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      Battle Of
       West Point
 Brigadier General Robert C. Tyler

        Brigadier General Robert Charles Tyler was something of an enigma. He had been wounded three times and had lost a leg in the battle of Missionary Ridge. He was credited with capturing four guns at Chickamauga! He is said to have fought at Belmont, Shiloh, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Hoover�s Gap, Chickamauga, and Missionary Ridge.  His remains were placed in the cemetery at West Point.  There has yet to be a report of anyone visiting there who knew him.

        General Tyler�s grave is an oddity and a tourist attraction because it is a twin grave. He shares it with his next in command, Captain C. Gonzales, a native of Pensacola, FL, and a very close friend. �Friends in life, together in death, General Robert Tyler and Captain Gonzales share a last resting place,� is the way Dorothy Young describes their final resting place in the Confederate cemetery just off the intersection of U. S. Highway 29 and Georgia Highway 18 in West Point.

        Tyler first appeared on April 18, 1861, six days after the bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.  On that day, he stepped into the recruiting office in Jackson, Tennessee with a group of volunteers from Shelby County.  Mustered into the 15th Regiment of the Tennessee Infantry, he signed his name as "Robert C. Tyler" in a clear, bold hand that gave evidence of a good education for the time.  Under "age" he wrote "28" and claimed Memphis as hi residence.

        Tyler rose rapidly in the enlisted ranks  By August, 1861, he was a major and quartermaster to General Gideon Pillow, and later as a lieutenant colonel, led his regiment at the battle of Belmont in November 1861.  Wounded at Shiloh, by July 1862, he was colonel of the 15th, and that autumn, served as provost marshal of Bragg's army in the field.  He received a desperate wound at Chattanooga in November 1863, while at the head of Bate's old brigade, necessitating the amputation of his left leg. 

        While convalescing, on March 5, 1864, he received promotion to brigadier general.  He apparently had no home to go to while recovering from his wound.  Instead, he went to West Point, Georgia and its small Confederate hospital there.  He wasn't forgotten by his former comrades.  Bate's old brigade took Tyler's name and bore it proudly until the end of the conflict.

       Tyler remained in West Point during the rest of the war and possibly helped construct the earthwork fort which bore his name.  On April 15, 1865, Tyler had presented his spurs and gold-headed cane to Miss Sallie Fannie Reid at an evening party.  The next morning, he rode to the fort.  It was Easter Sunday, and though Lee had surrendered and Johnston was on the run, Tyler intended to defend West Point with a handful of militiamen and conscripts against a full brigade of Federal cavalry advancing on the town. 

        It was about this time he realized that Richmond, the Confederate Capitol, had fallen and he knew the end of the war was near. He did  NOT  realize  the  war  had  already  ended!   Because he desperately wanted to be around for the final defeat of the South, and to have all of his accomplishments/victories duly recognized, he was imbued with a strong sense of urgency in his mission at West Point.

Cemetery Historic Marker Closeup wht.jpg (124740 bytes)

        To the men who fought and the women and children who suffered and struggled through it all, this day-long skirmish was truly a �battle.�  In magnitude, however, it did not compare with other famous battles of the war; Manassas, or instance, in which nearly 20,000 died (Gen. Pope vs. Lee August 30,1862) and Gettysburg where 40,000 were said to be killed (Gen. Meade vs. Lee July 1, 1863). Call it what you will, a full-fledged �battle� or merely the last �skirmish� of the war, it was the end of life for 76 brave souls, Union and Confederate alike, who fell fighting for a cause in which they truly believed and are now buried in the Confederate Cemetery. This information is recorded on the marker near the cemetery. (one way to reconcile the difference between the number 19, which is what Archivist Allen says is the number of Confederates killed, and the number 76, which the historical marker indicates is the number of persons buried in the Confederate Cemetery, is to assume this is a combination of both Confederate and Union casualties.)

Grave sites of Tyler and Gonzales in Confederate Cemetery



Donald J. Downs, "Last Fort or Redoubt Battle of the War Between the States"