Elijah Gates Camp - Archives
Captain Thomas C. Holland with General Armistead at Gettysburg
The article in the Veteran for September, 1920, by J.A. Stevens, of
Burnet, Tex., and the response to it in the November issue by Mrs. H. F.
Lewis, of Bristol, Tenn., all in regard to the death and last expressions of
Gen. Lewis Armistead after that famous charge of Pickett's men at Gettysburg
on the 3d of July, 1863, bring out this statement from me.
This first histories written after the war stated that General Armistead
was killed on the field, which I had to correct through the public journals.
He died, as well as I remember, about 9 a.m. on July 5 after intense
suffering. I never shall forget his request after we were moved to a
temporary hospital beneath the shade of some trees. "Please don't step so
close to me," said he to the surgeons and nnurses as he lay on the cot on
We started on the charge, as history tells, with approximately five
thousand men. My company (G, 28th Virginia) had eighty-eight men, and only
seven answered at roll call that night–some killed, some wounded, and some
missing. General Garnett was on the right, General Kemper bringing up the
left, and Armistead in the center. As we "marched through the valley of
death" and after we crossed the Emmettsbur road our men began to fall fast.
The colonel of the 28th Virginia, R. C. Allen, was killed after we had
gotten within some two hundred yards of the stone fence. The next officer I
saw fall was General Garnett. We then crossed the stone fence almost at the
mouth of Cushing's Philadelphia Battery, and here is where General Armistead
fell. I was a little to his left and had passed only a few paces when I
fell, unconscious as to what was going on. during the afternoon General
Armistead, myself, and quite a number of officers were removed to the
temporary hospital over beyond Cemetery Heights.
While on our way to the trees where we were taken no one stopped our
carriers but once, and he seemed to be an ambulance officer or surgeon, who
only directed the ambulance party. I am confident that no one spoke to
General Armistead en route to those trees, as we were quite close to each
other. What may have taken place at the hospital I am not prepared to say.
While at the peace meeting at Gettysburg in 1913, standing where General
Armistead fell, a man and his wife approached the spot where I fell just
fifty years before, this being to the left of where Armistead fell and some
ten steps in advance, where I stuck a stick in the ground to indicate the
The man proved to be a member of Cushing's Battery of Philadelphia, if I
am not mistaken. He said to his wife: "Here is where I killed the only Rebel
I know of during the war. I may have killed others, but this is the only one
I know I killed, and if that was away from my mind I would feel free in
saying that I never killed any one that I know of." She said: "It is too bad
that you killed him" He replied that the mman must have been crazy; that he
was an officer and was waving his hat above his head and halloaing" "Come
At this I knew I was the one referred to, and I thought I would relieve
his mind. So I said to him: "I am the man you killed, but I am a pretty
lively corpse." He stepped back, and I saw he was shocked, so I said: "Here
is where the ball entered my left cheek, and here is where it came out at
the back of my head."
He then grasped my hand and inquired my name and gave me his. He
introduced me to his wife, and they very insistenlyy invited me to go over
to the hotel where they were stopping and take dinner with them. But, owing
to pressing business at the time, I could not go. I had been made adjutant
general of Pickett's Division for the bogus charge and was pressed for time.
However, this man and I began a correspondence and kept it up until I moved
from Kansas City to Steedmman, in Callaway County, Mo., some six years ago.
I want to make an appeal to the contributors of the Veteran. Please do not
fail to send reminiscences of 1861 to 1863, as our Army of Northern Virginia
never lost a battle within that time. I like to read the war stories of
1863-65, but after the Gettysburg fight the news was not so interesting or
pleasing to us.