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tv   The Civil War Former Friends - Union General Hancock Confederate General...  CSPAN  December 16, 2021 11:00am-11:58am EST

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american history tv. saturdays on c-span2. exploring the people and events that tell the american story. at 2:00 p.m. eastern, on "the presidency," an historian and other scholars examine a fundamental question: whether the united states needs a president. on 8:00 p.m. eastern on "lectures in history," southern utah university professor describes pro-confederate sympathizers who sabotaged union vessels. exploring the american story. watch american history tv, saturdays on c-span2. and find a full schedule on your program guide or watch online any time at our next speaker is tom mcmillan. he is a lifelong student of the history of the civil war. up until this year, he had
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previously published two books, "flight 93: the story, the aftermath, and the legacy of american courage," and "gettysburg rebels: native sons who came home to fight as soldiers." that book won a literary award. we are pleased to announce today the unveiling of his newest release which is "armistead and hancock: behind the legend of two friends in the civil war." 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 serves on the board of trustees with the pittsburgh heinz history center and previously served on the board of directors of the friends of
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flight 93 national memorial. he resides in pittsburgh and recently retired two days ago, very recently retired, after a 43-year career in sports media and communications. without any further introduction i would like to present to you tom mcmillan. [ applause ] >> second day of retirement. first ever standing room only crowd. so this is a good day for me. thanks to tammy and the heritage center. this is a great place, my favorite little civil war bookstore in the country. great to be with this distinguished group of speakers, including my friend jim who will give me a battlefield tour tomorrow, i'm 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.
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i saw it at a theater in pittsburgh. i drove here three nights later and i've had the illness ever since, 28 years, i keep coming back. i kind of did it backwards. i saw the movie before i read the novel it was based, "killer angels," which had won the pulitzer prize for fiction in 1975. keywords, folks, fiction. it's based on a foundation of gettysburg history certainly but there's a lot of fiction woven in, especially with the conversations. it really has -- the novelist, michael shara, did it so well that you often can't separate the fact from the fiction. it affects the way we look at these stories. there are so many great stories. the one that always stood out for me was lewis armistead and winfield scott hancock. what a story that was. two friends, almost brothers, served together in the u.s. army, torn apart by the civil war, have a teary-eyed farewell in l.a. in 1861, then two years
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later meet here in the most famous attack of the war, pickett's charge, 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's one now. you folks may have gone through the same kind of things as you were digging through the movie. i said, there has to be a lot written about the confederate general who penetrated the deepestpickett's charge. it's done by wayne motts, the ceo of the gettysburg foundation so you know it's well researched and well done but that's really it. a few years ago wayne and jim hessler is a book, a few more armistead anecdotes, but not a
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lot in book form. hancock is a hero of the battle, he runs for president in 1880. lots of books from the late 19th century 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 started to talk to my friends who are serious students of the battle, some of them are sitting out here in the audience. and i said, what do you know about armistead and hancock? almost to a person, what they knew is an emotional scene in the movie where he's talking about the farewell in california back in '61. he quotes himself. this is one of the great scenes in the movie. what did i do? 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.
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my god strike me dead. that's how close these guys were. lewis armistead was a hard-nosed soldier. he couldn't bring himself to fight against hancock even though they had agreed to fight against each other in the civil war. but that's the movie version. there was only one person who was there who wrote about it and that's hancock's wife elmira. he does quote the phrase "may god strike me dead" but it's in a slightly different context. she says he said i hope god will strike me dead if i'm ever induced to leave my native soil should worst come to worst. people say, that's not very compelling. she was there. what happens? novelists and movie makers are storytellers. they're enhancing their stories. they're making this impression on you. they use this as a tool. on top of that, you have to condense the story sometimes. the movie is already four hours.
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you can't have a 16-hour movie. so it's part of the tool. 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 together. but armistead is the older man by seven years. armistead born 1817, hancock 1824. armistead through his time at west point, serving in the army as a secretary lieutenant in the war in florida beforehand cook even enrolls in west point. they meet later on the frontier. are there letters, personal letters between these two almost brothers? none exist. there are no letters from hancock that even mention armistead. i'm sorry. there are no letters from armistead that even mention
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hancock. there are two letters from hancock that mention hancock but they're inquiring about hancock's wounding. i hope you conclude that i'm up here because i concluded they are friends. i'm confident in saying they were 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 soldiers and that bond continued for 19 years until pickett's charge at gettysburg. so it's to me 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 addison armistead was from
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a management family in virginia, serving in the military since the year 1680 when lewis' third great-grandfather served in gloucester county, virginia. they fought in all the early american wars and lewis' father and uncles fought in the war of 1812. four brothers in the same family in the generation just ahead of his. captain lewis g.a. armistead, he's named for the 17th century swedish warrior. he commands a rifle unit, killed in a battle 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? lewis addison armistead. he's military almost from the time he comes out of the womb. but the most famous uncle is the
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third, lieutenant colonel george armistead who commanded for there mchenry 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 banner, he took it off the flagpole and took it home. it remained in private possession of the armistead family for 90 years until george's grandson gave it to the smithsonian in the early 20th century. if you go tomorrow to the national museum of american history, you'll 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. but george dies a few years after the war, 1818, probably of a heart attack. the oldest, longest living and highest ranking of the brothers is lewis' father, not well-known today, third man to graduate from west point in 1818, walker is named chief engineer of the u.s. army. in 1828, when lewis is 11,
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walker is named brigadier general, one of the highest ranking officers. it's no coincidence that lewis armistead is a soldier. it's no coincidence his three younger brothers were confederate soldiers. it's no coincidence his son, also named walker keith, was a confederate soldier. and on his staff, an eyewitness to pickett's charge. military service was part of the armistead dna. lewis enrolls in west point in 1833. 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 very good student. and he got in a fair amount of trouble. but in his third year on campus, '35, '36, when he was taking the same classes for the third time and moved all the way up to the middle of the class rankings,
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there is an entry in the records in january of '36, captain armistead -- cadet armistead is placed under arrest. the details of what happened are long gone from west point, probably destroyed in a fire in the 18th century. the story is that he hit a confederate general in the head with a plate. lewis knows he's in trouble. he talks to his father. they conclude the best thing to do to avoid a court-martial is to resign. lewis writes a letter of resignation, no guarantee it will be accepted. but the superintendent writes to headquarters we hope it will be accepted as a courtesy to walker keith armistead. it was accepted. so lewis was not thrown out as you often read, he resigned. summer of 1839, he gets a commission as a civilian as a
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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. 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 seminole 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 lewis is soon added to his staff as an aide and his experience obviously changes dramatically but he does get an up-close and personal view of how a general runs an army. he serves out his term and in
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the early 1840s he's sent to oklahoma where he meets 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 win boys, they name one winfield scott after the soldier, they name the other hillary baker who doesn't seem very famous to us but hillary baker had been mayor of philadelphia, had been in the revolution, so locally prominent at the time. they have a third son, they name him simply john. john hancock. john hancock is with his brother winfield at gettiesberg. they have family members at the battle. hancock is an impressive young man. 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.
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but he's also small. we think of big, strapping winfield scott hancock, big guy. you know how tall he was when he got out of west point? 5'5". one of his classmates wrote they considered hancock a pet. winfield scott hancock was their pet. he's about 6 feet by the time he leaves but he's small a fair amount of the time but he gets picked on. once it gets so bad one of his larger classmates has to step in to fight one of the bullies. that classmate is alexander hayes who ends up commanding a division at pickett's charge. 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. in extracting me from trouble he became involved in aforesaid difficulty himself. i never forgot that.
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amazing connection between those guys. unlike armistead, hancock graduates 18th out of 25 in the class of 1844. when he graduates, he's sent to the frontier, to fort towson in what is now oklahoma and that is where in october of 1844 we have the first u.s. army record of lewis armistead and winfield hancock being together. they're in this very remote post on the end of the country, working together and developing their friendship. they served together for 16 months on the frontier. in 1845, they are transferred together to another remote oklahoma post, where they're members of a six-member officer crew, only six officers and a chaplain. here is a record from november of 1845. you can't see it very well, but armistead is listed third, hancock is listed sixth. it's also the first time, the only time that we have a record of armistead and hancock being
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together that it's not a u.s. army record. wayne motts found this, he discovered a letter at west point, i was able to get a copy of it and publish it here in the book, maybe for the first time. it's a rather mundane letter that armistead writes to a fellow soldier. but look who signs the p.s. w. hancock. pretty cool piece of evidence of those guys being together. doesn't mean much, just shows they're together. war of 1846 happens, they both want to go. they end up fighting in the same unit. they're both awarded for gallantry. armistead was always noted for his bravery, he was noted as being the first officer into the ditch in the final attack. they also served together in the postwar occupation between the time that the fighting ended and
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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, armistead, hancock and i were mess mates, and never was a mess happier than ours. so these guys were hanging out years before the civil war. eating and hancock are about the same age. armistead is older. heath and hancock are single, armistead is married. one night hancock tells a young lady, i love you. 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
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love them? he says, heath, we're still at war and all is fair in love and war. true story. they're transferred after the war to jefferson barracks in st. louis. they go out, heath is with him when hancock meets his future wife elmira russell. you can make a case that hancock is closer to heath than he is to armistead, at least socially. 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 could have while being an army officer in the 19th century. they're on post, they're in florida together, they're in california together. and they're married until 1886 when hancock dies. armistead, by contrast, has a tragic personal life. he loses two wives and two of
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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. he becomes sullen, it's understandable. the character you see portrayed in the movie "gettysburg" is probably not the way he was at that time. it's understandable, he was dealt a different deck of cards in life. in the 13-year period between the end of the mexican war and the civil war, 1848 and 1861, these guys are almost never together. there's one time in the late 1850s 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 months, they catch up. they get out west and they're split up again. armistead is sent to what is now arizona to deal with some mohave indians who are harassing settlers and hancock is sent to los angeles, california, population barely 4,000, where
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he's a quartermaster. you can find out a lot about these guys in the 19th century by looking at newspapers. it's painstaking research, i have no patience. thankfully my wife colleen has lots of patience. i will say something to her like, armistead and hancock, summer of 1859, los angeles, what can you find? 20 minutes later, how about this? how about this? july 13, 1859. an express arrived last night to captain hancock, quartermaster, on and on, a pretty cool piece of evidence of these guys, the bond continued. they're hundreds of miles apart but they're working together. armistead does a good job against the mohaves and earns a leave of absence. he turns it into a year-long leave of absence.
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he's home almost the entire year of 1860. it's even list income the fauquier census as though he lived there. he reunites with his mother and young son keith. he reconnects with some of his friends back home, one of whom is turner ashby, who lives nearby. ashby had commanded a militia unit. they are called into the john brown raid. 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. with that, lewis armistead started to sing the star spangled banner and ashby, it was said, joined in. 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
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december 1860. he's in san diego, california now, 20 miles south of hancock. by the time he gets there, south carolina has seceded. other states are lining up. a lot of soldiers went to hancock for advice. he's a well-respected officer. what he said was, i can give you no advice as i shall not fight upon the principle of state's rights but for the union whole and undivided. 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 came from a long line of slave owners, he owned at least one slave, maybe two, himself. but his whole life and his history and his family's history
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is tied up with the union seminar and the star spangled banner. the army has become his family with the loss of his wife and children. these are his brothers in arms. but as we know, he does make that tough decision and he is 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 december of 1861 trying to get his son a cadetship in the confederate army. there is a letter, i like to see their handwriting. i've 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 because they were 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 elmira get the facts right?
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did it happen at all? some people believe it didn't happen at all. i believe something did happen, that they in fact met. you have to look at exactly what she wrote. she only identifies three people who attended. she says more were there but she only identifies three by men, armistead and hancock and albert johnston. could they all have been in the same place in l.a. in late spring, early summer of 1861 to make this possible? the answer is yes. johnston and hancock lived in l.a., they were friends. armistead is only 120 miles south. twice in may he was through l.a., at least briefly. we have a letter, later in june, he's in l.a. we don't have a daily record of what he did. so the circumstances existed for this to happen. now, what did elmira 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 upon mr.
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hancock's shoulders, while looking him steadily in the eye, said, hancock, goodbye, you can never know what this has cost me, and i hope god will strike me dead if i'm ever induced to leave my native soil should worst come to worst. she said some other things that don't get a lot of focus. she said armistead brought his u.s. army major's uniform to give to hancock in case he might sometime need it. hancock is only a came. she also said that armistead gave her a small satchel, i'll quote here, requesting that it should not be opened except in the event of his death in which case the souvenirs it contained with the exception of the little prayer book intended for me and which i still possess should be sent to his family. on the fly-leaf of this book is the following. trust in god and fear nothing. this was not given to longstreet on the eve of the battle of gettysburg. it was given to elmira in 1861 before he left. there is one other account of
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armistead and hancock getting together before they left. it's in a 1880 biography of hancock that not many people have read by the reverend d.x.juncan who was a reverend, former chaplain of the u.s. navy. he does some of his work in the hancock home on his biography. he attributes the following passage to hancock himself. he doesn't quote him. he attributes hancock as his source. he says, an interesting incident in connection with general armistead's defection from the u.s. army is related by general hancock. on leaving los angeles, he presented hancock with his major's uniform saying that the latter might sometime need it. he goes on, he also placed in his hands for safekeeping and to be given to his family if he should fall in battle certain valuable papers. armistead also presented to hancock a little prayer book which is still in the latter's
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possession. on the fly-leaf is, trust in god. winfield and elmira is telling the same story. he says he got the prayer book, she says she got it, somebody got the prayer book. i think it's enough evidence to say that i think they did get together. they come east. they're on the same battlefields a couple of times early in the war. they're both at antietam. they don't clash until the third day at gettysburg. the question is did they know they were fighting each other. the answer is, probably. and the third day of a battle, the same place, army intelligence would have been pretty good with prisoners and battle flags. but the point is, they weren't talking about fighting each other. they weren't longing for one another. oh, winnie boy, oh, woe. i have to watch when i say this. folks, i'm not even sure that lo is armistead's nickname.
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there is very scant evidence to that. it's not a central part of the story so i deal with it in the appendix of the book, you can read it and make your decision. the appendix is titled "lo and behold." so lo and behold, armistead leads his men. you want to see what that marker looked like a century ago? i had never seen that. that's an interesting photo they dug up. that of course is the -- 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 there. one guy in his brigade said he was hit when he crossed the wall and staggered forward to the second line of guns where he fell. there were multiple accounts,
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union and confederate, that he charged to the second wall where he was hit and fell. the most credible of those is from the union commander at the wall, alexander webb of the philadelphia brigade. he writes a letter to his wife just a few days after the battle, this is before anyone is spinning. he writes very simply, general armistead, an old army officer, came over my fence and passed me with four of his men. so i believe armistead did get into the angle. there it was exactly where the monument is right now, who knows, but he got in there. now, this group certainly knows there are two stories, two legends of armistead being assisted and carried off the field. they all have masonic implications. lewis armistead was a proud member of the masons. he used a coded phrase for distress, son of a widow, union soldiers rushed forward to help him. there are enough accounts that it's probably true. folks, there's no way the union army is letting a wounded confederate general lay there on
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the field, even just for intelligence, he was going to 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. bingham is a mason. armistead is a mason. hancock is a mason. as a result we have the beautiful friend to friend masonic memorial at the entrance to the cemetery annex. the original mason proposal was that it would be a figure 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 that 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. it's a secret organization but
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hancock was a fellow mason. he never mentioned it. so it very well may have been. i can't say that it wasn't. but it's interesting that there's no evidence that there was. it's an inference, and it's a great story. on top of that, if you read bingham's full account, he's going to help a wounded confederate officer, he knows someone is wounded. he's told it's james longstreet, he thinks he's going to help longstreet who is not a mason. they introduce each other, he identifies hancock as an old and valued friend and 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 or 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've he ever read about lewis armistead before and after, i can't imagine he was recanting, whatever you think of him, he was a proud confederate
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soldier. but that's what bingham wrote. armistead is carried, as we know, to the 11th corps field hospital. if you have not been down there, please go down there, the foundation has done a great job restoring that place. the union doctors do not think his wounds are fatal yet he dies two days later, july 5th. they don't know much about germs, there are rumors of 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, we don't know. he's buried in shallow grave, dug up not long afterwards by an enterprising and cold-hearted doctor who thinks armistead's relatives may pay for the body. and he's right. i published letters from armistead's representative to his cousin, the son of the hero of fort mchenry, he wants his cousin's body. a deal is done, they pay $100,
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the body is shipped to baltimore, he takes it and buries it in a family vault next to his famous uncle, george armistead. always been a mystery about this. i was on a ranger tour a few years ago where they said, we know he's in old st. paul's, we're not sure where. that's where. name plates for both of them, george and lewis. my wife had the presence of mind 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 spotsylvania. that's why he never rose to higher command in the army during the war. he has an interesting post-war life. he runs for president in 1880, loses a very close election to james garfield.
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he almost became president. he remains in the army, though. 1885, he returns to gettysburg for the final time,he famously argues with john bachelder about the proposed location of the hancock wounding monument. hancock thought it should be closer to the angle. bachelder was stubborn and says no. he does take hancock on a tour of the battlefield. good thing he did that because a few months later, february 1886, he contracts an illness and he dies at the age of 62. he is buried in norristown, pennsylvania, montgomery cemetery, in a vault he actually built when his daughter died. both his children preceded him in death. his wife in the center burr
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buried elsewhere. it wasn't until the 1950s when the great historian bruce catton in his book wrote about the friendship using elmira's book as his source. it took off, the public loved it. shelby foote picked it up in his trilogy, michael shara picks it up, the movie "gettysburg" picks it up, and it's now one of the most famous stories of the battle. one guy who would not have been surprised was henry heath. he wrote his memoirs, published in the late 1890s, not very well-read. i'll conclude with this. those two regimental associates i'm sure have met again in heaven. what a commentary on civil war. thank you very much. [ applause ]
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if we have time for questions -- i guess we do. is anybody in charge? >> what happened to the prayer book? >> we don't know. it's one of those frustrating things. she said she had it but it got lost somewhere in -- passed down to descendants. it would have been great to have that. frustrating thing about history, we lose a lot of these things. >> did the armisteads have actually swedish heritage because of adolphus, the king of sweden? >> i don't think they did. as far as i can tell, it was english and german. there might have been some swedish. this was a military family, they knew military history. that's the only thing i can surmise. podcast. do you have a question? >> dealing with generals, there is that part where hancock in
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the audio book is all by himself out in california in that duty station. is that true? the way the audio book made it sound was, he was it, pay master, quarter master. >> yes, in fact he was the only u.s. army officer there. he had met people working for him. and then war came. 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. yes, he's running the show out there. what i didn't know, though, until we found that newspaper account, one of his responsibilities, maybe the main responsibility, was at the time supplying armistead's troops. >> where was armistead at that time? >> what is now arizona. with the mohave indians, the army sent them in to do some
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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 remains a professional soldier. he would have resigned, he said, if he had won the presidency, but otherwise he kept -- and it was really close. it was a close election. 9 million votes cast, you lost by 9,000. if he had won the electoral college in new york, he would have been president, where he lived at the time. he came very close to being president. it was the only time two union officers ran against each other in presidential election. yes, sir. >> -- for 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.
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they moved to virginia very quickly. his father bought a farm in virginia. his father was virginian. i think he would consider himself a virginian. it's true he was born in north carolina. >> i had a couple of family-related questions. do we have any good sense of what this illness was that killed armistead's -- you said both wives? >> i believe both were cholera. cholera was going through the frontier there. both times, cholera 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. there was one account of him coming upon his wife, the second wife who died. his first one died of cholera, the first -- the second one died
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of cholera as well. they dealt with a lot of that. it's a different time. armistead had a lot in a short period of time, that had to impact his views on things from that point on. >> the other thing, for hancock, elmira, 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 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, i mean, when you look at all this stuff, everybody is spinning. all the o.r. accounts, everybody is spinning. nobody ever retreated because they lost a battle. we all do that, everybody is working in pr. so certainly there is pr in her book. but she's the only account we have. it's the junken account, the d.x. junken account, in the book
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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 as we -- but the bottom line with all of this, we'll never know. this may be -- 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, you know, argue some of these points, 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. >> they were in service in the mexican war. did either of them distinguish themselves? >> they both where awarded for gallantry. throughout his military career, his fellow soldiers always talked about how brave armistead was. there are several accounts of him being the first person into the ditch there. again, he's seven years older
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than hancock so hancock was very junior when he got there. we know a little bit more. there's a chapter on the mexican war in the book. we know a lot more about what armistead did. he testified at the court-martial of another officer, so he detailed what he did, he described some of his actions in some of the battles, pretty interesting to me. yes, sir. >> in the movie, hancock, when he has a conversation with his generals, he is basically telling -- i don't remember who he's talking to, but he's saying, it's hot, we're all tired, nothing's going to happen. i don't think that would be true of 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? >> yeah, it's a broader question, but obviously a lot of the conversations in the movie are there just to move -- i think there was some question on the union side whether --
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reading, you know, john gibbons' accounts, they weren't sure there was going to an attack that day. you never know if there were demonstrations. i'm talking a little off the path of this book, but they found out very quickly. they were in position, you know? if you remember, the confederates, the original plan wasn't pickett's charge. the original plan that morning was to continue the attacks of the previous day. it's not until longstreet and lee have their little 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. >> exhuming the body, was that rufus weaver? >> no. >> do you remember the name of the doctor? >> i think his name was chamberlain. >> different person, okay. >> i detail it in the book. you research other things after
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you write the book and you can't remember all the details. there are so many names. because there's a lot of information about armistead at the spangler farm. there are a number of doctors who examined him. when you write a book, you can't use everyone's account. you get into the hancock/howard thing on the first day. we'll never know exactly what happened between those guys. it depends on whose officers your reading. that's not exactly what you asked, but -- >> i saw yesterday here in gettysburg, they had this 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, he was being charged like $3.25 a body. they used it as an example of charter. from what you were saying it sounded like somebody was doing this as a money making operation. >> this particular case, armistead, because he was --
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really, they thought they could get money for the body and he was right, armistead's family wanted the body. for a long time nobody could figure out where armistead was, communication wasn't great back then. you can't get into the cemetery so you can't check it out. again, you have to navigate your way through the tangle of stories and try to figure out which one you believe most. i'll admit to having to do that in the book because you can't do it any other way. there are so many -- not just on that but everything, there are so many conflicting accounts like where armistead fell. these guys were all eyewitnesses. they all say he fell at different places. how are we supposed to know where he fell? i guess the marker is as close as we can find. thank you very much, really enjoyed it. [ applause ] at least six presidents recorded conversations while in
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office. hear many of those conversations on c-span's new podcast, "presidential recordings." >> season 1 focuses on the presidency of lyndon johnson. you'll hear about the 1964 civil rights act, the 1964 presidential campaign, the gulf of ton kin incident, the march on selma and the war in vietnam. not everyone knew they were being recorded. >> certainly johnson's secretaries knew, because they were tasked with transcribing many of those conversations. in fact they were the ones who made sure that the conversations were taped, as johnson would signal to them through an open door between his office and theirs. >> you'll also hear some blunt talk. >> jim. >> yes, sir. >> i want a report of the number of people assigned to kennedy on me the day he died and the number assigned to me now and if mine are not less i want them less right quick.
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>> yes, sir. >> presidential recordings. find it on the c-span now mobile app or wherever you get your podcasts. veterans from world war ii through the iraq war told their stories in recorded oral history interviews. here is an excerpt from one story. >> all the u.s. elements are here in some strength. the weight of the attack is against the south korean army's third and capital divisions and their 17th regiment. this is the tenth week of the korean war and the fighting on all fronts has reached a peak of fury. although at this time military spokesmen are mentioning early offensive moves, the present situation does not appear optimistic. >> our commander, colonel mott, gave us a speech, we're gathering up, our objective is to occupy this town that was
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currently occupied by 300 guerillas armed with pitch forks and knives. and sometime -- i don't know whether it was before or after that, we ran into several truckloads of pretty badly shot-up korean militia, south koreans. and i understood that there had been a problem up ahead, but yin -- i didn't know what kind of a problem because i wasn't conversant in the language and i wasn't briefed, being a private. so then we continued on, and we started marching from that point on. we weren't in trucks anymore, we were marching. and we had two columns extending probably a mile and a half to two miles. one column on either side of the road, about ten steps apart. and i was in reserve company. that was "i" company. so we were bringing up the rear.
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that was lieutenant alexander macronas was in charge. so it was about a little after 8:00, maybe quarter to 9:00. we were probably a couple of co chinju on a winding road, and all of a sudden i could hear machine gunfire, rifle fire and so forth, so we knew there was some kind of contact ahead and we didn't know what to expect. we arrived on the scene probably 30 minutes later. we were coming up a winding hill and coming over the crest in the hill. i could see the pass about half a mile ahead going down into chinju -- i'm sorry, down into hadong. the road went to the right, then across a rice paddy, and to the
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hill we called the north hill. then up a road further about another three or four or five hundred yards up through a pass that led down to chinju. so when i came down the hill, i saw three burning vehicles, one at the pass and two more about three to five hundred yards down the road toward our direction burning, and i also saw another one burning that i got distracted from for a moment, but it turned out to be an orange-colored jeep that was our air to ground jeep that was burning on the corner of the road and not far from where general shea's monument is. then about -- as we were continuing down the hill, we received mortar fire on the hill
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that we had just come the back of. we see maybe 8, 10 or 12 -- we received a couple salvos, about five rounds each, of mortar rounds. they landed below us, but they hit two squad members in my unit, and they were pretty badly wounded and they were screaming. i laid my rifle down and ran down to help them to get them off the road to do what i could. when i got down there, i saw one of them entrails were blown out and his stomach and guts were showing, and the other had a shoulder and chest wound, and they were screaming loudly, and i didn't know what to do, and the company commander told me to get back to my position and let the medics handle it. well, you know, it's hard to not be able to help somebody, but i could see if i moved them, i would hurt them more, so i went back to the position. the medics came over and picked them up and put them on stretchers and loaded them on a
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lory. >> was that around august? >> no, this was july 27. i'm glad you asked. this was about -- it started -- the firing started, i would say, about 8:45 in the morning. 8:30, 8:45, something like that. >> you were still in the 25th infantry? >> at that time i was in the 29th infantry. this is kind of a blow-by-blow account as i recall it. when we left chinju, it took us a day to get from chinju to where we were in hadong. we spent one night on the road, i think it was one night. it was the 26th we camped out and the 27th we went to hadong. >> you have such a vivid memory. >> i sleep with it every night and i wake up with it every
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morning. i used to wake up about 2:30 in the morning, same old thing, carrying grenades and rifle going up the hill, same hill, trying to rescue a medic and all these koreans shooting at me and i shooting at them. and jim and tony shooting at them, too, and it was kind of bedlam. so i would wake up and try to figure out -- >> do you have ptsd? >> yeah. a very bad case of it and i didn't know it. here's another sad story. when i came back, i didn't know what i wanted to do. when i got back to japan, i used to walk the streets until i was so tired i could drop, just to look for somebody that would share their experience with me. i don't know why i did that. when i came back home, i thought, i want to go to school, stop wars or something. i'm going to go to law school.
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i took a bunch much tests through the veterans administration. their comment to me was, you must have had a terrible childhood. i said, why? they said, you're angry, you have very low self-esteem, you're very aggressive, you're suicidal, you're all this and that, you know, just like you're a time bomb ready to go off. and i said, no, i had a very happy childhood. why would you even think that? and i said i had all the range and open space i wanted to roam around in, i had brothers and sisters and good parents. no, i was happy. the only thing that happened that was really upsetting in my life is going to war in korea and seeing all my friends killed, and i feel real guilty about it. i feel like i could have or should have done something more. when i tried to go back and help, i told my group where and
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what to do and i had to go back. they restrained me and i felt guilty about it. another time i felt that when i held a guy till he died, when he was dying he said, tell mom and dad i'll be all right, that i love them. and he died, and i didn't know who he was. i didn't go back to see him. >> when did you go from chinju. >> i went from hadong to chinju. from chinju, we were taken out of position in the 19th regiment. then we got chased off that hill and back to chinju, and after chinju fell is when i left there. you can watch this interview in its entirety at
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