I sort of got caught up in the realization that we were months from the 150-year anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War. It seemed an important revelation at the time. Since, I have come to my senses. Believe it or not, even in the south there are people who roll their eyes and walk out when the Civil War comes up. (But it does come up.) When I left you, I told you I’d tell you something about the history of my hometown. I was raised in Lanett, Ala., but for the first 17 years of my life my family’s mailing address was West Point, Ga. It was ambiguous. I already told you it was possible to hit the neighboring state with a rock from my back yard. The dust-up to which I was referring is known as the Battle of West Point, or the Battle of Fort Tyler. No Civil War altercation worthy of the term “battle” could have only one name.
I won’t go into the history. You can read about it here. The fighting, literally, was in my neighborhood, albeit 100 years before I grew up there. When I was young, the largest edifice in town, a stately hotel and train station, was the “General Tyler Hotel,” after the confederate commander who got himself killed for his last-ditch heroics. The site of the redoubt called “Fort Tyler,” actually earth works long vanished, was in the backyard of a prominent physician at the time of the Civil War centennial. It since has been excavated and restored as a historical site/tourist attraction, complete with Web site. (above) I have yet to see the restoration.
We think of the Civil War as Modern Times 1.0. However, in the age of the steam engine and the telegraph, the Battle of West Point occurred a week after Robert E. Lee’s surrender in Virginia. Down in Alabama and Georgia, no one in either army yet knew. The federal commander afterward stated that he’d never have roughed up West Point the way he did and killed all those stubborn southerners if he had known. C’est la guerre.