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Brevet Brigadier-General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, U.S.V.

Brevet Brigadier-General Samuel Chapman Armstrong was born January 30, 1839, at the Hawaiian Islands, where his parents were missionaries from 1831 to 1848. His mother was sister of the late Chief-Justice Chapman, of Massachusetts. His father, a native of Pennsylvania (Scotch-Irish), dying in 1860, was appointed Minister of Public Instruction in 1848, and chiefly built up the five hundred free public schools of that kingdom, besides fostering several higher institutions, all on the manual-labor plan, where many valuable men were trained. The subject of this sketch was, in 1860, chief clerk of the Department of Public Instruction, and there got the ideas and experience that, since 1868, he has tried to apply to training negro and Indian youth of America, whom Hawaiians in many ways resemble; all being unusually bright and hopeful mentally, but are morally weak, needing, of all things, practical Christian education, which did much for Hawaiians, but not enough of it was done to save that doomed nation from decay.

Having passed two years in Oahu College, Honolulu, he entered and graduated from Williams College, Massachusetts, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1862, and the degree of Master of Arts in 1866. He at once sought service, and in August, 1862, was mustered into service as captain of Company D, One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Regiment New York Infantry, from Troy, New York, George L. Willard, colonel, after whose death at Gettysburg Captain Armstrong was promoted to major. On the recommendation of General Casey's Examining Board he was appointed, in 1863, lieutenant-colonel of the Ninth Regiment United States Colored Troops (Maryland negroes), which he commanded nearly one year in almost continuous active service. He was promoted, in 1864, to colonel of the Eighth Regiment United States Colored Troops (miscellaneous negroes), and made brigadier-general by brevet after Appomattox.

He received the degree of LL.D. from Williams College, Massachusetts, in 1887, and the same from Harvard College, Massachusetts, in 1889.

General Armstrong was in the Deep Bottom, Virginia, campaign in 1864, under General Terry, and many months in the siege of Petersburg and Richmond. After the surrender he served under General R. H. Jackson in a bloodless campaign on the Rio Grande River, Texas, to threaten the Emperor Maximilian; was two and a half years with negro troops, -a most satisfactory service,- and mustered out November, 1865, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

He was appointed in March, 1866, by General O. O. Howard, Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, to superintend freedmen's affairs in ten counties of Eastern Virginia.

He left, after two years' work, to take charge of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. He soon felt the great importance and possibilities of Hampton as an educational centre, and devoted his life to making it a place where the poorest negro or any earnest Indian youth could get a practical Christian education if they will work for it. Education by self-help is its fundamental idea; the graduates of the school are to be, in their turn, teachers and leaders of their people; nearly a thousand of them being already so employed, having had last year over thirty thousand children under their instruction. The facts and results of this work have been published, and can be supplied to students of these race questions.

The utmost cordiality and good feeling have been shown to the Hampton work by the best class of Southern people. The State of Virginia has been liberal to it. Its support-a private corporation, not under government control-is chiefly from the Northern States, especially New England. Its executive officers were nearly all in the Northern or Southern armies. An idea transplanted from the Pacific Ocean has flourished wonderfully in old Virginia. General Armstrong married, in 1869, Emma Dean Walker, of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, who died in 1878; and again, in 1890, married Mary Alice Ford, of Lisbon, New Hampshire. He has three daughters living.


" October 18, 1892.

"I have known General S. C. Armstrong late United States Volunteers, since early in 1865. He served under my command from April 9, 1865, during the march from Appomattox Court-House to City Point, Virginia, and in Texas, on the Rio Grande, until the close of the war. He was colonel of a regiment of United States colored troops, and, for a part of the time, in Texas commanded a brigade. General Armstrong was an excellent officer, thoroughly fitted by education and character for command His services were exceedingly valuable, and I can cheerfully testify to his great merit as an officer and a gentleman.

(Signed) R. H. JACKSON,

Lieutenant-Colonel Fourth Artillery, Brevet Brigadier-General, late Brevet Major-General U S. Volunteers."

Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419 pgs.

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