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tv   The Civil War Former Friends - Union General Hancock Confederate General...  CSPAN  December 28, 2021 12:21pm-1:09pm EST

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>> cox is committed to providing eligible families access to affordable internet, bridging the digital demand one connected and engaged student at a time. cox, bringing us closer. >> cox, along with these television companies supports c-span 2 as a public service. our next speaker is tom mcmillen. he's a life-long student of the history and civil war.
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up until this year, he'd previously published two books "flight 92, the story, aftermath and legacy of american courage on 9/11" and book about confederate soldiers won a literary award. we are pleased to announce today the unveiling of his newest release, which is "armestead and hancock, behind the legacy of two friends at the turn of the civil war." this will be the foundation of his presentation today. it is hot off the press, 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 also -- he serves on the board of trustees for the pittsburgh hinds history center. i'm sorry and previously served on the board of directors of the
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friends of flight 93 national memorial. he resides in pittsburgh and recently retired two days ago? recently retired. from after 43-year career in sports media and communications. without any further introduction, i'd like to present to you, tom mcmillen. [ applause ] >> second day retirement, first ever standing-room only crowd. this is a big day for me. thanks to tammy and the heritage center. it's a great place. for it's my favorite civil war book store in the country and great to be with a group of pretty distinguished speakers, including my friend, bill hester, who's giving me a battle field tour tomorrow. to start, you can procably guess where this book is going a little bit. i love the muvlgy "gettysburg" it's what got me into studying
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the battle as an adult. i saw it at a theater in pittsburgh and drove here and have had the illness ever since. i did it backwards. i saw the movie before i read the novel it was based on, "killer angels" which has won the pulitzer prize for fiction back in 1975. key words folks, being for fiction. based on a foundation of gettysburg history, certainly but there is speculation woven into conversations. the novelist did it so well that you often can't separate the fact from the fiction. it effects the way we look at these stories. so many great stories. the one that always stood out for me was lewis armistead and hancock. what a story that was. two friends, almost brothers, served together in the u.s. army, torn aparted by the civil war v a teary-eyed farewell in
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l.a. in 1861 and two years later, meet here in the most famous tact of the war, where armistead's men attack hancock's men and both fall wounded. i wanted to learn more about that and there wassent much out there. i wanted to read a book on armistead and hancock but there wasn't one. that's why there's one now. i thought okay, i'll go back. you folks may have gone tlu the same kind of things as you're digging through the movie. i thought i'll read about lewis armstead. 158 years and one book. it's 64 pages, done in 1994. it's done by wayne mauts, the ceo of the gettysburg foundation. so, you know it's well researched and well done. but that's it. a few years ago a book with a few more armistead anecdotes.
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there's a lot written about hancock. he runs for president in 1880. laultsz of books from the late 19th century until a few years ago. but most of them barely mention armi stead. 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 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 of the movie where armistead is having an emotional conversation and talking about the farewell in california in 1861. he quotes himself. this is one of the grade scenes in the movie. there we go. you want to get your powerpoint down 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.
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that's how close these guys were. armistead is a hard nosed soldier. he couldn't bring himself to fight against hancock, even though they agreed to fight against each other in the civil war. but that's the movie version. only one person was there who wrote about it and that's hancock's wife. she does quote armistead as using the quote, may god strike me dead. she says he said may god strike me dead should i leave myinative soil should worse come to worse. and they go that's not what i heard. that's not very compelling and she was there. so, what happens? novelists and movie makers are story tellers. they're making this impression on you. so, they use this as a tool and on top of that, you have to convince the story sometimes. the movie's already four hours.
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so, it's part of the tool. and by the way, those conversations with armistead and longstreet, there's no evidence they happened. that's another tool of what we have. so, moving on from there did they go to westpoint together? no. the movie implies they came up together but armistead is the older man by several years. armistead through his time of west point, serving as a seconds lou tenant in a war in florida, the second seminal war, before hancock even enrolls in west point. they meet later on the frontier. are there personal letters between these two almost brothers? none exist. no letters from hancock that even mention armistead. there are two letters from hancock that mention armistead
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but it's after he's died and he's merely inquiring about the circumstances of armistead's wounded. what gives here? if you're researching a book on their friendship, you better figure out if they are friends. so, i hope you conclude i'm up here and i've concluded they are friends. i'm confident in saying they were good friends. they weren't almost brugtders. they weren't even best friends in the modern sense, in that they sent spent a lot of time away. they served together on the frontier, on the mexican war and that bond continues for 19 years until the charge at gettysburg. it's reflective of what the civil war did to the country. just not the same story you heard in the novel. so, who were these guys? lewis armistead is from a military family in virginia.
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they had been serving since the year 1680, when lewis 's great grandfather was the head of the horse militia in gloucester county. four brothers from the same family in the generation just ahead of his. captain lewis, ga armistead, named for the 17th century swedish war wr. killed in the battle in 1814. captain addison armistead dies of disease while on duty in 1814. lewis and addison. what's our civil guy's name? he's named for two uncles who died in service of their country in 1812. he's military almost from the
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time he came out of the wound and the third is who commanded battleal of baltimore and not only that, he took the flag, the original star spangled banner. it remained in the private possession of the armistead family until george's grandson gave it to the smithsonian in the early 20th century. if you see the star spangled banner, the 200-year-old wisp of a flag, that came out of the armistead family. flrls but george dies a few years after the war 1818, probably of a heart attack. so, the longest living and highest ranking of the brothers is lewis's father. walker keelgt armistead. third man to graduate from west point in 1818, when lewis is one year old. he's named chief officer of the u.s. army. and when lewis is 11, he's a
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brig dear general, one of the highest ranking officers. it's no coincidence lewis armistead is a soldier and no coincidence his three younger brothers were confederate soldiers and his son was a confederate soldier and on his staff as a teenager, an eye witness to picket's charge. military service was part of the armistead dna. now, lewis did try to follow his father's foot steps and enrolls in west .1883. the most storied career of anyone who never graduated. three years on campus and never got of the freshman class. that's hard to do. he was sick a little bit. he obviously wasn't a very good student. and he got into a fair amount of trouble but when he's 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
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in january '36, limit his room disorderly conduct in the mess hall. the details of what happened are long gone, probably destroyed in a fire but the story that made it through the confederate army is that lewis brawled in the mess hall and hit another in the head with a plate. it was considered serious back then. lewis knows he's in trouble. they conclude the best thing to do to avoid a court marshall is to resign. the west point superintendent writes to army headquarters and says we hope this will be accepted as a courtesy and it was. so, lewis was not thrown out. he resigned. there's a three-year gap in the story of his life. but summer of 1839, he gets a
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commission as a second lieu tenant in the u.s. army. his last class at west point graduated july 1st, 1889 and their commissions date to that day. lewis is commissionsed, based july 10th. all those shenanigans, he loses places in ranks. your uncle 's a u.s. congressman. he's in florida immediately. second or third day, he's in hot combat. but not long into his tenure, the u.s. army makes a change in the command structure. the new commander of all u.s. trp troops is, you guessed it brigadier arm arm stead and he's
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sent to the frontier in 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 pedigree that armistead does. they name the other millry baker, which doesn't seem famous from us. he'd been in the revolution and locally prom nnlt at the time. six years later, they have a third son and name him simply john, john hancock and john hancock is with his brother, winfield at gettysburg. so, they both have family members at the battle. hancock's an impress chb young man. at 16, he gets an appointment to westpoint. his father doesn't think it's a good idea. 16 is a youngest age you can get
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in and he's small. you know how tall he was? 5'5" tall. one said they considered him their pet. he had a growth spurt and he's about six feet by the time he leaves. but byes being boys, he gets bullied and one of his largest class mates had to step in to fight one of the bullies and that class mate is alexander hayes, who beats up the bully. hancock never forgets this. years later, in the flowery language of the 19th century, wrote when i was a boy, alexander hayes was the first to volunteer to assist me and can extracting me from the trouble, became involved in
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aforementioned difficulty himself. unlike armistead, he does graduate, 18th out of 25 in the class of 1844 and when he graduates, he's sent to the frontier to fort touzened in what is now oklahoma and that's where in october of 1844, we have the first army record of armistead and hancock being together. they're in a small group of 15 officers in a very remote post on the end of the country, working together and developing their friendship. they serve together for 15 months on the frontier. they're transferred together to another remote oklahoma post, where they are only members of a six-members officer crew. only six officers and a chaplain. here's a record from november of 1845. six officers and a chaplain. armistead is listed third. hancock is six. it's also the first time that the -- the only time we have a record of armistead and hancock
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being together that is not a u.s. army record. wayne mauts found this. he discovered a letter at west point. i was able to get a copy of it and publish it in the book. it's a rather mundane letter that armistead writes to a fellow soldier. look who signs the ps. w. hancock. armistead, w. hancock. pretty cool piece of evidence of those guys being together. doesn't mean much. just shows they were together. 1846, mexican war happens. they go at different times arrive in different places but end up in the same unit. through his career, armistead noted frahis bravery. a number of officers mention him being the first. and they serve together in the post-war occupation. between the time the fighting
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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 westpoint, henry heath. he gives aus in his memoirs, conformation and said we were mess mates and never was a mess happier than i. these guys were hanging out years before the civil war. heath and hancock are about the same age. they're single. armistead's married. during this period, he's a hancocker going out at night, trying to meet girls. and heath loves it because he's a magnet for the young ladies. but one night, hancock tell as young lady i love you. next night, a third one, i love you. and says hancock, how you tell these different women you love him and he says heath, we're still at war and all is fair in love and war.
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true story. they're transferred together after the war to jefferson barracks in st. louis. they go out and heath is with him when hancock meets his future wife. you can make a case hancock is lease closer to heath than 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 you can have. he and elmirau have two children. but they're on post. they're in florida together, 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
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children to disease on the frontier. five years. what would that have done to you? he's already a hard nose guy but this adds a level of bitterness. the character you see portrayed in the movie gettysburg, that's probably not the way he was at that point. he was dealt a different deck of cards. now, in the 13-year period between the end of the second war and beginning of the civil war, these guys are almost never together and armistead seems to be on detached service. there was one time when the entire sixth infantry gets together and make as 1,000 mile march to the west coast and they get out west and are split up again. armistead is sent to what's now arizona to deal with indians harassing settlers and hancock is sent to population barely 4,000 and one of his jobs is to
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supply armistead 's troops. you can find a lot about these guys by looking at newspapers. it's pain-staking research. i have no patience. thankfully, my wife colleen has a lot of patience. so i'll say something to her about summer 1865, what can you find? and a second later, how about this? and it's just arrived last night from crossing the colorado and captain hancock conveying intelligence, on and on and a pretty cool piece of evidence of the bond continuing. they're hundreds of miles apart but working together. never seen anything or known anything like that. now, armistead does a good job against the muhauvys and earns a leave of absence. he turns it into a year-long leave of absence.
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he's even listed in the faulkner county virginia census as though he lived there. reunites with his mother and young son, hawker keith, who goes by keith. and reconnects with some of his friends, one is turner ashby. he lives nearby. ashby had commanded a militia unit. they were called to the john brown raid. they were there when brown was hanged. he's got a sense of what's going on in the country. armistead, he's been away so long, he can't get his arms around it. he thinks ashby's being overly negative and says turner, do not for talk so. let me sing you a song and wipe away your gloom and that, he started to sing the star spangled banner and ashby joined in. here nine months before the civil war, these two future 81 confederate officers singing the star spangled banner.
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he's in san diego, california now, just 120 miles south of hancock. by the time he gets there, south carolina has seseeded. other states are lining up. and almirau writes a lot of the southern-born soldiers went to hancock for advice. he didn't have much advice. what he said is i can give you noed a vice as i shall not fight upon the principal of state rights but for the union whole and undivided. i cannot sympathize with you. you must be guided by your own convictions and hope you can make no mistakes. he was not an abolitionest but 100% a union man. he was going to fight for the union. armistead has a tough decision. yes, a long line of slave holders and grew up on a farm with 19 slaves his father owned and owned maybe two himself briefly. he believes in the southern cause. but his whole life and family's history is tied up in the u.s.
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army and the star spangled banner and with the loss of his wives and children, these are his brothers in arms. as we know, he does make the 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 records in the archives. he's trying to get his son a cadetteship in the confederate army. here's key phrases. i have been a soldier all my life. i was an officer in the aural 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 armistead fought for the confederacy. which leads to us to the famous farewell get together.
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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 that attended. says others were there but only identifies three that were there. could they have all been in the same place to make this possible? the answer is yes. hancock and johnston lived there and were friends. armistead's only 120 miles south. we have newspaper accounts twice in may he was through l.a. briefly. and later june, he's in l.a. he could have been there -- we don't have a daily record of what he did. circumstances existed for this to happen. now, what did elmira say? she wrote, the most crushed of the party was major armistead, who, with tears which were contagious streaming down his
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face and hands on mr. hancock's shoulders, while looking him in the eye, hancock, goodbye, you can never know what this has cost me and may god strike me dead if i'm induced to leave my native soil when worse comes to worse. she said other things that don't get a lot of focus. said armistead brought his u.s. army majors uniform to give to hancock in case he might need it. she also said armistead gave her a small satchel and i'll quote here, requesting that should not be opened except in the event of his death, in which case the souvenirs it contained, with exception of the prayer book intended for me and i still possess, should be sent to his family on the fly leap of this book, lewis a. armistead, trusting god and fearing nothing. this wasn't given on the evil of the battle of gettiesbering. it was given to elmira on the eve before he left.
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there's one other account of armistead and hancock getting together before they left. it's in the 1880 biography of hancock not many people have red by the reverend jenkins. he was former chaplain of the u.s. navy. a friend of the hancock family. he attributes the following passage to hancock himself. he doesn't quote him. but he says an interesting incident in connection with general armistead's defection from the yuchbs army is related by general hancock it occurred in los angeles early in 1861. he goes on. he also placed in his hands for safe keeping to be given to his family should he fall in battle, certain valuable papers and he presented to hancock a prayer book on a fly leap of the book
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as a following inscription. trusting god and fearing nothing. they're tolling the same story. this is seven years before almira's book. 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 i think they did get together. they come east. they're on the same battle fields a couple of times early in the war. they don't clash until the third day at gettiesbering. gettysburg. did they know they were fighting each other? probably. intelligence would have been pretty good. but the point is they current talking about fighting for each other or longing for each other. oh. i have to watch when i say this, but folks, i'm not even sure that's armistead's nickname.
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there's skant evidence to that. it's not a central part of the story, so i deal with it in the append, of the book. you can read it and make your own decision. the append, is entitled low and behold. so lo and behold, armistead leads about 100 men over the wall. and we're all familiar with this unique marker, the armistead marker put up in the late 1880s. see what that looked like about a century ago. i had never seen that. that was just an interesting photo i dug up. that, of course, is modern -- is it accurately placed? who knows. whatever your theory is, you can find an eyewitness account to support that theory. there's accounts that he said he 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. there are multiple accounts, union and confederate, he charged past the wall, up to the second line of guns where he was
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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. he writes very simply, general armistead, an old army officer, came over my fence and passed me with four of his men. i believe armistead get into the angle, whether it was exactly where the monument is right now, 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. lewis a. armistead was a proud member of the masons. the first is 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. folks, there's no way the union army is letting a wounding confederate general lay on the field. even just for intelligence, they
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would have picked him up whether he was a mason or not. the second was this encounter with union captain henry bingham, who is a staff officer on hancock's staff. bingham is a mason. armistead is a mason. hancock's a mason. as a result, we have the very beautiful friend to friend masonic memorial at the entrance 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 were armistead and bingham. armistead died. bingham wrote about this twice in his life, both in private letters to hancock. it was a secret organization, but hancock was a fellow mason. he never mentioned it.
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it very well may have been. i can't say that it wasn't. i was just interested there was no evidence that it was. it's an inference and a great story. but on top of that, if you read bingham's full account, he is going to help a wounded confederate officer. he knows someone has been wounded. he thinks he's coming to help longstreet, who is not a mason. he gets there. he encounters armistead. they introduce each other. armstead hears hancock in action, he identifies 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 so regret or repent, where forget the exact words, 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 that armistead was recanting. everything i have ever read about lewis armistead before and after, i can't imagine he was recanting. whatever you think of him, he
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was a proud confederate soldier but that's what bing ram wrote. armistead is carried 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. 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 germs. there are rumors of injuries they may have missed. there's a story he might have had a blood clot in his leg that went to his lungs. but 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 doctor who thinks armistead's relatives may pay for the body, and he's right. high published letters from the doctor's representative to lewis' cousin christopher hughes armistead down in baltimore, the son of the hero ft. mchenry, he wants his cousin's body. a deal is done in october. they want $100.
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body is shipped to christopher in baltimore. he takes it to old st. paul cemetery, buries it in a family vault right next to his famous uncle, george armistead. always been mystery about this. i was on a ranger tour a few years ago, where we know he's at old st. paul's. we're not quite 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 to take a photo. [ laughter ] thank you very much. it's a private cemetery basically. it's locked and gated. you can finagle your way in. occasionally, they do these 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, but i think that's why he never rose to higher command in the army during the war. has a very interesting post-war life, i detail this in the book. he runs for president in 1880.
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remains in the army. 1885, he returns to gettysburg for the final time where he famously argues with john batchelder about the location, the proposed location of the hancock wounding monument. there it is today. it was put up after his death. hancock always thought it should have been closer to the angle. batchelder is just as stubborn, he said no, so that's where it is. hancock also does take him on a tour of the battlefield. how cool would that have been, 22 years after the war to walk the fields with winfield scott hancock. good thing he did that, because a few months later, february 1886, he contracted an illness and dies at the age of 62. he's buried in norristown, pennsylvania in montgomery cemetery, in a vault he built when his daughter died. both his children preceded him in death. hancock and his daughter are buried here. his wife and son are buried elsewhere. now, the story of hancock and armistead was not well known or even talked about much, late 19th century.
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it wasn't talked about at all in the early 20th century. wasn't until the 1950s when the great historian bruce cabin wrote about the friendship using elmira hancock's book as his source. it took off. the public loved it. shelby foote picked it up in his trilogy, the movie "gettysburg" picks it up, and now it's one of the most famous stories, an overnight sensation that took 100 years. one guy who would an old friend, henry heath. he wrote his memoirs, published them, late 1890s, not very well read. i have never seen this quote before but i'll conclude with those. "those two regimental associates, messmates and devoted friends never met again on earth, but i'm sure met in heaven. armistead killed by one of hancock's troops. and hancock was wounded by one of his military's command. what a commentary on civil war." thank you very much.
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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 the pass down to descendants. it would have been great to have that. frustrating thing about history. we lose a lot. >> did the armisteads have actually swedish heritage? >> i don't think they did. what i found is people thought they had english and german. there might have been some swedish, but i think it was just because of his military province. this was a military family. they knew military history. that's the only thing i can surmise. do you have a question? >> okay. there's a part where hancock in
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the audio book is all by himself in california at that duty station. is that true? the way that the general in the audio book made it sound, he was a pay master, quarter master, the only one guarding -- >> i'm not thinking of the scene. but yes, he was the only u.s. army officer there. he had met people working for him, but for a while, he was the only u.s. -- then more 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 the life think that's what really set him up to be a great commander. because he understood all that stuff. but yes, he's running the show out there. what i didn't know, though, until we found that newspaper account, one of those responsibilities was at the time supplying armistead's troops. >> where was armistead at that time? where was he -- >> what is now arizona. the mojave indians, who the army sent them in to do some battle
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there. so they were apart, but they're still connecting. yes. >> hancock was still on duty when he died, wasn't he? >> yes, he never retired. he remained a professional soldier. he would have resigned, he said, if he won the presidency. 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 have been president, where he lived at the time. he really came very close to being president. the only time that two union officers ran against each other in a presidential election. yes, sir. >> you said armstead from north carolina? >> yes, that's where -- he was born in north carolina. his mother's family was from newburn, north carolina, and that's where he was born, but
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they moved to virginia quickly. his father bought a farm in virginia. his father was a virginian. the armistead family, they're virginian, part of it. so i think he would consider himself a virginian, but it's true he was born in north carolina. >> i had a couple family related questions. do we have any good sense of what this illness was that killed armistead's -- you said both wives? >> they believed both were cholera. it was going through the frontier there, and both times, cholera wiped out people at the post. it was ripping through the army post. they were dealing with this. it was a really tragic time, and there is one account of him coming upon his wife, the second wife who had died. his first one died of cholera. he got remarried and the second one died.
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>> almost all of these generals on both sides had children dying. >> yeah, yeah. >> wives die. >> i think in the country, too. we focus on this, and they dealt with a lot of that. it's just such -- 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 one i wanted to ask was 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? can we tell? >> there's really no way of showing that. she writes the memoirs of winfield scott hancock, so at that point, when you look at all this, everybody is spinning. all the accounts, everybody is spinning. nobody ever retreated because they lost the 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 junken account in the book seven years before her book, where a lot of it is the
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same language. so they're getting told the same story. i think that is as much confirmation. 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. i mean, so much we'll never find, and other people may argue some of these points, but at least you 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 mexican war, did either one distinguish themselves in any way during their service? >> they both were gallantry. armistead two times, maybe three. as i mentioned just briefly there, 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
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the ditch there. and again, he's seven years older than hancock, so hancock was very junior when he got there. there's a chapter on the mexican war in the book. we know a lot more about what armistead did. he also testified in the court-martial of another officer, so he detailed in the court-martial account what he did. so he described some of his actions in some of the battles. pretty interesting to me. yes, sir. >> in comparison, in the movie, hancock, when he has a conversation with his general, he's basically telling him, 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 of what really happened. did 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 just for the movie. i think there was, you know, there was some question on the union side.
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reading 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 bit 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 pickets charge. the original plan was to continue the attacks of the previous day. not until longstreet and lee have their little argument that pickets charge becomes pickets charge. so even the confederates were going to attack, but they didn't know at 6:00 in the morning they were going to do pickets charge the way it came out. who knows what would have happened if they did the other. yes. >> the doctor that helped with the body, was that rufus weaver, the name of the doctor? >> i think it was chamberlain. >> a different person. >> i detail in the book. you get on to research other things after you write a book and you can't remember all the details, but there are so many names.
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because there's a lot of information about armistead now at the spangler farm, there are a number of doctors who examined him. so when you're writing a book, you can't use everyone's account. so that's part of the challenge of all of this, you get into the hancock/howard thing on the first day. there's so many -- we'll never know exactly what happened between those guys. it depends on whose officers you're reading, are you reading howard's officers or hancock's. >> 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. charges like $3.25 a body, but they used it as an example of charity. but from what you were saying, it sounded like somebody was
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doing this as a money making operation. >> this was with armistead because he was a star, and really, he thought he could get money for the body, and he was right. for a long time, people couldn't figure out where armistead was. communication wasn't very great back then. that's why there's still a mystery today. you can't get into the seamitary, you can't just walk in, 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 the most, is basically, i'll admit to having to do that in the book because you can't do it any other way. there's so many, not just on that but everything. so many conflicting accounts, like where armistead fell. these guys were all eyewitnesses and they all say he fell at different places. how are we supposed to know where he fell? so i guess the marker is as close as we can find. anything else, folks? thank you very much. really enjoyed it. [ applause ] c-span offers a variety of podcasts that have something for every listener.
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