ARMISTEAD AT THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG.
Extracts from Letters Written by Dr. R. W. Martin
Rev. JAMES POINDEXTER.
When Armistead's Brigade was in line of battle a short time before the advance was ordered, the general marched up and down in front of his troops
encouraging them in every way and said these words: "Men, remember what you are fighting for. Remember your homes, your firesides,
your wives, mothers, sisters and your sweethearts."
When the signal guns were fired, Armistead instantly called attention, and instantly every man was on his feet. After a few words he walked to the front of the Fifty-third
Virginia Regiment, his battalion of direction, and addressed the color bearer, "Sergeant, are you going to put those colors
on the enemy's works over yonder?"
"Yes, general, if mortal man can do it."
He then exhorted the men to follow their colors and to remember the brave
words of their color bearer.
When the advance commenced Armistead placed himself in front of the colors
of the Fifty-third Regiment, and from that point watched and directed the advance until within a short distance of the enemy's
line. When approximating the advance line General Kemper rode up to him and said, "General, hurry up, my men can stand no
He quietly turned to the officer commanding his battalion of direction and
said, "Colonel, double quick." The double quick soon quickened into a run, the run into a charge, Armistead all the time in
front of his line of battle, and when the desperate effort came and the final rush for the rock fence was made he dew his
sword, put his hat on the end of it, called upon his men to follow, rushed over the rock fence and was shot just as he reached
the enemy's guns between the two lines in the bloody angle, thus sealing with his life's blood the high water mark of the
|Pickett's Charge Map
|Official Gettysburg Battlefield Map
As Armistead was carried from the field he met Hancock as he was hurrying
to the front. They recognized each other, and Hancock dismounted and grasped his hand and told him how sorry he was to see
him wounded. Armistead returned his kindly expression and told him the wound was mortal and that he had on his person some
things that he wish to entrust to him to be returned when opportunity presented to his people in Virginia. Hancock accepted
the commission and tried to persuade Armistead to look upon the bright side, that he probably was not so seriously hurt as
he feared, excused himself by saying he was compelled to hurry to the front, left Armistead, promising to see him the next
day. In a short time he was wounded himself and they never met again.
This was related to me as I lay on the ground back of the battle line where
hundreds of wounded were carried after the fight, by one of Hancock's staff, who rode up just about dusk and found a number
of men congregated about me. When he found I was a badly wounded "Johnny Reb" Colonel he dismounted, drove everybody away
that I might have fresh air, and commenced a conversation.
When he found that I was of Armistead's Brigade, he said, "Armistead, Armistead.
I have just left him, he is mortally wounded," and then related the above, and said, "I will have you taken care of," etc.
Armistead lingered through the 4th and died on the 5th,
leaving an example of patriotism, heroism and devotion to duty which ought to be handed down through the ages.
Here's my heart and hand.
Sincerely and truly,
R. W. Martin,
(Source: Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. 39, pp. 186-187)
Recommended Reading: Pickett's Charge,
by George Stewart. Description: The author has written
an eminently readable, thoroughly enjoyable, and well-researched book on the third day of the Gettysburg battle, July 3, 1863. An especially rewarding read if one has toured, or plans
to visit, the battlefield site. The author's unpretentious, conversational style of writing succeeds in putting the reader
on the ground occupied by both the Confederate and Union forces before, during and after
Pickett's and Pettigrew's famous assault on Meade's Second Corps. Continued below...
with humor and down-to-earth observations concerning battlefield conditions, the author conscientiously describes all aspects
of the battle, from massing of the assault columns and pre-assault artillery barrage to the last shots and the flight of the
surviving rebels back to the safety of their lines… Having visited Gettysburg several years ago, this superb volume makes me
want to go again.
Reading: Pickett's Charge--The Last Attack at Gettysburg (Hardcover). Description: Pickett's Charge is probably the best-known military engagement of the Civil War,
widely regarded as the defining moment of the battle of Gettysburg
and celebrated as the high-water mark of the Confederacy. But as Earl Hess notes, the epic stature of Pickett's Charge has
grown at the expense of reality, and the facts of the attack have been obscured or distorted by the legend that surrounds
them. With this book, Hess sweeps away the accumulated myths about Pickett's Charge to provide the definitive history of the
engagement. Continued below...
exhaustive research, especially in unpublished personal accounts, he creates a moving narrative of the attack from both Union and Confederate perspectives,
analyzing its planning, execution, aftermath, and legacy. He also examines the history of the units involved, their state
of readiness, how they maneuvered under fire, and what the men who marched in the ranks thought about their participation
in the assault. Ultimately, Hess explains, such an approach reveals Pickett's Charge both as a case study in how soldiers
deal with combat and as a dramatic example of heroism, failure, and fate on the battlefield.
Recommended Reading: Pickett's
Charge in History and Memory. Description:
Pickett's Charge--the Confederates' desperate (and failed) attempt to break the Union lines on the third and final day of
the Battle of Gettysburg--is best remembered as the turning point of the U.S. Civil War. But Penn State historian Carol Reardon reveals
how hard it is to remember the past accurately, especially when an event such as this one so quickly slipped into myth. She
writes, "From the time the battle smoke cleared, Pickett's Charge took on this chameleon-like aspect and, through a variety
of carefully constructed nuances, adjusted superbly to satisfy the changing needs of Northerners, Southerners, and, finally,
the entire nation." Continued below...
care and detail, Reardon's fascinating book teaches a lesson in the uses and misuses of history.
Recommended Reading: Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg, by James M. Mcpherson (Crown Journeys) (Hardcover). Publishers
Weekly: The country's most distinguished Civil War historian, a Pulitzer Prize winner (for Battle Cry of Freedom) and professor
at Princeton, offers this compact and incisive study of the Battle of Gettysburg. In narrating
"the largest battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere," McPherson walks readers over
its presently hallowed ground, with monuments numbering into the hundreds, many of which work to structure the narrative.
They range from the equestrian monument to Union general John Reynolds to Amos Humiston, a New Yorker identified several months
after the battle when family daguerreotypes found on his body were recognized by his widow. Indeed, while McPherson does the
expected fine job of narrating the battle, in a manner suitable for the almost complete tyro in military history, he also
skillfully hands out kudos and criticism each time he comes to a memorial. Continued below...
Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine, but also the 140th New York
and its colonel, who died leading his regiment on the other Union flank in an equally desperate action. The cover is effective
and moving: the quiet clean battlefield park above, the strewn bodies below. The author's knack for knocking myths on the
head without jargon or insult is on display throughout: he gently points out that North Carolinians think that their General
Pettigrew ought to share credit for Pickett's charge; that General Lee's possible illness is no excuse for the butchery that
charge led to; that African-Americans were left out of the veterans' reunions; and that the kidnapping of African-Americans
by the Confederates has been excised from most history books.
Recommended Reading: Brigades of
Gettysburg: The Union and Confederate Brigades at the Battle
of Gettysburg (Hardcover) (704 Pages). Description:
While the battle of Gettysburg is certainly the
most-studied battle in American history, a comprehensive treatment of the part played by each unit has been ignored. Brigades of Gettysburg fills this void by presenting a complete account of every brigade
unit at Gettysburg and providing a fresh perspective of the
battle. Using the words of enlisted men and officers, the author and renowned Civil War historian, Bradley Gottfried,
weaves a fascinating narrative of the role played by every brigade at the famous three-day battle, as well as a detailed description
of each brigade unit. Continued below...
order of battle, each brigade is covered in complete and exhaustive detail: where it fought, who commanded, what constituted
the unit, and how it performed in battle. Innovative in its approach and comprehensive in its coverage, Brigades of Gettysburg is certain to be a classic and indispensable reference for the battle of Gettysburg
for years to come.
Reading: Last Chance For Victory: Robert E. Lee And The
Gettysburg Campaign. Description: Long after nearly fifty thousand soldiers shed their blood there,
serious misunderstandings persist about Robert E. Lee's generalship at Gettysburg.
What were Lee's choices before, during, and after the battle? What did he know that caused him to act as he did? Last Chance
for Victory addresses these issues by studying Lee's decisions and the military intelligence he possessed when each was made.
new information and original research, Last Chance for Victory draws alarming conclusions to complex issues with precision
and clarity. Readers will never look at Robert E. Lee and Gettysburg the same way again.
Recommended Reading: Pickett's
Charge: Eyewitness Accounts At The Battle Of Gettysburg
(Stackpole Military History Series). Description: On
the final day of the battle of Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee ordered
one of the most famous infantry assaults of all time: Pickett's Charge. Following a thundering artillery barrage, thousands
of Confederates launched a daring frontal attack on the Union line. From their entrenched positions, Federal soldiers decimated
the charging Rebels, leaving the field littered with the fallen and several Southern divisions in tatters. Written by generals,
officers, and enlisted men on both sides, these firsthand accounts offer an up-close look at Civil War combat and a panoramic
view of the carnage of July 3, 1863.
The Armistead Name in History. Description: The Armistead Name in History is a customized book offering a unique
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