Friday, July 5, 2013

What This Has Cost Me

Confederate General Lewis Addison Armistead died July 5th 1863 from a wound received two days earlier at the Battle of Gettysburg during Pickett’s Charge.

Lewis Addison Armistead was born February 18th 1817 in New Bern, North Carolina the son of Walker Keith and Elizabeth (Stanly) Armistead.  He received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1834, but had to leave the school after busting a plate over the head of fellow cadet Jubal Early.  With the help of his father, Armistead obtained a commission to Second Lieutenant in the 6th United States Infantry on July 10th 1839.  He made First Lieutenant on March 30th 1844.  He married his first wife Cecelia Lee Love a cousin of Robert E Lee the same year.  He saw duty in Arkansas and along the Oklahoma border.  Armistead received a Brevet to Captain for actions during the Mexican American War.  Following the war he did duty in Kentucky, and at Fort Dodge.  His first wife died in 1850 and he remarried in 1853.  Armistead continued doing military duty at various post in the west and he lost his second wife as well two children.  He was in command of a garrison in San Diego, California when the Civil War started along with his friend Winfield Scott Hancock.  Armistead resigned his commission and began the trip back to Virginia to join the Confederacy, he told his friend Hancock, "Goodbye; you can never know what this has cost me."

Arriving in Virginia Armistead was made Colonel of the 57th Virginia Infantry.  He was a brigade commander at the Battle of Seven Pines, Malvern Hill and Second Bull Run.  Armistead was the Provost Marshal during the Sharpsburg Campaign.  He was back commanding a brigade at the Battle of Fredericksburg.  As a part of confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s Corps Armistead missed the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Armistead arrived at Gettysburg along with the rest of General George Pickett’s Division on the evening of July 2nd 1863.  The next day Armistead led of his men, in what would become known as Pickett’s Charge.  He crossed the field in front of his Brigade, reaching the stonewall at the “Angle”, getting farther than any other brigade that day.  Crossing the wall, he was shot three times in the arm and below the knee.  Armistead’s wounds weren’t thought to be mortal.  He was taken the hospital on the Spangler Farm for treatment where he died as chief surgeon Doctor Daniel Brinton said, “not from his wounds directly, but from secondary fever and prostration,” on July 5th 1863.  His body was removed to the Old Saint Paul’s Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.  General Lee wrote in his after action report, "Brigadier-Generals Armistead, Barksdale, Garnett and Semmes died as they had lived, discharging the highest duties of patriots with devotion that never faltered and courage that shrank from no danger."

No comments: