Taylor was born in Cincinnati and graduated from the University of Notre Dame at the age of 16. By 18, he had painted a panorama of the Revolutionary War. He enlisted in the Tenth New York Infantry (National Zouaves) in 1861. While a soldier, he sent his battlefield drawings to Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and was hired as a “special artist” when he left the army in 1863. For the remainder of the war, he traveled with the Union Army in Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina focusing particularly on panoramas of battles and the settings of the war. Leslie’s published 61 of his wartime drawings. After the war, Taylor traveled to the West with the Indian Peace Commission, and his drawings of the Medicine Lodge Council of the Peace Commission were published in Leslie’s in November 1867. His drawing “Branding Cattle on the Prairies in Texas”, published in Leslie’s in June 1867, was the first illustration of the western cattle industry printed in the national press. He also produced numerous drawings of the aftermath of the Great Fire in Chicago in 1871, several of which appeared as engravings in Leslie's reports on the relief and recovery process of late October-November 1871. In 1883, he left Leslie’s to be a free-lance illustrator. He died in New York City. The Becker Collection contains drawings done by Taylor in Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina between 1864 and 1865 and in Chicago in 1871.