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      Battle Of
       West Point

               Ray Anderson, chairman and founder of Interface, Inc., and a native of West Point, loves to tell the story of Alexander "Major" Anderson, a distant relative of his, who received a battlefield commission on that East Sunday in 1865, when the Yankees overran Fort Tyler several days after Lee had surrendered at Appomattox.  It was a story his "Aunt Pauline" told him which is part of what makes it special.

        Young Alexander was at home with his folks a short distance to the north of town when news that the Yankees were coming reached him.  He was just eight years old, but he had already developed a mature hatred for the Yankees as a result of having lost two brothers who were killed earlier in a Mississippi campaign.

        When Alexander heard the troops were coming, he saddled up and rode to the fort to volunteer his services to the General.  The confederate commander admitted he needed plenty of help, but he said, in effect, "our needs are not so great as to send an eight-year-old boy into battle."

        Alexander was so disappointed, he collapsed on a stump outside the fort and broke into tears.

        When the General noticed how severe young Alexander's disappointment was, he decided on another strategy.  He told the boy he was going to enlist his help after all.  He told him to go to a particular hill on the north side of town (remember, the Yankees were coming from the south), and watch for the first signs of an approaching army.  When he sighted the Yankees, he was to hurry back to the fort and report to the General.

        "And just to be sure you have sufficient authority to get through any lines, I'm going to make you a Major in the confederate army," the General said.

        The Yankees came and went, but no harm came to Alexander thanks to General Tyler assigning the lad to the relative safety of an outpost far to the north of the action.

        Dozens of brave men died that Easter Sunday morning in 1865, in what was surely one of the last battles of the Civil War, but the only thing young Alexander lost was his name.  From that day forward, eight year old Alexander was known as "Major" Anderson.  Only the closest of kinfolk ever knew that the Major had another name - Alexander.  Major Anderson may well have been the youngest commissioned officer on either side of the war.