When the war started, Armistead traveled east and received a commission as a major, but was quickly promoted to colonel of the 57th Virginia Infantry regiment. He served in the western part of Virginia, but soon returned to the east and General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. He fought as a brigade commander under Lee at Seven Pines, the Seven Days Battles (where he was chosen to spearhead the bloody, senseless assault on Malvern Hill), and Second Bull Run. At Antietam, he served as Lee's provost marshal, a frustrating job due to the high levels of desertion that plagued the army in that campaign. Then he was under command in the division of Maj. Gen. George Pickett at Fredericksburg. Because he was with James Longstreet's First Corps near Norfolk, Virginia, in the spring of 1863, he missed the Battle of Chancellorsville.
In the Battle of Gettysburg, Armistead's brigade arrived the evening of July 2, 1863. Armistead was mortally wounded the next day while leading his brigade towards the center of the Union line in Pickett's Charge. Armistead led his brigade from the front, waving his hat from the tip of his saber, and reached the stone wall at the "Angle", which served as the charge's objective. The brigade got farther in the charge than any other, an event sometimes known as the High Water Mark of the Confederacy, but it was quickly overwhelmed by a Union counterattack. Armistead was shot three times just after crossing the wall. His wounds were not believed to be mortal, being shot in the fleshy part of the arm and below the knee, and according to the surgeon that tended him, none of the wounds caused bone, artery, or nerve damage. When he went down he gave a Masonic sign asking for assistance. A fellow Mason, Captain Henry H. Bingham, a Union officer and later a higher officer and then a very influential Congressman, came to Armistead's assistance and offered to help. Bingham informed Armistead that his old friend, Hancock, had been commanding this part of the defensive line, but that Hancock, too, had just been wounded. He was then taken to a Union field hospital at the Spangler Farm where he died two days later. Armistead's biographer, Wayne Motts, believes that Armistead died most likely from a pulmonary embolism, while others have argued that it was a combination of septic shock and heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Lewis Armistead is buried next to his uncle, Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead, commander of the garrison of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, at the Old Saint Paul's Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.
Ref: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia