General Joseph Martin Chapter

Cumberland Gap, TN


Cumberland Gap Patriot

Isaac Armstrong

 Isaac Armstrong, Revolutionary war hero at the battle of Green Springs Plantation was born in 1762, in a small community located 25 miles north of Baltimore near the forks of Gun powder creek. By 1777, Armstrong, along with his parents moved to Augusta county VA. At the age of 15, Armstrong soon joined the Virginia militia as a private under a Col. Robert Craven. Armstrong served for a period of six months.
    In January , 1781, Armstrong reenlisted  in the VA militia stationed at Richmond VA. While in Richmond, Armstrong witnessed the invasion by Benedict Arnold on January 4, 1781. Arnold now a British officer in the British Army invaded  Virginia in hopes of forcing the state to capitulate to British rule by destroying Virginia's economy. Arnold's invasion was the second British Invasion into Virginia since 1779, and there would be two more British invasions later that year in 1781. These British Invasions would later force Thomas Jefferson to resign as Governor
    Arnold hoped to destroy the economy of Virginia by confiscating all the Tobacco sent to Richmond that was to be exported to other countries. Arnold demanded from Jefferson that he be given all the Tobacco in the Richmond warehouses. Jefferson refused to hand over the tobacco. In response, Arnold burned Richmond to the ground. Richmond would not face such devastation again until the Civil war.
  For the next seven months, Armstrong stayed in Richmond helping to rebuild it. In July 1781, Armstrong was transferred to the command under General Anthony Wayne. On July 6, 1781, Wayne was attacked by Cornwallis at a plantation called Green Springs located 5 miles west of Williamsburg VA.
 Green Springs had been the Plantation home of  one of Virginia's first Royal Governors, William Berkeley, nicknamed the "Hanging Governor of Virginia". Berkeley was reported to have hanged more citizens during his administration that any other Royal Governor of Virginia. Green spring was also the site of the first African American Baptist church. Slaves of Berkeley  met and worshipped in secret at first until Berkeley later built a small church on the plantation for them to worship in.
 At Green springs, Cornwallis met and tried to surround Wayne and his army. Wayne countered with a bayonet charge. Over 800 men including Armstrong attacked Cornwallis 's  5000 man British army with bayonets drawn. Cornwallis thought Wayne's army was much larger army than his because no man in his right mind would attack such a large army without more troops. Cornwallis got part of right anyway. Wayne fought as is he was out of his mind during this battle earning him the  nickname Mad Anthony Wayne.
      Wayne forced Cornwallis to retreat to Portsmouth Va. Cornwallis had a chance here at Green springs to destroy the American army under Wayne. Tarleton, Butcher of the  Waxhaws, wrote in his memoirs " That the battle of Yorktown might not have taken place had Cornwallis destroyed the American army here at Green Springs"..
 Today Green Springs is part of the Colonial National park with plans to be opened to the public in 2008. This would be the last battle Armstrong would fight in.
    After the war, Armstrong moved around a lot. By 1820, Armstrong had moved to Lee county Virginia and later Southeast KY. By 1830, Armstrong moved to Anderson County TN where he applied for a pension in 1835. Armstrong died and was buried in Anderson county in 1840.


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