Military Wiki
Montgomery M. Taylor
Rear Admiral Montgomery M. Taylor with humorist Will Rogers.
Born (1869-10-13)October 13, 1869
Died October 21, 1952(1952-10-21) (aged 83)
Place of birth Washington, D.C.
Place of death Bethesda Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1890-1936
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg Admiral
Commands held United States Asiatic Fleet
Control Fleet
Scouting Fleet
Battles/wars Spanish-American War
World War I
Relations Zachary Taylor (great-uncle)
Montgomery C. Meigs (grandfather)
Montgomery Meigs (cousin)

Montgomery Meigs Taylor (October 13, 1869 – October 21, 1952) was an admiral in the United States Navy from 1890 to 1933. He fought in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War, and later commanded the Control Fleet and the Scouting Fleet. He served as Commander in Chief of the United States Asiatic Fleet from 1931 to 1933.

Early life

Taylor was born on October 13, 1869, in Washington, D.C., to Joseph Hancock and Mary Meigs Taylor.[1] He was born in the house of his grandfather, Montgomery C. Meigs, Quartermaster General of the United States Army during the American Civil War, for whom he was also named.[2] His grand-uncle was President Zachary Taylor.[3] His brother was John R. M. Taylor, later a colonel in the United States Army during the Philippine–American War.[4]

Taylor grew up in Washington, where he attended public school.[5]

Naval career

Early assignments

Rear Admiral George Dewey and officers and staff of the Olympia while at anchor in Manila Bay. Taylor is standing at far left.

He was appointed to the United States Naval Academy in 1886, where he was an outstanding halfback on the first football team to be fielded by the school.[3][4] He graduated in 1890, and was to have trained aboard the USS Galena (1880) but it was wrecked before he could join it. He spent the next two years being shunted from the USS Richmond (1860) to the USS Enterprise (1874) and finally to the USS Chicago (1885).[2] He was appointed an ensign in 1892, and his first assignment was aboard the USS Baltimore (C-3).[1] He also served short stints about the USS Monongahela (1862), USS Essex (1874), and USS Thetis (1881).[2]

Taylor was next assigned to the USS Yorktown (PG-1). He traveled to Shanghai, China, via commercial steamer and joined the ship in the summer of 1900. The Yorktown was ordered back to the United States on September 10, 1900. Taylor disembarked at Nagasaki, Japan, and joined the USS Olympia (C-6), Admiral George Dewey's flagship, in September 1897.[2]

During the Spanish-American War, Taylor served as a battery commander aboard the Olympia[2][6] and took part in the Battle of Manila Bay on May 1, 1898.[3] Taylor was commissioned a Lieutenant after the Olympia's return to the U.S. in 1899.[2]

Taylor was assigned to the USS Chesapeake in November 1899 for the ship's sea trials, but after a month was ordered to leave the ship and proceed to Washington, D.C., for coursework in modern armament. In February 1900, he successfully applied for sea duty in the Pacific.[2] Over the next few years, Taylor served on several ships:

He was promoted to lieutenant commander on July 1, 1905, and to commander on March 4, 1911.[2]

Rise in the ranks

Lt. Commander Taylor (far left) aboard the USS Buffalo during its Alaska expedition in 1914.

After 21 years at sea, Taylor received his first land assignment. He was appointed aide to the Commandant of the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1911, and served there until 1913. He was given command of the USS Buffalo in 1913, serving until 1915.[8] The Buffalo cruised through the Caribbean Sea and along the west coast of Central America before being ordered to Alaska. While in port at Kodiak, Taylor learned that World War I had broken out in Europe.[2]

From 1915 to 1916, Commander Taylor attended the Naval War College.[1] In the event of a national emergency, he would report to the USS Colorado (ACR-7) as its commanding officer.[9] After graduating in 1916, he was promoted to captain on August 16[2] and given command of the battleship USS Maine (BB-10).[1] In 1917, during World War I, Taylor was assigned duties in the Office of Naval Operations at the Navy Department.[10] He took command of the USS Florida (BB-30) in 1918. The Florida operated in cooperation with the Grand Fleet (as the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom was known during World War I), and Taylor received the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for this service.[3][4]

Taylor was assigned to the staff of the Naval War College from 1919[11] to 1921. In June 1922[12] he was assigned commander of the Fifteenth Naval District and the Naval Operating Base at Coco Solo in the Panama Canal Zone.[3]

Taylor returned to the U.S. in 1923 and was appointed a member of the Naval Examining and Retiring Board in the Department of the Navy.[10] In June,[13] he was appointed commander of the Control Fleet, a unit consisting of submarines, destroyers, and Marine Corps units designed to control sea lanes after they had been cleared of enemy forces by the Navy Battle Fleet.[14]


Taylor was promoted to Rear Admiral on October 1, 1922.[2] He was director of fleet training from 1925 to 1927,[1] and afterward commanded the 3d Battleship Division of the Battle Fleet.[10] The USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) was his flagship.[15] During fleet exercises in August 1927, he was informally reprimanded by his superior, Admiral Henry A. Wiley (Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet), for launching planes from aircraft carriers after confronting an enemy rather than using his ships' superior speed to escape.[16] In September 1927, Taylor made Joseph J. Clark (later an admiral himself who played a significant role in the Battle of the Philippine Sea) his division chief of staff.[15] Taylor was given command of the Scouting Fleet on March 30, 1926.[17] The Scouting Fleet, based in the Atlantic Ocean, was an operational step down for Taylor. Although it contained two divisions of battleships, these were some of the Navy's oldest battleships, and the Scouting Fleet primarily consisted of cruiser and destroyer divisions. The old aircraft carrier USS Langley (CV-1) was also attached to the Scouting Fleet for aircraft training purposes. Taylor's job was to train the Scouting Fleet for scouting missions.[18] He was promoted to vice admiral in the summer of 1928.[2]

Taylor's command of the Scouting Fleet ended on March 8, 1929. He was succeeded by Rear Admiral William Carey Cole. Taylor was named chief of the War Plans Division of the Office of Naval Operations.[19] Although energetic, deeply interested in Asia and the Pacific region, and a student of blockades and invasions, Taylor contributed little to war planning in these crucial years. According to naval historian Edward S. Miller, Taylor believed that Japan (a rising naval power in the Pacific) "deserved" American friendship, and that Japanese attempts to control Manchuria were a positive development.[20] Naval historian Robert Love agrees, noting that Taylor deeply distrusted the Chinese and believed the Nationalist Government unwilling to defend its own territory.[21] During this period, Taylor became good friends with Japanese Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura.[22] While serving in the War Plans office, Taylor was appointed to the navy board assigned with selecting officers for promotion to admiral, commander, and captain.[23] He also was appointed to the board of inquiry into comments made by Major General Smedley Butler (USMC) about an alleged crime committed by Benito Mussolini.[24] Butler retired before the board finished its work.

Command of the Asiatic Fleet

Admiral Taylor (front row, center) and the U.S. Asiatic Fleet staff aboard the USS Rochester in Shanghai, China, in 1932.

Taylor was promoted to Admiral and appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Asiatic Fleet (CICAF) on April 2, 1931.[25] His command became effective September 1, 1931.[26][27] He won the position based on a reputation for quick thinking and making decisions without waiting for approval by superiors.[4] His chief of staff was Captain Frank Jack Fletcher (a future admiral who would successfully lead fleets in the Battle of the Coral Sea and Battle of Midway).[28] Admiral Taylor believed that the role of the United States Navy in the Far East was "sitting tight" and not getting involved.[26] He openly counseled American non-intervention in the Japanese invasion of Manchuria (which began on September 19, 1931)[29] and believed that Japan could not be convinced to give up her war-won possessions on the mainland without coercion.[30] Nonetheless, he acted decisively to ensure that the United States was positioned to intervene if necessary. The Asiatic Fleet was based in Manila in The Philippines. After the Mukden Incident, Taylor dispatched four fast destroyers to Shanghai without orders. He then ordered (again without approval from superiors) a troop of U.S. Marines to board his remaining ships so that the Asiatic Fleet had a ground force to use as well. As he prepared to sail, only then did U.S. Fleet Admiral William V. Pratt order him to proceed to Shanghai.[4][31]

Taylor's tenure as commander of the Asiatic Fleet was a tumultuous one. On February 24, Taylor helped Italy and China avoid an international incident. An artillery shell from the mainland hit the Italian Navy ship Libia, leading the Italians to threaten retaliation. Taylor convinced the Italians that, in the absence of any intentional shelling, they should consider the matter closed. His advice was taken, and Admiral Pratt publicly praised him for his quick thinking.[32] On March 5, 1932, Taylor joined a joint British, French, and Italian committee sponsored by the League of Nations to investigate the war between China and Japan.[33] The Asiatic Fleet returned to Manila in late March 1932.[34] In May 1933, Taylor ordered the Asiatic Fleet to make a goodwill tour of Japan.[35] He was cordially received by Emperor Hirohito.[36]

Admiral Taylor became nationally known for his tact and diplomacy in dealing with the Japanese.[5] Nonetheless, he stepped down as CINCAF on August 18, 1933. His successor was Admiral Frank B. Upham.[37]

Retirement and death

Montgomery M. Taylor retired from the U.S. Navy due to age restrictions on November 1, 1933.[3][38][39]

Retirement did not end Taylor's public service, however. He was appointed to serve on the United States Maritime Commission on September 26, 1936,[40] replacing Admiral Harry G. Hamlet.[41] He remained on the commission until 1938, and then resigned. Thomas M. Woodward was appointed to fulfill the remainder of Taylor's term, which was due to end on September 26, 1939.[42]

Taylor never married. After a lengthy illness,[5] he died at Bethesda Naval Medical Center of a stroke on October 21, 1952.[3] He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Awards and decorations

His awards and medals included the Dewey Medal, Spanish Campaign Medal, Philippine Campaign Medal, World War I Victory Medal, and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 "Meigs, Montgomery Taylor", in The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, p. 533.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 Rentfrow, Frank H. "Admiral Taylor Served on Dewey's Ship at Manila Bay." Washington Post. April 7, 1935.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 "Admiral M. Taylor Dies of Stroke." New York Times. October 22, 1952.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "Quick Thinking Won Taylor Asiatic Post." Daily Boston Globe. February 1, 1932, p. 5.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Adm. Taylor Dies; Served With Dewey." Washington Post. October 22, 1952.
  6. Meigs, p. 308.
  7. Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers..., 1902, p. 28, accessed 2013-01-20.
  8. "Taylor, Montgomery Meigs", in Who Was Who in American History, the Military., p. 577.
  9. "Roster of Officers Aids Preparedness." New York Times. February 27, 1916.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "Adm. Montgomery Meigs Taylor, USN-Ret." Army, Navy, Air Force Journal. 90:245 (November 1, 1952).
  11. General Register of the Navy and Marine Corps of the United States, 1920, p. 12, accessed 2013-01-20.
  12. Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and of the Marine Corps to January 1, 1922, 1922, p. 12-13, accessed 2013-01-20.
  13. "Scout Fleet Head Ordered to Hawaii." New York Times. April 18, 1923.
  14. Felker, p. 98; Nofi, p. 110.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Reynolds, p. 75.
  16. Felker, p. 50.
  17. "De Steiguer Is Made Naval Chief Here." New York Times. March 31, 1928.
  18. Coletta, p. 637.
  19. "Pratt to Succeed to Fleet Command." New York Times. March 9, 1929.
  20. Miller, p. 137.
  21. Love, p. 577.
  22. Jordan, p. 91.
  23. "Selection Board Named." New York Times. March 22, 1929.
  24. "Butler 'Forgotten', Mussolini Cables." New York Times. January 31, 1931; Folliard, Edward T. "Six Admirals and Retired Major General to Hear Case." Washington Post. January 31, 1931.
  25. "Schofield Assigned to Command Fleet." New York Times. April 3, 1931; "Naval Officer Is to Take Admiral Chase's Place in September." Washington Post. April 3, 1931.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Kehn, p. 40.
  27. "Taylor Takes Command of U.S. Asiatic Fleet." Washington Post. September 2, 1931.
  28. Lundstrom, p. 4.
  29. Howarth, p. 351-352.
  30. Stein, p. 32.
  31. "8 Warships Poised for Shanghai Dash." Washington Post. January 30, 1932; "3 Destroyers Quit Manila for China." Washington Post. February 1, 1932; "Chief of U.S. Asiatic Fleet Once Again Uses Initiative." Washington Post. February 1, 1932.
  32. "Sino-Italian Incident Averted." New York Times. February 25, 1932.
  33. "League War Inquiry Is Joined By Taylor." New York Times. March 6, 1932; Horan, Harold J.T. "U.S. to Cooperate in Shanghai Peace." Washington Post. March 6, 1932.
  34. "15 U.S. Craft Ordered Back From Shanghai." Washington Post. March 21, 1932.
  35. "Navy Good-Will Trip to Japan Is Planned." New York Times. May 17, 1933.
  36. "Japanese Emperor Receives Chief of Our Asiatic Fleet." New York Times. June 5, 1933.
  37. "Standley Chosen to be Navy Chief." New York Times. April 25, 1933.
  38. "Hoover Approves Naval Promotions." New York Times. ?New York Times. December 13, 1932.
  39. Unsourced Internet sources often claim that Taylor retired on November 1, 1936. However, 1933 appears to be the correct date. See: "Play Golf for Navy Fund." New York Times. November 19, 1933; Tolley, p. 318; Braisted, p. 351; Nofi, p. 397; Nicholson, p. 4, accessed 2013-01-20; "Acquisition Notes," p. 207.
  40. "Taylor Will Serve On Marine Board." Washington Post. September 27, 1936.
  41. "The Nation." New York Times. September 27, 1936.
  42. "Ex-SEC Chief Named to Head Maritime Unit." Washington Post. March 10, 1937; The American Year Book, p. 524.


External links

  • Meigs Family papers at Hagley Museum and Library. This collection includes some papers of Mary Meigs Taylor, Montgomery's mother.

Military offices
Preceded by
Charles B. McVay, Jr.
Commander-in-Chief, United States Asiatic Fleet
1 September 1931–18 August 1933
Succeeded by
Frank B. Upham

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