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Brigadier-General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, U.S.V.
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
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.
" FORT MCPHERSON, ATLANTA, GA.,
" 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
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