Commissioned as a colonel in the 3rd New Jersey Infantry in 1861, Taylor became a brigadier general in May 1862. He led his brigade through the Peninsula campaign, with exceptional service in the Battle of the Seven Days. His brigade was sent north during the campaign of First Manassas. However, he ordered an attack without artillery support at the Battle for Manassas Station. Taylor was mortally wounded in the retreat, and his brigade was dissolved after this battle.