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      Battle Of
       West Point
 Events Leading Up to the Battle


Depletion of Resources Convalescence
Wilson's Raids Confederate Strategy
LaGrange and Wilson split up Lee Surrenders

        

    The plight of the war had left the south depleted of resources and men.  The Federals were sweeping down upon town after town winning small victories along the way.  Many towns surrendered without the first shot being fired.  The surrender of all the regular Confederate forces, east of the Chattahoochee River, soon followed the renewal of hostilities; and on the 7th of May, General Taylor surrendered to General Canby, all those between that river and the Mississippi.

        The questions proposed to Mr. Stanton by General Thomas, show how careful he was to avoid all mistakes:

"Was the arrangement between Generals Sherman and Johnston the same as that between Generals Grant and Lee? I have by authority offered General Grant's terms to D. Taylor, and to the commanding general in Northern Georgia. Guerrilla bands also desire to surrender. Am I authorized to grant them any terms ?"

        General Thomas had anticipated General Grant by a month in prescribing this service for his cavalry, believing that under the circumstances, Wilson's corps could do all that was necessary in the way of aggression in Alabama. In this he was right, as was illustrated by Wilson's uninterrupted success from Eastport to Montgomery. The resultant loss to the enemy, in war-material and cotton, was immense.  You can read a detailed description of Wilson's Raids by clicking on the link below.

The Eagle's Nest lithograph

 

        Beyond Selma, General Wilson acted as an independent commander, under the wide discretion given him by both Grant and Thomas. After Sherman marched on Atlanta in 1864, the south's arsenal was moved to Columbus, Georgia.  Columbus was a place of great value to the enemy on account of its military stores, railroad transportation, gun boats, armories, arsenals and work shops.  The town was situated on the left bank of the Chattahoochee River, was strongly fortified and held by three thousand men, but it was successfully stormed, under the cover of night, by four hundred men from Upton's division, Colonel Noble of the Third Iowa cavalry leading. This small force dashed over bridges strongly defended, and drove the enemy from his fortifications beyond. These troops, however, were well supported by other forces, in provision against a probable repulse. This action occurred on the 17th of April, and resulted in the capture of twelve hundred prisoners, fifty-two guns in position, the rebel ram Jackson, a large number of locomotives, and immense quantities of arms, stores, and cotton. 

 

 

        During this time, most soldiers were fighting battles far away.  The only ones left in West Point were those convalescing.  Too old, too young, wounded, or handicapped, the men of the area were hardly a force for a large military campaign.  Despite this, General Tyler, himself convalescing, took charge of the defense effort and rallied a band of men to take on the Union attack.

 

 

Further Reading Sources:

Wilson's Raids

Confederate Strategy

Lee Surrenders to Grant


    

                     

Sources:

  Eleanor Davis Scott & Carl Summers, Jr., The Battle of West Point, Chattahoochee Valley Historical Society, 1997, pp. 9

  Richard J. Lenz, "The Civil War in Georgia, An Illustrated Travelers Guide," Sherpa Guides, http://www.sherpaguides.com/georgia/civil_war/midwest/columbus_area.html