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First Name: George

Last Name: Armistead

Birthplace: Newmarket, VA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Date of Birth: 10 April 1780

Date of Death: 25 April 1818

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Years Served:
George Armistead

•  War of 1812


George Armistead
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army

George Armistead was born on 10 April 1780 in Newmarket, Caroline County, VA.

Armistead was one of five brothers who served in the War of 1812, either in the Regular Army or militia. He distinguished himself at the capture of Fort George from the British, near the mouth of the Niagara River in Canada on 27 May 1813 while serving as an artillery officer at Fort Niagara. He would later carry the captured British flags to President James Madison. Upon his arrival in Washington, DC, Armistead was ordered to "take command of Fort McHenry."

When he arrived at Fort McHenry, located in the outer harbor of Baltimore, MD, Major Armistead ordered "a flag so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a distance." That flag, known as the Star Spangled Banner Flag, measured 42' x 30' and was made by Baltimore resident Mary Pickersgill, her daughter, and seven seamstresses. The flag would later be memorialized by Francis Scott Key in the poem "The Star Spangled Banner," which later became the American National Anthem.

During the nearly 25-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry, commencing before dawn on 13 September until the morning of 14 September 1814, Armistead alone knew the Fort's magazine was not bombproof. When a shell crashed through the roof of the magazine but failed to explode, Armistead ordered the powder barrels cleared out and placed under the rear walls of the Fort. Remarkably, only two men were killed when two shells smashed into the Fort McHenry's southwest bastion, despite a deadly rain of some 2,000 mortar shells that the British bombardment fleet fired at the Fort. Because the Royal Navy proved unable to capture or reduce the Fort in order to enter Baltimore harbor to bombard the main American defense line east of the city, British Commander-in-Chief Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane wrote to British Army Commander Colonel Arthur Brooke that it was up to him to decide whether to attack or withdraw. Brooke, who had taken over from Major General Robert Ross, who was mortally wounded just before the Battle of North Point on 12 September, decided to withdraw.

Following the battle, Armistead was soon promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Much weakened by the arduous preparations for the battle, he died at age 38, only three years later. Armistead's nephew, Lewis Addison Armistead, was a well-known Confederate General in the American Civil War who died at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Death and Burial

Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead died on 25 April 1818 at Baltimore, MD, at age 38. He is buried at Old Saint Paul's Cemetery in Baltimore, MD. Armistead's nephew, General Lewis Addison Armistead, Confederate States Army, is buried next to him.

Honoree ID: 2075   Created by: MHOH




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