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Born Jan. 7, 1799, Brooklyn, CT.
Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, Sep. 28, 1816, to July 1, 1819, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to
Second Lieut., Light Artillery, July 1, 1819.
Served: in garrison at New England Posts, 1819‑24, — and Ft. Monroe,
(Second Lieut., 5th Infantry, in Re-organization of Army, June 1, 1821)
(Transferred to 1st Artillery, June 12, 1821)
p223 Va., (Artillery School for Practice), 1824‑26; on Ordnance duty,
(First Lieut., 1st Artillery, May 6, 1824)
Apr. 20 to Oct. 20, 1826; as Adjutant for the Artillery School for Practice, at Ft. Monroe, Va., Oct. 29, 1826, to Dec. 27, 1827; on professional duty in France, and translating from the French, "Manoeuvres of Artillery," Jan. 3, 1828, to Jan. 2, 1830; and on Ordnance duty, Jan. 14, 1830, to Dec. 31, 1833, as Superintendent of Contract Arms.
Resigned, May 31, 1834.
Civil History. — Civil Engineer, 1834‑61. President of Norwich, Ct., and Worcester, Mas., Railroad Company, 1840‑44, — of Morris Canal and Banking Company, N. J., 1844‑46, — and of Macon and Western Railroad Company, Ga., 1846‑48. Member of the Board of Visitors to the Military Academy, 1849. Superintending Engineer Cumberland Valley Railroad, Pa., from Harrisburg to Chambersburg, 1849‑51. General Superintendent of Dauphin and Susquehanna Railroad and Coal Company, Pa., 1852‑60. Superintending Engineer of Auburn and Allentown Railroad, Pa., 1855‑57, — and President, 1855‑61. President and Engineer of Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad, Pa., 1858‑61.
Military History. — Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding
(Colonel, 1st Connecticut Volunteers, Apr. 23, 1861)
States, 1861‑64: in Defense of Washington, D. C., Mar.‑July, 1861; in
(Brig.‑General, Connecticut State Volunteers, May 10, 1861)
command of a division in the Manassas Campaign of July, 1861, being engaged in the Action of Blackburn's Ford, Va., July 18, 1861, — and Battle of Bull Run, Va., July 21, 1861; and in the Defenses of Washington, D. C., July‑Aug., 1861.
Mustered out on Expiration of Service, Aug. 11, 1861.
Re-appointed in the United States Volunteer force, with the rank of
Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, Mar. 13, 1862.
Served: in the Mississippi Campaign (Army of the Mississippi), Apr. 25 to June 27, 1862, being engaged in the Action of Farmington, Mis., May 23, 1862, — and Advance upon and Siege of Corinth, Mis., Apr. 29 to June 8, 1862; on sick leave of absence, June 27 to Aug. 13, 1862; in organizing Volunteer regiments in Connecticut, Aug. 13 to Sep. 15, 1862; in command of Camp , Ill., Sep. 17 to Nov. 23, 1862; on Military Commission investigating General Buell's Campaign in Kentucky and Tennessee, Nov. 24, 1862, to May 10, 1863; in guarding the Upper Potomac, June 8‑26, being engaged in the Action at Martinsburg, Va., June 14, 1863, — and in command of Harper's Ferry and Maryland Heights, June 15‑26, 1863, when the Rebel army had invaded Pennsylvania; and in command of troops at Baltimore, Md., June 27 to July 3, 1863, — and of the District of Delaware, July 3, 1863, to Apr. 6, 1864.
Resigned, Apr. 6, 1864.
Civil History. — Proprietor of Woodstock Iron Company, Anniston, Ala., 1872‑82. Agent of the Bondholders (to foreclose their mortgage) of Mobile and Montgomery, Ala., Railroad, 1873‑74; and President of the Railroad, 1874‑77.
Died, Nov. 30, 1882, at New York city: Aged 84.
Buried, Hillside Cemetery, Anniston, AL.
Brigadier-General Daniel Tyler was born, Jan. 7, 1799, in Brooklyn, Windham County, Connecticut; and died, Nov. 30, 1882, at New York city, at the advanced age of 84.
p224 His descent on the side of both parents was distinguished; his father having been the Adjutant of Putnam's regiment at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and his mother the eldest grandchild of the celebrated President Jonathan Edwards, the noted American metaphysician and theologian, whom Dugald Stewart describes as "indisputably the ablest champion of the scheme of necessity since the time of Collins."
At the age of thirteen years, young Tyler, having received a good public school education, was sent to the Plainfield Academy to fit himself for Yale College; but his destination was changed to the Military Academy at West Point, which he entered Sep. 28, 1816. Here he made such rapid progress in his studies that he, availing himself of the privilege then allowed, was advanced to the third class on Jan. 1, 1817, and again to the second in June following; and, but for the advent of Colonel Thayer to the Superintendency of the Institution, would have made another leap in six months to the first class. Under the new régime, says he, "I had to bone it for the next two years to pass the annual examinations." He was graduated and promoted in the Army, July 1, 1819, to a Second Lieutenancy in the Light Artillery, being assigned to duty in Boston Harbor.
Under the re-organization of the Army in 1821, through an error, he was transferred to the Third Infantry; but, so soon as he complained of it, the Secretary of War put him back in the First Artillery, stationed at the Fort Monroe Artillery School for Practice, and May 6, 1824, he received his promotion to a First Lieutenancy. Here his efficiency so won the esteem of his commanding officer that he was made the Adjutant of the School; but was relieved Apr. 20, 1826, after a short incumbency, and placed upon Ordnance duty in the command of the Pikesville Arsenal, near Baltimore, Md., where he remained till Oct. 20, 1826.
While exercising this pleasant command, an incident occurred which largely shaped his future military career. In the winter of 1825‑26, a Board of Officers, General Scott being its President, was appointed to prescribe a supplement of "Exercises and Instruction of Field Artillery, including Manoeuvres of Horse Artillery, for the Militia of the United States." It devolved upon Colonel Eustis, the only Artillery Officer on the Board, to prepare this system; but, finding "the water too deep for him to wade in," he wrote to Tyler to come to Washington, and bring with him a translation the Lieutenant had made of a French Artillery work. This was submitted to the Board exactly as it came from Tyler's pen; adopted by it, Dec. 7, 1826; approved by the Secretary of War, Mar. 2, 1829; and was then published for the use of the militia. This work proved so satisfactory to the General-in‑Chief that Tyler, with Colonel Eustis, was ordered to prepare a more comprehensive work on Artillery for the Regular Army. To be with Eustis, Tyler was directed to proceed to the Artillery School for Practice, of which he became the Adjutant, Oct. 29, 1826.
After devoting a year of such leisure time as he could spare from his other duties to this Artillery work, he became satisfied that, to do it properly, he must go abroad to obtain the necessary data for his undertaking. Accordingly, Dec. 27, 1827, he was relieved from duty at Fort Monroe, and ordered by the Secretary of War to "proceed to France for the accomplishment and preparation of the contemplated project," and to collect whatever information he could for the improvement of our military service.
Tyler embarked for France about the middle of January, 1828, with the understanding that the new system of Artillery should be based upon that of the "Guibeauval," which had been in use by us since the Revolution, somewhat modified, though not improved, by the Army Board of 1818.
p225 Early in April, 1829, Tyler was admitted into the French Artillery School of Practice, at Metz, which he found so vastly superior to our own at Fort Monroe that he concluded "we had everything to learn in Artillery without any means of learning." Hence he seriously felt the importance of his mission, and forthwith commenced a translation of the latest French system of "Manoeuvres of Artillery," including Field and Heavy Artillery. At the end of a year this task was completed, and three hundred lithographed copies, in three volumes, were sent to our War Department. But, while carrying on his translation, he was fully satisfied that the new system of French Matériel, recently adopted from the English, would entirely supersede the Guibeauval. Accordingly, Tyler collected copies of every drawing and memoir connected with this French system of Field, Siege, Seacoast, and Mountain Artillery, which he brought back with him to Washington. The expense of copying these memoirs and drawings, about $2,000, Tyler had paid out of his own pocket, with no little inconvenience to himself; but generously offered them, free of charge, to the government, "provided a Board, consisting of three Artillery and two Ordnance officers, should pass upon their merits and adopt them as the matériel for the Artillery of the United States Army," to which proposition Colonel Bomford, then Chief of Ordnance, demurred, declaring that his department had the sole right to prescribe the system. At the same time he was willing that Tyler should go to the Watervliet Arsenal to construct one of these French batteries, he receiving "the whole credit of introducing the system." Upon the advice of some of his Artillery friends, Tyler declined Colonel Bomford's proposition. Some years later, after Tyler's resignation from the Army, Mr. Poinsett, then Secretary of War, invited him to return to the service; but, upon Tyler's declining the offer, the Secretary insisted upon paying him for his drawings and memoirs $1,600, that being the whole balance of his available "contingent fund." He asked Tyler if that sum would be satisfactory, to which he replied, "Perfectly, though he did not ask repayment." Thus, says Tyler, "the drawings for the system of Artillery, which I had expected to make me a Captain of Ordnance, passed into the possession of the Government (which had neither the means nor the ability to create a system for itself) at a cost of less than two thousand dollars. This system, now and ever since that period, has constituted the Artillery system of the United States. It has aided in carrying the country successfully through two great wars, and the sole change made from the drawings, furnished at that time, is the doubtful one of substituting leather for rope traces in the harness."
While in Europe, Tyler examined the Cavalry camp at Lunéville; the Pontonnier School at Strasburg; the Armory of Klingenthal; the establishments and manoeuvres of the French Army at Paris; and the Artillery School at Woolwich, England.
After returning home in 1829, Tyler was still kept on Ordnance duty to prepare a translation of the "School of the Driver," which in the French service is separate from the Artillery.
This duty completed, Tyler was sent, Jan. 6, 1830, to the Springfield Armory to report upon the system pursued there in the manufacture of small arms as compared with the methods he had seen at the French armory at Klingenthal. He found that the systems were very different, much of the work done in France by hand being performed with us by machinery, which did not produce as good work, and the cost was not lessened, the profit of the machine labor going to the mechanics, who received from $150 to $200 per month. These discoveries so startled the Ordnance Department that a Board, of which Tyler was a member, was convened at Springfield to report upon the proper prices for "piece work done at the Armory."
p226 The workmen, by the lavish use of money and the aid of political influence, secured a strong opposition in Congress to the bill to re-organize the National Armories with Ordnance instead of Civilian Superintendents. A long struggle ensued, one side trying to keep up excessive wages and the other to reduce them to a fair compensation. Honesty finally triumphed by substituting Ordnance for Civil control of the Armories, incalculably to the advantage of the Government. In the whole of this bitter contest Tyler took an active and efficient part.a
Early in 1832, the Ordnance Department having had its attention called to the imperfection of the arms manufactured on contract at private armories, Tyler was made "Superintendent of the Inspectors of Contract Arms." At the first inspection he had to reject every musket,1 none coming up to the requirements of the contracts. After this the contractors much improved the arms, their manufacture being too lucrative to them to abandon their agreements. Of course the fidelity of the Inspector brought a storm of indignation about Tyler's head, which was threatened with decapitation by the noisy political belligerents. Armed in honesty, and of sterner stuff than his antagonists, the Inspector triumphed, the contractors being notified "that they must either submit to the Inspectors or surrender their contracts." Prudence and profits soon dictated the acceptance of the former alternative.
Tyler, however, by his integrity, sacrificed his professional advancement. President Jackson, influenced by scheming politicians, refused to appoint him a Captain in the new Ordnance Corps, though strongly recommended by the Chief of Ordnance and every Democratic member of Congress from the State of New York.
Smarting under the injustice which he conceived to have been done to him, he tendered his resignation from the Army, which was accepted to take effect May 31, 1834.
During the incumbency of Mr. Poinsett in the War Department, he urged Tyler to return to the Army, in which he had been so useful; but he declined this overture, saying: "My Army life has been without any reward, and I have lost all ambition to be connected with the service where politics and prejudice ruled, and where the fact that a man was not born in the South was a bar to promotion." This last allusion had reference to the recent re-organization of the Ordnance Corps, in which "all the officers but five had been selected from the South, and that of the Captains appointed three were Second Lieutenants, of whom one had never seen a day's service since he graduated at West Point."b
Tyler, now a civilian, became the President of an Iron and Coal Company in Lycoming Creek, Pennsylvania, and was sent to Great Britain to examine the methods there adopted for coal-mining, and operating furnaces and rolling-mills. Upon his return he commenced, in 1835, the erection of the first coke, hot-blast furnace ever built in America, and after a hard struggle of two years succeeded in making pig iron, using bituminous coal for the fuel; but the operations of the company were suspended, owing to the great fall in the price of the manufactured article.
Tyler, in 1840, became the President of the Norwich and Worcester Railroad, which then, through incompetent management and want of capital, was on the verge of bankruptcy. By great energy and financial skill he completed the road; opened a new route to New York; bonded the entire floating debt; increased the market value of the stock thirty per cent; and established his reputation for railroad management.
The Morris Canal and Banking Company, in 1843, had become bankrupt; was sold under foreclosure of a mortgage; and had fallen into the p227hands of New York capitalists owning large stock interests in the Norwich and Worcester Railroad. As this latter corporation was then entirely out of its difficulties, Tyler was invited to become the President and Engineer of the former company. Upon examination of the canal, he found that it had been constructed originally to float twenty‑five-ton boats, but that the old locks had been partially rebuilt to pass the Lehigh Canal Company's boats carrying seventy-five tons of coal. He saw at once that, if the latter carrying capacity could be given to the canal, it would constitute the only direct route from the Lehigh mines of that to the city of New York. The water supply was the great problem to be solved. By diminishing the consumption of water, enlarging the prism of the canal's waterway, and by an ingenious use of "Summit Planes" with railroad tracks upon which cars were moved by the power of turbine wheels, Tyler succeeded in solving the puzzle, and, despite the opinion of some able engineers, by July 10, 1844, the canal was ready for business, the first boat passing over demonstrating "that the prism in depth of water, etc., was well adapted to the boat's capacity, that the new plans answered their purpose fully, and that it required less time and less water to pass over a plane •a thousand feet in length than to pass through a lock of •eight feet lift." The extreme drought which soon followed this success, and various questions of water rights, in a measure nullified Tyler's achievement. Consequently, says he, "after closing various legal matters connected with the rights of the Morris Canal Company, in the fall of 1844, and seeing that there was no disposition on the part of the company to go on and rebuild the additional nine planes required, and after making a final report, wherein I vainly urged the needed work, I offered my resignation, February, 1845. This was accepted, and I reluctantly gave up a public improvement which, if completed at that time at a cost not exceeding $386,000, would not only have given large pecuniary benefits to its stockholders, but would have added very substantially to my professional reputation;" besides, if finished upon his plans, as it was four years later, "could have floated into the city of New York at least a million of tons per annum."
During the winter of 1844‑45, Tyler was requested to take charge of the Macon and Atlanta Railroad, which was unfinished and in great pecuniary embarrassment. Seeing the importance of this connection between upper and lower Georgia, and that this railroad, which had cost $1,200,000, would be sold for about $150,000 under a decree of the Chancery Court, Tyler took it in hand as its President under the new name of the Macon and Western Railroad. With the aid of some of the old stockholders and a few New York capitalists, he reconstructed the road without the issue of a single bond; and, before the close of 1844, it was open to traffic. At once it was a success, paid eight per cent annual dividends, and its stock is still considered one of the best and safest investments in the Southern States.
Tyler says: "I remained President of the Company until the summer of 1849, in perfect harmony with the Southern Board of Directors and the people of the South. During my four years' residence there I had been a careful observer of the political movements of the South, and after six months' stay was convinced that my residence would be temporary, and that the political changes going on from day to day would, in less than ten years, result in a disruption of the Union. My resignation took the Board by surprise, and, when asked my reasons, my answer was, as nearly as I can recollect after so many years, as follows: 'Gentlemen, you have never heard me say a word against slavery, and, although I am no abolitionist, I would not bring my boys here to educate them under your system if you would give me the Macon and Western Railroad. You are educating your young men to hate the Union and despise p228the North; and the result will be a conflict within ten years, and in that event I mean to be with my family north of Mason and Dixon's Line.' "
In this year of 1849 Tyler was a member of the Board of Visitors to the Military Academy, taking an active part in everything connected with his Alma Mater, to whose welfare he was devoted through a long life.
Upon his return to the North, Tyler found that a very important investment which he had made in the securities of the Cumberland Valley Railroad was in danger of being sacrificed. With his usual promptitude and energy he rebuilt and re-organized the road in 1850‑51, since which time it has been one of the most successful roads in Pennsylvania, and now, under the management of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, pays annual dividends of eight per cent, besides having a surplus of over a million of dollars.
Tyler, from 1852 to 1861, was engaged upon various public works, among them the road of the Dauphin and Susquehanna Coal Company, the extension of which was designed to connect with the Central New Jersey Railroad, the whole constituting a trunk coal road from the anthracite region to the city of New York. As the former road threatened to be a serious rival to the Reading Road, it was purchased by the Reading Company.
Under a contract Tyler also constructed the principal part of the Philadelphia and West Chester Railroad. He purchased for the bondholders the Maysville and Lexington Road in Kentucky; and, in 1856, personally assumed the obligations of the Schuylkill and Susquehanna Road to construct •nine miles of railroad from Pine Grove to Lorberry Creek, which he sold at a very large profit to the Reading Road.
Tyler's residence in the South had fully prepared him for the secession movement, in 1860‑61, of the Cotton States, and he doubted not that the Rebellion would be a long contest. Though he had attained the age at which officers were retired from active service in the Army, Tyler, with the inherited fire which his father had displayed at Bunker Hill, at once resolved to again gird on his sword for the defense of the Union, and of that sacred flag under which he had been educated. No sooner had he heard of the attack upon Ft. Sumter than he repaired to Washington to tender his services in whatever capacity they would be most useful. General Scott wanted him for service in the field, and General Ripley — Chief of Ordnance — wished him at once to go to Europe to purchase arms for the Government. The very day it was to be decided to which duty he should be assigned, Governor Buckingham, of Connecticut, telegraphed for him to report at New Haven to take command of the first State regiment then being raised for the war. With great difficulty, owing to the destruction of the railroad bridges, he reached his destination. Immediately he encamped and drilled his command, and early in May was in Washington with a full regiment, completely armed and equipped, and provided with all needful transportation and camp equipage for active service. Soon after, the Second and Third Connecticut regiments arrived in the capital, when Colonel Tyler, May 10, 1861, was commissioned a Brigadier-General of State Volunteers, these three Connecticut and a Maine regiment constituting his brigade.
Soon following General Schenck's Vienna fiasco, Tyler established his command at the advanced position of Fall's Church, near the enemy, which he held till the movement of the Army to Bull Run. While at this post he captured a body of Virginia negroes, whichº "were the first slaves manumitted under martial law."
Unforeseen delays deferred, until July 16th, the march of McDowell's Army, composed of five divisions. The first and largest, commanded by p229Tyler, was divided into four brigades, respectively under Keyes, Schenck, Sherman, and Richardson. On the 17th Centreville was occupied, and Tyler, finding his advance unopposed, made a reconnoissance the next day towards Blackburn's Ford, which ended in a sharp engagement. McDowell subsequently represented this affair as one of the causes of his defeat at Bull Run, where Tyler contends that this battle should have been fought on the day of Blackburn's Ford or on the next, before there was a possibility of Beauregard's Army being reinforced by Johnston's. This introduction of the Confederate forces Tyler had greatly feared from the beginning of the campaign, and says that his railroad experience proved to him conclusively that heavy trains with troops from the Shenandoah Valley had been arriving at Bull Run for two nights and a day preceding the battle, of which he apprised both the Secretary of War and General McDowell.
Early on Sunday morning, July 21st, the movement of our Army took place. Tyler's division was ordered to march by the Warrenton turnpike direct to the "Stone Bridge," while Hunter's and Heintzelman's divisions were to take a circuitous route and cross Bull Run higher up, thus to turn the enemy's left flank. The plan of battle was an admirable one, except that it involved a long and fatiguing night march. A little past midnight McDowell's Army was astir, and the three designated divisions sallied forth full of enthusiasm. Hunter and Heintzelman were unluckily delayed some two or three hours in reaching "Sudley's Ford." Tyler's division, except Richardson's brigade left with the reserve, moved cautiously, reaching the Stone Bridge at 3 A.M. Some hours later, when the battle was fully engaged on our right, Tyler was ordered to press the attack from our left. Accordingly, Sherman crossed Bull Run and Keyes followed, Schenck being left to take care of the Stone Bridge and prevent any flank movement from the enemy in that direction. The morning battle, in which Sherman's and Keyes' brigades actively participated, was a complete success.
In the afternoon a second battle was fought, when McDowell's forces were reduced by severe losses and much fatigued by twelve hours' marching and fighting, while the enemy's troops were comparatively fresh and constantly increasing. By a fatal error a Rebel regiment was mistaken for a support coming to our advanced batteries on Henry Hill, and was allowed to approach and almost annihilate them. Over these disabled batteries the contest surged back and forth. Brigade after brigade was brought forward, and three times the batteries were recovered and again lost. By half-past four, all of the Union reserves had been brought up, while the enemy's accession of fresh regiments from both of their armies continued to reach the battlefield, snatching the morning victory from our brave be undisciplined volunteers, faint with hunger, midsummer heat, and marching and fighting since midnight. When, therefore, two fresh Confederate brigades had repulsed the Union flank attack west of the Sudley road, and another brigade with its artillery burst through the woods further to the west, threatening our right flank and rear, the battle, as by the common consent of our exhausted troops, came to an end, and the retreat of our Army began, Tyler retiring in good order with Keyes' and Schenck's brigades upon Centreville. From this point the Army fell back to the defenses of Washington, most of it in a very demoralized condition.
After the completion of his report of the Battle of Bull Run, General Tyler, with his Connecticut regiments of three months' volunteers, Aug. 11, 1861, was mustered out of the State service. He now retired to his home, where, in accordance with the wishes of the General-in‑Chief, he advised and assisted the Connecticut authorities in recruiting, equipping, and forwarding the State's new regiments of volunteers.
p230 Upon the solicitation of General Scott, Tyler was appointed, Mar. 13, 1862, a Brigadier-General of U. S. Volunteers, which commission he accepted on condition that he should be assigned to active duty in the field. He was ordered at once to the Army of the Mississippi, headquarters Pittsburg Landing, and in Stanley's division was engaged in the advance upon and Siege of Corinth. In the action of Farmington, May 23, 1862, he commanded a brigade; upon the occupation of Corinth, May 30, a squad of his troops raised upon the place the first Union flag; and in the pursuit of the enemy he advanced as far as Baldwin.
Broken down by anxiety and the fatigues of this campaign under General Halleck, Tyler obtained, July 27th, a sick leave of absence; but, as soon as he was convalescent, he was again organizing and forwarding Connecticut volunteers to the field. From Sep. 17 to Nov. 23, 1862, he commanded Camp , Ill., when he was detailed as a member of the Military Commission to investigate the Campaign of General Buell in Kentucky and Tennessee. This duty occupied him till May 10, 1863, when he was ordered to Baltimore and assigned to the command of the troops and defenses of the city. While detached, June 8‑26, to guard the Upper Potomac, he was engaged in the action of Martinsburg, June 14, 1863, and then took command of Harper's Ferry and Maryland Heights, — a most important trust, the enemy having invaded Pennsylvania from the Shenandoah Valley. General Schenck, commanding the Medical Department, fearing that Lee might make a movement upon Baltimore, ordered Tyler, June 26, to resume his command of that city, which he held till July 3, 1863, when all danger was removed by the retreat of the Confederate Army from Gettysburg. Tyler was then placed in command of the District of Delaware, where he remained till he resigned his commission, April 6, 1864, because of the death of his wife and his conviction that the backbone of the rebellion was broken, and it could be ended by younger and more active men.
He continued, however, to follow the progress of the war with the liveliest interest; and it must have been a proud moment to him when Atlanta, Sep. 2, 1864, surrendered to General Sherman. Nearly two years before that great event he said to the members of the Buell investigating commission: "Atlanta, and not Richmond, should be the objective point, and there our hardest fighting is yet to be done. That is the belly of the Confederacy, and not only the most exposed, but the most vital part. There is where it lives. Back of that are their store-houses and supplies; and to cover these it will do its most desperate fighting; loss there means final defeat."
Tyler, after his resignation, passed his time in the various occupations of a country gentleman, and in travelling through the Southern States and Cuba; but, after enjoying this for a few years, his active mind required larger scope and more substantial food. Accordingly, he made an extended European tour, arriving in England at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, in which, as a military man, he became deeply interested. Writing to his son respecting this struggle, he says: "You will see a progress in civilization that the most sanguine philanthropists never dreamed of; and the motive power which will have caused it will have been the gun fired from Ft. Sumter. Beauregard little dreamed how that gun would shake the world."
In the spring of 1872, after his return home, he made a trip to Alabama to examine some iron properties there, which resulted in his founding large cotton and iron manufactories, and building the town of Anniston upon a cheerless old estate of •twenty to thirty thousand acres. One of Tyler's associates in the Woodstock Iron Company says of him: "He was always planning and suggesting something for the benefit of Anniston and its people; plans and suggestions that to us at first seemed p231impracticable and premature, we found, from his clear reasoning and hearty co-operation, not only could be carried out, but were needed. In acting on his suggestions and plans, we found how wise he was in forethought, and wondered why we had not thought of the plans ourselves. To his earnest exertions and liberality we are indebted for the waterworks, the cotton factory, and car-works, the promotion of emigration, the successful cultivation of the grasses, the introduction of blooded cattle and improved stock, large and more comfortable dwellings for the workingmen, the building of churches and schools for them, and facilities for the education of their children. He was a grand old man, one of the most generous and unselfish I ever knew, always interested in and planning for the welfare of others, and never so happy as when those he aided profited by his advice and assistance."
In the summer of 1873, Tyler again went to Europe. While in London, he was invited to look into the affairs of the Mobile and Montgomery Railroad, then in financial difficulties. Upon his return to this country, he arranged for its purchase and accepted the Presidency of the new company, which he held till Feb. 25, 1879, bringing to it his long experience and almost youthful energy. From a completely broken-down concern, he regenerated and made it a road in structure, equipments, and discipline equal to any in the Southern States.
While residing at Montgomery, Ala., directing this road, Tyler was requested to investigate the condition and prospects of the Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio Railroad, which led to an investment in Texas lands, where he established the Capote Farm of •twenty thousand acres. This was his winter residence till he died, which sad event occurred while he was on a visit to the North to see some of the members of his family. Till within two days of his death he was active and able to attend to his business, when pneumonia quickly terminated his long and useful life. His remains were, in accordance with his wishes, carried to Anniston, when the town was draped in black, and nearly two thousand mourners followed his body to the grave, made between two boulders that stand as Nature's sentinels on either side, a fit resting-place for this kind, generous, good, and noble old man.
To those of our Association of Graduates over whose annual reunions our elder brother so often and so admirably presided, it is perhaps unnecessary to say more of General Tyler; but as others may read this brief record of his life's work, we will add a few words by way of a summary of his character.
Tyler was above medium height, erect as a cadet even to the day of his death, graceful and easy in all his movements, and possessed a mien eminently striking and handsome. His intellectual forehead, his flashing gray eyes, his bold aquiline nose, and his firmly compressed lips marked him as a leader to command men, to stem opposition, and to penetrate to the marrow in intricacies. His quick perceptions clearly saw all that was before him, and his logic-mill soon winnowed the wheat from the chaff. Direct of purpose, his speech was outspoken and his reasoning never was lured aside by sophistry and shams. Whatever he undertook was with the integrity of his truthful spirit, the intensity of his excessive earnestness, and his sanguine anticipation of complete success. Having no toleration for plausible incompetency, and abhorring all paltering with right or wrong, he chose his many agents for their knowledge and honesty. Yet, stern as he was in all mental and moral requirements in the transaction of business, he was full of affection, abounded in genial humor, and had a woman's tenderness for those whom he esteemed. His friends all loved him because he was sincere, kind, unselfish, above any meanness, always considerate for others, and never arrogant, though proud of his many achievements. He was the soul of honor, contemned any indirectness p232of speech or act, and justly bore "the grand old name of gentleman."
Tyler was a very distinguished civil and mining engineer — bold, enterprising, skillful, and eminently successful in whatever he undertook. It seemed to be his delight and pastime from dead carcasses to produce living, breathing realities. Broken-down railroads, moss-grown coal companies, collapsed iron-works, crumbling canals, and such like financial ruins, his wizard touch suddenly transformed into engines of power and profit. We have already recorded the skillful surgery of this master-healer of diseased corporations, and even in old age how he made a solitary desert in Alabama voluble with spindles, glowing with furnaces, and teeming with busy life.
As a soldier, Tyler, in his early manhood, was an accomplished artillerist; in his maturity, an ordnance officer to whom our army is much indebted for its present system of field batteries and the excellence of its small-arms; and, in his after life, a general most efficient in organization, collected and bold in battle, and clear-headed and sagacious in strategy. Age and rank debarred him from enlarged command; but he certainly possessed many of the most valuable attributes of a true soldier, — strength and activity of mind, indomitable will, unflinching courage, tenacity of purpose, restless energy, prompt decision, professional ambition, and appreciative recognition of juniors which always secured their zealous co-operation.
Governor Buckingham reposed unbounded confidence in Tyler's military capacity and executive energy; and the good organization, discipline, and soldierly tone of the Connecticut volunteers showed that his trust in his selected general was not misapplied. Though these troops were enlisted for only three months, their commander in this brief period imbued them with true military spirit, a realizing sense of their solemn duty, and a loyal rivalry to accomplish their utmost for their country's cause. Upon them he tried to impress his own gallant daring, his disdain of political machinery to secure preferment, a deep sense of the responsibility resting upon all to do or die for the preservation of the Union, and to make every sacrifice for the maintenance of the nationality of a great people. All feared yet loved him, for they well knew that quick punishment followed every dereliction of duty, while fidelity and assiduity never went unrewarded.
Tyler's name, says a distinguished senator, "will remain high in the illustrious roll of gallant soldiers and patriots that Connecticut has produced, embracing every war to which she has been called, from her earliest years as a colony. And a multitude of personal friends will mourn him as a devoted friend, a cheery, brave, gallant, glorious old gentleman, soldier, and patriot."
1 These miserable weapons subsequently became famous in history as the "George Law muskets," more dangerous to the user than to the enemy.
a For a closer look at Springfield Armory, its inefficiency and corruption — and the full implementation of military control over arms manufacture a few years after Tyler's involvement — see the biography of James W. Ripley.
b From among the graduates of the Academy, three Second Lieutenants, and only three, were promoted directly to Captain in the Ordnance in this period: John Hills, Alfred Mordecai, and Benjamin Huger; of the three, Huger was the one with the emptiest career at the time, who might have been characterized, almost fairly, as never having seen a day's service since graduation.
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