State Served: Virginia
Highest Rank: Brig-Gen
Birth Date: 1817
Death Date: 1863
Birth Place: New Berne, North Carolina
Promotions: Promoted to Full Colonel (57th VA Inf)
Promoted to Full Brig-Gen
Biography: Brigadier-General Lewis Addison Armistead
Lewis Addison Armistead was born at New Bern, N. C., February 18, 1817, a son of Gen. Walker Keith Armistead, who, with four brothers, served in the war of 1812.
He was appointed a cadet in the United States military academy in 1834, and on July 10, 1839, he became second lieutenant in the Sixth United States infantry. In March, 1844, he was promoted first lieutenant, and in this rank entered the war with Mexico, in which he was distinguished, receiving the brevet rank of captain for gallantry at Contreras and Churubusco, and brevet major for his services at Molino del Rey.
He continued in the army until the beginning of the Confederate war, serving for some time against the Indians on the border, and being promoted captain in 1855.
He was given the rank of major, Confederate States army, to date from March 16, 1861, and later in the same year became colonel of the Fifty-seventh Virginia regiment, which he commanded in the neighborhood of Suffolk and in the defense of the Blackwater in the following winter.
April 1, 1862, he was promoted brigadier-general, and in this rank he was assigned to the command of a brigade in the division of Benjamin Huger. At Seven Pines, on the first day, he was distinguished for personal bravery, making a heroic stand with a small part of his men against an entire brigade of the enemy until reinforced by Pickett.
On June 25th, he was stationed about 5 miles from Richmond, between York River railroad and the Williamsburg road, where he was engaged in continual skirmishing until the advance to Malvern hill. In this latter battle he was ordered by General Lee to “charge with a yell” upon the enemy’s position, after the action of the artillery had been shown to be effective.
“After bringing on the action in the most gallant manner by repulsing an attack of a heavy body of the enemy’s skirmishers,” General Magruder reported, “he skillfully lent support to the contending troops” in front of his position.
After this campaign he was identified with the excellent record of R. H. Anderson’s and Pickett’s divisions, commanding a brigade consisting of the Ninth, Fourteenth, Thirty-eighth, Fifty-third and Fifty-seventh Virginia regiments. On September 6th, at the outset of the Maryland campaign, he was assigned to the duty of provost marshal general of the army, considered by General Lee at that juncture of the greatest importance, and in that capacity he brought up the rear of the army as it advanced.
He participated in operations of General McLaws against Harper’s Ferry, and after the retreat was left at Shepherdstown to guard the ford. He continued with Pickett’s division throughout its subsequent duty.
Reaching the battlefield of Gettysburg on the 3rd of July, he formed his men in the second line of assault against Cemetery hill.
“Conspicuous to all, 50 yards in advance of his brigade, waving his hat in the air, General Armistead led his men upon the enemy with a steady bearing which inspired all with enthusiasm and courage. Far in advance of all, he led the attack till he scaled the works of the enemy and fell wounded in their hands, but not until he had driven them from their position and seen his colors planted over their fortifications.”
This was the testimony of Colonel Aylett, who succeeded to the immediate command of the remnant of the brigade that was led into action.
General Lee wrote in his 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.”
Source: Confederate Military History, vol. IV, p. 576