tv The Civil War Former Friends - Union General Hancock Confederate General... CSPAN November 11, 2021 7:02am-8:01am EST
our next speaker is tom at mellon. he is a lifelong student of history of the civil war. up until this year yet published two books flight 93, the story the aftermath of the legacy of american courage on 9/11 and gettysburg five native son to came home to fight confederate soldiers and that look one a literary book award. we are pleased to announce today the unveiling of his newest release wishes armistead and hancock a high and the legend of two friends at the turning point of the civil war and this will be the foundation for his presentation today. i will let you know that this book is hot off the press and it's not officially released until july 15 so get it here first now. guaranteed first editions.
in addition to tom's writing career he has also served on the board of trustees for the pittsburgh heinz history center, sorry and previously served on the board of directors of the friends of flight 93 national memorial. he resides in pittsburgh and recently retired two days ago? >> is recently retired after 43 year career in the sports media and kevin occasions. i'd like to present to you tom mcmillan. [applause] >> the second day of retirement and first day of standing room only crowds. this is such a great place. it's my favorite civil war oak store in the country. it's great to be with this group of distinguished speakers and my friend jim hessler -- i saw it
at a theater in pittsburgh and drove here later and have had the almost ever since. i saw the movie before i read the novel which is one of pulitzer cries for fiction in 1975. based on a foundation of gettysburg history there's a lot of fiction woven into the conversation and the novelist did it so well you often can't separate fact from fiction. there were so many great stories and the one that stood out for me is -- what a story that was. two friends almost brothers worked together in u.s. army had a teary-eyed our well in l.a. in
1861 and two years later meet here and armistead's men attacked hancock's men. i wanted to learn more about that and there wasn't much out there. i wanted to read a book on armistead and hancock but there wasn't one. there is one now. i will go back. i said i will read about louis armistead. 158 years and one book. it's 64 pages ended sunday when mobs who is the ceo of gettysburg foundation. and you know it's well-resourced and well done but a few years ago they did a book on the
armistead but there's not a lot of looks. there's a lot on hancock. he runs for president in 1980 -- 1880. most of them barely mentioned armistice and some don't mention him at all. what's going on here? i talked to some of my friends some of you are sitting in the audience and i said what you know about armistead and hancock and what they knew was from the movie having an emotional conversation talking about -- and this is one of the great themes of the movie. there we go. you want to get your powerpoint downgraded the beginning. so help me if i ever raise my hand against you may god strike
me dead. may god strike me dead. that's how close he is coming. he couldn't bring himself to think about fighting hancock even though they agreed to fight each other in the civil war but that's the movie version or there's only one person who is there to write about it and that's hancock. she does "armistead is using the phrase it may god's light me dead but it's in a slightly different context. he said they hope god will strike me dead if i refuse to leave my native soil if worse comes to worse. people say that's not very compelling. so what happens? novelist and moviemakers scary tellers and enhancing their stories and making an impression so they use it as a tool and on top of that the movie is already
for hours so it's part of the tool and by the way there were conversations between armistead and longstreet and that's another tool of all we have so moving on from there they go to west point together. no. armistead was born in 1817 and hancock 1824. he's a second lieutenant before winnie scott hancock gave him even enrolls at west point. other letters, personal letters
between these two almost brothers? they do not exist. there are no letters from hancock even mention armistead. i'm sorry there are two letters from hancock that mention armistead but they are after he's died and is inquiring about the circumstances of armistead splinting. if you're researching a book on armistead and hancock and their friendship you better find out if they are friends. so i hope you conclude since i'm up here that 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 and 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 up on the soldiers and a long continued for 19 years so to me it's a very compelling and unique story
reflecting on what the civil war did to the country but it's just not the same story you heard in the novel in the movie. who were these guys? lewis as an armistead was from a distinguished family from virginia. he had been serving in american military since the year 1680 and lewis's third great-grandfather was lieutenant colonel of gloucester county virginia. they lied in the american early wars and his father in three of his uncles fought in the war of 1812. four brothers from the same family in the generation just ahead of his. captain lewis g8 armistead g8 is for gustav is a doll this. he's killed in 1814. captain edison armistead dies of disease while on duty in 1813. luis and addison.
what is our civil war guys name lewis adam to -- armistead. the most famous uncle is the third lieutenant colonel george armistead who commanded fort mchenry in the battle where francis scott key wrote the national anthem. george took the original "star spangled banner" he did about the flagpole and took it home and it remained in the possession of the armistead family for 90 years until george's grandfather gave it to the smithsonian so if you go to the national him museum of history you'll see that came out of the armistead family one of the most iconic pieces of it in american history. george dies a few years after the war probably have a heart attack so the longest living in highest-ranking of the brothers
is lewis' father walker keith armistead. the third man ever to graduate from west point in 1818 when lewis's 1-year-old he's chief engineer of u.s. army in 1828 when lewis's 11 walkers and the brigadier general. it's no coincidence that louis armistead as a soldier. it's no coincidence his three younger brothers were confederate soldiers and it's no coincidence his son was a confederate soldier and on the staffing gettysburg as a teenager and i witnessed to pickett's charge that military service was part of the armistead dna. lewis did try to follow his brother's footsteps he enrolls at west point in 1833. some most storied career of anyone who ever graduated. three years on campus and never got out of the first class. that's hard to do. he was sick a little bit and he
obviously was a very good student and he got in a fair amount of trouble but in his third year campus when he moved up to the middle of the class rankings there's an entry in the records in january of 36 captain armistead is hereby placed under arrest charged with disorderly conduct in the mess hall. the details of what happened are long gone but the story that made it through the confederate army was that louis brault in the mess hall and hit a future confederate general jubal early over the head. lewis knows he's in trouble and he talks to his father and they conclude that best thing to avoid it court-martials to resign so lewis writes a letter of resignation. the west point superintendent writes army headquarters and said we accepted as a courtesy.
lewis was not thrown out as you often read. there's a three-year gap in the story of his life but in the summer of 1839 he gets a commission as a civilian as a second lieutenant in the u.s. army. his last class at west point graduated july 1 come 1839 and their commission is dated to that day. luis' commission dates july 10. all of those shenanigans he loses nine days in rank but it's good to know people in high places. so off he goes to the war zone and ease in florida almost immediately the second or third day there he's in hot combat but no longer the u.s. army makes a change in his command structure. the new command of all the u.s. troops in florida's brigadier
general walker keith armistead. he said it as an aid in his experience changes dramatically but he gets in up-close view of how a general works and army. and they are 40 c. sent to a place called fort tollison and that's where he meets them young man named winfield scott hancock did was -- what's hancock's background his father benjamin has historic names and that would eat benjamin franklin hancock. they have twin boys in 1824 named winfield scott after the soldier and the other named hillary baker which doesn't seem famous to us. it was locally prominent at the time in six years later they had a third john named john. john hancock. john hancock is with his brother wind field in gettysburg so
armistead and hancock have family members at the battle. hancock grows up in norristown and gets an appointment to west point. his father doesn't think it's a very good idea to young. sixteens the youngest a.g. can get in but it's also small. we think the big strapping winfield hancock. i. do you know how tall he was when he got out of west point? 5 feet 5 inches tall. his classmates considered him a pet. these small a fair amount of time and it gets picked on. boys being boys he gets bullied and one time one of his larger classmates steps in to fight one of the bullies that classmate is alexander hayes who ends up commanding a division. hancock never forgets this years later in a flowery language than i consider he writes when i was
a boy i had difficulty in alexander hayes was the first assist me and extracted me for my trouble and became in that involve the nod for said difficulty himself. amazing connections between these guys. hancock is not a very good student and unlike armistead he does graduate in the class of 1844 and when he graduates he sent to the frontier to fort tauzin and which is now, and that's where in october 1844 we have the first u.s. army record of louis armistead and john hancock being together. it group of 15 officers in a remote post working together and developing their friendship or they served together for 60 months on the frontier. in 1845 they were transferred together to another remote oklahoma post where they are members of the six-member officer crew.
here's the record from november of 1845. six officers and the chaplain and armistead is listed third and hancock has listed six. it's the first time and the only time we have a record of armistead and hancock being together where there's not a u.s. army record. 1846 the mexican war happens in these guys want to go different times in different places but they end up fighting the same unit that sixth infantry. third square armistead was known
for his bravery and a number of officers write about him being the first u.s. officer into the ditch. they served together in a post-war occupation between the time the fighting ended in the peace treaty was signed the u.s. army occupied mexico. armistead commanded the small company and his lieutenants were hancock and henry heath. he'd get so says memoir is used later third person confirmation and he said armistead con -- hancock are mess made and never was a mess made happier than i. they were about the same age. during this period hancock and -- r. going out at night trying to meet girls. hancock is so good-looking and he's a magnet for the young ladies. one night hancock of the young
lady at i love you and the next night a third one i love you and he says hancock what you tell till these different women you love them produces heath we are still at war and all is fair in love and war. they are transferred after the war and they do the same thing and go out and keith was with him when hancock meets his future wife. you can make the case that hancock is closer to heat than armistead at least socially but it's armistead and hancock so getting back to the story. what were their family lives like? via the stable family like that's life he and l. myra had two children in the family was almost always together. they are in florida together in
california together and they are married into 1886 when hancock died. armistead in contrast is a tragic personal life. between 18501955 he loses to wives and two of his three children to disease on the frontier. he's aria hard-nosed soldier but he become sullen and it's understandable so the armistead character you see portrayed in gettysburg is probably not the way he was at that point. he was given a different deck of cards in life. in a 13-year period between the end of the mexican war and the begin of the civil war these guys are almost never together. there's one time in the 18 50's when the entire pitcher gets together with this massive march to the west coast. they get out what's in their
west and their split up again but armistead is sent to arizona to deal with indians who are messing with settlers and dashes sent to california where he's at quartermaster and one of his jobs is to supply armistead strips. a researcher can find a lot about these guys the 19th century newspapers. it's painstaking research and frankly my wife has -- so i will say something like armistead and hancock what can you find it 20 minutes later how about this? how about this? [inaudible] a pretty cool piece of evidence. they are hundreds of miles apart but they are working together.
armistead does a good job and he earns a leave of absence and turns it into year-long leave of absence. he is listed in the census in the summer of 1860 as though he lived there. his mother and young son walker chief who goes by chief and reconnects with some of his friends back home one of whom was a future confederate cavalier -- cavalier turner ashby. he had commanded a militia unit here -- these men were there. ashby is telling this to armistead and armistead is ben away so long he can get his arms around him. he thinks ashley is being overly negative so he says turner did not talk so. let me sing you a song and with that louis armistead started to sing the "star spangled banner."
ashby then joined in so there you have nine months of the civil war these confute future confederate officer singing the "star spangled banner." he gets past -- back to his post. by the time he gets herself carolina seceded and other states are lining up at my were hancock writes during this period a lot of southern board -- born seniors went to hancock for advice. he didn't have much advice for him. what he said was i can give you no advice as i shall not fight upon the principle that state rights. i cannot sympathize with you you must be guided by your convictions and i hope you will make no mistakes. this was an easy decision for him. he was 100% a union man and he was going to fight. armistead has a top decision.
he's a native southerner and he comes from a long line of slaveholders in he grew up with 19 that his father owned. he owned one may be to himself briefly. his whole life and his family's history is tied up in this history in the "star spangled banner." the army has become his family. these are his brothers in arms. as we know he does make the tough decision and fights for the confederacy. we have this reasoning in a letter that appears in the sun's military service records in the national archives but armistead is writing a letter trying to get his son in the cadet ship. armistead had beautiful handwriting but here are the key phrases. i've been a soldier on my life but i was an officer in the army of the u.s. which service i love to fight grant country and ford with my own people and because they were right in the press. for my own country and with my
own people. that's what lummis -- louis armistead joined the confederacy which leads us to famous farewell get-together in california. lots of questions about this. some people believe it didn't happen at all and i believe something did happen. when you look at exactly what she wrote she only identifies three people. she said more were there but she'll only i'd been advised armistead and hancock. could they have all been in the same place? the answer is yes. hancock and armistead were friends. we have newspaper counts twice in may he went through l.a. at least briefly in a letter in june that he's in l.a..
the circumstances assume this happen. this is the foundation of the legend. she wrote the most crust of the harty was major armistead whose with tears which were contagious streaming down his face and hands upon mr. hancock shoulders while looking at him steadily in the ice that hancock had by you can never know what this is cost me and i god will strike me dead if i am ever to leave my native soil. she said armistead brought his u.s. army major's uniform to give to hancock in case he might sometime need it. she also said armistead gave our smalls stature and that quote here requesting it should not be opened except in the instance of this death with the exception of a little prayer book intended for me and which i still possess should be sent to his family.
on the flyleaf of this book is following louis a armistead justin god and fear nothing. it was 1861 before he left. there's one other account obscure account of armistead in hancock before they left. it's in 1880 biography of hancock by reverend d x. junkin who is a reverend in the u.s. navy at friend of the hancock family. he does some of his work in the hancock home on this biography. he attributes the following passage to hancock himself. he doesn't quote him but he says an interesting incident in connection with general armistice defection from the united states army is related by general hancock. occurred in los angeles early in 1861. on leaving los angeles to present hancock with his
uniform. he also placed in his hands for safekeeping valuable papers. armistead also presented hancock a little prayer book which is still the letters -- in the latter's possession. they are telling the same story and this is seven years before al myra's book. he says he got the prayer book and she says she got the prayer book. so that is to say i think they did come together. they are both at seven days and they don't license of the third day of gettysburg. do they know they were fighting each other? the answer is probably and the third day of the battle army intelligence would have been pretty good but the point is
they were talking about fighting each other. they weren't longing for one another. i'm not even sure low was armistead snacktime -- nick-name. there's scant evidence of that. i deal with it in the appendix of the book. the appendix is entitled lo and behold. armistead leaves about 100 men and we are all familiar with this unique marker put up in the late 1880s
there are multiple accounts that he charged past the wall to the second line where he was hit and fell. the most credible is from the union commander at the wall. he writes a letter to his wife after the battle and he writes simply general armistead an old army officer came over my fence and past me with for this man. i believe armistead did get into the act. this group knows there are two stories to legends armistead being assisted and carried off the field. they have masonic applications and come it was a proud member of the masons.
the union soldiers rushed forward. it's probably true and of course there's no way the union army would let the general lay there in the field. he would be. the second one is his encounter is a staff officer. armistead is a mason and hancock is a mason. as a result we have different different masonic memorial. the proposal was that would would be the figure of armistead hancock shaking hands in the park rejected that because it did not happen. i could find no evidence that it was because they were masons.
that's affirmed no evidence. the only two who knew would be armistead --. i was just insures said that there was no evidence that it was and it's a great story. on top of that if you read the full account he knows someone has been went to denny's told this to james longstreet. he thinks he's coming to help longstreet who is not a mason. he gets there and they introduce each other and armistead identifies hancock as an old and valued friend. and he gives in him a quote which enumerates six years later i've done him and done you all an injury which i shall regret or it can't do longest stay i
live. a lot of people think that armistead was recanting. everything i've ever read about armistead i can't imagine he was recanting. he was a proud confederate soldier. armistead is carried to the field hospital and if you have not been down there please go down there. it's the civil war hospital. the union doctors do not think his wounds are fatal if he dies two days later on july 5. they don't know much about germs and there were rumors about avengers they may have missed and there's a story that may have been a blood clot in his leg. yes. in a shallow grave in the dug up not long afterwards by an enterprising gettysburg doctor who thinks armistead's relative may -- pay for the body and is right.
his cousin in baltimore the son of the hero at fort mchenry wants his cousin's body. the deal was done and not sober and they gave him $100 in a ship to baltimore and he takes it to st. paul's cemetery and berries in the family vault next to his famous uncle george armistead. i was on a tour a few years ago where he said he no he's at old st. paul's and we are sure where the that's where. i was standing there with my wife who had the presence to take photos. it's a private cemetery basically and it's locked in gated and occasionally they do tours. that's the armistead story. hancock was wanted about the same time in the thigh. he he recovers that he never fully recovers. he returns to the army in six
months never quite the same. it's a pretty good day in spotsylvania but that's why he never rose to a higher command. he has an interesting post-war life in a detail it in the book he runs for president in 1880 and he almost becomes president. 1885 he returns to gettysburg for the final time where he famously argues with the location the proposed location of the hancock wounding. hancock but it should be closer to the --. it was placed by someone nearby. hancock does take you monitor the battlefield. to walk the fields with wind field scott hancock? a few months later ever of a teenage 60 contracts and alice and he dies. he is buried in norristown pennsylvania in a fault that he
built when his daughter died. both of his children preceded him in death. hancock and his daughter is. here his wife and son are buried elsewhere. the story of hancock and armistead is not well-known or talked about much. it wasn't talked about it all in the 19th century was until the 1950s that a great historian wrote about the friendship using elm iraq hancock's book as a source in the public loved it. shelby foote picked it up in his trilogy and the movie gettysburg picks it up and now it's one of the most famous battles. one guy who wouldn't have been surprised was an old friend. i've never seen this quote before but i will conclude with this. those two associates devoted friends never made it again on
earth but i'm sure have met again in heaven. i think armistead was killed by hancock chips and hancock was wanted by one of armistead's commands. thank you very much. if we have time for questions we can do it. is anybody in charge? >> what happens to the prayer book? >> we don't know. she said she had it but it got lost somewhere but it would have been great to have that. the frustrating thing about history we lose a lot of those things. >> due armistead have swedish heritage because of gustav is adolphus? >> they had english and german. i think it was just because this
was a military family. the new military history and that's the only thing i can surmise. >> it's the part where hancock in the audio book is all by himself and is that true and the way the audio but made a sound was he wasn't the quartermaster. >> i'm not thinking at the scene but in fact he was the only u.s. army officer there. he met people working for him and then more came but they are opening up the west and they opened up posts and he was sent there. a lot of people don't know that hancock was the quartermaster for a lot of his career. some of his people were with him later in life is what set them up to be a great commander. what i didn't know until we found the newspaper account one
of his responsibilities with supplying armistead's troops. >> where was he? >> what is now arizona with the mojave indians. early sentiment to do some battle there so they are part that they are still connected. >> hancock was still on duty when he died wasn't he? >> yes. he remained a professional soldier and he would have resigned if he had won the presidency. it was really close. it was a close election. he lost by 9000. if he had won the electoral college in new york he would have won. it was the only time the two union officers ran against each other in a presidential election.
[inaudible] >> you is born in north carolina. his mother's family was from new bern north carolina and that's where he is born but he's -- they moved to virginia quickly. his father was in virginia and the armistead family is in virginia so i think you would consider himself a virginia but it's true he was born in north carolina. >> i have family related questions. do we know who killed armistead's -- how they died? >> i believe colorado. color was cholera was ripping through the army post that is a really tragic time and there is
one account of him coming upon his wife. his first one died of cholera and he got remarried in the second one died. all these generals on both sides had children dying. >> in the country too. they dealt with a lot of that. but armistead had a lot in the short period of time and that had to have impacted his views on things. >> give it thing i once asked was hancock elm iraq we know she's beautiful matsui no butter from the movie. issue reliable witness can we tell? >> there's really no way of showing that. when you look at all of this stuff everybody is spinning. nobody ever retreated because they lost the battle.
we all do that and everybody is working in pr so certainly there is pr in our book. it's the junk and account in the book seven years before our book were a lot of it is the same language so they are being told the same story so that is as much confirmation as we have but the bottom line is we will never know. hopefully this gets closer to the truth but it's not the whole truth. there's so much we will never find and people may argue some of these points but at least we throw it out there we can discuss it. if we knew everything we'd be on to some other battle. >> he served in the mexican war ended either one distinguish themselves? >> armistead was -- two times
maybe three and as i mentioned briefly throughout his military career his fellow soldiers talked about how brave armistead was and he was the first person into the ditch. again he is seven years older than hancock so hancock was very junior when he got there. we know a lot more about armistead and he testified in the court-martial of another officers of the detailed in the court-martial account what he did. it's pretty interesting to me. >> in the movie hancock is a conversation with his generals and he's basically telling and i don't remember who is talking to but he said it's hot and we are all tired and nothing is going to happen. i don't think that would be true
did he and the other generals know that hey the confederates are going to attack us and we just don't know when. >> a lot of the conversations are just part of the movie. there was some question. reading john gibbons account they were sure there was going to be an attack that day. sometimes it's led off the past of this book but they were in position. if you remember the confederates the original plan that morning was to continue the attacks of the previous day and it's not until longstreet in lee had their argument that it becomes the biggest charge for the confederates wanted to attack but they did not 6:00 in the morning they would do tickets charge the way it came out and who knows what would have happened if they did.
>> was that roof is weaver? >> i think his name is chamberlain. i detailed in the book. you have to research other things when you're writing a book and he can't remember the details but because there is a lot of information on armistead 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 accounts. that's part of the challenge of all of this. you get into the hancock howard thing on the first day. we'll never know exactly what happens between these guys. it depends on whose officers you are reading. that's not exactly what you asked but -- >> here in gettysburg they had a memorial to this doctor these days is doing a noble work to help expatriate the bodies of the confederate soldiers back to
the confederacy being charged 325 the body. they used it as an example of charity from what what you were saying it sounded like somebody was doing it as a moneymaking operation. >> really he thought he could get money for the body and he was right. armistice body wanted the body and for long-time people couldn't figure where armistead was per the communication was a very great back then and that's why there's a mystery today. you can't just walk into it now but again you have to navigate your way through the tangle of stories to figure out which one you believe the most. i'll admit to having to do that in the book. not just on that everything. there are so many conflicting accounts like where armistead -- these guys