Taylor County, given parts of Macon, Marion and Talbot counties at its creation in 1852, remembers Zachary Taylor whose victory in the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican War boosted him toward the presidency of the United States. Butler, the county seat, is named for another figure in that conflict, General William Orlando Butler.
John B. Gordon, one of the county's most prominent citizens, raised a company of mountaineers at the start of the Civil War and served as their captain. Despite lack of formal military training, he proved to be a brilliant strategist. By 1865 he wore the stars of a lieutenant general and stood as one of General Robert E. Lee's most dogged fighters.