Skip to main content

Thomas J. Armstrong Papers

Identifier: SC-MS-001

Scope and Contents

The bulk of this collection consists of letters written by Thomas J. Armstrong's son, Edward Hall Armstrong, during the Civil War. Also included are: a photograph of Edward, his officer commissions, and his book on military tactics, eulogies for Edward by various persons, a letter from Edward's body servant--an enslaved person named Moses, and miscellaneous letters and documents from other family members, including Thomas's boyhood reminiscences, a receipt for sale of an enslaved person, and a receipt for a $1000 Confederate bond. The letters written by Edward Hall Armstrong begin while he was a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the initial letter, he asked his father for permission to leave school and join the Confederate forces. The young man enlisted and was assigned to Company G, Third Regiment, N.C. Troops, in 1861. He was engaged in, and his letters describe from his viewpoint, the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam), the Seven Days' Battles, the Battle of Gettysburg, and the Battle of Spotsylvania. In the latter battle, he was mortally wounded. Edward Hall Armstrong participated in some of the decisive battles of the Civil War, saw action, and buried many comrades. His letters describe field events, such as marching for hours only to return to the original position and standing picket in the rain without cover, or in the snow without fire, shoes, or blanket. He depicts the fortunes and misfortunes of the South through battles won and conditions deteriorating. Although seeing the inevitable end, he continued to stand firm for Southern independence, even while admitting he had no desire to see anymore bloodshed.


  • Creation: 1859-1885


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Copyright Statement

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Biographical Note

Thomas J. Armstrong was the owner of a plantation in Rocky Point, N.C., about 12 miles northwest of Wilmington. During the Civil War period, Rocky Point was located in New Hanover County. Armstrong maried Martha Ann Wilson on October 5, 1835. Thomas and Martha had several children (in descending order): Edward Hall, Mary (nicknamed Mollie), Martha Anne (Monnie), Barbara Susan (Bobbie), Thomas James (Tommie), William Wilson (Willie), Ella and Mary. Martha Wilson Armstrong died on December 31, 1858.

Thomas J. Armstrong's second wife was named Martha (Mattie) Freeman and the couple had three children, Sarah Isabella (Bell), William, and Sammy. His third wife was Hulda Moore, a childless widow, by whom Thomas had no children. Armstrong's fourth wife was Alice Bordeaux Armstrong, who had one child, Richard James Armstrong.

Edward Hall Armstrong, was born in Wilmington, N.C. He was a student of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when the Civil War broke out and he enlisted as a Confederate soldier, joining Company G. of the 3rd Regiment of North Carolina Troops. Promoted rapidly, he was appointed a Captain within months of his enlistment. On May 12, 1864, Edward was severely wounded in the Battle of Spotsylvania and died on June 7, 1864.

Edward Hall Armstrong had two cousins named Thomas Armstrong, which gives rise to confusion in the collection. One cousin was the son of Edward Armstrong of Hallsville, N.C. and the brother of Nicholas (Nick) Armstrong. Thomas and Nick were both Confederate soldiers and survived the war. The other cousin was Thomas E. Armstrong, son of Isham Armstrong of Ashton, N.C. He was married to Annie Jane Bordeaux. This Thomas Armstrong was promoted to Captain at about the same time Edward received his captain's commission. He and Edward both fought at Chancellorsville, V.A., where Thomas was killed. Edward saw to his removal from the battlefield and his burial.


0.8 Linear Feet (Contains 2 document boxes)

Language of Materials



The original donation in this collection is arranged chronologically.

Acquisition Information

This collection was purchased from Mrs. Clarence C. Council on April 3, 1974.

Accruals and Additions

Addition 1: These photocopies were made by the National Archives in Washington D.C.and were received by Randall Library on June 30, 1976.

Addition 2: These papers were loaned by Martha Pearsall for study and photoduplication in June, 1977.

Addition 3: This typescript was donated by Stephen Pearsall in 1977.

Addition 5: These papers were loaned by Isabel Jewell for study and photoduplication in December, 1978.

Addition 6: These original papers were donated by Isabelle Jewell on October 4, 1979.

Digital Access

Portions of this collection have been digitized and/or are born-digital. These items are identified by a black icon beside the item title when browsing via the collection organization hierarchy (to the right in desktop view; on the bottom in mobile view).

To view or access all of the digitized and/or born-digital materials in the collection directly, please select "View Digital Material" in the blue header above, just below the collection title.

Processing Information

Original donation processed by Judith H. Davis in 1976. In 2014, this manuscript collection was re-foldered and re-housed with current archival standard materials by Rebecca Baugnon.

Thomas J. Armstrong Papers
Partially Processed
Special Collections Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository