SAMUEL W. ARMISTEAD, NAVAL CONSTRUCTOR, USN
Samuel Armistead '83
Date of birth: September 26, 1861
Date of death: January 27, 1895
The Lucky Bag was first published in 1894.
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.
He was survived by his wife and a son; his daughter died in 1892. Samuel is buried in Virginia.
Cadet Engineer, 1 October, 1879. Ensign, 1 July, 1885. Assistant Naval Constructor, 1 July, 1887. Naval Constructor, 14 March, 1892. Died 27 January, 1895.
Memorial Hall Error
Samuel's rank in all contemporaneous listings is "Naval Constructor;" this is also on his headstone. Memorial Hall has "Master." (The Naval Constructor term was used simultaneously as a rank and the staff corps of which they were a part.)
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.
Second Class Cadet Engineer, Naval Academy
Naval Cadet, Trenton
Naval Cadet, Tennessee
Ensign, Royal Naval College, Greenwich, England
Assistant Naval Constructor, South Boston Iron Works
Lieutenant, leave of absence
Naval Constructor, Navy Yard, Mare Island, California