Armistead's Death

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Last Updated 11/19/95
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The purpose of this discussion concerning the speculation of the death of Confederate Brigadier General Lewis A. Armistead is to discuss the various factors that influenced Armistead's death. Any of number things can be introduced related to this topic. For example, the factors which I mentioned before, Armistead's desperate attempt to save Pickett's Charge, or anything related to Armistead and his actions during Pickett's Charge. Below are some analytical questions that could be talked about in this discussion.

A Speculation on the Death of CSA Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Armistead
(Discussion Based on An Article By Terry King)
On the morning of 5 July, 1863, Confederate Brigadier General Lewis A. Armistead died in the Union 11th Corps hospital at the George Spangler farm, approximately 41 hours after he was carried from the field after Pickett's Charge. He had been wounded in the lower leg and (depending on the source) in either the upper arm or "the breast" (the pectoral area of the chest). Neither wound was considered serious, yet he died.

Union Captain Henry H. Bingham assisted Armisted where he fell. Bingham reported that the general was "completely exhausted, and seemingly broken spirited" [Tucker]. Yet, G.W. Finley of the 56th VA Infantry (Garnett's Brigade), now a Union prisoner, reports that he approached the brigadier where he lay by Cushing's cannon, looked him over, and concluded that he was already dead [Tucker]. However, as I have been unable to place Bingham and Finley's accounts within a chronological frame of reference, I will accept both reports as indicative of Armistead's weakened condition.

James Francis Crocker of the 9th VA Infantry (Armistead's Brigade) was taken prisoner after the Charge. When he went to visit his commander a few days later, he was told that the general had died, though his wounds "ought not to have proved mortal; that his proud spirit chafed under his imprisonment and his restlessness aggravated his wound[s]" [Swank]. Some (including Tucker) have questioned how Bingham's claim that the general was exhausted and broken spirited might be reconciled with Crocker's report from those who were in attendance at the makeshift hospital. I believe an inexact yet plausible explanation is at hand

Dr. D.G. Brinton examined Armistead at the 11th Corps hospital. He records that the general was wounded in the fleshyareas of his upper arm and lower leg, without any damage to bone,arteries, or nerves. However, "in conversing with Armistead,Surgeon Brinton discovered that the Virginian had 'suffered much from over exertion, want of sleep, and mental anxiety within the last few days.'" The general's death less than two days later greatly surprised the physician, who "deduced that the death was not caused directly by the wounds but by secondary fever and prostration" [Harrison and Busey].

Secondary fever would strongly suggest that an infection had been introduced. Antisepsis as we know it today was unheard of; while many in the medical professions recognized that cleanliness had beneficial effects, there was as yet no knowledge of microbes and their role in the transmission of disease and infection. Surgeons did not wash their hands between patients, let alone their surgical instruments. Wounds were probed with dirty fingers. Bandages were reused, often without adequate cleansing. Dressings might be changed only when visibly soaked through with blood or infectious ooze. Dressings were kept moist with water, providing a favorable environment for infection.

The infection of wounds was all but inevitable, evidenced by a belief in "laudable pus." This discharge, which we recognize today as a symptom of infection, was viewed as a sign that the wound was healing. Thus, it is very possible that one or both of Armistead's wounds became septic without arousing alarm in those who tended him, leading to depletion of physical reserves hecould ill pare.

Brinton's diagnosis of prostration is more vague, and such a condition might result from a combination of factors in this instance. The surgeon reported (above) that his patient had a recent history of overexertion,lack of sleep, and anxiety - three potent stressors in and of themselves. Yet Armistead had marched his brigade a mile or so to the Union position, covering that distance on a hot July afternoon, probably in direct sunlight, while wearing a wool uniform that would trap heat far more than the lighter sack coats or shell jackets his men would have been wearing. Already fatigued before he took his first step, anxious about his men and the outcome of their endeavor, General Armistead was highly vulnerable to heat exhaustion. His condition would not improve markedly even after removal to the 11th Corps hospital, for that environment would not be cool enough to help him, and the attendant sounds and odors of the hospital setting would do nothing to alleviate his anxiety.

Injury and heat, added to an already impaired physical condition, left General Armistead wide open to shock. Though it is impossible to definitively pin down without access to more detailed medical reports (if any exist), I speculate that hypovolemic shock was the culprit. This form of shock results from a loss of blood volume. Armistead's wounds were probably tended quickly enough that their bleeding was not primarily responsible; on the other hand, the dehydration one would reasonably expect after exertion in the summer heat would deplete blood volume as well. The sympathetic nervous system constricts blood vessels to husband a decreasing supply of blood, and there is a decrease in oxygen reaching the brain. This often results in behavioral changes - restlessness, anxiety, confusion, hostility. Crocker was told that his commander's "proud spirit chafed under his imprisonment and his restlessness aggravated his wound[s]." Armistead was very possibly already in the late stages of physical collapse.

I also believe that Lewis Armistead did not expect to recover, and this resignation may well have doomed him. Tucker speculates on an incident from Abner Doubleday's (1882): "Doubleday was on Cemetary Ridge when Pickett was repulsed. He was told that the stretcher-bearers had a wounded Confederate whose conversation seemed to indicate he was a general officer. Doubleday sent someone to ascertain his rank, and the wounded Confederate replied, 'Tell General Doubleday in a few minutes I shall be where there is no rank.' Since Armistead was the only Confederate general carried back by stretcher-bearers, Doubleday may well have an accurate quotation in this instance" [Tucker].

A patient's will to live is a powerful factor in his survival. Armistead knew the attack had failed and that the ANV had suffered horrible losses. He was in all likelihood aware that at least two dear friends were dead or wounded: Confederate Brigadier General Richard B. Garnett's body was never identified, while Federal Major General Winfield Scott Hancock was wounded severely enough to necessitate his evacuation to Philadelphia. Grieving for his friends and his men, seriously ill, a prisoner - even the bravest individual may despair when overwhelmed by adversity. If Lewis Armistead had accepted that he would die, it is unlikely that even the most dedicated medical team of the present day could have saved his life.

Benedict R Maryniak (aka Philos)
Subject: Lo's Demise

Armistead's was such a hard luck story that the guy who played him in the movie died! Go figure!

As a baseline, I offer the material concerning Surgeon DG Brinton which appeared in NOTHING BUT GLORY by Georg & Busey. Brinton was in charge of the field hospital for the XI Corps, 2nd div, at the George Spangler farm. He cwas given the responsibility for attending Armistead after Lo's arrival about 4 pm July 3. He and another doctor examined Armistead and dressed two wounds, neither of which were considered serious. "One was in the fleshy part of the arm and the other a little below the knee on the other side. Both were caused by rifle balls, but the general was fortunate in that neither bone, artery, or nerve was injured by either. In conversing with Armistead, Brinton discovered that the Virginian had suffered much from over-exertion, want of sleep, and mental anxiety within the last few days." A Captain Holland heard Lo asking people not to step so close to him while treating others around him. "When Armistead died about 9 am July 5th, after intense suffering, Brinton was astonished to learn of it." He felt Armistead had died due to secondary fever and prostration.

Anybody know what's said regarding Lo in that new book about the medical histories of Confederate generals?

Personally, Armistead's apparent loneliness always struck me. He was in the ground four weeks until a Philadelphia doctor thought he'd get a good fee after embalming the remains. It's a struggle to find his grave in Baltimore and he really has no memorial to speak of. Talk about anti-climax! Obviously, your worldly existence has no link to the stone plopped over your grave, but I was similarly surprise by several other notables. Photographer Brady, George Meade, and Dan Sickles, to mention but a few, have miss-if-you-blink markers.

If you'll permit a less-than-military simile, I think Armistead was "batting clean-up" in the charge and, for that matter, in division organization, too. Pickett was not with his brigade leaders when they had their battlefield consultations, and Lo was pretty much the old, steady regular behind the honor-smitten and, on July 3, the shot-riddled. And he was too much of an old soldier to have wondered about his support and whether he should have pressed on.

Subject: Armistead's Death

I beleive after his wounding during Pickett's Charge Armistead was ready to depart the living.

Armistead was a widower (I beleive) and appeared to be a 19th century romantic. In my readings of 19th century life, religion played an important part of every day life and happenings were the result of God's will. Lewis knowing the danger of leading his men and the results of the 1st and 2nd day battles, knew his chances were slim. Hence, giving Longstreet his bible to give to Elmira Hancock.

The medical factors stated by Terry King and his 19th century state of mind lead to Armistead's lack of will to survive and he was ready to die.

Armistead was hit near one of Cushing's 3" ord. rifles and I doubt if he could have been rescued by his own men. Many northern reinforcements were at the area where he fell. (it was not Tom Chamberlian who found him as themovie would show) In closing, Armistead was in a battle leading his troops into hellish gunfire. If we have an actuary in the group, what were his odds?

From: (Tom Yagloski)
Subject: Re: Armistead's Death

I am much in agreement with Terry King's essay, especially:

>Secondary fever would strongly suggest that an infection had been introduced.

>Already fatigued before he took his first step, anxious about his men and the outcome of their endeavor, General Armistead was highly vulnerable to heat exhaustion.

Septic shock (infection) and heat exhaustion/heat stroke are both highly mortal conditions, and if not treated promptly, will lead to death. If, infact, Armistead was septic, his death warrant was already signedas no antibiotics were in use during the Civil War. And besides the obvious rehydration necessary to combat heat related injuries, loss of vitamins and electrolytes through blood loss and dehydration will only complicate an already grave condition.

>2. What is the relationship between Armistead's Charge and his position inline?

Being in the reserve position behind Garnett's and Kemper's brigades,Armisteads men would be shielded by the forward troops during most of the advance. This is what allowed him and approx. 100 of his men to cross over the wall at The Angle.

Concerning another question Bryan Meyer poses: >3. Couldn't Armistead have been rescued after he was wounded?

One can only imagine the chaos in the area of The Angle in the end stagesof Pickett's Charge. Any Rebel soldier who had made it over the wall in the area of the Copse of Tree's north to the Bryan farm , if not engaged or killed immediately, were pinned down in such a way that retreat or advance were impossible. Once the Confederates had made it "over the top", their manpower resourses were a shambles. If the wounded could not save themselves,there were no opportunities for rescue.

And, if Wayne Motts in his book, "Trust in God and Fear Nothing: Gen Lewis A. Armistead, CSA", was correct in his portrayal of Armistead as a tyrant and strict disciplinarian...the type of man that the troops hated,perhaps those Southerners who witnessed his fall felt that he had it coming and just let him be.

From: Bryan Meyer
Subject: Re: Lo's Demise

Excerpts from mail: 13-Jun-95 Lo's Demise by Benedict R Maryniak@ns.m If you'll permit a less-than-military simile, I think Armistead was "batting clean-up" in the charge and, for that matter, in division organization, too. Pickett was not with his brigade leaderswhen they had their battlefield consultations, and Lo was pretty much the old, steady regular behind the honor-smitten and, on July 3, the shot-riddled. And he was too much of an old soldier to have wondered about his support and > whether he should have pressed on.

Although what I am about to say may bring a lot of argument, I think that Pickett and Armistead should have actually been reversed, in terms of rank. Armistead was a very capable leader, and he demonstrated his character in the Mexican War. Pickett was a very capable officer as well, but procrastinated on a lot of decisions. The fun that he had all the time may have blurred his impression or interpretation of the degree of the situation at hand. Armistead was a regular, and knew what he had to do. I suppose he would have been the one to take over for Pickett had he been hurt at Gettysburg. The fact that Armistead was old and alone, I think, played a great factor in his determination to continue to try and break the Union line on July 3rd. Garnett had tried to reach the wall in a last ditch effort, but was mowed down by that shot of canister(?) fire. As for Kemper....I have no idea where he was at. I think that he and Garnett were getting very tense and worried when they were getting flanked and were in a serious predicament, and once again, depended on Lo to sacrifice himself to try and win. However, Garnett gave a good attempt, and I think that on that day, he proved Lt. Gen. Stonewall Jackson wrong about his cowardice.

So, in essence, the only true hero on the battlefield was Armistead. To be honest, I'm not sure, probably neither is anyone else, what was going through his mind in the beginning moments of what I refer to as "Armistead's Charge." Was it service, honor, trying to get himself promoted, or was it just a quick-second decision?

I'm not trying to take away from Garnett's, Kemper's, and Pickett's honor and service, but I think, that Armistead, had he been in command of the division that day, would have done a much more adequate job than Pickett.

From: Robert lawrence)
Subject: Re: Lo's Demise

(See below for reply to Bryan Meyer from Robert Lawrence)

(Bryan wrote...)
>Although what I am about to say may bring a lot of argument, I think >that Pickett and Armistead should have actually been reversed, in terms of rank. ... >I'm not trying to take away from Garnett's, Kemper's, and Pickett's honor and service, but I >think, that Armistead, had he been in command >of the division >that day, would have done a much more adequate job than Pickett.

(Bob replied...)
I don't think you can fault Pickets handling of the assault. What should Armistead possibly have done that Picket did not? We are not talking about a complicated military maneuver here-I think the results would have been the same regardless of who "led" the assault.

From: Norman Levitt
Subject: Armistead (fwd)

Just a few points:

1) Armistead could have died from any number of things: septicimea, unreported internal injuries, or a heart attack for all we know. There's no reason to make up sentimental stories about a broken heart.

2) One grants that he was a thouroughly brave man. So were most of the officers on either side who made it to brigadier's rank. A brigadier "led from in front" by the doctrine of the day, and even the hint of skulking by a commander rendered his authority questionable. Look at what happened to Iverson, for instance. It takes nothing away from Armistead's personal courage to note that, in the context of G'burg or the war as a whole, there was nothing exceptional about it. So the interesting question is social: why were there so many men, north and south, capable of this kind of behavior? Would contemporary society produce them in comparable numbers if there were a comparable emergency?

3) Armistead did a prety good job, technically, with a hopeless assignment. So did George Pickett. He got his troops across 3/4 of amile of uneven, open country in reasonably good order and alignment, which is what he was supposed to do. Nothing he could have done on God's Green Earth could have protected them from Federal musketry and cannister once they reached the Emmitsburg Road. If there was a major floor in the execution of the assault, it was the delay in starting Wilcox and Lane forward on Pickett's right. Just how that failure occured, I don't know. I doubt good timing would have resulted in a Confederate breakthrough, but it might have prevented the outright rout that occurred, especially in the sense that Stannard's flanking move would have been difficult.

4) The fact that the Federal line was breached at the angle probably has something to do with the fact that the position was a vulnerable salient. I would assume that the 71st Pa. was probably taking fire from the flank and rear from Pettigrew's troops--and maybe "friendly" fire aimed at Pettigrew by Federal troops on the line north of the angle. That's the sort of thing that makes a line break in confusion. If this is so, then the crossing of the wall, taking nothing away from Armistead, is not such a spectacular military feat.

5) For the Federals, leaving this odd kink in the line was probably a mistake. If they had enough shovels and fresh pioneer units, they might very well havae moved the whole damn stone wall back too straighten their lines. Likewise, they might have taken down the famous "copse of trees" to clear lines of fire and to get rid of an obstruction within their lines.

6) Whatever the truth of the last speculations, the fact is that crossing the wall by Armistead and a few hundred men (whose?--will we ever know) was not so much a "high water mark" as it was a suicidal move into a hopeless position, taking fire from three sides. If Armistead could have had a bird's-eye view of the situation, including the thousands of Federal reserves about to move into position, and the dearth of support coming up from his rear, I doubt he'd have been so eager to "give 'em the cold steel". No that he was responsible for throwing away his men's lives foolishly-- in the fog of battle, he had no way of knowing what the dispositions were. But it's sentimentality to look on the move as some kind of moral triumph for Confederate arms. It was an objectively stupid thing to do resulting from anobjectively stupid overall plan-- Lee's.

7) The fact that Armistead's crossing of the wall is a central image in the myth of the War is, I think, one of the distortions that result from the Lost Cause mythology, with its if only..." cast of mind. G'burg was settled, from a strategic point of view, on July 2, or, at the latest, by the Culp's Hill fighting early July 3. If Armistead and Co. had got 50 yards further, they would have died 50 yards further--that's about it. Again, without wanting to disparage the bravery of Armistead and the men who crossed the wall with him, there were thousands of actions in the CW just as brave, by both sides of course, and, as has been said, there was nothing particularly important, in a military sense, in Armistead's feat, per se.

8) Overall, I think there's a larger point here. At the end of the 20th century, we don't need any more sentimentality about the CW, ifwe ever needed it. We need to see those who fought it for what theywere--some exceedingly brave, some skulkers, most scared as hell but trying to do their job. We don't need to make a saint of a limited if admirable man, whether it's Armistead, Chamberlain, or Lee.

9) One final point: Armistead's supposed "recantation". We'll never know the truth of this, just as we'll never know just what killed him. On balance, my view is that there's a small kernel of truth to the tale, which probably got blown out of proportion by patriotic Federals. But, in any case, even if it's true, I don't think latter-day "Southrons" need feel humiliated or bitter. I suppose there were quite a few brave Confederates who swallowed grave misgivings about the wisdom of the war out of loyalty to family, neighbors, and caste. It was, after all, not a very wise war, and it served an indefensible purpose. If Armistead was bitter and sorrowful at the very end, there were probably others as well. He'd certainly earned the right to his feelings, whatever they were.

From: Dennis
Hello, Everyone.

I offer a few items on Armistead without editorial comment - for a change :-)

The first concerns the supposed dying apology by Armistead. It is a letter from Henry Bingham, aide to General Hancock.

The letter can be found in V. I of the Bachelder papers, page 350.

January 5, 1869 My Dear General, (Hancock)

I think I found you in about fifteen minutes after I got Armistead's messages and effects. When I found you, you were on the ground wounded. ... I did not give you the message on the field, but gave it to you at the Hospital in the woods where you were lying in the ambulance...

I met Armistead just under the crest of the hill, being carried to the rear by several privates. I ordered them back, but they replied that they had an important prisoner and they designated him as General Longstreet... I dismounted my horse and inquired of the prisoner his name he replied General Armistead of the Confederate Army. Observing that his suffering was very great I said to him, General, I am Captain Bingham of GeneralHancock's staff, and if you have anything valuable in your possession which you desire taken care of, I will take care of it for you. He then asked me if it was General Winfield S. Hancock and upon my replying in the affirmative, he informed me that you were an old an valued friend of his and he desired for me to say to you

"Tell General Hancock for me that I have done him and done you all an injury which I shall regret or repent (I forget the exact word) the longest day I live." I then obtained his spurs, watch chain, seal and pocketbok. I told the men to take him to the rear to one of the hospitals.

The next is an account of Armistead's fall. It is from Rollin's _Pickett's Charge_, p. 177. The writer is Sergeant D. B. Easley of the 14th Virginia.

As the 14th Va. approaches the wall.... I struck the stone fence in a battery of brass pieces (probably the guns Cushing pushed to the wall). I mounted the fence and got one glance up and down the line, while General Armistead mounted it just to my left, with only a brass cannon between us.

I forgot my company and stepped off the fence with him. We went to the second line of artillery (probably the rest of Cushing's batery) and just before reaching those guns a squad of twenty-five to fifty yankees (probably 71st Pa.) around a stand of colours to our left fired a volley back at Armistead and hefell forward, his sword and hat on the ground... General Armistead did not speak while I fired several shots practically over his body; so I thought he had been killed instantly and didnot speak to him. I have since learned that he lived till the next day.

I am not claiming any credit for being there, and acknowledge that I was out of place, for General Armistead was killed on the left of the 14th (Va) in a space between it and the 57th (Va.)... The squad that killed Armistead was just about where the monument of the 71st Penn. is located.


From Alfred J. Rider October 2d, 1885
Musician 107th Ohio
On burial detail at George Spangler Farm
page 1127 V II Bachelder

I buried Gen. Armistead and his body was afterwardsdisintered and embalmed by Dr. Chamberlain of Philadelphia.

The 15 cent History of the battle says he is burried (sic) near the spot where he fell. That is something which I never heard before, for Dr. Chamberlain told me that he thought Armistead's friends would pay a good price for his body hence after it had lain in the rough box in the Confederate part of the 11th corps cemetery on theSpangle farm four weeks after he embalmed it. I always thought that his friends had gotten it, or that Mrs. Robert E. Lee had taken it with the rest of the Confederates to Richmond."

From: (Brendan O'Neill)
Subject: Re: Armistead (fwd)

I have no recorded evidence for this, but IMHO, I believe that Armistead may have been "dying" as he was wounded. I have experienced heat stroke. If not for modern medical technique, I may not be here to be posting this. Armistead had just quick marched over 3/4 of a mile in not only high temperature, but in good old Pennsylvanis summer humidity. Add his clothing, which would act like tin foil around a potato in the oven, and his body temerature must have been driven up above 100. Then, there is the natural physical reactions to stress, physical exertion and fear, ie. increased heart beat and a rise in body temperature. At his age (and he was not younge), under those conditions, Armistead was a massive heart attack or stroke waiting to happen. Add in the blood loss and trauma of ANY gunshot wound, and his tme was definitely short. The loss of blood in any quantity would force his heart to work harder in an already stressful situation. If he had been removed quickly to a cool envirionment, given lots of fluids, and his body temperature was brought down quickly, Armistead might have lived long enough to die of scepticemia. As it was, he was lucky not to die within hours of his wounding.

I have little info on Armistead's personal character. I know the storieas about him and Hancock. I also know from following the chain of command in the Army of Northern Virginia and Jackson's Valley Campaign that Armistead was not the grizzled eteran of the cause that he is often protrayed as. He was owever a capable brigade commander. He lead through personal courage, willingness to follow orders (even when the orders probably will mean the deaths of many of his men in order to in), and experience. His experiences may not have equaled some of the more veteran brigade commanders, but he had seen eough combat to read a situation and move his men according to rders and take a position if properly supported.

As for the sentimental treatment that the Civil War often gets, it is only deserved. The American Civil War is the defining moment of American history. It represents a microcosa of Victorian American culture. It is impossible to look at the conduct of thes individuals who fought in the war without looking at what they were motivated by, and what price they payed to fight for their beliefs. Simply studying dates, troop movements and numbers is not learning history or being a responsible student of history. To be a responsible student of history you have to look at ALL of the facets of the period. Many of those stories are tinged with sentiment. That is simply part of the territory. Besides, sentimentality can often be a strong force in attracting students to a subject. The more people who study a subject, the more informed individuals that it all creates, far outways the cost of having to read or hear about the sentimentality of the time, and that the stories of the figures are treated with.

Subject: Gen. Armisted's Death

It is fascinating to suppose, but in doing so I'll try to establish validity to the supposition.

General Armisted was 46 years old when mortally wounded on July 3, 1863. By today's standards, this is not very old. But by today's standards, most men of this age take advantage of kowing their state of health by regular check-ups and following the advice of their family doctor or specialist. These check-ups afford us knowledge of 'silent killers' like high blood pressure, diabetes, and other ailments that are certain to go unnoticed if not diagnosed by modern medicine. We then take the advice of our doctor, and our diet is changed and our activities monitored.

In the case of GeneralLewArmisted, he may have been harboring one of the above mentioned maladys and the heat and excitment of that third day in July would have put him in dire straits even if he had completed the charge untouched by any bullets. The fact that the two wounds were diagnosed as not mortal by the field surgeons of the 11th Corps leaves much to consider. The leg wound would have been obvious to even an unskilled surgeon as not mortal by observing the bleeding.

I tend to think the wound to the breast would have been the more serious because the bleeding could have very possibly been more internal. I've read that the wound was treated and the bullet located and extracted (sorry, I can't remember the reference), however the uniform of a General Officer in the Confederacy was adorned wth superfluous buttons and ornamental guilding. It is possible that a slow moving musket bullet took an unidentified piece of uniform adornment with it as an added projectile causing more harm than the field surgeons noted. A button fragment, for instance, could have imbedded on the lining near the lung, or possibly pierced the lung itself, causing it to collaspe or partially collapse. This may have accounted for the completely exhausted appearance as reported by witnesses.

Another account mentioned "gasps for breath". Of course a modern X-ray was not available then, however today, every gunshot wound treated in the hospital is required to include X-rays, that many times show additional bullet or projectile fragments. These possibilities coupled with the shock, that the general had to have experienced, the known failure of the charge, and the deaths and woundings of his comrades both North and South certainly diminished Armisted's desire to survive. Such speculation. I am not learned in medical practices and may be way off base. I am a reenactor and have mentally put myself in the place of General Armisted as he lay wounded near Cushing's Battery. I've traced his steps time and time again at Gettysburg and each time I recreate this scene my feelings are different except for one thing - the emotional and physical peak that must have occurred when the wall was breached and the urge to keep moving despite exhaustion pushed this man well beyond the normal limits of any man, 46 years old or not. My conclusion is simple, General Armisted went over the wall. The wall at the "Angle" and the wall confining his life, both at the same time. He could not retreat back over either.

Yur Humble
Obediot Servot,
Pvt. Jim Leaman
11th PA Vols -

From: Pat Ellington, M.D.
Subject: Re: Gen. Armisted's Death

>A wound to the Chest may cause hemorrhage, a collapsed lung, or both. If the >blood and/or air are not removed (as with a chest tube) the injured may die >of suffocation, or shock, or a combination. > >

Enjoyed your interesting letter.

From: "George F. Hutton"
(Subject: General Armisted and Captain Bingham

As I was surfing thru the Civil War sites on the Internet recently, I ran across your Discussion Group on Gettysburg. In reading thru some of the biographies of your members I ran across the bio of Bryan Meyer of Pittsburg, Pa. outlining his interest in various aspects of the Battle of Gettysburg. In his bio he states that his favorite monument is the one where Captain Henry Harrison Bingham assists General Lew Armisted after he was shot near the center of the line. This event is depicted in the cyclorama at Gettysburg.

Several years ago I acquired Captain Bingham's brass frame Henry rifle which had engraved on it's side the following:

Capt. H. H. Bingham
140th Penn. Volunteers

The rifle is in excellent condition and, having been interested in the Civil War for many years, I decided that I would look up whatever information I could on Captain Bingham. After many inquiries to the Archives of the United States, research in the Official Records (which I acquired as there was not a set available here in Hawaii) and reading all I could find about Hancock, on whose staff Captain Bingham served from 1862 until General Humphries relieved General Hancock as commander of the Second Corps in November, 1864, I realized that Captain Bingham had indeed a very remarkable career, both as a military man and a civilian.

Highlights of his career are as follows:

1. Entered Army as Ist Lt., 140th Pennsylvania Volunteers, in August, 1862
2. Made Captain and Major as the war progressed
3. Wounded three times: at Gettysburg (1863), at Spottsylvania (1864) and at Farmville, Va. (1865) which is close to Appomattox.
4. Won the Congressional Medal of Honor for "good conduct and conspicious gallantry, especially at the battle of the Wilderness and at Spottsylvania in 1864."
5. Was captured during the battle of Hatcher's Run but was able to escape the same night.
6. After General Humphries assumed command of the Second Corps, Captain (now Major), Bingham continued to serve on General Humphries's staff until the end of the war.
7. Was Brevetted Lt. Colonel, Colonel and Brigadier General for his gallantry in battle, the latter for his actions at the Battle of Spottsylvania in 1864.
8. After the war he again served under General Winfield Scott Hancock until discharged in July, 1866.
9. After being discharged he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives where he served the First Congressional District for 33 years until he died in 1912. He was known as the "Father of the House."

I have much more information on General Bingham and be glad to share it with anyone interested.

From: Michael Motts <>

. I just got a response from Wayne (MOtts) about one of the messages in your group. This was a thread about General Armistead and how he died. If my memory serves me well, I believe it was a doctor commenting about a possible collapsed lung from the fatal gunshot wounds. Wayne was concerned that this meant this person thought Armistead was shot in the chest. Armistead was shot twice, once in the arm and once in the leg, but not in the chest. Of course, in the movie it shows him being shot in the chest. Wayne's source is from a letter written by Armistead's surgeon Dr. Daniel Berinton. A copy of this letter can be found in Wayne's book "Trust in God and Fear Nothing".

Wayne also wanted me to pass on that he enjoyed the discussion very much.

From: Bryan R Meyer
Subject: Re: Armistead's death

Excerpts from mail: 7-Nov-95 Re: Armistead's death by

> > >you state Armistead was the type of man the troops hated.
> > >perhaps those southerners who witnessed his fall felt that he had
>>it coming and just let him be.

Although it is true that Armistead was a strong disciplanarian, why would his OWN troops leave him out there suffering on the battlefield? If they could of, they might have attempted his rescue. However, he was not wounded until after the peak of Pickett's Charge occurred. Therefore, it is safe to assume that either: a) Armistead's troops were few after the peak of the Charge or b) The troops did not know that Armistead was wounded behind the Union lines.

From: Tom Yagloski
Subject: Re: Armistead's death

To John Wayne,
On Nov.4, 1995, you wrote:

>>reply to T. Yagloski
> >you state Armistead was the type of man the troops hated.
> >perhaps those southerners who witnessed his fall felt that he had
>>it coming and just let him be.
>I cant agree with this at all. Where did this evidence come from? >
Was it >documented from soldiers diaries? Did anyone overhear anyone say
>it?Could >this be fabricated information,to shock us.

I know you went through the trouble of examining past archives, and perhaps your eyes were a little bleary at the time, but you portray my quote out of context. Here is the complete paragraph that you took a part of a sentence from...

"And, if Wayne Motts in his book, "Trust in God and Fear Nothing: Gen. Lewis A. Armistead, CSA", was correct in his portrayal of Armistead as a tyrant and strict disciplinarian...the type of man that the troops hated, perhaps those Southerners who witnessed his fall felt that he had it coming and just let him be."

As you can see, I was drawing my suggestions from a recent booklet by Wayne Motts, a licensed battlefield guide and staff historian to Dale Gallon. I've had the pleasure to meet Wayne on past occasions, he is extremely knowledgable, and his reputation as a historian has yet to be called into question (at least in this forum.)

The other parts of your recent post are true and obvious. The points I mentioned were mainly brought up as a "what-if?" type of thing.


Subject: Did Armistead and Hancock Meet?

Does anyone know whether Armistead and Hancock were brought together after the battle? I believe that Armistead lived for a couple days after he was wounded. You would think these two would've requested to see each other and it would've been a poignant meeting indeed.

Jeff pike

From: (Alexander Cameron)
Subject: Did Armistead and Handcock Meet?

They did not meet. Here is what Glenn Tucker, a Hancock biographer, wrote in HIGH TIDE AT GETTYSBURG, "The account that Armistead, while lying on the round wounded, made the call of the widow's son, a fraternal appeal for help, and then sent to his old army friend such words as "Tell Hancock I wronged him and wronged my country" (Stine, 531) is so far out of character and inconsistent with what he was telling his men a few minutes earlier, that it would be questioned and probably discarded as apocryphal even if the circumstances under which the story originated were less doubtful. Armistead fell in the midst of a group of five Federal soldiers, only one of whom, Private Wildemore of the 71st Pennsylvania, claimed to have caught words spoken in a whisper by Armistead, asking help and as Wildemore repeated the words to his comrades, that "he is the son of a widow," Wildermore was wounded almost at once and the others, understanding the fraternal implications of the call, carried Armistead back, where he died. The story frequently given, that he met death penitently and apologetically, implying that he performed a mental flipflop in favor of those who had just filled his body with lead, and pitifully called for help, is difficult to accept on the available evidence of whispered words heard by only one of five men. Armisteads do not die that way."

The Masonic aspect of this issue makes it quite emotional and I watched a real "dog fight" ensue on CompuServe a couple of years ago. Tucker also spends a lot of time in HANCOCK THE SUPERP discussing the "Tell Hancock I have wronged him and have wronged my country" issue on pp. 160-163.


From: (Benedict R Maryniak)
Subject: Aloha, Lo and Winnie

Glen Tucker was really riding the sentimental express when he wrote about Armistead. In one spot, he actually says that Armistead went down in a hail of bullets! He was hit twice - "a wound in the fleshy part of the arm and the other a little below the knee on the other side." The Harrison-Busey book "Nothing But Glory" says Armistead died about 9 AM on July 5. The Bachelder papers have a letter by Hancock aide Henry Bingham that describes his encounter with Armistead. Lo said "Tell Gen Hancock for me that I have done him and done you all an injury which I shall regret or repent (Bingham forgot the exact word) the longest day I live." Lo then had Bingham take his spurs, watch, chain, seal & pocketbook to give to Hancock. Bingham found Hancock nearby but already wounded and he didn't deliver any of Armistead's message at that time. Winnie was busy writing to Meade, and then he was carried away. There's no indication Lo and Winnie met. Alexander Hays probably stood on Armistead's windpipe when no one was looking.

Ben Maryniak

From: (Alexander Cameron)
Subject: Aloha, Lo and Winnie

Ben wrote:
>Glen Tucker was really riding the sentimental express when he wrote about >Armistead.

Yup, you are quite right. Ole Glenn rode the "sentimental express" quite a bit, especially when he wrote about Longstreet. I admit that the Tucker material does not hold up as well as the modern stuff, however, I still enjoy reading it and recommend it to folks who are just getting interested in Gettysburg because of the color. The material I qouted came from a note in HIGH TIDE. The pages I mentioned in HANCOCK THE SUPERP do deal with the Bingham issue extensively. I just didn't bother to type it all up. The Bingham to Hancock, January 5th, 1869, letter is also in the Hancock Papers and Tucker used it. Both of his books covering this subject were written prior to the "rediscovery" of the Bachelder papers but a lot of that material was and is available elsewhere.

Trivia question Ben, what killed Hancock?


From: (Benedict R Maryniak)
Subject: make mine whiskey and ether, straight up

Bill -

"A Soldier's Life" by Jordan said Hancock's demise was brought on by an abscess on his neck that turned into a boil that turned into a carbuncle that turned into another head. Then it was found he was an untreated diabetic. To counteract this turn of events, the post doctor on Governor's Island gave Winnie injections of brandy & ether and whiskey & ether.


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