John Armstrong (1717-1795)

Born in Ireland on October 13, 1717 and known as "the first citizen of Carlisle," John Armstrong is probably best known for his victories during the French and Indian Wars. French-inspired attacks by native tribes began to erupt all along Pennsylvania's western frontier in 1754, and Armstrong joined the Pennsylvania Regiment to help combat them. Attaining the rank of colonel, Armstrong led his troops to a great victory at Kittanning near Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh) in September 1756. Armstrong was highly decorated and honored for his years of valiant service, particularly for the battle at Kittanning, in which he had been seriously wounded.

After the wars, Armstrong returned to Carlisle and became a respected civic and religious leader. Armstrong had been a surveyor for John, Richard, and Thomas Penn, the Proprietors of Pennsylvania, and was instrumental in the original mapping of Carlisle in 1750-51; he was later appointed deputy surveyor for the county in 1762. He was elected to the Continental Congress several times, and served with the Continental Army during the Revolution.

As a trustee of the Carlisle Grammar School, Armstrong vocally opposed Dr. Benjamin Rush's plan to found a college in the town. However, even the old Indian fighter proved to be no match for the strong-willed doctor; Armstrong finally consented and became one of the original trustees of the College as well. The old soldier passed away at his home in Carlisle on March 9, 1795. He was seventy-seven years old.

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Dickinson College Archives
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