Lewis Addison Armistead (1817-1863)
Lewis Addison Armistead (February 18, 1817 - July 5, 1863) was a Confederate brigadier general in the American Civil War.
Lewis 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 Upperville, Virginia, son of Walker Keith Armistead. He attended the U.S. Military Academy, but was expelled following an incident in which he broke a plate over the head of fellow cadet Jubal Early. He nevertheless managed to be commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry in 1839, at roughly the time his classmates graduated. He served in the Mexican War, was wounded at Chapultepec, and was brevetted two times for bravery.
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 him dead."
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 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. For Antietam, he served as Lee's provost marshall, a frustrating job due to the high levels of desertion that plagued the army in that campaign. He was with James Longstreet's corps near Norfolk, Virginia, in the spring of 1863, so missed the Battle of Chancellorsville.
In the Battle of Gettysburg, Armistead's brigade arrived the evening of July 2, 1863, in the division of Maj. Gen. George Pickett. He was mortally wounded the next day while leading his brigade towards the center of the Union line in Pickett's Charge. His brigade, led from the front by Armistead, waving his hat from the tip of his sword, 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 Tide of the Confederacy, but it was quickly overwhelmed by a Union counterattack. Armistead was shot three times just after crossing the wall. He was informed by a Union officer that his old friend, Hancock, had been commanding this part of the defensive line, but that he, too, had just been wounded. This poignant scene has been immortalized in Michael Shaara's novel, The Killer Angels, in which Armistead is a principal character. Armistead died two days later in a Union field hospital.
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.