W. A. Camp,
proprietor of a local hotel, had been wounded by an exploding artillery shell at
about 11:00 that morning. He was attempting to join those
inside the Fort Tyler. The
artillery round had
blown out both of Camps eyes,
wherein, he was immediately evacuated back to the hotel. His
hotel , known as Chattahoochee House,
would shoulder his medical care.
Union troops burned the freight
depots. Preparations were made to burn the passenger shed and
all of the rolling stock and inventory contained therein. The shed was a huge
structure, nearly fifty feet tall at its center and over two hundred feet
long. It stood directly in front of the hotel, separated by only ten to
Camp's wife sought after and received an audience with Colonel LaGrange.
She plead with him that her husband lay seriously wounded
inside the hotel and could not be moved for fear of causing his death.
She reasoned that burning the passenger shed would doom the hotel as well, killing her husband
and destroying everything they owned.
Her plea weighed heavily with LaGrange. He even sent a member
of his staff to verify the story. Upon being satisfied that Mrs. Camp was
telling the truth, he ordered that all rolling stock and under the shed stores be pulled from beneath
so the flames would not endanger the shed nor hotel.
At final count, the Federals had destroyed
19 engines, 245 flat cars and box cars, most fully, and both of the
Montgomery & West Point Railroad were the hardest hit. LaGrange's
troops had caused damage to the line while in route to West Point and
additionally while there. This damage occurring between April
12 and April 16. The total destruction of
rolling stock and machinery that took place on the 16th at both West
Point and Columbus forced the railroad to cease operations on that day.
Later, estimates would put the total damage to the railroad and equipment
The Atlanta & West Point Railroad had already suffered heavily from four
years of war. When the invasion of Atlanta by Federal troops appeared
imminent in 1864, the A&WP salvaged what stock they could in Atlanta, sending all but the
small remnant, which continued to operate on the West Point end of the line,
to Augusta.. Those remaining trains were later seized by Confederate forces who
transported them to South Carolina for use in moving troops during the evacuation
of Charleston in February of 1865. General Hood, commanding Confederate
troops in Atlanta, had ordered all possible equipment wrecked when
evacuating Atlanta early in September, 1864. A&WP had already
moved most of their rolling stock back to Atlanta by the 16th. The A&WPs
equipment losses in West Point were minimal.
Under LaGrange's command, the railroad’s
passenger shed that had been constructed in 1851, and the hotel that had
also been built in the early 1850’s were left standing. The shed remained in use until razed
and replaced by another in 1908. The Chattahoochee House hotel that stood where the downtown
Charter Federal Bank is now located, was remodeled several times and went through several remodels and name
charges over the years. At one point, it was The Charles Hotel and
later, The General Tyler Hotel. By the early 1960's, the hotel was gone.
Elsewhere in West Point, Union soldiers began to set up their camps for the
evening. Most of them did so in or around the homes of the citizens. They
foraged the town for food and drink, many in an honorable fashion, some not
so. There are many notable stories documented of what families living in
West Point that evening experienced.
Mrs. Emily C. Fleming, living on College Hill in the home last occupied by
W. T. Harrison and now the site of an apartment complex, went out onto her
front porch. Seeing Yankee horsemen riding through a recently planted
flowerbed in her yard, she chastised them and asked that they be more
careful not to ruin her flowers. A few actually heeded her admonitions. They
rode to the back of her home, tied their horses to trees, and began
dismantling fences and the walls of her stable and buggy house using the
boards to build their bonfire. The Union soldiers demanded to be fed and
were served hot meals prepared by Mrs. Fleming’s cook.
Mrs. Fleming and her daughter Lucy, alone in the house at the time, locked
themselves in a bedroom to anxiously wait out the night They were not
harassed or disturbed in any way except by the noise from the celebrating
Union troops who remained in the adjoining dining room throughout the
All in all, it can be said that LaGrange took the greatest care possible to
assure that our people were treated with a high level of respect and
dignity. Knowing that scavengers were following their army, and aware that
their own men could not totally be controlled after the victory, Union
troops showed great concern for the safety of the resident citizens of West
Point. Although there were a few instances of robbery and pillage recorded,
the fact that guards had been posted in and around many of the homes and
throughout the city kept the potential havoc to a minimum.
In turn, the citizens of West Point housed and fed Union troops, and cared
for Union wounded in their homes. Many explained their actions as merely the
In the morning on the 17th, the dead were buried behind the fort.
Friends and family of those who were captured at the fort began to
assemble around College kill and were allowed to give the prisoners food and
other needed supplies. These men and boys had been engaged in the fort for
all of the previous day, had slept little, if any, on the cold, damp ground
that might and for many, this was the first food they had received in over a day.
All were anxious for news, all seeking assurances that there was no mortal
danger to themselves, their families or the community.
Meanwhile, LaGrange had received word that Wilson and his portion of the
command had taken Columbus with little trouble during the evening, The two
halves of the command had successfully taken their objectives. It was now
time for LaGrange to move on from West Point and rejoin his command on the
way to their next major objective, Macon.
LaGrange paroled sixteen Confederates at West Point to help with the wounded
who were left here in care of Confederate surgeons. They also left,
according to LaGrange, “…seven
hogsheads (a large barrel or cask with approximately 63 gallon capacity) of
sugar, 2,000 sacks of corn,170, 000 pounds of
bacon, and other stores were left in charge of the mayor to provide a
hospital fund for both parties, with instructions to distribute any excess
among the poor.”
But there was still unfinished business in West Point.
First, LaGrange ordered that the area around Fort Tyler be cleared of
civi1ians. Many went to the east side of the river to be with family or
friends there. Later in the morning, LaGrange passed word on to the
community that the wagon and railroad bridges spanning the river would soon
be burned. This caused a great flurry of activity and confusion as people
hurried to get to the sides of the river they needed to be on before the
bridges were destroyed.
About 1:00 in the afternoon, orders were given to begin moving the columns
of Federal troops and prisoners from West Point toward LaGrange.
Immediately after the departure of the lead column of prisoners, the
Federals blew up the magazine in the fort.
The tremendous explosion left a crater that later became the starting
point for the reservoir that was built on that site many years later.
Joe Keith, Jr., "Aftermath: Written for the
130th Anniversary of the Battle of West Point"
Variously ascribed contributing writers to Fort