A Civil War Biography

Robert Charles Tyler

Although specific details are not available, it is believed Tyler was born circa 1833 in the southwest corner of Tennessee between Memphis and Jackson. His family moved to Baltimore, Maryland soon after he was born. Some sources claim he was born in Baltimore. Tyler's mother died when he was very young. When he was 2 his father remarried and moved the family to Alabama. Young Robert, however, was left in Maryland with his uncle, Alexander Tyler.

Little is known about Robert Tyler's early years. Sometime prior to 1855, Tyler made his way to California where he joined the filibuster William Walker on Walker's first expedition to Nicaragua. After two years in Nicaragua Tyler returned to the US with the rest of Walker's filibusters. Tyler did not return to Nicaragua on Walker's ill-fated second expedition, but spent some time in Baltimore before moving to Memphis.

When the war started Tyler enlisted on 18 April 1861 in Company D of the 15th Tennessee militia, as a private. When the 15th was incorporated into Confederate service he was named regimental quartermaster. In the fall of 1861 he was promoted to major and served on Benjamin Cheatham's staff. He was at Belmont as a supply officer. Tyler was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 26 December 1861and commanded the 15th which was attached to the 1st Brigade / 2nd Division / I Corps at Shiloh. He was wounded and had three horses shot from under him on the second day. He acted as Provost Marshal for Braxton Bragg during the invasion of Kentucky in the fall of 1862.

When the 15th was reorganized at Corinth, Tyler was elected colonel. He commanded the regiment which was attached to William Bate's Brigade in Alexander Stewart's Division of Simon Buckner's Corps at Chickamauga. He commanded what was Bate's Brigade at Missionary Ridge and was severely wounded. As a result of the wound his left leg was amputated. While still convalescing Tyler was promoted to brigadier general to date from 23 February 1864. He was sent to defend Selma, Alabama then West Point, Georgia.

On 16 April 1865, Easter Sunday, Tyler commanded a small group of convalescents, militia, and soldiers headed back to their units against a full brigade of Federal cavalry commanded by Colonel O.H. LaGrange. Tyler deployed his men on the west side of West Point in a small earthwork, now known as Fort Tyler. He was killed by a sharpshooter becoming the last known general to be killed during the war.

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