From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall
Samuel Armistead '83

Date of birth: September 26, 1861

Date of death: January 27, 1895

Age: 33

Naval Academy Register

Samuel Wilston Armistead was admitted to the Naval Academy from Portsmouth, Virginia on October 1, 1879 at age 18 years 0 months.


Samuel was lost on January 27, 1895 when a taut hawser slipped and struck him in the head; this occurred while he was supervising the moving of the dry-dock caisson at the Mare Island Navy Yard in Vallejo, California.


Other Information

He was survived by his wife and a son; his daughter died in 1892. Samuel is buried in Virginia.


From the Naval History and Heritage Command:

Cadet Engineer, 1 October, 1879. Ensign, 1 July, 1885. Assistant Naval Constructor, 1 July, 1887. Naval Constructor, 14 March, 1892. Died 27 January, 1895.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

July 1881
Second Class Cadet Engineer, Naval Academy

January 1882
Second Class Cadet Engineer, Naval Academy

January 1883
First Class Midshipman, Naval Academy

Others at this command:
January 1884
Naval Cadet, Trenton
February 1885
Naval Cadet, Trenton
January 1886
Naval Cadet, Tennessee
February 1887
Ensign, Royal Naval College, Greenwich, England
January 1888
Lieutenant (j.g.), Royal Naval College, Greenwich, England
January 1889
Lieutenant (j.g.), Navy Yard, New York
January 1890
Lieutenant (j.g.), City Point Works, South Boston
January 1891
Lieutenant (j.g.), City Point Works, South Boston
January 1892
Assistant Naval Constructor, South Boston Iron Works
January 1893
Lieutenant, leave of absence
July 1894
Lieutenant, Navy Yard, Mare Island, California

Memorial Hall Error

Memorial Hall lists Samuel's rank as "Master." In the Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps of 1893, and in the 1894 edition, he is listed as a Naval Constructor "with the relative rank of Lieutenant". His headstone omits this rank and instead lists "Naval Constructor".

Class of 1883

Samuel is one of 4 members of the Class of 1883 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of alumni in Memorial Hall.