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February 18, 1817 - Brig. Gen. Lewis Armistead (right) is born in New Bern, NC.  From a military family that included the defender of Fort McHenry, Armistead entered West Point in 1833.  Forced to resign due to academic and behavioral issues, his father was able to secure him a second lieutenant's commission in 1839.  After seeing service during the Second Seminole War, Armistead distinguished himself in the Mexican-American War and earned two brevet promotions for bravery.  Serving in California in the years before the Civil War, he became good friends with Capt. Winfield S. Hancock.  With the beginning of hostilities in 1861, Armistead resigned from the US Army and became commander of the 57th Virginia Infantry.  Promoted to brigadier general on April 1, 1862, he led his brigade at Seven Pines, Malvern Hill, Second Manassas, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.  After taking part in Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's Suffolk Campaign in the spring of 1863, Armistead and his men marched north in June as Gen. Robert E. Lee invaded Pennsylvania.  One of the last formations to arrive on the field during the Battle of Gettysburg, his brigade was part of Maj. Gen. George Pickett's division which was selected for a frontal assault against the Union center on July 3.  Attacking that afternoon as part of "Pickett's Charge," Armistead succeeded in breaching the Union line but fell wounded and the assault collapsed.  Taken to a Union field hospital, he died on July 5.  Ironically, the section of the Union line he attacked was led by his old friend Hancock - who was also wounded in the fighting.     

Confederate Leaders - Army of Northern Virginia:

Photograph Source: Public Domain


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