Louis Armistead Freeman

No. 5850. Class of 1918 graduated 31st of August 1917. Having exposed himself fearlessly to a terrific artillery barrage to superintend personally the operations of his own troops, was mortally wounded August 17, 1918, at Frappelle in the St. Die Sector, on the Lorraine frontier., Died August 18, 1918. Aged 24 years.


Mortally wounded August 17, 1918, at Frappelle in the St. Die Sector, on the Lorraine frontier, he quietly passed away the same evening, aged 24 years.
“There are deeds which should not pass away, And names that must not wither.”
The noble life and heroic death of Louis Armistead Freeman cannot pass away, for, like Bayard of old, he was “Sans peur et sans reproche”.

He was born at Jarratt, Virginia, March 27, 18,94. He was of the Armistead family of Virginia, whose chivalry help to make the Old Dominions history glorious; and his grandfather, Theodoric James Chambliss, was one of the heroes of the war, 1861-65.

In 1901 his father, Mr. Edwin J. Freeman, moved his family to Warrenton, a famous old town of North Carolina, where they were much beloved, and added much to the pleasure and uplift of the community. There Louis spent his boyhood days, and graduated at the Warrenton High School, June, 1910.

He was the eldest child, the pride and hope of his parents, the idol of his aged grandmother and three younger brothers, and even he sister, the youngest of the family, looked up to him with love and admiration. He early consecrated his life to holy thinking and livng, and grew tip to be that noblest work of God – a Christian gentleman.

From earliest boyhood, he had dreamed of a military career, which dream was realized in 1913, when he won the scholarship and received the appointment to the United States Military Academy from the fourth district of South Carolina, given by Congressman J. T. Johnson. His father had taken his family to Spartanburg, S. C., on account of its being more convenient for his business.

Louis entered West Point June 12, 1914. On account of the great need for trained officers, he was graduated with his class, August 31, 1917, a year before the time allotted by the institution.

As Second Lieutenant, he was assigned to the 17th Regiment of Infantry, then stationed at Fort McPherson, Ga. Early in 1918 he was transferred to the Headquarters Company, 6th Infantry, and sent to Chickamauga. In March his division embarked for France, arriving there April 12, 1918, and was almost immediately sent to the front, and finally to Frappelle, a town held by the Germans, near St. Die, a city of Lorraine.

When our soldiers went to St. Die they read on the walls of the University this wonderful greeting: “Welcome, American soldiers, we gave your country its name”, and it was even true, for in 1507 Professor Waldsemuller, of the chair of Geography in this University, proposed in a written treatise that the New Continent, which had been accurately described by Americus Vespucius, should be called “America” in his honor, and this suggestion was adopted throughout Europe.

Lieutenant Freeman, in a letter to his mother, written July l1th, said: “I am on the front line, and as you know, I am in command of all the French Mortars in the regiment, and so, of course, I am in Headquarters Company. I have two second lieutenants as assistants.

“My platoon is different from that of a rifle company, in that it is spread out over the whole regimental sector instead of being assigned to a small part only of that sector. I am allowed to make my own reconnaissance and place my guns wherever I see fit. Of course, the Colonel looks to me to put any Boche machine guns out of business that get too gay with us.”

I just take a map of the sector, make a reconnaissance of the sector, with Lieutenants Carter and Grove, and place the guns at the place we decide upon.”

An offer was made to him to return to the United States as instructor to our raw recruits, with the rank of Captain – he had already been made First Lieutenant. Fired with patriotism, he did not wish to leave the post of danger, and in the same letter to his mother he wrote: ‘The Assistant Adjutant told me that if I wished it, he would have me sent back as an instructor with the rank of Captain in the National Army. The prospect of the increase in rank did not particularly appeal to me, as I expect to be a Captain in the Regular Army before the summer is over anyway, but I certainly did hate to turn down a chance to see home again in a few weeks. The only trouble about the whole business was that if I had been sent back then, I would have stayed until after the war.”

He, indeed, won his promotion, for a little over a month afterwards, August 17, 1918, while at his post of duty, he fell, mortally wounded, and passed away at the hospital at St. Die the same evening, and was interred in the cemetery of that town.

It has been said, “Strange, indeed, that four hundred years after the teacher of Geography, Professor Waldsemuller, gave Louis Armstead Freeman’s country its name, that chivalrous young Crusader’s body should sleep in the cemetery of Professor Waldsemuller’s home town – his life a sacrifice for humanity and civilization.”

Many letters were received by the parents of Lieutenant Freeman from his comrades in arms. The following is from Captain 0. F. Carlson, of the 6th Infantry, written the day after Louis’ death:

Headquarters Company, Sixth Infantry,
A. P. 0. 745, Amer. Ex. F.
France, Aug. 18th, 1918.

My Dear Mrs. Freeman:
Last night, under heroic circumstances, Lieutenant Freeman gave his life to
the cause of Liberty. Nothing that I can say can bring him back again, but I want to tell you how bravely he died. Lieutenant Freeman was severely wounded at 7 o’clock a. m. yesterday morning, from which he died at Mixte Hospital at 11:30 p. m. the same day.
He exposed himself fearlessly to a terrific artillery barrage to superintend personally the operations of his own troops.

In action, he proved to be a leader, and his cool demeanor under fire and incessant labors for the comforts of his men contributed in a large measure to the success of the assaulting troops. Lieutenant Freeman was in command of the trench artillery, and their successes are gratifying and indicative of the earnest efforts and soldierly qualities of their commander.
Men who were on the spot speak of Lieutenant Freeman’s behavior as a splendid display of courage.

During Lieutenant Freeman’s service in this company, since March, 1918, I have come to know him exceedingly well, and he has an enviable record. He has done splendidly, and was loved by his officers and men. The Officers of this company and the Officers of this Regiment – and he was well known by all – send our hearts’ love to you.

In this critical period of the war, he took a prominent part in adding glorious pages to the history of our troops in France, and his death is the supreme proof of the extraordinary heroism which unhesitatingly exposes itself as an example to others.

A greater honor has no woman than to have given to the world a manly son like Lieutenant Louis Armistead Freeman, U. S. Army.

Captain, Sixth Infantry.

A letter from Lieutenant Grove enclosed a photograph of the decorated grave of Louis he Captain and three Lieutenants of the company, taken at the same time. The letter was written months later, and in it he said Captain Carlson was wounded at the Argonne, and later was killed in a railroad wreck. Lieutenants Abernathy and Carter were wounded at St. Mihiel, but Lieutenant Carter was back at headquarters, and Lieutenant Grove said, “We desire to tell you of the great admiration which was felt for Louis by both the officers and men of this company. Louis was my ideal of a true soldier and gentleman.”

Lieutenant Sullivan also sent a photograph of the decorated grave, and in his letter said:
“Louis was one of the most popular officers serving with the Sixth from the first day he joined us at Chickamauga Park, Ga. His jolly, carefree outlook on life and what lay ahead of us served to cheer us on more than on occasion. I regret very much that it was not my privilege to be near him during the Frappelle action, but those who were there testify to the fact that he went over the top into a withering machine gun and artillery fire at the head of his Stokes Mortar Platoon, and that he fulfilled to the letter the true soldier’s conception of his duty.”

The severe wound in the lower limbs seemed to have caused paralysis, for Lieutenant Freeman suffered no pain and was semiconscious the most of the time. The femoral artery had been severed with caused a transfusion of blood necessary if he were to be saved.

Mr. Sumner P. Bray, Beverly, Mass., wrote: “Captain Shawn asked me if I cared to give some blood, and I immediately assented. No one who witnessed the bravery and courage of your son could have done less. He was an inspiration. To save men like him, no effort is too great. However, it was unavailing; his wounds were beyond the power of healing.”
Mr. Thomas C. Daniels, New Bern, N. C., wrote to Mr E. J. Freeman of being wounded the same day as his son, and being carried to the same hospital and occupying a cot next to him, and after speaking of him in the highest terms, said: “His bravery at the time of his being wounded merited the D S. C. and even higher honor.”

Many other letters were received by the parents of Lieutenant Freeman. Captain Carlson wrote another personal letter after he had lost an arm at Argonne, in which he said:
“Lieutenant Freeman is buried in a beautiful cemetery at St. Die, and the officers of Head- quarters Company, 6th Infantry, presented his grave with a permanent floral wreath with his name and rank and inscription: ‘He died for Liberty.'” He expressed his sympathy, “In these times of bereavement for a noble son and a splendid soldier.”

Edwin Freeman, a younger brother, in a different division, in January, 1919, wrote a most touching letter of his finding, after many difficulties, the grave of his brother Louis. He wrote: “In a cemetery in front of a church in one section were fifty or sixty graves of American soldiers, and each had a cross at the head. On three of Freeman, his friend; also a photograph of them were hung lovely wreaths of artificial flowers. The loveliest of the three was on Louis’ grave. In the center of the wreath is his full name, rank and organization written in a ribbon of white beads. There is a plate on the cross containing the “Stars and Stripes” and also his name and the date of his death. On the cross is written, ‘Killed in action, August 17, 1918.’ On the back of the cross is written, ‘Mort pour La France.’ ”

The graves of our American boys are tenderly cared for in France. We know that they freely gave their lives for the cause of freedom and civilization, and yet we can but yearn for the “Touch of vanished hands and voices, forever still.”
“We believe in the resurrection of the dead, and life everlasting.”
“Here the clasped hands loosened, here the strong ties are broken,
Yet ever God knows best;
Here farewell blending oft with greetings spoken,
But God hath promised rest:
There meetings glad beside the crystal river,
There, changeless, endless peace.
No more the severed heart strings sudden shiver,
For there the discords cease.”

(Signed) MRS. V. L. PENDLETON, Warrenton, N. C.



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