Lt. Colonel George Armistead, (1780-1818)

“The President promptly sent my promotion with a very handsome compliment. So you see me dear wife, all is well, at least your husband has got a name and standing that nothing but divine providence could have given him, and I pray to our Heavenly Father we may live long to enjoy.” Armistead to his wife Louisa Armistead, Sept. 1814.

George Armistead

George Armistead was born on April 10, 1780, in Caroline County, Virginia, to John and Lucinda (Baylor) Armistead, one of five brothers, three of whom later served in the War of 1812. Armistead enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1799, rising steadily through the ranks until March 3, 1813 when he received his majority and subsequently distinguished himself on May 18th while serving as an artillery officer at Fort Niagara, New York, in the capture of Fort George across the Niagara River in Upper Canada. He was accorded the honor of delivering the captured British flags to President Madison.

On his taking command of Fort McHenry in June 1813, Armistead requested a flag for his new garrison flag measuring 42’ x 30’, a standard size for the period. The flag and his victory over a British naval bombardment on Sept. 13-14, 1814 earned his enduring place in American history under that flag at Fort McHenry whose stalwart defense of Baltimore against the British attack in 1814 inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner. Armistead would remained in command of the fort until his untimely death at age 38 on April 25, 1818.

In 1810, then Captain Armistead married at the Otterbein Church, Baltimore, Louisa Hughes (1789-1861), daughter of Baltimore silversmith Christopher Hughes, Sr. Colonel Armistead is buried along with his wife and nephew Brig. Gen. Lewis Addison Armistead, CSA (1817-1863) in Old St. Paul’s Cemetery in Baltimore.

Source: Sheads, Scott S., Guardian of the Star-Spangled Banner: Lt. Col. George Armistead and The Fort McHenry Flag (Baltimore: Toomey Press, 1999)

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Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 9:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

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