Susie King Taylor, Black Educator and Memoirist

One of the least known but perhaps most admirable black woman of the Civil War era was Susie King Taylor. Following is an excerpt about her from my book, “Civil War Women” Underestimated and Indispensable.” Below the article is a photo of the book cover. Susie Taylor is there at the center left. The book is available via

“Susie King Taylor, teacher and nurse, achieved many firsts in a lifetime of overcoming adversity and helping elevate others out of slavery. As the author of Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33d United States Colored Troops, Late 1st S.C. Volunteers, she was the only African American woman to publish a memoir of her wartime experiences.” (National Park Service)

“Born into slavery in 1848 in Georgia, Taylor was educated clandestinely by a variety of people who violated the law against teaching slaves to read.  In 1862 she fled to Georgia’s Sea Islands, which were occupied by Union troops.  When the latter, supported by Northerners arriving to help the freedmen, realized that she could read and write, they asked her to set up a school.  Though she was only 14, she taught 40 Black children and several adults. 

“While there, she married Edward King, a NCO in the U.S. Colored Troops.  She would accompany him for the next three years, acting as a “daughter of the regiment,” nurse, and laundress.  She also taught the soldiers how to read and write in her spare time.  

“She wrote her memoirs in the 1890’s, and they were published in 1902.   In 2019 the Georgia Historical Society erected a historical marker near Midway, Georgia in her honor. “

Author: geneofva

Author of "Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era," and of seven more Civil War books -- with more to come!!

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