on the opening of that institution in 1855. He graduated therefrom in February, 1860, and entered the Western University for the purpose of preparing for college. After continuing at the University for six months he taught at a public school near Woodville, Allegheny County, Pa., the term commencing in September, 1860, and ending the following March. In the fall of 1861 he entered Westminster College, New Wilmington, Lawrence County, Pa., from which he was graduated in June, 1862. He entered the United Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Allegheny, Pa., in the spring of 1863, and continued there for one year.
Under the first call of Abraham Lincoln for troops he felt a strong desire to enter the service, and joined a company organized at that time, but there being no scarcity of recruits, he yielded to the persuasion of friends and applied himself to preparing for the ministry, having early resolved to make that profession his calling in life.
After graduating at Westminster he enlisted in Company H, One Hundred and Twenty-third Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, and was appointed first sergeant of his company. He participated with the regiment in the battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, and was mustered out in May, 1863, the regiment having been organized under the call for nine months men. Shortly after this he entered the Theological Seminary. While a student at the Seminary in the winter of 1863 he laid aside his books and organized a company of infantry, which was assigned as Company I, of the One Hundred and Sixteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers. Of his services in that regiment his surviving comrades need not be reminded. He was a young man of spotless character, brave heart, brilliant mind and genial temperament.
The following fitting tribute to his worth is from the pen of an intimate friend and classmate at High School and College:--
"He was my intimate and beloved friend for years and his death has been to me a life-long regret. I never can restrain my tears when I think of it. The pure-minded boy, the faithful friend, the gifted student, the manly man, the devoted Christian, the patriotic soldier. No costlier sacrifice was ever laid on the altar of the country than when that precious life went out on the battlefield of Virginia. The church was looking forward to his useful services as a minister. Teachers and classmates at the school and college expected and predicted great things for him. His talents and temperament would have given him an honorable place anywhere, but he cheerfully gave all, youth, strength, education, prospects-he gave all to the cause of his country. It is only when we think of him and thousands who, like him, counted not their own lives dear to them, that we can realize what the preservation of the Union cost. It would take not a hasty sketch but a volume to do justice to his memory."
The writer, who has seen Major Taggart on the battlefield and in camp, and who loved him as a brother, joins in every word of praise offered in his saintly memory. A soldier of the most exalted type, and a man whose daily life was a sermon on Christianity, he met death with the most serene composure, and a smile that betokened the eternal bliss that awaited his pure and noble soul. He is buried in Allegheny Cemetery, near Pittsburg, and the ground where he rests is a sacred spot.