Brevet Brigadier General Samuel Chapman Armstrong’s Civil War

Today’s post is written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Senior Archivist at the National Archives at College Park, MD.

Gen. Samuel C. Armstrong (NAID 167250430).

At Benedict, Maryland, in command of U.S. Colored Troops, on December 17, 1863, Union Army Lt. Col. Samuel Chapman Armstrong wrote, “we are fighting for humanity and freedom, the South for barbarism and slavery.”[1] Just three years earlier he had been a college student in the Kingdom of Hawaii and in 1862, before beginning his military service, he was a senior at Williams College. His story, particularly regarding what he was fighting for in his adopted country and his evolving views regarding African Americans, is quite interesting and well worth telling.

Early Life

Armstrong was born January 30, 1839, on the island of Maui, Hawaiian Islands. From 1831, his parents, Richard Armstrong of Pennsylvania and Clarissa Chapman of Massachusetts, were missionaries, till his father’s appointment, in 1847, as Minister of Public Instruction, when he took charge of, and in part built up, the five hundred Hawaiian free schools and some of the higher educational work. Young Samuel received his early education at the “Royal School” at Punahou, founded in 1840 for the training of the young chiefs. He remained at the Punahou School till the year 1860, first as a small boy, and finally as a collegian; for in 1855 the school was renamed Oahu College, and became an institution for higher learning. Here as one of a class of four he took the first two years of a college course. In September 1860 his father was thrown from a horse and subsequently died.[2]   

It had been the father’s wish that Samuel should go to Williams College (Williamstown, Massachusetts) in order that he might be under the influence of Dr. Mark Hopkins, its president, then regarded as the leading teacher of philosophy and morals in America. Samuel, therefore, left the islands at once, in order to enter, if possible, the Junior class of Williams College in time for the winter term; and toward the end of September he set sail for the United States. He began his studies at Williams on January 10, 1861. Three months later the Civil War began and many of Armstrong’s friends soon joined the Union forces. As for Armstrong, he wrote, “I shall go to the war if I am needed, but not till then-were I an American, as I am a Hawaiian, I should be off in a hurry.” He graduated from Williams College on August 8, 1862.[3] 

His daughter continues the story:

“Armstrong still considered Hawaii as his fatherland and did not share the burning patriotism of the times; neither did he evince any special interest in the cause of the slave; though before long the constant presence of danger made him appreciate the need of the sustaining power of a moral principle and fostered in him both hatred of slavery and love of his adopted country—still the road to enlistment in the army was an easy one for him; his friends and classmates had already entered upon it, public opinion was urgent, and his own temperament inclined toward the soldier’s life. He expected at first no more than a place in the ranks, but yielding to the representations of his friends, who assured him that few volunteer officers were well versed in tactics before enlisting and that educated men were much needed as officers, he decided to accept a commission. The first steps were soon taken. A hint from a classmate to the effect that he had a good chance of success in Troy, New York, determined him to go to that city, where a regiment was being raised to be commanded by Colonel Willard, a regular officer of high standing. In Troy, therefore, he built a shanty on one of the public squares and began, unknown as he was, to enlist men for a company of which he was to be captain.”[4]

In the Army

Armstrong enrolled August 14, 1862, at Troy to serve three years and on August 15, was mustered in as captain of Company D, 125th Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry. Colonel John A. Griswold had been authorized, July 28, 1862, to raise this regiment in Rensselaer County. On his resignation, George L. Willard, who had served as a major with the 19th U.S. Infantry, enrolled in the 125th Regiment on August 15 and was mustered in as colonel of the regiment on August 27. The regiment was organized at Troy and there mustered in the service of the United States for three years from August 27-29, 1862. [5]

After entering military service Armstrong began studying tactics and soldiering, with the assistance of Willard, who interested himself in the young Hawaiian and gave him much advice in organizing and drilling his men.[6] Armstrong did not have much time to prepare himself and his company. On August 30 came the word that the regiment was to start for the front. The regiment left August 31 and took the railroad to Harper’s Ferry, and thence to Martinsburg, Virginia, which it reached September 2, the most advanced point of the Federal lines.[7]

While the 125th Regiment was getting settled in at Martinsburg, Confederate General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, on September 10 sent General “Stonewall” Jackson southward to capture the military strongpoint in his rear, Harper’s Ferry. All the Union troops available were thrown in to defend it, and among them the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth New York was sent from Martinsburg. From September 12 to 15, the 125th fought with other Union forces to hold Harper’s Ferry, but to no avail. On the latter day, 12,500 men, including Armstrong, and much war material, fell into the hands of the Confederate soldiers.[8]

General Jackson, eager to join up with Lee’s forces near Antietam, Maryland, left Harper’s Ferry before the surrender and had his officers to deal with the prisoners that would be taken. The Confederate officers not wanting to deal with such a large number of prisoners of war, on September 16, paroled them. The 125th Regiment was sent with some Illinois troops to Chicago. [9]

In the meantime, the great battle of Antietam was fought on September 17. In its aftermath, President Abraham Lincoln on September 22 issued a proclamation that read:

“That on the first day of January in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.”

Facsimile of the Emancipation Proclamation (NAID 6923829).

The 125th Regiment on September 27 arrived in Chicago, and two days later set up camp near the shores of Lake Michigan at Camp Douglas, to sit out the war until exchanged. The regiment was finally exchanged in a prisoner swap, and on November 21 set out for Washington, D.C., for further duty. It arrived on November 25. For the next three months the regiment was shifted from one position to another among the minor stations in Virginia, being held as a reserve force of the Army of the Potomac. [10]  

In December 1862, Armstrong’s views about slaves were still evolving. On December 8, 1862, he wrote his brother Baxter, “these negroes-as far as I’ve seen yet-are worse than the Kanahas [native Hawaiians] and hardly worth fighting for.” That same day he wrote his best friend and fellow 1862 Williams graduate Archibald Hopkins, then serving with the 37th Massachusetts Volunteers, “Chum, I am a sort of abolitionist, but I haven’t learned to love the Negro. I believe in universal freedom; I believe the whole world cannot buy a single soul. The Almighty has set, or rather limited, the price of one man, and until worlds can be paid for a single Negro I don’t believe in selling or buying them. I go in, then, for freeing them more on account of their souls than their bodies, I assure you.”[11]

Armstrong thoroughly enjoyed this winter campaign. His health was excellent. “I do nothing,” he wrote, “but eat, sleep and study tactics.”[12] Regarding his own part in the great struggle, on December 20, shortly before the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, he wrote his mother and sisters:

“What to do as things now look I don’t know—what am I fighting for? But the first day of January is at hand—possibly the greatest day in American history—when the sons of Africa shall be free. To wait until that day I am content, and then I shall know for what I am contending—for freedom and for the oppressed. I shall then be willing to go into the fight, and you will feel less grieved if I fall for such a cause. You and I will then have occasion to congratulate ourselves that our family is represented in the greatest struggle of modern times for the most sacred principles.”[13]

Continuing, he added:

“I tell you thinking men are more and more largely of the opinion that the Southern Confederacy is a fixed fact, and I am inclined to it, but I have none the less faith in the ultimate triumph of right. Possibly God will crown our arms with success after the 1st of January, for then we shall be fighting for a principle. I am curious to see what will turn up.”[14]

Armstrong felt strongly about Lincoln’s proclamation. Of course not everyone, North and South, felt so. There were debates about its legality and its enforceability. On January 3, 1863, Armstrong wrote his mother “If his [Lincoln’s] proclamation shall be canceled in any way, I think I shall resign.”[15]

By January 1863, the inactivity of his regiment began to wear on Armstrong. In the middle of that month he wrote Archibald Hopkins that “I am tired of this puttering around in Virginia; it isn’t manly or soldierly… I am sick of it all, and wish to be engaged in something earnest.”[16]

During the month of February, the 125th Regiment was removed to Centreville, Virginia, where it remained in camp for three months.[17] There, that spring, Armstrong wrote his mother that the regiment was “spoiling for a fight.”[18] That opportunity soon came.

Gen. Samuel C. Armstrong (NAID 529291), from the Series: Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes (Local ID 111-B).

On June 25 the 125th Regiment was ordered to break camp and join the Army of the Potomac’s II Corps, then commanded by General Hancock at Gum Springs. General Lee pushed northward into Pennsylvania, and after him followed Hooker with the Army of the Potomac, which he had successfully reorganized and which was eager for a fight. The 125th Regiment marched rapidly to Gum Springs, and together with the rest of II Corps was hurried northward toward Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where the whole army was gathering under General Meade.[19]

The 125th Regiment was at Gettysburg on July 1, when the battle began. On the afternoon of July 2, Lee advanced to the attack. He was met by the Union forces, which suffered severely but succeeded in repulsing him. The 125th Regiment suffered many casualties, including Colonel Willard, who was killed serving as a brigade commander. The next day, Armstrong and his company showed great courage in fighting off Pickett’s charge.[20] The regimental chaplain would later write:

“From Captain Armstrong’s position the Confederate dead could be seen lying in heaps. Hundreds of the charging line prostrated themselves on their backs in the Emmittsburg road, and waved their hats and handkerchiefs in token of surrender. Some of the bravest rushed close to the main Union line, and fell a few yards away. Of the five officers who served with Captain Armstrong in his brave action, which aided in the great victory secured, he was the only survivor.”[21]

On July 27, Armstrong left the field on recruiting service in New York. His regiment had lost many killed and wounded at Gettysburg and it was his assignment to fill up the ranks with new recruits. At first the change was pleasant, but he soon decided that his time could be more profitably employed and he became restless and dissatisfied.At least he was given a promotion to major on August 26, with rank from July 3, 1863, in recognition for his actions on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. By mid-October he felt that “the army is the place for a soldier,” and applied for permission to rejoin his regiment in Virginia. [22] 

While in New York some prominent citizens had tried to raise a regiment of Black soldiers and Armstrong was to be placed in command. He liked the idea, not so much because he wanted to lead Black soldiers, but as a means of getting away from recruiting duty. The plan did not come to fruition as the state authorities opposed the enlistment of African Americans.[23]  

Armstrong returned to Virginia and his regiment on October 21, and increasingly he thought more about the idea of commanding Black troops. Sometime in November he took examinations which entitled him to a colonelcy of colored troops. These examinations were made especially severe on account of the fact that only men of character, determination and education were wanted for the command of colored troops, and out of eighty-five who were examined at the same time only four passed. A lieutenant-colonelcy was soon offered him, which he accepted on November 13.[24]

While awaiting orders directing him to his new assignment, near Brandy Station, Virginia, with the 125th Regiment, he wrote his mother on November 17, 1863:

“The Negro troops have not yet entirely proved themselves good soldiers; but if the Negroes can be, made to fight well, then is the question of their freedom settled.

I tell you the present is the grandest time the world ever saw. The African race is before the world, unexpectedly to all, and all mankind are looking to see whether the African will show himself equal to the opportunity before him.

And what is this opportunity? It is to demonstrate to the world that he is a man, that he has the highest elements of manhood, courage, perseverance, and honor; that he is not only worthy of freedom, but able to win it, so he has a chance. All men must respect heroism and military prowess—those possessing such qualities must and will be made free. They are too noble for slaves, and the nations will despise a country that attempts to enslave men who have saved her own constitution and independence.

The star of Africa is rising, her millions now for the first time catching the glimpse of a glorious dawn. Auroral gleams are lighting up the horizon of their future, and their future in my opinion rests largely upon the success of the Negro troops in this war. Their honor and their glory will insure the freedom of their race; their dishonor will result in the disbanding of the troops and in universal contempt for the race. I gladly lend myself to the experiment—to this issue. It will yet be a grand thing to have been identified with this Negro movement.”[25]

Near the end of November, Armstrong was ordered to join his new command, the Ninth Regiment United States Colored Troops (technically the Ninth United States Colored Infantry). The regiment, composed largely of former Maryland slaves, was organized at Benedict, Maryland, located on the Patuxent River during the latter half of November 1863. He left at once for Benedict, where he took charge of six companies of the Ninth Regiment United States Colored Troops, then organizing with three other colored regiments in that place, the whole commanded by Brig. Gen. William Birney.[26]

Armstrong was impressed with his new regiment. He wrote home on November 26, that the soldiers “are willing; learn very quickly; and the regiment runs twice as smoothly as a Volunteer regiment.” He added: “On the success of these regiments…depends largely the progress of freedom both for the African and mankind … The arming [of] the slaves is a magnificent scheme…and with those who led them there is a great responsibility….We may fall, but that possibility will only make our triumph greater.” [27]  

Besides training his soldiers at Camp Stanton at Benedict, Armstrong was also placed in charge of a school for Black soldiers.[28] He wrote in his journal:

“There are five ladies from Boston at this place teaching, sent at General Birney’s request by a Boston society. I am in charge of the college, which is an old secesh [slang for southerners] tobacco barn, cleaned out, ventilated, and illuminated by a few tallow candles; well seated and holds 500 men. The school is held two hours by day and two hours in the evening, and it is a sight to see the soldiers groping after the very least knowledge. They are principally learning their letters; a pitiable sight, and thank slavery for it. In book knowledge, in drill and all military duty they make remarkable progress. At such a time one realizes the curse that has been upon them. Slavery makes brutes of men, and then refuses to give them freedom because they are so brutish. I think those men have a good reason for fighting and that they will fight.”[29]

On February 8, 1864, Armstrong wrote to his bother Baxter that “It is a sight to see the soldiers grouping after the very least knowledge … Their eagerness is wonderful.” [30]

By March 1864, Armstrong and his regiment were ready for action. Their assignment was South Carolina. The regiment embarked on March 3.[31] Aboard the steam transport ship United States, near the mouth of the Patuxent River, on March 4, Armstrong wrote his mother:

“Since entering this branch of the service I have felt the high duty and sacredness of my position. It is no sacrifice for me to be here; it is rather a glorious opportunity, and I would be nowhere else than here if I could, and nothing else than an officer of colored troops if I could. This content, this almost supreme satisfaction has shed a rich glow upon my life. I have felt, and do feel, like a very apostle of human liberty striking the deadliest possible blow at oppression; and what duty is more glorious than that?”[32]

The expedition to Hilton Head, South Carolina, was made for the purpose of reénforcing Port Royal, a post which, though surrounded by rebels, had been in the hands of the Federals since November, 1861. There was little actual fighting. The picket line, twenty miles in length, was in no place over a mile from the enemy, and at many points the outposts were only separated by a stream, so that occasional friction occurred. Here Armstrong stayed five weary months, the routine of camp life broken only by occasional raids in the enemy’s territory—casual affairs which gave no satisfaction or definite results, but which served to increase his confidence in his Black troops.[33]

The education of his soldiers continued while in South Carolina. “The men are wonderfully preserving in learning to read,” Armstrong wrote his mother on May 12. “They carry their books with them constantly…These men have wonderfully redeemed their claim to be counted in as human beings.” [34] 

In early August, came the welcome order to return to Virginia. There the main action centered about Petersburg, which had been in a state of siege since June, and toward this city the Ninth Regiment, still part of Birney’s corps, now under General Butler in the Army of the James, was directed to move. On August 4, the regiment embarked for Bermuda Hundred, where it arrived on August 8. Their way inland was a hard fought one. Severe brushes occurred at various Confederate breastworks and other fortifications. [35]

Pontoon bridge, Deep Bottom, James River, VA (NAID 529626).

One such encounter occurred at The Second Battle of Deep Bottom, fought August 14–20, in Henrico County, Virginia. In a letter written on August 30, in the trenches before Petersburg, Armstrong wrote:

“I forgot in my last to tell you about the flag of truce in our campaign at Deep Bottom, over the James River. It was to bury our dead, and being in command of our picket line that day, I was present. We met the rebels half-way between the lines. …  I had no particular business, and so I talked with the rebel officers and found myself conversing with Colonel Little, of the Eleventh Georgia Regiment and with the rebel General Gary. They were very gentlemanly, and we had a delightful chat, or rather argument, of two hours; the Colonel being very social and jovial, and the General trying hard to convince me that slavery is divine and that I was wrong. I frankly told him that I was a foreigner, a Sandwich Islander, who had no local sympathies; but seeing the great issue to be that of freedom or slavery for 4,000,000 souls, had given myself to the war cheerfully, and counted no sacrifice too great for the cause. I told them I commanded a colored regiment, and all this, instead of disgusting them, seemed to win their respect; rather unusual, since officers of Negro troops are commonly despised in the South.

The General said he thought it more reasonable to fight, as I was doing, for a principle than to fight merely to restore a Union which was only a compact and to which they were not morally bound when they considered the other side had violated the agreement. The truth is, I partially agreed with him. The Union is to me little or nothing. I see no great principle necessarily involved in it. I see only the 4,000,000 slaves, and for and with them I fight. The rebs told me they buried a good many of our colored men, for they were the very men we had fought the day before.

Well, the General tried to show me the evils of slavery were imaginary, that it is divine and all right, etc. His manner and language were charming. He was a graduate of Harvard (class of ’54, I believe). He did not, however, admit that slavery was the cornerstone of the Confederacy, and he further assured me that Alexander Stephens [vice president of the Confederate States], who used that famous expression about slavery being the cornerstone, etc., had retracted his language at a subsequent time, and his opinion is, I think, strongly supported in the South.”[36]

The Union Line Before Petersburg (NAID 82586303).

Near the end of September, when his regiment was removed from Petersburg and sent to a point very near the rebel lines, seven miles from Richmond, Armstrong succumbed to malaria and fatigue and went to the officers’ hospital at Hampton, Virginia, near Fort Monroe.[37] While he was there his regiment was sent to attack Fort Gilmer, one of the main defenses of Richmond. Concerning this September 29 attack, he wrote home as follows:

“My regiment was sent alone and unsupported to attack a tremendously powerful fort supported by two other strong forts, also by a heavy line of breastworks, and before this immense line was a very large, deep ditch and slashed timber for over half a mile, making it almost impossible to even get to the enemy’s lines. The Ninth went in nobly, was raked and cut to pieces, and finally fell back before a hellish fire of grape, canister, shrapnel and shell from three forts.

To go forward would have been certain destruction. The Negroes never turned their backs, but walked steadily ‘into the mouth of hell’ until the commanding officer ordered a retreat. About one-third of the regiment was hors de combat. No men were ever braver than the slaves of Maryland….”[38] 

On returning to the field Armstrong was put for a short time in command of the second brigade of his division, and on November 3 was promoted to the colonelcy of the Eighth United States Colored Troops, which were stationed close to the borders of Richmond. [39] Regarding this new assignment, Armstrong wrote: “I have a splendid regiment and a splendid opportunity; shall do or die; shall be distinguished or extinguished—that is, if I shall have the chance.” [40] 

But the chance never came. Winter and the war drew together to a close. On April 3 Petersburg was evacuated, and on April 9 Lee, unable to escape from the tightening lines of the Union forces, saw that he could not save Richmond, and signed terms of Unconditional Surrender. Armstrong witnessed the surrender and thus described it at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865: [41]

“Yesterday General Custer took all the supplies sent from Lynchburg to Lee’s army; our army closed in around the rebels, and this morning they found themselves surrounded and without provisions. Early we advanced and our skirmish lines met those of the enemy. Mine drove not only the rebel skirmishers, but also their line of battle. We expected a fight— I never felt more like it. I mounted my noble stallion and was ready to lead on at the word. A few bullets whistled around, a few shells passed over—the rebs gave way—all was quiet, there was a rumor of surrender; we waited; other rumors came, and finally it was certain that the cruel war was over. The first inkling I had of it was the continuous cheering of troops on our right. Soon staff officers galloped up with the news that Lee was making terms of surrender; the firing ceased. It was impossible to realize that the terrible army of Lee was in existence no longer! The truth was stunning. As for myself, I felt a sadness, a feeling that the colored soldiers had not done enough, been sufficiently proved. We just missed a splendid chance of taking a rebel battery an hour before Sheldon’s cavalry came tumbling back—the rebs were driving them, and we were put in to arrest their advance, which we easily did, for they no sooner saw us than they halted and retired before our skirmishers. This delay lost us our chance.”[42]

Mclean House, Appomattox Court House, VA (NAID 530400).

After the Civil War

In spite of the fact that the Civil War was over, the Colored Troops were not at once disbanded. Mexico had also been in the throes of civil war, and the insurgents were plotting for the overthrow of the Emperor Maximilian. To lend friendly support to the republican insurgents and to secure boundary lines during the confusion it was decided to send a small force to the Mexican border. Of this force, Armstrong’s regiment, the Eighth United States Colored Troops, was a part, and on May 30, 1865, they embarked for Texas. [43]

By August 1865, the regiment, with one other, was encamped at Ringgold Barracks, at Rio Grande City, some one hundred miles upriver from Brownsville. There it remained till early in October. [44]

For Armstrong, the third anniversary of his enlistment, a few weeks before he was discharged, brought with it a new conception of what the future might hold in store for him. He wrote:

“To-day, September 1st, has been quiet and serene. A good deal of business, but steady and easy. But one eventful thing has occurred. My lieutenant-colonel, major and myself were in conversation together in my tent. The subject of citizenship was mentioned, and one remarked that by act of Congress to serve in the army three years was to become an American citizen. I at once remembered that yesterday I had been just three years in the United States service, and this morning for the first time walked out into the sunlight and air a citizen of the Grand Republic. The thought was tremendous! To be forever under the shelter of the broad pinions of the American eagle! To be one of the mighty brood of that glorious bird; to sing ‘My Country, ’Tis of Thee’; to call ‘the flag of my country’ that glorious banner that has for four years been wreathed in smoke and torn and stained in countless battles, and now finally and forever triumphant— this is a thought too immense to be grappled at once, but enough to excite the profoundest emotions. We all rose to our feet and I embraced each of the two who were with me, and we all thought it was very jolly. I have thrown off the ‘kapa’* [Cloth made by native Hawaiians] mantle and assumed the toga of the Republic.”[45]

Armstrong thought “There may be a place for me in the struggle for right and wrong in this country.”[46] 

Early in October Armstrong was ordered to Brownsville, Texas, and after a few weeks’ stay there, he and his regiment on November 10 were mustered out and transported to Philadelphia, where on December 10 they received their discharge. Many were the plans for future work which filled his mind during his last days in the army. A lieutenant-colonelcy in the First United States Colored Cavalry was offered him, but he did not care for that kind of work. His brothers suggested business openings, and he himself had some thoughts of entering the Freedmen’s Bureau, then just becoming prominent in work for African Americans. [47] He wrote his mother on October 20, “I shall probably go into the Freedman’s Bureau-my chances are good.”[48]

After his discharge, Armstrong went to New York, where he spent several weeks with his brother. Toward the close of winter he made his way to Washington, D.C., where he, wanting to  work for the freedmen in the South, applied to the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands for a position.[49] While awaiting word about the Freedmen’s Bureau, on January 13, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Armstrong for the award of the brevet grade of brigadier general of volunteers to rank from March 13, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the new commission on March 12, 1866. [50]

In March, 1866, General O. O. Howard, Commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau, placed Armstrong in charge of ten counties in Eastern Virginia, with headquarters at Hampton, the great “contraband” camp; to manage Negro affairs and to adjust, if possible, the relations of the races. That same month he arrived at Fortress Monroe and journeyed a few miles to his post at the village of Hampton.[51]

Once he settled in his new position, Armstrong began thinking about a school for the recently freed African Americans. In 1893 he wrote:

“Two and a half years’ service with Negro soldiers…as Lieut. Colonel and Colonel of the Ninth and Eighth Regiments of U. S. Colored Troops, convinced me of the excellent qualities and capacities of the freedmen. Their quick response to good treatment and to discipline, was a constant surprise. Their tidiness, devotion to their duty and their leaders, their dash and daring in battle, and ambition to improve — often studying their spelling books under fire — showed that slavery was a false, though doubtless, for the time being, an educative condition, and that they deserved as good a chance as any people.[52]

He also wrote that year:

“A day-dream of the Hampton School nearly as it is, had come to me during the war a few times; once in camp during the siege of Richmond, and once one beautiful evening on the Gulf of Mexico, while on the wheel house of the transport steamship Illinois, enroute for Texas, with the 25th Army (Negro) Corps for frontier duty on the Rio Grande river.”[53]

The school he envisioned, the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, opened in April, 1868, with two teachers and fifteen pupils, and in 1870, was incorporated under a special Act of the Assembly of Virginia.[54] In 1888, the former chaplain of the 125th Regiment wrote this about Armstrong:

“Since the war, the service he has given to the solving of the Negro and Indian problem has placed him among the chief benefactors of these races. The intense devotion of a tireless energy to his work, the consecration of exceptional gifts to a truly philanthropic and Christian mission have incorporated his character into the manhood of the hundreds who, at Hampton, have come under his molding influence, and have placed not only the Negroes of the South under obligations to him, but the Nation itself is his debtor.” [55]

Armstrong helped to shepherd the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute till his death on May 11, 1893.


Footnotes:

[1] Edith Armstrong Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study (New York: Doubleday, Page &: Company, 1904). p. 103.

[2]. Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study. pp/ 3, 28, 32, 35; S. C. Armstrong, “From the Beginning,” in Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (Va.), Twenty-two years work of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute at Hampton, Virginia; Records of Negro and Indian Graduates and Ex-Students (Hampton: Normal School Press, 1893), p. 1; Everett T. and Paul G. Tomlinson, A leader of freemen; the life story of Samuel Chapman Armstrong, brevet brigadier-general, U.S.A.,  Army and Navy Edition (Philadelphia, American Sunday-School Union, 1917), p. 11.

[3] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, pp. 35-36, 46; Armstrong, “From the Beginning,” in Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (Va.), Twenty-two years work of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute at Hampton, Virginia; Records of Negro and Indian Graduates and Ex-Students , p. 1; Robert Francis Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893 (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1999), pp. 35, 36.

[4] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 63.

[5] Frederick Philsterer, comp., New York in the War of the Rebellion 1861 to 1865, Vol. 4, 3rd Ed. (Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, State Printers, 1912), pp. 3477, 3478, 3479, 3482, 3496.

[6] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 44.

[7] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, pp. 66-67; Philsterer, comp., New York in the War of the Rebellion 1861 to 1865, Vol. 4, 3rd Ed., p. 3477.

[8] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, pp. 68, 70, 73; Philsterer, comp., New York in the War of the Rebellion 1861 to 1865, 3rd Ed., pp. 3477, 3482.

[9] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 75; Philsterer, comp., New York in the War of the Rebellion 1861 to 1865, Vol. 4, 3rd Ed., pp. 3482, 3496; Everett T. and Paul G. Tomlinson, A leader of freemen; the life story of Samuel Chapman Armstrong, brevet brigadier-general, U.S.A.,   p. 26.

[10]  Philsterer, comp., New York in the War of the Rebellion 1861 to 1865, Vol. 4, 3rd Ed., p. 3477; Everett T. and Paul G. Tomlinson, A leader of freemen; the life story of Samuel Chapman Armstrong, brevet brigadier-general, U.S.A.,   p. 28; Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, pp. 80, 81-82

[11] Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, pp. 40, 40-41; Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 86.

[12] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 82.

[13] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, pp. 84-85; Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, p. 41.

[14] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 85.

[15] Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, p. 41.

[16] Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, p. 40.

[17] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 87.

[18] Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, p. 41.

[19] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 88; Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, p. 42.

[20] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, pp. 89-93; Philsterer, comp., New York in the War of the Rebellion 1861 to 1865, Vol. 4, 3rd Ed., pp. 3477, 3496; Chaplain Ezra D. Simons, A Regimental History: The One hundred and twenty-fifth New York State Volunteers (New York: E. D. Simons, 1888), pp. 136-138; Earl J. Hess, Pickett’s Charge–The Last Attack at Gettysburg (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), pp. 217-218; Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, pp. 42-43

[21] Simons, A Regimental History: The One hundred and twenty-fifth New York State Volunteers, p. 138.

[22] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 97; Philsterer, comp., New York in the War of the Rebellion 1861 to 1865, Vol. 4, 3rd Ed., p. 3482; Everett T. and Paul G. Tomlinson, A leader of freemen; the life story of Samuel Chapman Armstrong, brevet brigadier-general, U.S.A.,   p. 33; Simons, A Regimental History: The One hundred and twenty-fifth New York State Volunteers, p. 150; Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, p. 43.

[23] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, pp. 97-98; Everett T. and Paul G. Tomlinson, A leader of freemen; the life story of Samuel Chapman Armstrong, brevet brigadier-general, U.S.A.,   p. 33.

[24] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, pp. 98-99; Philsterer, comp., New York in the War of the Rebellion 1861 to 1865, Vol. 4, 3rd Ed., p. 3482; Simons, A Regimental History: The One hundred and twenty-fifth New York State Volunteers, p. 165

[25] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 101; Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, p. 47.

[26] Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, p. 47; Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, pp. 102-103; The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-65 — Records of the Regiments in the Union Army — Cyclopedia of Battles — Memoirs of Commanders and Soldiers, Vol. 2 (Madison, Wisconsin: Federal Publishing Company, 1908), p. 284. Regarding the background, organization, and activities of the black soldiers during the Civil War the reader will find of interest William A. Dobak, Freedom by the Sword: The U.S. Colored Troops, 1862-1867, Army Historical Series (Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History United States Army, 2011). Readers also may interesting Budge Weidman’s “Black Soldiers in the Civil War: Preserving the Legacy of the United States Colored Troops,” found at https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/blacks-civil-war/article.html

[27] Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, p. 47.

[28] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 109.

[29] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, pp. 109-110.

[30] Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, p. 49.

[31]. The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-65 — Records of the Regiments in the Union Army — Cyclopedia of Battles — Memoirs of Commanders and Soldiers, Vol. 2, p. 284.

[32] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, pp. 110-111.

[33] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 111.

[34] Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, p. 49.

[35] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 112; The Union Army: A History of Military Affairs in the Loyal States 1861-65 — Records of the Regiments in the Union Army — Cyclopedia of Battles — Memoirs of Commanders and Soldiers, Vol. 2, p. 284

[36] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, pp. 116-118.

[37] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 118; Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, p. 50.

[38] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 118.

[39] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 119.

[40] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 120.

[41] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 120.

[42] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 121.

[43] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 122.

[44] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 126.

[45] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, pp. 130-131.

[46] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 131.

[47] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, pp. 129-130; Simons, A Regimental History: The One hundred and twenty-fifth New York State Volunteers, p. 176; Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, p. 55.

[48] Engs, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, p. 55.

[49] Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong: A Biographical Study, p. 133.

[50] One source indicates his brevet promotion came after the surrender at Appomattox, upon the recommendation of his superior officer. Simons, A Regimental History: The One hundred and twenty-fifth New York State Volunteers, p. 174.

[51] Armstrong, “From the Beginning,” in Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (Va.), Twenty-two years work of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute at Hampton, Virginia; Records of Negro and Indian Graduates and Ex-Students, p. 3; Everett T. and Paul G. Tomlinson, A leader of freemen; the life story of Samuel Chapman Armstrong, brevet brigadier-general, U.S.A.,   p. 52.

[52] Armstrong, “From the Beginning,” in Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (Va.), Twenty-two years work of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute at Hampton, Virginia; Records of Negro and Indian Graduates and Ex-Students, pp. 2-3.

[53] Armstrong, “From the Beginning,” in Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (Va.), Twenty-two years work of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute at Hampton, Virginia; Records of Negro and Indian Graduates and Ex-Students, p. 5.

[54] Armstrong, “From the Beginning,” in Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (Va.), Twenty-two years work of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute at Hampton, Virginia; Records of Negro and Indian Graduates and Ex-Students, p. 6.

[55] Simons, A Regimental History: The One hundred and twenty-fifth New York State Volunteers, p. 177.