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      Battle Of
       West Point
 West Point Before The Battle

Years of Prosperity

         The years that preceded the Civil War were indeed a prosperous time for West Point. The growth of the railroads was a most important factor in this new era and West Point had also become a market center, especially for cotton. Grown extensively on Georgia and Alabama plantations, cotton was hauled constantly to the central market in West Point. In the mid 1850s the cotton market sold about 28,000 bales per year and each year showed an increase.  


Chattahoochee House

        West Point had several hotels which met the needs of the travelers who used the railroads. The Chattahoochee House was the first and was located conveniently near the station. It later was called the Charles Hotel and operated in competition with the Virent, a large three-story Victorian style hotel also near the railroad station.  

       To encourage trade, merchants placed ads in the local newspaper, the Georgia Jeffersonian, owned and published by James Scott since 1839. Another way of advertising was the use of small cards which were handed out to one and all. Printed with the name and address of the store, they listed articles for sale, such as shoes, saddles, lace, buttons, hats, ribbons, crockery, leather goods and books. Much of the stock of goods for sale was shipped in from Atlanta or Savannah, but some articles were made locally. An example was the leather goods made by the West Point Tannery. This industry, one of the first to be established, manufactured saddles, harnesses and other leather equipment.  

        By 1851, three churches had built houses of worship. The Methodist Church was established in 1830, and the Presbyterians built their church in 1837. The Baptists established a church in 1849, and other congregations followed as the town grew.

        In 1850, the first voices of political unrest were heard across the South. Men argued while the black slaves chopped cotton in the red clay fields. The rumblings of the storm drew nearer and suddenly lightning struck at Fort Sumter in April of 1861.  

        There was heightened activity in West Point. The town had already become a warehouse and shipping center as well as a transportation point between Atlanta and Montgomery. Now wartime prosperity was reflected everywhere.

        Since troops and the wars wounded soldiers had to be transported by rail, they, like everything else, had to be moved from one train to another. It was only natural that the city would establish hospitals to meet the need, and several buildings and private homes were taken over by the city.

        Confederate soldiers were placed as guards at the wagon and railroad bridges. As the Northern armies moved ever closer, the need for defense of the town was considered and construction of an earthen fort on a hilltop overlooking the city was begun.

        In the spring of 1865 the war had dragged on for an exhausting four years. It was painfully apparent that defeat for the South was near. The people of West Point waited with quiet resignation for Easter Sunday.   The raging war was at their doorstep.

 

Sources:

  Dorothy N. Young, "West Point Before the Battle of Fort Tyler," The Battle of West Point, Chattahoochee Valley Historical Society, 1997, pp. 11

  Dorothy N. Young, "West Point Before the Battle of Fort Tyler," The Battle of West Point, Chattahoochee Valley Historical Society, 1997, pp. 12

                     

 

 


Fort Tyler is an official Civil War Discovery Trail site.  
          The Civil War Discovery Trail links more than 
          300 sites in 16 states to inspire and to teach 
          the story of the Civil War and its haunting 
          impact on America. The Trail, an initiative 
          of the Civil War Preservation Trust, allows 
          visitors to explore battlefields, historic 
          homes, railroad stations, cemeteries, parks, 
          and other destinations that bring history to 
          life. For more information on the Civil War 
          Discovery Trail and the Civil War Preservation 
          Trust, see www.civilwar.org Fort Tyler is an official Civil War Discovery Trail site.  
          The Civil War Discovery Trail links more than 
          300 sites in 16 states to inspire and to teach 
          the story of the Civil War and its haunting 
          impact on America. The Trail, an initiative 
          of the Civil War Preservation Trust, allows 
          visitors to explore battlefields, historic 
          homes, railroad stations, cemeteries, parks, 
          and other destinations that bring history to 
          life. For more information on the Civil War 
          Discovery Trail and the Civil War Preservation 
          Trust, see www.civilwar.org

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