Lewis A. Armistead
February 18, 1817(1817-02-18) – July 5, 1863 (aged 46)
Lewis A. Armistead
Nickname Lo (short for Lothario)
Place of birth New Bern, North Carolina
Place of death Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Resting place Baltimore, Maryland
Allegiance United States of America, Confederate States of America
Years of service 1839–61 (USA)
1861–63 (CSA)
Rank Captain (USA)
Brigadier General (CSA)
Battles/wars Mexican-American War

American Civil War

Lewis Addison Armistead (February 18, 1817 – July 5, 1863) was a Confederate brigadier general in the American Civil War, mortally wounded in Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Early lifeEdit

Lewis A. Armistead, known to friends as "Lo" (for Lothario, which was an ironic joke because he was a shy man and a widower, not a ladies' man), was born in the home of his great-grandfather, John Wright Stanly, in New Bern, North Carolina, son of Walker Keith Armistead and Elizabeth Stanly Armistead. Armistead's grandfather, John Stanly was a U.S. Congressman and his uncle Edward Stanly served as military governor of eastern North Carolina during the Civil War. Walker Armistead and his five brothers served during the War of 1812 and one of them, Major George Armistead, was the commander of Fort McHenry during the British attack that inspired the words to the Star Spangled Banner. Lewis attended the United States Military Academy, but was expelled following an incident in which he broke a plate over the head of fellow cadet Jubal Early. He was also having academic difficulties, however, particularly in French (a subject of difficulty for many West Point cadets of that era), and some historians cite academic failure as his true reason for leaving the academy.[1] His influential father managed to obtain for his son a second lieutenant's commission in the 6th U.S. Infantry on July 10, 1839, at roughly the time his classmates graduated. He was promoted to first lieutenant on March 30, 1844. Serving in the Mexican-American War, he was brevetted to captain for Contreras and Churubusco, wounded at Chapultepec, and was appointed a brevet major for Molino del Rey and Chapultepec. He was promoted to captain on March 3, 1855.[2]

Armistead was friends with Winfield Scott Hancock, serving with him as a quartermaster in Los Angeles, California, before the Civil War. Accounts say that in a farewell party before leaving to join the Confederate army, Armistead told Hancock that if he should ever lift a hand against Hancock in battle, "May God strike me dead."[citation needed]

Armistead was married twice. His first marriage was to Cecelia Lee Love, a distant cousin of Robert E. Lee in 1844. They had two children: Walker Keith Armistead and Flora Lee Armistead. Cecelia died in 1850 and Armistead married the widow Cornelia Taliaferro Jamison in 1852. They had one child, Lewis B. Armistead. Cornelia died in 1855.[3]

Civil WarEdit

File:Armistead's last stand.png

When the war started, Armistead traveled east and received a commission as a major, but was quickly promoted to colonel of the 57th Virginia Infantry regiment. He served in the western part of Virginia, but soon returned to the east and General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. He fought as a brigade commander under Lee at Seven Pines, the Seven Days Battles (where he was chosen to spearhead the bloody, senseless assault on Malvern Hill), and Second Bull Run. At Antietam, he served as Lee's provost marshal, a frustrating job due to the high levels of desertion that plagued the army in that campaign. Then he was under command in the division of Maj. Gen. George Pickett at Fredericksburg. Because he was with James Longstreet's First Corps near Norfolk, Virginia, in the spring of 1863, he missed the Battle of Chancellorsville.

File:Gettysburg Mason Memorial.jpg

In the Battle of Gettysburg, Armistead's brigade arrived the evening of July 2, 1863. Armistead was mortally wounded the next day while leading his brigade towards the center of the Union line in Pickett's Charge. Armistead led his brigade from the front, waving his hat from the tip of his saber, and reached the stone wall at the "Angle", which served as the charge's objective. The brigade got farther in the charge than any other, an event sometimes known as the High Water Mark of the Confederacy, but it was quickly overwhelmed by a Union counterattack. Armistead was shot three times just after crossing the wall. His wounds were not believed to be mortal, being shot in the fleshy part of the arm and below the knee, and according to the surgeon that tended him, none of the wounds caused bone, artery, or nerve damage.[4] When he went down he gave a Masonic sign asking for assistance.[5] A fellow Mason, Captain Henry H. Bingham, a Union officer and later a higher officer and then a very influential Congressman, came to Armistead's assistance and offered to help. Bingham informed Armistead that his old friend, Hancock, had been commanding this part of the defensive line, but that Hancock, too, had just been wounded. This scene is featured in Michael Shaara's novel, The Killer Angels, in which Armistead is a principal character. He was then taken to a Union field hospital at the Spangler Farm where he died two days later. Armistead's biographer, Wayne Motts, believes that Armistead died most likely from a pulmonary embolism, while others have argued that it was a combination of septic shock and heat exhaustion or heat stroke.[4][6]

Lewis Armistead is buried next to his uncle, Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead, commander of the garrison of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, at the Old Saint Paul's Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.

In popular mediaEdit

In Gettysburg, the film version of Shaara's novel The Killer Angels, Armistead was portrayed by actor Richard Jordan who, like Armistead, died shortly thereafter. In the film, the meeting between Armistead and Bingham at the High Water Mark was altered with Lt. Thomas Chamberlain (portrayed by C. Thomas Howell), brother of Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, taking Bingham's place.

Actor John Prosky depicted Armistead for a special appearance in Gods and Generals, accompanying Pickett at Fredericksburg.

Armistead is a character in the alternate history novel Gettysburg by Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen.


  1. Johnson, p. 78.
  2. Eicher, p. 107.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Armistead's Death, article at Gettysburg Discussion Group by Bryan Meyer.
  5. Bessel, p. 1263.
  6. Gettysburg Times article, July 4, 2008.


External linksEdit

da:Lewis Addison Armistead

de:Lewis Addison Armistead ja:ルイス・アーミステッド ru:Армистед, Льюис fi:Lewis Addison Armistead sv:Lewis Addison Armistead