Fort Tyler, Georgia
A field piece aims out from the
reconstructed fort. A small band of
Confederates waged a desperate
last stand at Fort Tyler.
Grave of Gen. R.C. Tyler
The little known general promised
the ladies of West Point that he
would either hold his ground or die
defending it. He kept his word.
Fort Tyler Historic Site in West Point, Georgia
A replica of a 32-pounder cannon can be seen at
the reconstructed Fort Tyler in West Point, Georgia.
General Tyler's Last Stand
Fort Tyler was the scene of a desperate last
stand by Confederate troops on April 16,
1865. The reconstructed fort can be visited in
West Point, Georgia.
A square redoubt built atop a high hill in West
Point, Fort Tyler was designed to protect a
vital bridge over the Chattahoochee River. It
was armed with three cannon, two field guns
and a heavy 32-pounder. This artillery could
sweep the approaches to the bridge at West
Like the City of Columbus downstream, West
Point was an important crossing point on the
Chattahoochee. If Union troops could take
the bridge there, the door would be open for
them to advance on LaGrange and even the
key Confederate stronghold of Macon.
Command of the city and Fort Tyler fell to
Brig. Gen. R.C. Tyler, a little known but brave
Confederate officer. His death during a
heroic last stand at the Battle of West Point
made him the last general of either side to
be killed in the War Between the States (or
West Point is a Georgia city uniquely located
on the west side of the Chattahoochee River.
It stands on a point of land formed by the river
and the Alabama border. In addition to the
bridge and Fort Tyler, it was the location of an
important railroad depot, warehouses and
Fort Tyler played a relatively minor role in the
war, but that changed in the spring of 1865.
Union Maj. Gen. James Wilson had launched
a devastating raid through Alabama. He had
defeated famed Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan
Bedford Forrest and his outnumbered forces
at he Battle of Ebenezer Church and the
Battle of Selma.
Wilson then took both Selma and the state
capital of Montgomery, destroying key
Southern industrial capability, railroads and
infrastructure. Civilians along his route of
march suffered comparably to those along
the route of Sherman's March to the Sea and
the Federal raid in Florida that ended at the
Battle of Marianna.
On April 14, 1865, WIlson moved east from
Montgomery. He headed for Columbus with
his main force, while Col. O.H. LaGrange led
a brigade of three regiments up the railroad
heading for Opelika and West Point.
Confederates in West Point and Columbus
knew that Wilson was advancing, but they
suffered from a serious deficiency in
information about their intentions. They also
suffered from a shortage of manpower with
which to defend the important crossings of
the Chattahoochee River.
Easter fell on April 16 that year. As residents
of the river valley prayed for safety, the 2nd
Indiana Cavalry, 4th Indiana Cavalry, 7th
Kentucky Cavalry, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry and
18th Indiana Battery moved out from a camp
near Auburn with orders to tear up the
railroad and take the bridge at West Point.
The Union force numbered around 3,750
men. They reached the outskirts of West
Point at around 10 a.m. on Easter Sunday
Gen. Tyler, who had lost a leg at Missionary
Ridge, assembled his garrison of 120 men
at Fort Tyler. Despite the huge odds, he
decided to fight.
The Confederate soldiers in the fort were
joined by 100-145 other men and boys.
Some were wounded or sick men from the
local hospitals. Others were members of the
Georgia militia or civilian volunteers.
Above the little fort flew a flag that had been
presented to the general by the citizens of
West Point. Legend holds that he promised
the ladies of the town that he would die
before he would dishonor their flag.
The lead Union regiments circumvented Fort
Tyler and took the West Point bridge, but
found themselves within range of the big
32-pounder. One shot killed LaGrange's
horse and stunned the colonel.
The Federals opened on the fort with the field
guns of the 18th Indiana battery as the
Confederates returned fire with their three
cannon. One Union shell cut the rope holding
the Confederate flag to its staff, but Charlie
McNeil, a 17-year-old sergeant, climbed the
flagpole as bullets whizzed around him and
nailed the banner back in place.
The men of the tiny Confederate force knew
they could not win against LaGrange's
overwhelming numbers, but they continued
to fight. The Union colonel sent regiments to
fight their way up the hill and advance on the
fort from all four sides.
Realizing that the end was near, Gen. Tyler
kept his promise to either defend his flag or
die in its defense. Aware that Union snipers
were firing from nearby, he boldly walked into
the opening that formed the gate or sally port
of the fort and turned to face the enemy. He
was shot down and killed.
His men continued to hold out until sundown
in one of the most courageous last stands of
the War Between the States (or Civil War). At
6 p.m., the flag came down and Col. J.H.
Fannin surrendered Fort Tyler.
Union losses totaled 7 killed and 29
wounded. The Confederates lost 19 killed,
28 wounded and 218 missing. Gen. Tyler
was among them. Many of the dead rest
across the river at Fort Tyler Cemetery.
The Union troops inflicted heavy damage on
the railroad and other military support
facilities in West Point before continuing east
on the road to LaGrange. There they would
be met by the battle lines of the Nancy Harts,
Georgia's famed all female company.
Fort Tyler has been beautifully reconstructed
on its original site. A paved pathway leads up
the high hill to the restored earthworks. It is
open during daylight hours and there is no
The park is located on 6th Avenue, one-half
block north of 10th Street. It overlooks historic
downtown West Point, Georgia.
Please click here to visit the fort's website for
Fort Tyler has been rebuilt on its
original site and is now part of an
outstanding park. The battle here
took place 7 days after Robert E.
Lee surrendered at Appomattox.
Magazine of Fort Tyler
The magazine of the fort was blown
up by Union troops after the battle
and the fort itself was later leveled to
build a hilltop reservoir.
FORT TYLER HISTORIC SITE
West Point, Georgia
|Copyright 2011 & 2015 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: April 13, 2015
Interior of Fort Tyler
The fort was a standard earthen
redoubt of the time. Its dirt walls
were supported by timbers to create
firing positions for the Confederate