Richard Fielder Armstrong, a Georgia born, Lieutenant in the Confederate States
Navy, served on both the Sumter and the Alabama, under Raphael Semmes.
He was slightly wounded in the battle with the Kearsage at Cherbourg, where
he was rescued by a French pilot boat (see below).
He also assissted in the defense of Battery Buchanan in the attack by the Union
forces upon Fort Fisher, Dec. 23 -25, 1864.
Report of Lt. R. F. Armstrong of the CSS Alabama, on his
rescue from drowning off Cherbourg on June 19th 1864
Cherbourg, June 21, 1864
I have the honor to report for your information the
circumstances attending my rescue from drowning by a French pilot boat
after the Alabama went down. I was wounded in the side by part of a shell
early in the action, and suffered so much pain in the water that had it
not been for the exertions of the Alabama`s crew I would certainly have
gone down. One of the Kearsage` boats was very near me, but laid on its
oars and made no exertion whatever that I could see to save me, the
officer apparently looking for some particular person. I made great
exertions to reach the French boat, and was finally pulled into her
so benumbed by cold and suffering so much from my bruised side that I
could not stand , and for two hours was as helpless as a child. I had
on, while near the Kearsage`s boat, my uniform cap, which the Federal
officer could certainly have seen.
The officers who were saved with me were Second Assistant Engineer
William P. Brooks and Acting-sailmaker Henry Alcott. What time they
got on board of the boat I cannot say. I found when my faculties
returned the following men on board with me.
Charles Godwin, captain of the guard; James Welsh, captain top; George
Edgerton, ordinary seaman; Thomas Murphy, fireman; William Robinson,
seaman, and Morris Britt, boy.
As I got on board of the pilot boat I saw Michael Mars (seaman) plunge
from the Keasage`s boat and swim to the boat I was in. The Federal officer
said nothing, attempted nothing, appearing perfectly stupified by the
bold action of this brave man.
I am sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. F, ARMSTRONG
Second Lieutenant C.S. Navy
Flag Officer SAML. Barron C.S. Navy
Obituary; Lt. R. F. Armstrong CSN
The recent death, at Halifax, Nova Scotia, of Lieut. Richard F. Armstrong,
a native of Macon, Georgia, closed the record on one of the officers
of the Confederate States war vessels Sumter and Alabama. His
attractive characteristics, courageous nature, and devoted loyalty tp the
cause for which he gave up his position at the Naval Academy at Annapolis
in April 1861, endeared him to those who had the pleasure of association
with him during the eventful scenes of the Civil War
His name was of an honored ancestry in his native State, and six of them
showed their loyalty to the State of their birth by being in the Confederate
service. One who knew him well, and was reared in the same town, says
"Richard was always a daring and fearless boy, and very bright. I think he
had a mind that sought knowledge even in childhood, and as he became older he
had intensity of feeling above most men, with great will power, stern to his
duty, a devoted son, husband, and father."
His cheerful temperament always among the anxious scenes of wartimes made him
a delightful classmate, and his frank, direct avowal of opinion, readiness
in accepting his duties, always with a happy mixture of zeal, united with
good judgement in performing them, filled up his qualifications as a fine
At the close of the war he went to Halifax, N.S., and a city paper there says
of him that "he was widely known, highly esteemed and respected. He was a
great reader, a thorough student of public affairs, and, while always deeply
interested in matters of the United States, he also took great interest in
Canadian affairsand wrote many valued letters on subjects of importance to
the country, and to Halifax in particular."
His health for some time before his death had been a serious anxiety to his
family, and his remaining in the climate of Halifax had a bad effect. Lately
he resigned a responsible position in the Canadian Railway System and moved
his family to Kentucky, though he returned to Halifax for a while, where he
died rather suddenly.
In "Two Years On The Alabama," by Sinclair, one of the officers of the
Alabama, is an interesting sketch of Armstrong`s career, which shows how
fine an officer he was in one cruise to which personal character added
Formerly surgeon on the Sumter & the Alabama.