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tv   The Civil War Former Friends - Union General Hancock Confederate General...  CSPAN  December 15, 2021 6:15pm-7:03pm EST

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>> our next speaker is tom mcmillan. he is a life-long student of history and civil war. up until this year, he had previously published two books. flight 93, the story, the aftermath, and the legacy of american courage on 9/11. and gettysburg rebels, five native sons who came home to fight as confederate soldiers. and that book actually won a literary award. we are pleased to announce today the unveiling of his newest
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release, which is armistead and hancock, behind the gettysburg legend of two friends at the turning point of the civil war. this will be the foundation for his presentation today. i will let you all know, this book is hot off the press. it is not officially released until july 15th, so you can get it here first now. so guaranteed first editions. in addition to tom's writing career, he has -- he served on the board of trustees with the pittsburgh heinz history center, and previously served on the board of directors of the friends of flight 93 national memorial. he resides in pittsburgh and recently retired two days ago? very recently retired from after a 43-year career in sports media and communication. without any further introduction, i would like to present to you tom mcmillan. >> second day of retirement,
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first ever standing room-only crowd. this is a big day for me. it's great. thanks to tammy and the heritage center. this is such a great place. my favorite little civil war book store in the country and great to be with a group of pretty distinguished speakers. including my friend jim who is going to give me battlefield tour tomorrow. pretty excited about that. to start, you can probably guess where this book is going a little bit. i want to start by saying, i love the movie gettysburg. it's what got me into studying the battle as an adult. it came out in 1993. i saw it in a theater in pittsburgh. i drove here three nights later and have had the illness ever since. i don't know about you, but i kind of dated backwards. i saw the movie before i read the novel it was based on. killer angels. which had won the pulitzer prize for fiction back in 1975. key words, folks, being fiction.
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it's based on a foundation of gettysburg history. there's a lot of fiction woven in, especially with the conversations. the novelist did it so well that you often can't separate the fact from the fiction. it really affects the way we look at these stories. there were so many great stories. the one that always stood out for me, though, was lewis armistead and winfield scott hancock. two brothers, have a teary eyed farewell in l.a. in 1861, and then two years later meet here in the most famous attack of the war, picket's charge, where armistead's men attack hancock's men and both fall wounded. i wanted to learn more about that. and there wasn't much out there. i wanted to read a book on armistead and hancock, and there wasn't one. that's why there is one now. i thought, okay, i'll go back.
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you folks may have gone through the same kind of things, as you're digging through the movie. i thought, okay, i'll read about lewis armistead. there has to be a lot written about the confederate general. 158 years and one book. it's 64 pages, done in 1994. now, it's done by wayne mottes who is now the ceo of the gettysburg foundation. you know it's well researched and well done, but that's really it. a few years ago, wayne and jim did a book on pickett's charge, but there's not much else in book form. there's a lot written about hancock. he's a hero of the battle. he lives for 20 years after the war, he runs for president in 1888. a lot of books until just a few years ago but most of them barely mention armistead, some don't mention him at all. what's going on here? as i started to do the research, i talked to some of my other friends who are serious students
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of the battle, and i said what do you know about armistead and hancock? almost to a person, what they knew was based on one scene in the movie, where armistead is having a very emotional conversation with james longstreet, and he's talking about the farewell in california back in '61. and he quotes himself. this is one of the great scenes of the movie. there we go. you want to get your powerpoint down right at the beginning. he says, win so help me, if i ever raise my hand against you, may god strike me dead. may god strike me dead. that's how close these guys were. lewis armistead is a hard nosed soldier. he couldn't bring himself to think about fighting against hancock even though they agreed to fight against each other in the civil war. but that's the movie version. there's only one person who was there who wrote about it, and there's hancock's wife almyra. she quotes armistead as using the phrase, may god strike me
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dead, but it's a slightly different context. she says that he said, i hope god will strike me dead if i'm ever induced to leave my native soil, should worst come to worst. and you show that to people, and they say that's not true, that can't be the story. that's not what i heard. that's not very compelling. she was there. so what happens? well, novelists and moviemakers are story tellers. they're enhancing their stories. they're making this impression on you. they use this as a tool. and on top of that, you have to convince the story sometimes. the movie is already four years. you can't have a 16-hour movie. it's part of the tool. and by the way, those conversations between armistead and longstreet, there's no evidence they ever happened. that's another tool of what we have. so moving on from there. did they go to west point together? no. the movie implies they came up
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together, but armistead is the older man by seven years. armistead through his time at west point serving in the u.s. army as a second lieutenant in a war in florida, the second seminole war, before winnie scott hancock even enrolled in west point. they meet later on the frontier. are there letters, personal letters between these two almost brothers? not exist. there are no letters from hancock that even mention armistead. i'm sorry, i'll do that. there are no letters from armistead to mention hancock. there are two letters from hancock that mention armistead, but they're after he's died and he's merely inquiring about the circumstances of armistead's wounding. what gives here? if you're researching a book on armistead and hancock and their friendship, you better figure out if they are friends. so i hope you conclude that i'm up here, i concluded they are friends. i am confident saying they were
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good friends. they were not almost brothers. they weren't even best friends in the modern sense in that they spent a lot of time away from each other, but they served together on the frontier. they served together in the mexican war. they built that bond as solars, and that bond continues for 19 years until pickett's charge. it's a very compelling and unique story, reflective of what the civil war did to the country. it's just not the same story you heard in the novel and the movie. so who were these guys. lewis armistead was from a very distinguished military family from virginia. armistead had been serving in the american military since the year 1680 when lewis' third grade grandfather was lieutenant colonel in virginia. they fought in all of the early american wars and lewis' father and three of his uncles were u.s. army officers and fought in the war of 1812. four brothers from the same family in the generation just ahead of his. let's look at them.
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captain lewis g.a. armistead. g.a. for gustavs adolphus. he's killed. he commands a rifle unit, killed in 1814. captain addison armistead commands coastal fortifications in south carolina. he dies of disease while on duty in 1813. lewis and addison. lewis and addison. what's our civil war guy's name? he's named after two guys who died. he's from military almost from the time he comes out of the womb, but the most famous uncle is the third, lieutenant colonel george armistead who was in the battle of baltimore when francis scott key wrote the national anthem, not only that, but george took the flag, the original star spangled banal, he took it off the flag pole and took it home. it remains in the possession of the armistead family for 90 years until george's grandson gave it to the smithsonian in
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the early 20th century. if you go tomorrow to the national museum of history and you see the thin wisp of a flag, that came directly out of the armistead family. one of the most iconic pieces of early american history. george dies a few years after the war, 1818, probably of a heart attack. so the oldest, longest living, and highest ranking of the brothers is lewis' father, walker keith armistead. not well known today. third man ever to graduate from west point in 1818, when lewis is 1 year old. walker is named chief engineer of the u.s. army. in 1828 when lewis is 11, walker is named brigadier general. it's no coincidence that lewis armistead is a soldier. it's no coincidence that his three younger brothers were confederate soldiers. it's no coincidence that his son also named walker keith was a confederate soldier and on his staff here at gettysburg as a teenager, and eyewitness to
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pickett's charge. military service was part of the armistead dna. lewis did try to follow his father's footsteps. he enrolled in west point. it's the most storied career of anyone who never graduated. three years on campus, never got out of the freshman class. it's hard to do. we have some college professors here. that's hard to do. he was sick a little bit. he obviously wasn't a good student, and he got in a fair mount of trouble. in his third year on campus when he was taking the same classes for the third time, and moved all the way up to the middle of the class rankings, there is an entry in the records in january of '36. captain armarmistead, cadet armistead is placed on arrest, limits his room. the details of what happened are long gone from west point. probably destroyed in a fire in the 19th century, but the story that made it through the confederate army is lewis brawled in the mess hall and hit
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another general over the head with a plate, which we laugh at today, but it was considered serious back then. lewis knows hear in trouble. he talks with his father. the best thing to do to avoid a court-martial is to resign. so lewis writes a letter of resignation. there's no guarantee it will be accepted, but the west point superintendent says we hope it will be accepted as a courtesy to brigadier general walker keith armistead, and it was in fact accepted. so lewis was not thrown out as you often read. he resigned. there's about a three-year gap in his life, but summer of 1839, he gets a commission as a civilian as a second lieutenant in the u.s. army. his last class at west point graduated july 1st, 1839. their commissions date to that day. lewis' commission dates july 10th. all those shenanigans not even on campus the last three years, he loses nine days in rank. it's good to know people in high
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places. so off he goes to the war zone. he's down in florida almost immediately. second or third day there, he's in hot combat with the indians. not long into his tenure, the u.s. army makes a change in its command structure. the new commander of all u.s. troops in the florida theater is, you guessed it, brigadier general walker keith armistead, and armistead is added as an aide, and his experience changes dramatically, but he gets an up close and personal view of how a general runs an army. in the early 1840s, he's sent to the frontier to what is now oklahoma, and that's where he meets a young man named winfield scott hancock. what's hancock's background? he doesn't have the military pedigree of the armisteads, obviously, but his father benjamin has a thing for historic names. that would be benjamin franklin hancock. they have twin boys.
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they name one winfield scott, they name the other hillary baker. they're from southeastern p.a., he had been mayor of philadelphia, he had been in the revolution. six years later, they have a third son. they name him simply john. john hancock. and john hancock is with his brother win field here at gettysburg. both have family members at the battle. now, hancock is an impressive young man growing up in norristown, p.a. at 16, he gets an appointment to west point. his father doesn't think it's a very good idea. he's young. 16 is the youngest age you can get in. but he's also small. we think of big strapping winfield scott hancock, big guy. you know how tall he was when he got to west point? 5'5". one of his classmates wrote they considered hancock a pet. winfield scott hancock was their pet. he hit a growth spurt, but he's small a fair amount of the time,
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and he gets picked on. boys being boys, he gets bullied. one of his larger classmates has to step in to fight one of the bullies. and that is alexander hayes. hayes beats up the bully. defends hancock's honor. hancock never forgets this. years later in the flowery language of the 19th century, he writes, when i was a boy, i once had a difficulty, and alexander hayes was the first to volunteer to assist me, and in, trathing me from my trouble, became in that difficulty himself. i never forgot his generous action. amazing connections between these guys. now, hancock's not a very good student either. unlike armistead, he does graduate, 18th out of 25 in the class of 1844. and when he graduates, he is sent to the frontier to ft. towson, and that's when in october of 1844, we have the first u.s. army record of armistead and hancock being
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together. they're in a group of 15 officers in this very remote post in the end of the country working together and developing their friendship. they served together for 16 months on the frontier. in 1845, they're transferred together to another remote oklahoma post, fort washita, where they're members of a six-member officer crew. only six officers and a chaplain. here's a record from november of 1845. can't see it very well, but six officers and the chaplain. armistead is listed third, hancock is listed sixth. it's also the only time we have a record of armistead and hancock being together that is not a u.s. army record. wayne found this, he discovered a letter at west point. i was able to get a copy of it and publish it in the book. maybe for the first time. it's a rather mundane letter that armistead writes to a fellow soldier. you can see his signature, but look who signs the ps. w. hancock.
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l.a. armistead, w. hancock. pretty cool piece of evidence of those guys being together. doesn't mean much. it just shows they were together. 1846, mexican war goes. these guys want to go. they end up fighting in the same unit, the sixth infantry. through his career, armistead was always noted for his bravery. a number of officers write about him being the first u.s. officer into the ditch in the final attack. they also served together in the post war occupation. between the time that the fighting ended and the peace treaty was signed, the u.s. army occupied mexico. armistead commanded a small company and his lieutenants were hancock and another young man arrived from west point, henry heath. heath gives us in his memoirs years later, third person confirmation when he says armistead, hancock, and i were mess mates and never was a mess happier than ours. these guys are hanging out years
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before the civil war. now, heath and hancock are about the same age. armistead is older. heath and hancock are single. armistead is married. during this period, heath and hancock are going out at night looking for night life, trying to meet girls. and heath loveatize because he said hancock is so good looking, he's a magnet for the young ladies. even heath gets to meet a few. hancock tells a young lady, i love you. the next night, a second one, i love you. next night, a third one, i love you. he says, hancock, how do you tell these different women you love them? hancock says, heath, we're still at war and all is fair in love and war. true story. heath's memoirs. they're transferred together after the war to jefferson barracks in st. louis. they do the same thing, they go out. heath is with him when hancock meets his future wife, almyra russell. you can make a case hancock is closer to heath than he is
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armistead. but the book isn't heath and hancock, it's armistead and hancock. what were their family lives like? winfield hancock to me had as stable a family life as you can have while being an army officer in the 19th century. he and almyra had two children. the family is almost always together. maybe some long marches he's by himself, but they're on post. they're in florida together, in california together. and they're married until 1886 when hancock dies. armistead by contrast has a very tragic personal life. between 1850 and 1855, he loses two wives and two of his three children to disease on the frontier. five years. what would that have done to you? he's already a hard-nosed guy, a hardened soldier, but he becomes sullen. it's understandable. so the armistead character you see portrayed in the movie gettysburg, that's probably not the way he was at that point. it's understandable. he was dealt a different deck of cards in life. now, in the 13-year period
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between the end of the mexican war and the beginning of the civil war, 1848 and 1861, these guys are almost never together. even when they're posted together, armistead seems to be off on detached service. there's one time when the entire sixth infantry gets together, makes a massive 1,000-mile march to the west coast. they're together there for a few month, but they get out west and they're split up again. armistead is sent to what is now arizona to deal with some mojave indians harassing settlers and hancock is sent to los angeles, california, population barely 4,000, where he's a quarter master. one of his jobs is to supply armistead's troops. in research, you can find a lot about these guys in the 19th century by looking at newspapers. it's hfpain-staking research. i have no patience. thankfully, my wife has a lot of patience. i'll say something like, what can you find? 20 minutes later, she'll say how
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about this. how about this? july 13th, 1859. an express arrived last night for major armistead in colorado, to captain hancock, kwaurment e master. on and on and on. a pretty cool piece of evidence of these guys, the bond continuing. they're hundreds of miles apart, but they're working together. i never before doing this research had seen or know anything like that. armistead does a good job against the mumumojaves and ear a leave of absence. he's home almost the entire year of 1860. he's even listed in the virginia census in the summer of 1860 as though he lived there. he reunites with his mother and his young son, walker keith, and he also connects with some of his friends back home, one of whom is the future confederate cavalier turner ashby, he lives nearby. ashby during this time had commanded a militia unit. they were called into the john
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brown raid. ashby and his men were there when brown was hanged. he's got a sense of what's going on in the country. ashby is telling this to armistead, and armistead has been away so long, he can't get his arms around it. he thinks ashby is being overly negative. he says, turner, do not talk so. let me sing you a song and wipe away your gloom. and with that, lewis armistead started to sing the star-spangled banner. and ashby, it was said, joined in. so there you have nine months before the civil war, these two future confederate officers singing the star-spangled banner. armistead has to get back to work. he gets back to his post late december 1860. he's in san diego, california, now. just 120 miles south of hancock. by the time he gets there, south carolina has seceded. other states are lining up. almyra hancock writes during this period, a lot of the southern born soldiers including armistead went to hancock for his advice. he's a well respected officer. he didn't have much advice for them. what he said was i can give you no advice as i shall not fight
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upon the principle of state rights but for the union whole and undivided. i cannot sympathize with you. you must be guided by your own convictions and i hope you will make no mistakes. this was an easy decision for winfield scott hancock. he was not an abolitionist, but he was 100% a union man. he was going to fight for the union. armistead has a tough decision. yes, he's a native southerner, yes, he comes from a long line of slave holders. yes, he grew up on a farm with 19 slaves his father owned. he believes in the southern cause. but his whole life and history and his family's history is tried up in the u.s. army and the star-spangled banner. with the loss of his wives and children, the armally has become his family. these are his brothers in arms. he does make that tough decision and he's going to fight for the confederacy. we have his reason in a letter that appears in his son's military service records in the national archives. armistead is writing a letter in
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december of 1861, trying to get his son a cadetship in the confederate army. the letter is in the book. i like to see their handwriting. but here's the key phrases. i have been a soldier all my life. i was an officer in the army of the u.s., which service i left to fight for my own country and for and with my own people and because they were right and oppressed. for my own country and for and with my own people. that's why lewis armistead fought for the confederacy. which leads us to the famous farewell get together in california. lots of questions about this. did almyra get the facts right? did it happen at all? some people believe it didn't happen at all. i believe something did happen, that they in fact met. when you look at it, you have to look at exactly what she wrote. she only identified three people who attended. she says more were there, but she only identifies three by name. armistead and hancock, obviously, and albert sidney johnson. could they all have been in the same place, l.a., late spring, early summer of 1861, to make
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this possible? the answer is yes. hancock and albert sidney johnson lived in l.a. they were friends. armistead is only 120 miles south. we have newspaper accounts twice in may he was through l.a., at least briefly. we have a letter in later june, he's in l.a. he could have been there, we don't have a daily record of what he did. the circumstances existed for this to happen. now, what did almyra say? this is the foundation of the legend. she wrote, the most crushed of the party was major armistead who with tears which were contagious streaming down his face and hands on mr. hancock's shoulders said, hancock, good-bye. you can never know what this has cost me, and i hope god will strike me dead if i'm ever induz deuced to leave my native soil should worse come to worst. she said a lot of things that don't get a lot of focus. she said armistead brought his u.s. army major's uniform togive
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to hancock in case he might need it. hancock is only a captain. she also said armistead gave her a small satchel requesting that it should not be opened except in the event of his death, in which case the souvenirs it contained with exception of the little prayer book intended for me should be sent to his family on the fly leaf of this books is the follow, lewis a. armistead, trust in god and fear nothing. this was not given to longstreet at a camp fire. it was given to almyra in 1861 before he left. there is one other account, obscure account of armistead and hancock getting together before they left. it's in an 1880 biography of hancock by the reverend dx junken, who was a former chaplain of the u.s. navy. he's a friend of the hancock family. he does some of the work in the hancock home of his biography.
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he attributes the following passage to hancock himself. he doesn't quote him, i wish he would have quoted him. he says, an interesting incident in connection with general armistead's defection from the u.s. army is related by general hancock. it occurred in los angeles early in 1861. i'm leaving los angeles, he presented hancock with his major's uniform saying that the latter might some time need it. he goes on, he also placed in his hands for safe keeping and to be given to his family if he should fall in battle, certainly valuable papers. he also presented a little prayer book which is still in the latter's possession. in the fly leaf is an inscription, lewis a. armistead, trust in god and fear nothing. they're telling the same story. this is seven years before almyra's book. when they're telling the same story, he says he got the prayer book, she said she got it. somebody got the prayer book. so i think it's enough evidence to say that i think something happened there. i think they did get together. they come east. they're on the same battlefield
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a couple times earlier in the war, the first two years. both affseven days, both at antietam. the question we get is did they know they were fighting each other? the answer is probably. the third day of a battle at the same place, the army intelligence would have been pretty good with prisoners and battle flags. the point is they weren't talking about fighting each other. they weren't longing for one another. oh, winnie boy, oh, lo. i have to watch when i say this. i'm not even sure lo was armistead's nickname. there is very scant evidence to that. i deal with it -- it's not a central part of the story so i deal it with in the appendix of the book. you can read it and make your own decision. the appendix is titled lo and behold. so lo and behold, armistead leads about 100 men over the wall, and we're all familiar with this unique marker, the
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armistead fell here marker. we see what that looked like about a century ago. a path around it. i had never seen that. that was an interesting photo that i dug up. that, of course, is the modern view. is it accurately placed? who knows. whatever your theory is, you can find an eyewitness account to support that theory. there are accounts that say armistead was hit as soon as he crossed the wall and fell down. there's one account from a guy in his brigade who said he was hit when he crossed the wall and staggered forward to the second line of guns where he fell. multiple accounts that he charged past the wall to the second line of guns where he was hit and fell. the most credible of those is from the union commander at the wall, alexander webb. he writes a letter to his wife a few days after the battle, before anyone is spinning, and he writes simply, jerm armistead, an old army officer, came over my fence and past me. with four of his men. i believe armistead did get into
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the angle, whether it was exactly where the monument is, who knows, but he got in there. this group certainly knows there are two stories, two legends of armistead being assisted and carried off the field. they all have masonic implications because lewis a. armistead was a proud member of the masons. the first is that he used a coded masonic phrase for distress, that he said son of a widow, and union soldiers who were masons heard this and rushed forward to help him. there are enough accounts that it's probably true, but there's no way the union army is letting a wounded confederate general lay on the field, even for intelligence, they would have picked him up. he would be picked up whether he was a mason or not. the second one is his encounter with union captain henry bingham, who by quirk of fate is a staff officer on hancock's staff. as a result, we have the very beautiful friend to friend masonic memorial at the entrance
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to the cemetery annex. the original mason proposal was that it would be a figurine of armistead and hancock shaking hands. the park rejected that because that did not happen. this scene did happen. bingham did assist armistead. i could find no evidence that it was because they were masons. that's inferred. no evidence it was because they were masons. the only two who knew would be armistead and bingham. armistead died. bingham wrote about this twice in his life, both in private letters to hancock. i know it's a secret organization, but hancock was a fellow mason. he never mentioned it. i can't say it wasn't, but there is no evidence it was. it's an inference and a great story. if you read bingham's full account, he's going to help with a wounded confederate officer. he knows someone has been wounded. he thinks he's coming to help
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longstreet, who is not a maintenance. mason. armistead hears the hancock connection. he identified hancock as an old and valued friend. then he gives bingham a quote which bingham writes six years later. i have done him and done you all an injury which i shall regret and repent. i forget the exact word, the longest day i live. causing controversy to this day. we don't know if bingham quoted him correctly, but a lot of people think armistead was recanting. everything i have ever read about lewis armistead before and after, i can't imagine he was recanting. he was a proud confederate soldier. now, armistead is carried, as we know, to the 11th corps field hospital at george spangler farm. if you have not been down there, please go down there. the foundation has done a great job restoring that place, a civil war hospital. his doctors, the union doctors, do not think his wounds are fatal, yet he dies two days later, july 5th. they don't know much about
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germs. there are rumors of all other injuries they may have missed. there's a story he may have had a blood clot in his leg that went to his lung. he dies july 5th. he's buried there in a shallow grave. he's dug up not long afterwards by an enterprising and cold hearted gettysburg doctor who thinks armistead's relatives may pay for the body. and he's right. i published letters from the doctor's representative to lewis' cousin, christopher hughes armistead in baltimore. he wants his cousin's body. a deal is done in october. they pay $100. body is shipped to christopher in baltimore. he takes it to old st. paul's cemetery, buries in it a family vault next to his famous uncle, george armistead. always been mystery about this. i was on a ranger tour a few years ago where they say we know he's at old st. pauls, we're not sure where. that's where. outside the vault. name plates for both of them, george and lewis. i was standing there gawking in awe. my wife had the presence of mind
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to take the photo. thank you very much. it's a private cemetery basically. it's locked and gated. you can finagle your way in occasionally they do do tours. interesting site. that's the armistead story. hancock wounded about the same time. in the thigh. he recovers but he never fully recovers. he returns to the army in six months. never quite the same. he has a pretty good day at spotsal veinia. that's why he never rose to higher command in the war. has a very interesting post-war life. i detail this in the book. he runs for president in 1880. loses a very close election to james garfield. remains in the army. 1885, he returns to gettysburg for the final time. where he famously argues about the proposed location of the hancock wounding monument. there it is today, put up after his death. hancock always thought it should have been closer to the angle. that's where it is, placed
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nearby, but we don't know. hancock also does take him on a tour of the battlefield. how cool would that have been, 22 years after the battle to walk the field with winfield scott hancock. good thing he did that because a few months later, he contracted an illness and he dies at the age of 62. he's buried in norristown, pennsylvania. and montgomery cemetery in a vault that he actually built when his daughter died. both of his children preceded him in death. he and his daughter are buried there. the wife and son are buried elsewhere. the story of hancock and armistead was not well known or talked about much in the late 19th century. it wasn't talked about at all in the 20th century. it wasn't until the 1950s until the book glory road, wrote about the friendship using almyra's book as his source, and it took off. the public loved it. shelby foote picked it up, and
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now it's one of the most famous stories of the battle. one of those overnight sensations that took 100 years. one guy who wouldn't be surprised was their old friend henry heath. i have never seen his quote before, but i'll conclude with this. those mess mates and devoted friends never met again on earth but i'm sure have met again in heaven. i think armistead was killed by hancock's troops and hancock was wounded by one of armistead's command. what a commentary on civil war. thank you very much. if we have time for questions, i'll do it. is anybody in charge? >> what happened to the prayer book? >> we don't know. she said she had it, but it got lost somewhere passed down from
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descendants. frustrating thing about history. we lose a lot of those things. >> did the armisteads have swedish heritage because the king of sweden -- >> i don't think they did. they had english and german. >> okay. >> there might have been some swedish. i think it was because of his military prominence. this was a military family. they knew military history. that's the only thing i can surmise. podcast. do you have a question? >> okay. dealing with gods and generals. there's that part where hancock in the audio book is all by himself out in california in that duty station. is that true? the way that gods and generals, the audio book made it sound, was like he was it, pay master, quarter master, only one guarding -- >> i'm not thinking of the scene. but yes, in fact, he was the only u.s. army officer there. he had met people working for him, but for a while, he was the only -- and then more came.
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but he was. again, because they're kind of opening up the west, and they opened that post. a lot of people don't know hancock was a quarter master for a lot of his career. some of his people who were with him later in life think that's what set him up to be a great commander, because he understood all that stuff. he's running the show out there. what i didn't know, though, until we found that newspaper account, one of his responsibilities, maybe his main responsibility was at the time supplying armistead's troops. >> where was armistead at that time? >> what is now arizona. he was with the mojave indians. the army sent him in to do some battle there. so they're apart, but they're still connecting. >> yes. >> hancock was still on duty when he died, wasn't he? >> yes. yes. he never resigned. yes, he remained a professional soldier. he would have resigned, he said, if he won the presidency.
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but otherwise. it was really close. it was a close election. i think 9 million votes cast and he lost by 9,000. if he had won the electoral college in new york, he would be president, where he lived at the time. he came very close to being president. the only time two union officers ran against each other in a presidential election. yes, sir. >> north carolina. >> yes. that's where he was -- he was born in north carolina. yes. his mother's family was from newburn, north carolina. that's where he was born. but he's a virginia -- they moved to virginia quickly. his father bought a farm in virginia. his father was a virginian. the armistead family, they're virginians. so i think -- i think he would consider himself a virginians. but it's true he was born in north carolina. >> some of the family is still there in north carolina. >> i'm sorry. >> yeah, i had a couple family
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related questions. do we have any good sense of what this illness was that killed armistead's wife -- you said both wives? >> they believe both were call cholera. both times it wiped out people at the post. it was ripping through the army posts. so they were dealing with this. it was a really tragic time. and there was one account of him coming upon his wife, the second wife who died. the first one died of cholera. he got remremarried. >> almost all of these generals on both sides had children dying, wives dying. >> in the country, too. they dealt with a lot of that. but armistead had a lot in a very short period of time. and that had to impact his views on things from that point on. >> the other quick thing i wanted to ask is for hancock. almyra, we know she's beautiful. that's about the only thing we know about her from the movie. is she a reliable witness in the
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rest of her -- can we tell? >> there's really no way of showing that. she writes the memoirs of winfield scott hancock, at that point, when you look at all this stuff, everybody is spinning. all of the accounts, everybody is spinning. nobody ever retreated because they lost a battle. you know, so we all do that. everybody is working in pr. so certainly, there is pr in her book. but she's the only account that we have. but it's the account, the dx junken account in the book seven years before her book where a lot of it is the same language. so they're getting told the same story. so i think that is as much confirmation, but the bottom line with all of this, we'll never know. this may -- hopefully this gets a little closer to the truth, but it's not the whole truth. so much we'll never find, and other people may argue some of these points.
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but at least you throw it out there, we can discuss it. that's why we all come back. if we knew everything, we would be on to some other battle. yes, sir. >> the service in the mexican war, did either one distinguish themselves in any way during their service? >> they were -- they were breveted two times. maybe three. and as i mentioned briefly there, throughout his military career, his fellow soldiers always talked about how brave armistead was. several accounts of him being the first person into the ditch there. and he, again, he's seven years older than hancock. hancock was very junejure when we got there. there's a chapter on the mexican war in the book. he also testified in a court-martial of another officer, so he detailed in that court-martial account what he did. so he described some of his actions in some of the battles. pretty interesting to me.
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yes, sir. >> in the movie, hancock when he has a conversation with his generals, he's basically telling, i don't remember who he's talking to, but he's saying it's hot. we're all tired. nothing is going to happen. i don't think that would be true, what really happened. didn't he and the other generals already know that, hey, the confederates are going to be attacking us. we just don't know when. >> it's a broader question, but obviously, a lot of the conversations in the movie are there for the movie. i think there was some question on the union side whether -- reading, you know, john gibbons' accounts, they weren't sure there was going to be an attack that day. you never know if there are demonstrations. i'm talking a little off the path of this book. but they found out very quickly. they were in position, though. yeah, yeah. because if you remember, the confederates, the original plan wasn't pickett's charge. the original plan that morning was to continue the attacks of
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the previous day. not until longstreet and lee have their argument that pickett's charge becomes pickett's charge. the confederates were going to attack, but they didn't know at 6:00 in the morning they were going to do pickett's charge the way it came out. who knows what would have happened if they did the other attack. yes. >> the doctor that helped with the exhuming of the body, was that rufus weaver? >> no, i think his name was chamberlain. >> different person, okay. >> i detail that in the book. you get on to research other things after you write a book and you can't remember all of the details. but there's so many -- because there's a lot of information about armistead now at the spangler farm, there are a number of doctors who examined him. when you're writing a book, you can't use everyone's account. so that's part of the challenge of all of this. get into the hancock/howard thing on the first day. there's so many accounts. we'll never know exactly what happened between those guys.
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it depends on whose officers you're reading. that's not exactly what you asked. >> unity park, i saw it yesterday here in gettysburg, they had a memorial to this doctor who they said was doing the noble work of helping expatriate the bodies of the confederate soldiers back to the confederacy, and he was being charged like $3.25 a body. they used it as an example of charity, but from what your were saying, it sounds like someone was doing this as a money making operation. t what you were saying it sounded like somebody was doing it as a moneymaking operation. >> really he thought he could get money for the body and he was right. armistice body wanted the body and for long-time people couldn't figure where armistead was per the communication was a very great back then and that's why there's a mystery today. you can't just walk into it now
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but again you have to navigate your way through the tangle of stories to figure out which one you believe the most. i'll admit to having to do that in the book. not just on that everything. there are so many conflicting accounts like where armistead -- these guys land.
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>> i'm here to introduce mary k. byerly. all of us h i'm here to introduce sarah kay bierle. all of us here at "emerging civil ,


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