Notes and Queries. did General Armistead fight on the Federal side at First Manassas or confess when dying at Gettysburg that he had been engaged in an “Unholy cause?”We have, in previous “Notes and Queries,” answered in the negative both of these questions; but we now submit the following conclusive statement of the whole case. General Abner Doubleday in his book on Chancellorsville and Gettysburg (page 195), makes the following remarkable statement in describing the charge of Pickett's Division. * * * “Armistead was shot down by the side of the gun he had taken. It is said he had fought on our side in the first battle at Bull Run, but had been seduced by Southern affiliations to join in the rebellion, and now dying in the effort to extend the area of slavery over the free States, he saw with a clearer vision that he had been engaged in an unholy cause, and said to one of our officers. who leaned over him: ‘Tell Hancock I have wronged him and have wronged my country.’ ” The friends of General Armistead are indignant at this statement which they pronounce a slander “out of the whole cloth,” and are anxious that its refutation should have the widest circulation. We, therefore, submit the following vindication of as gallant a gentleman as ever served his country in the old army — as conscientious a patriot as ever followed his convictions of duty into the Confederate army: 1. In reference to the charge that he fought on the “Union” side at First Manassas (Bull Run), it is easy to show that it was a physical impossibility for him to have been present at that battle on either side. General L. A. Armistead was the son of General Walker K. Armistead, of the old army, was himself a “West-Pointer,” entered the Mexican war as First Lieutenant, was breveted Captain for “gallant and meritorious conduct” at Contreras, and Churubusco, and Major for his conduct at Molino del Rey. In March, 1855, he was commissioned Captain in the Sixth Infantry, and at the breaking out of the war he had been made Major and was serving on the Pacific coast. When  Albert Sidney Johnston resigned his commission in the United States army, and, after being relieved by General Sumner, begun his weary and perilous journey across the plains, Major Armistead accompanied him. General Johston wrote as follows to his wife from Vallecito:
Colonel Wm. Preston Johnston in his Life of General Albert Sidney Johnston (from which the above extracts are taken), goes on to narrate other interesting details of this journey, and (on page 291) gives an “Intinerary” which shows every stage of the route from June 16th, 1861, when the party left Los Angels, to July 28th when they arrived at Mesilla. If further confirmation were needed we might give other proofs, but will only submit the following letter:
Thus it is in proof that General Armistead was in California when his State seceded, and the war broke out — that as soon as he heard of it he resigned — that he was with General A. S. Johnston in his famous journey across the plains, and that he arrived at Mesilla a week after the first battle of Manassas (or Bull Run), was fought on the 21st of July, 1861, and that it was, therefore, as much a physical impossibility that Armistead could have been present at the battle, as it was a moral impossibility that he could, with his convictions, have drawn his sword against his native State, his kindred, his own people. General Doubleday's repetition of this rumor is as unworthy of the candor of a brave soldier, as it is incompatible with the pains-taking of the accurate historian. 2. The other count in the indictment, viz: that General Armistead, when dying, “saw with a clearer vision, that he had been engaged in an unholy cause, and said to one of our officers, who leaned over him, ‘ tell Hancock I have wronged him, and have wronged my country,’ ” is rather more difficult to meet with positive proof, but we have been able to secure evidence amounting to a moral certainty that this also is utterly untrue. Major Armistead made his choice calmly, deliberately, and with all of the facts before him. With all of his devotion to the Union, love for “the old flag,” and attachment to his brother officers, he had decided that he could neither fight against the South, nor remain neutral in the great struggle; and he made his perilous journey, reached Richmond, tendered his sword to the Confederacy, and was made Colonel of the 57th Virginia Regiment, and in April, 1862, Brigadier-General. In all of these positions he served faithfully, and gallantly — none of his comrades ever heard the slightest intimation that he doubted the justice of the cause for which he fought, and it would take proof of the very strongest character to convince those who knew him that he confessed when dying, that he had been battling for an “unholy cause.”  His intimate friend, Colonel R. H. Dulaney, of Loudoun county, Virginia, writes: “Of course, we cannot tell what Lewis said to the Federal officer when captured. He might have regretted the necessity of the war, but he would have denied every principle he had held during his life if what General Doubleday says were true.” His friend, General Wm. H. Payne, of Warrenton, Virginia, and his old staff officer, Major Peyton Randolph, are equally emphatic in denying the moral possibility of Armistead's using any such language, when himself. We have a letter from Colonel R. W. Martin, of Pittsylvania county, who was wounded at General Armistead's side, who had frequent conversation with Federal officers who ministered to Armistead in his last moments, and who not only heard nothing of this recantation, but indignantly denies its possibility, saying: “General Armistead was no hypocrite, he could not have felt that he was sinning against his country, and have been the brave and gallant defender of the cause that he was — for no life lost during the struggle was more freely and willingly sacrificed for principle than was his.” Charles H. Barnes, in his History of the Philadelphia brigade, (pp. 190-192,) gives an appreciative notice of General Armistead's gallantry, and death, but puts no such words into his mouth, nor do any of the other numerous writers on Gettysburg, so far as we have seen. But in addition to this negative testimony, we submit the following correspondence, which explains itself, and settles the question beyond peradventure:
To this letter there was the following reply:
On July the 20th, General Hancock sent us the following:
It will be seen from the above, (which we doubt not is an entirely accurate statement of General Bingham's recollection of what occurred, except that he does not enter into the details of his kindness to General Armistead, which we will ever cherish in grateful remembrance,) that the message actually sent by the dying hero, was a very different one from that which General Doubleday gives. Mortally wounded, “completely  exhausted,” [he had arisen from a sick bed, against the remonstrances of surgeons and friends, to go into that charge,] and no doubt “broken-spirited,” when he saw his gallant band hurled back by overwhelming odds from the position they had so heroically won--General Armistead received unexpected kindness from his old comrade and intimate friend, General Hancock, from whom he had been estranged by the events of the war, was deeply touched by it, and very naturally sent the message: “Say to General Hancock for me, that I have done him, and you all grievous injury, which I shall always regret.” i. e., I have wronged you by cherishing bitter, vindictive, feelings towards old friends, who, in this hour of my extreme need, meet me with this great kindness. The message contains not one word of regret for the service he had rendered the Confederacy — not one intimation that he now “saw with clearer vision” that he had “wronged his country,” or had been engaged in an “unholy cause” --and in thus changing the words, and forcing their meaning, General Doubleday proves that he lacks the calmness of the historian, and shows the same bitter spirit of the partizan as when he recklessly affirms that we poor Confederates were fighting “to extend the area of slavery over the free States.” The Confederate charge upon the heights of Gettysburg is a grand episode in history of which every true American should be proud. There was no more conspicuous figure in that grand battle picture than brave old Armistead who led his men with characteristic heroism, and fell on the crest of the battle wave, bequeathing to his people a name above reproach. We enter our burning protest against having that fair name and fame tarnished by the flippant, reckless, pen of General Doubleday, whose book will be of little value to the future historian if this is a fair specimen of his historic accuracy. The Number of Guns in Cutts's Battalion at Sharpsburg. In our April number we denied the accuracy of the statement of General D. H. Hill's report (as quoted by General Palfrey), that he had “near sixty pieces of Cutts's Battalion” of Artillery at Sharpsburg — saying that it was evidently a typographical error as no Confederate battalion ever had anywhere near sixty pieces of artillery. But to settle the matter, we wrote Colonel Cutts on the subject, and submit his conclusive reply in which he shows that his own command at Sharpsburg consisted of twenty-four guns, and that, while before and after the battle other guns were temporarily under his command, these were  all he had during the battle. General Hill no doubt meant to say that he had sixteen (instead of sixty) pieces of Cutts's Artillery engaged at Sharpsburg; but the letter of the gallant Georgian explains itself.