1817 - 1863
Lewis Addison Armistead, Confederate Civil War general whose run of bad luck before and during the war was legend, died from battle wounds on July 5, 1863. He was 46.
Armistead was born February 18, 1817 in New Bern, North Carolina. He attended West Point, but resigned his appointment for the second time in 1836 for hitting fellow classmate Jubal Early over the head with a mess hall plate.
Despite his less than honorable discharge from West Point, Armistead did get an officerís commission in 1839 to fight in the Seminole Wars in Florida. It is reported that Armisteadís connections (his father was a general and his uncle a U.S. Congressman) helped secure the commission.
Finishing out his tour of duty in Florida, Armisteadís next assignment was in St. Louis in 1842. Two years later he married Cecilia Lee Love. They had two children, a son and a daughter.
Armistead saw action in the Mexican War where he was given a battlefield promotion to major.
In 1849 he was ordered to Kentucky to serve recruiting duty. It was here his incredible string of bad luck began. He was diagnosed with a degenerative tissue disease. The offending skin was removed, and he recovered.
But in 1850, the Armisteadsí baby girl died. Later that year, Mrs. Armistead died. Armistead remarried in 1853 to Cornelia Jamesson. Their infant son died in 1854, and in 1855 Cornelia died of cholera at Fort Riley, Kansas.
Meantime, the Armistead plantation in Virginia burned. Within a six-year period, Armistead had lost two children, two wives, and his parentís home in Virginia, not to mention Armisteadís skin disease which left him scarred.
The Civil War was looming, and in May 1861 Armistead resigned his U.S. commission to join the rebel army as a major.
He was soon promoted to Colonel in command of the 57th Virginia Infantry Regiment. In April 1862, he was appointed brigadier general in charge of a brigade of infantry.
Armisteadís high water mark and perhaps the Southís as well came at the Battle of Gettysburg. Armistead was in the lead elements of General George Pickettís 15,000-man infantry brigade which stormed Cemetery Ridge on the last day of the battle on July 3. Briefly holding the ridge, the badly decimated rebel force was forced to withdraw. Armistead was shot in the upper right arm and above the left knee. Reportedly not life threatening, Armistead nevertheless died of his wounds on July 5, 1863 at a Union field hospital near the battlefield.
Armistead was buried at the site, and later reburied by his uncle in Baltimoreís St. Paulís Cemetery.