By Curt Tipton
1st Lt. Robert J. Tipton came from a prominent and influential Carter County, Tennessee, family.
An officer in Co B, 19th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, he was tasked to return to Carter County as an enrolling officer. Detailed to assist him was a detachment of Cherokees from the Thomas Legion (Col. William Thomas, commanding). The detachment was comprised of three companies of cavalry under Lt. Tipton’s command.
Lt. Tipton was charged with apprehending two deserters/bushwhackers, George and Godfrey Heatherly. On the night of 28 August, 1863, The Heatherlys and a gang of bushwhackers, pretending to be Confederate soldiers retreating from a battle at Carter’s Depot, came to the Tipton home. They asked Lt. Tipton to take charge of them.
Lt. Tipton’s brother, Eldridge, also home on leave (1st Lt, Co F, 37th Tennessee Infantry Regiment) joined him. Neither officer recognized the Heatherlys and rode with them to a place called “the Glades”. There, they disarmed the two officers and shot Lt. Robert Tipton as Eldridge was forced to watch.
Lt. Robert Tipton is buried in Elizabethton, Tennessee.