BY DUANE ALLEN VACHON, PH.D. Clinton Lycurgus Armstrong (February 3, 1844 – January 5, 1899) was a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Siege of Vicksburg on May 22, 1863.
|Armstrong was born in Franklin, Indiana, he was 18 years old when he enlisted in the 83rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry on October 15, 1862 at Indianapolis, Indiana. Armstrong served in Company D. His length of service was less than a year. It was, however, very intense. In Armstrong’s eleven months of service he would be awarded America’s highest medal for bravery, the Medal of Honor. The Medal was awarded for his bravery at Vicksburg, Mississippi on May 22, 1863. His citation simply reads “Gallantry in the charge of the “volunteer storming party.”General Ulysses S. Grant asked for 150 men to volunteer to make a “forlorn hope” diversionary charge on the Confederate position known as the Stockade Redan – a charge that was intended to draw fire away from the real planned attack.The volunteers knew the odds were against survival and the mission was called, in nineteenth century vernacular, a “forlorn hope”. Only single men were accepted as volunteers and even then, twice as many men as needed came forward and were turned away. The assault began in the early morning following a naval bombardment. The Union soldiers came under enemy fire immediately and were pinned down in the ditch they were to cross. Despite repeated attacks by the main Union body, the men of the forlorn hope were unable to retreat until nightfall. Of the 150 men in the storming party, nearly half were killed. Seventy-nine of the survivors were awarded the Medal of Honor.Charging across an open plain in full view of the Confederates in what was clearly a suicide mission, intense withering fire was such that most of the volunteers were cut down.
Those that made it through the fire sought shelter in a ravine under the Redan. There they stayed and fought until nightfall, when the survivors made their way to return to the Union lines, Private Armstrong being one of them (85 percent of the men who made the charge did not make it back). Having been shot twice in the leg and once in the abdomen, he lay in the open field until he dragged himself back to safety after darkness fell. His Civil War service ended on August 15, 1863, his wounds having rendered him too disabled to continue. He later settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he studied medicine, and became a prominent surgeon of the Cincinnati Police Force. He was awarded his Medal on August 15, 1894, thirty one years after he played his part at Vicksburg. He was one of ten 83rd Indiana Soldiers to be awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery during the War.
Over the years I have written literally hundreds of articles about Medal of Honor recipients. Armstrong’s citation is clearly the shortest. As a fellow Hoosier I think in a way it demonstrates what Hoosiers are about, short on words and long on action.
Medal of Honor Citation
Clinton L. Armstrong Private
United States Army Union Civil War
“Gallantry in the charge of the “volunteer storming party.”
// Grover Cleveland President //
The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external. Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.
If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a veteran.
Duane A. Vachon PhD has been a licensed clinical psychologist for over thirty years. He belongs to the order of Secular Franciscans and is a life member of the Guild of Pastoral Psychology. After living almost 40 years as an expatriate, he now writes from his home in Hawaii. He has several books published and has written hundreds of articles on social justice and spiritual issues. His Doctoral thesis on ethics has set the standard at many universities. Reach Dr. Vachon at firstname.lastname@example.org