Archive for January 21st, 2011

About a month ago, I wrote here about the most viewed cemetery-related photos on my Flickrstream. Not surprisingly, they were all for gravestones of famous people or people related to famous events: two related to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, the tomb of Robert E. Lee, the ledger stone for Helen Pitts Douglass, and the statue that marks the grave of Stonewall Jackson.

The next most popular photo on my Flickr stream that I’m going to include here isn’t technically a gravestone, but it is a memorial, and I love it so much I am going to give it its own post. It’s the marker that purports to mark the location where Confederate Brigadier General Lewis Armistead fell wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg while leading his troops in Pickett’s charge. It greatly resembles a grave marker in its design. I have had a soft spot in my heart for Armistead ever since I became familar with his story (interpreted and dramatized in the book The Killer Angels and movie Gettysburg).

In many ways, Armistead has been a figure who has been used to show how the Civil War was fought by men who knew each other intimately. At the eve of the Civil War, Armistead was already a figure that could star in any tragedy: he did not finish his education at West Point, fire destroyed his family home in Virginia, he developed a rare skin disorder, and he buried two wives and two children. He was particularly close to fellow army officer Winfield Scott Hancock and his wife Almira Hancock. He entrusted Hancock’s wife with items to be forwarded to his family in the event of his death. Like many other army officers born and raised in the Confederate states, Armistead decided he could not fight against his home state and resigned his army commission to take a command in the Confederate armies. In The Killer Angels, author Shaara uses Armistead to voice the conflicting emotions that many Civil War officers must have felt a they fought against those they had once served beside. Armistead lead his brigade in Pickett’s Charge on the 3rd day of the Battle of Gettysburg, making his way to the Union lines before being wounded. According to those who moved him from the field, he asked after his friend Hancock and wanted to send a message to him. Armistead in fact was buried on the property of the nearby Spangler farm where he died two days later. He was later re-interred at St. Paul’s Cemetery in Baltimore.

Brigadier General Lewis A. Armistead C.S.A. Fell Here July 3, 1863.

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